Monday, 28 December 2009

The Great Fermanagh Estates

I am going to begin writing about the great country estates and landowners of County Fermanagh shortly. I've always had a great affection for Fermanagh; ever since I spent holidays there as a boy. Indeed I wrote a nostalgic article about Castle Archdale earlier this year.

There is an abundance of rich material and truly beautiful demesnes in the county to dwell on. Some remain private and still owned by the families; others are forgotten or have been transformed into forests and country parks.

I intend to commence the series with Blessingbourne estate, which is technically in County Tyrone though a substantive part of the demesne was in Fermanagh.

Castle Irvine - now known as Necarne Castle - was a large estate near Irvinestown; now an equestrian centre.

Rosslea Manor, home to the Maddens, was burnt in 1885 and finally demolished in 1914; and, it is believed, is now mainly forestry.

The manor-house at Killadeas was another substantive estate, extending to over 11,000 acres; now a hotel.

The lovely Belle Isle estate, near Lisbellaw, belongs to the Duke of Abercorn - or, rather, the Duke's second son, Lord Nicholas Hamilton; now a holiday leisure complex and catering school.

The aforementioned Castle Archdale - with its noble manor-house - used to be one of the biggest estates in the county; now a holiday camp and country park.

Colebrooke Park , a stately home near the village of Brookeborough, remains the seat of the Viscounts Brookeborough to this very day.

Florence Court, a property of the National Trust and once the seat of the Earls of Enniskillen, was formerly a very large estate.

Crom still remains the seat of the Earls of Erne, though the country estate has been a property of the National Trust since 1988. Lord and Lady Erne live in the stately Victorian mansion which is private; though, like Colebrooke, run partly on a commercial basis as luxury accommodation in its west wing.

Ely Lodge, near Enniskillen, was once a seat of the Marquesses of Ely; then purchased by Lt-Col Robert Grosvenor about 1948. The Westminster family's connection with Ely ended about 1987, when Voila, Duchess of Westminster died in a tragic car accident; and it is now privately owned. Lord Ely was the largest landowner in County Fermanagh, with 34,879 acres.

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