The majesty of the Marble Arch Caves: Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination… Who was always envious of Willy Wonka and his magical underground boat trip? The Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark connects not only counties Fermanagh and Cavan, but a sweep of low green fields with a subterranean warren of waterfalls, rippling rivers and airy chambers – and a gentle cruise through the underworld...
If you have more time? Run by Neven Maguire, award-winning MacNean House & Restaurant caters to the vegetarian as carefully as to the meat-eater. Enjoy.
Get fancy at Florence Court: There’s a certain, timeless grace to Florence Court: soft, sandstone pillars arch gently down either side of this Palladian mansion, stretching like arms out to its verdant gardens, leafy forest trails and welcoming visitor centre. Follow the path to the Florence Court Yew, thought to be the parent tree of all Irish yews, and drink in 300 years of pomp, poise, and pristine elegance. Hungry? The Tully Mill Restaurant on the estate will fill you up.
If you have more time: Pop into Crom Estate on Upper Lough Erne, where the Earls of Erne have sat for almost four centuries.
One in a million, Devenish Island:
Ok, maybe not a million – but this IS one of no fewer than 154 islands on the River Erne! A monastery was established here back in the 6th century, before being raided by the Vikings and later burned. Thankfully, the oratory of St Molaise and the 12th-century Round Tower survived, and a short ferry trip across the water from the mainland transports you to this tiny patch of rock and a medley of artefacts that paint a faithful record of the island’s monastic past. Take a boat trip to see Devenish from the still Erne waters. [http://ernetours.com/
If you have more time:
500 years after Tully Castle
was burned down during the 1641 Rebellion, its four walls reach defiantly above its manicured gardens into the sky.
Goddesses and graveyards on Boa Island:
Ever wondered what beauty meant in medieval times? Boa Island might have the answers: the two mysterious anthropomorphic statues of Caldragh graveyard have three faces between them, and despite being 1,500 years old, they’re aging pretty well! While the statues are thought to portray Celtic deities, the island itself is named for Badhbh (pronounced ‘Bive’), the ancient goddess of war. Keep an eye out for crows and wolves while you’re here – Badhbh was said to take the form of both.
If you have more time:
Take a quick ferry trip across a narrow stretch of Lower Lough Erne to Lusty Beg Island
for a unique dining experience at its famous restaurant.
Batten down the hatches in Enniskillen Castle:
Right on the banks of the River Erne, the turreted Enniskillen Castle has that certain air of chocolate-box sweetness – until you realise that its history is scarred by decades of battle, siege, capture and recapture between local clans and the English. Inside, Enniskillen Castle Museums tell the whole story, from the Maguire Chieftains right up to the Great Famine, the Plantation and the Second World War. Fascinating.
If you have more time: Feast on Head Chef Noel McMeel’s fine food at The Catalina Restaurant in the Lough Erne Resort.