Enniskillen Castle is one of the famous castles of Ireland and a landmark site of the beautiful city of Enniskillen. Compared to other Irish castles it is not as old and battle scarred as the 12th century Carrickfergus Castle nor as new and elegant as the 18th century Belfast Castle. The earliest reference to the castle comes from 1439 and the Annals of Ulster. It was reportedly built by Hugh ‘the Hospitable’ Maguire for the Maguire family who had been chiefs of Fermanagh since 1302. Hugh died in 1428 so if indeed he was the builder then the castle dates from well before his death. Hugh was the younger brother of the famous King Thomas Maguire. The castle was built for defensive purposes since the clans of the O’Rourkes and the O’Donnells posed a constant threat to the Maguires. The choice of location was excellent since it guarded one of the very few entrances to Fermanagh. Initially only a small tower house, it was subsequently expanded.
In the 17th century it came under the control of the English and subsequently served as barracks for different regiments including the famous Enniskillen Fusiliers (more correctly, Royal Inniskillings Fusiliers).
The Castle Today
Today it is a tourist attraction and one of the landmarks of the city of Enniskillen. It is located on a beautiful spot next to the river Erne at the heart of Enniskillen. It is without doubt one of the best preserved of the older castles in Northern Ireland. It consists of several structures.
First is the outer wall. A characteristic feature not is the double tower that overlooks the main entrance. Beyond that, the wall is in a great state of repair (given its age). Attached to the wall on the inside is the Barack Range that follows the curvature of the wall, the 19th century main barracks and the Barracks and Coach House.
Within the castle there are several other buildings that served the Fusiliers in different ways. Today they house museum exhibitions. The exhibitions span a broad spectrum of topics from Enniskillen. Part of the museum has exhibits from the history of the Fusiliers. There are also permanent exhibitions on Fermanagh’s history, its wildlife and its landscape. Apart from these permanent exhibitions there are special exhibitions that deal with the cultural, historical and archaeological heritage as well as art.
Fermanagh County Museum
Tel. +44 (0) 28 66 325000
Fax +44 (0) 28 66 327342
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