Long before Belleek Pottery and their gorgeous legacy of Irish gifts ever existed, this corner of Ulster was well-known for its amazing scenery and compelling legends. Today Lough Erne is popular for trout and salmon fishing, while Enniskillen, a small town perched on the lake’s shore, is busy with shoppers and tourists. The town is an excellent base for exploring this beautiful area and the rich ancient heritage County Fermanagh offers.
Fed by the River Erne, the lake has two distinct sections: Upper Lough Erne and Lower Lough Erne. Surprisingly, the narrower upper lake is south of the wide lower lake. Enniskillen sits at the southern edge of Upper Lough Erne. The lake’s curved outline stretches for 80 kilometers, and the water is dotted with islands, more than 150, each holding their own history and abundant stories of invading Vikings, monks seeking peace and enlightenment, heroic ancient Irish royalty and an array of druids, wizards and other mythical marvels.
Fabulous views of Lough Erne
Lough Erne’s Intriguing Islands
Three of Lough Erne’s many islands stand out: Devenish, White and Boa. Each is home to its own unique and treasured bit of Irish heritage – including the sort of ancient stone carvings that inspire the designs on so many Irish gifts, from jewelry to pottery to clothing.
- Devenish Island features the remains of a monastery that was founded in the sixth century and later raided by Vikings. A high cross from the 15th century has endured, and the island also boasts an intact round tower from the 12th century. At more than 70 acres, this island could certainly host a large community and there is ample evidence that at times it did.
- White Island sits close to the lakeshore. A row of eight carved figures sit in a line together, giving few clues about their complicated history. Each is different, and clearly symbolic, but what they are saying is unclear. Some have a religious theme, while others are decidedly secular. Experts believe they date back to the sixth century, and that this is not their original home. The theory is that Vikings brought them from another part of Ireland in the ninth century, and that in the 12th century they were incorporated into the wall of a church.
- Boa Island, named after an ancient goddess of war, is home to two more intriguing statues. The larger of these has a face and torso carved on each side. Greek mythology buffs might assume it is Janus, but experts agree it is a Celtic god or goddess – possibly Bive, the goddess the island is named for.
Since 1857, Belleek has been crafting pieces to grace homes in Ireland and around the world. No doubt the incredible beauty around them offers plenty of inspiration to keep dreaming up new designs to please serious collectors as well as anyone looking for a special wedding present or birthday gift.