If you love the countryside and outdoor activities, enjoy fine food and are a fan of local history, music and the arts then Fermanagh is the place for you this summer.
There’s nothing so bracing and healthy as a good brisk walk in the open air. Climb to the summit of Lough Navar and enjoy a spectacular view across Lower Lough Erne. Follow recommended walking trails at Castle Archdale, Florencecourt House or Castlecoole. If you’re feeling adventurous and energetic then try out the 7 kilometre long Cuilcagh Mountain Trail. The newly constructed boardwalk begins at the Legnabrocky car park just 1 km from the road entrance to the Marble Arch caves. Be sure to keep an eye out along the way for rare Butterfly orchids or Heath spotted orchids or the exquisite Romanzoffiana known locally as Irish lady’s tresses.
Or descend if you will into a magical underworld of stalactites and stalagmites at the Marble Arch Geopark.
Not far from Garrison on the shores of Lough MacNean is the Rossinver Organic garden centre which grows and sells flowers, plants and health giving vegetables and herbs. Don’t missThe Organic Garden Party on July 17 when celebrity chef Neven Maguire will explain the benefits of using best local produce.
Now that 2016 has been designated Northern Ireland Year of Food, Fermanagh’s chefs, growers and food manufacturers are organising the Lough Erne Festival at Enniskillen Castle on 24/25 September www.festivallougherne.com. The event is being promoted as a feast for the senses, a veritable smorgasbord of colour and taste, with cookery demonstrations, lingering lunches, music, activities and entertainment for all the family.
Erne Water Taxi (Image Credit: FermanaghLakelands.com)
Many new facilities and activities are adding to the lure of Northern Ireland’s very own Lake District with its 26 miles of waterway and 154 islands. Hire a cruiser or one of the small red pleasure boats which are available by the hour from the Regal Pass Jetty on Wellington Road in Enniskillen and watch the world go by from a quite other perspective. Take the new 10 seater yellow water taxi by Erne Water Taxi
) and have yourselves a super day out with a packed picnic or a food trail gourmet taster menu at the Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel where delicacies include Fermanagh Black Bacon Paté Maison, whiskey cured salmon and Irish stout ice cream.
Near Lisnaskea, the Share Centre’s Inishcruiser will ferry you for tea with Lord Erne in the Victorian conservatory at Crom Castle (www.sharevillage.org). On 18 June or on 02 July which is Columbanus Day, you can row the Erne on the locally crafted, 33ft long, 10 man manapian curach (www.rowtheerne.com)
The Lady of the Lake Festival celebrates lakeland lore at Irvinestown from 15-24 July. Legend has it that the said Lady, who nowadays stands guard at the Omagh road entrance to the town in the form of a bronze statue made by artist Philip Flanagan, used to walk through the mists making her way from island to island from Inishmacsaint to Inishdoney, Inishgariff to Inishdare with a bunch of wild flowers in her hand.
Landlubbers may prefer to admire prize cows, perfect parsnips and best begonias at the Fermanagh County Show on 02/03 August.
Blakes of the Hollow Enniskillen (Image Credit: The Irish News)
Download the app and find some famous landmarks in Enniskillen town (www.ekn.guide) Don’t miss the latest attraction, the Game of Thrones carved door at Blakes Victorian pub. This is one of ten fashioned from the wood of three of the magnificent 200 year old Dark Hedges beech trees which were felled by Storm Gertrude in January 2016.
Culture vultures will love live performances from London’s National Theatre and the Royal Opera House relayed to the IMC cinema Enniskillen (www.imccinemas.ie) Forthcoming programmes include:
08 June Hamlet, Royal Shakespeare Company
27 June Werther by Massenet – the Royal Opera
7 July Kenneth Brannagh’s Romeo and Juliet
15 September Turandot on Sydney Harbour
Other Summer Highlights :
11 June Tempo Vintage Day
11 June Enniskillen 10K
18 June Lisnaskea 10K
26 June National Trust Ulster Gardens Scheme open day at Blessingbourne, Fivemiletown.
18 – 22 July Football Academy at Castle Archdale
19t July Open air theatre performance of Wuthering Heights at Enniskillen Castle Museum
21 July – 01 August Happy Days International Beckett Festival
29t July Country music star, Lisa McHugh, Derrygonnelly Community Centre
5 – 9 September World Pairs Angling Championship
25 September – 2 October FLive, Arts festival