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16 October 2014
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Enniskillen's nineteenth-century Catholic church

It was June 1963, we were traveling in a two-car convoy from Dundonald, County Down with the intention of exploring Enniskillen.


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Article by Brian Willis

On arriving in the town the car behind us disappeared and got lost (how can you get lost in Enniskillen?) so we pulled into a car park and waited. I became aware of this wonderful building towering above us, took out my pen and started to sketch. The other car arrived, but by this time I was engrossed in my drawing, so the rest of the group picnicked whilst I continued working.

Brian's 1963 sketch of St Michael's Enniskillen
Brian's 1963 sketch of St Michael's Enniskillen.

I discovered from a passer-by that I was sketching the rear of St Michael's Catholic church. What a magnificent building it is. And how unusual that its most impressive facade is the back- not the front. For this view shows its elegant proportions when towering over the little houses below.

Further investigations of a guide book revealed that the church was built in 1875 and that one of the stained glass windows inside shows the founder of Devenish monastery, St. Molaise, holding the Devenish Gospel Shrine.

Are there bits missing in this sketch? Probably - as the lure of the picnic beat my resolve to finish the drawing.

St Michael's Enniskillen. Photo taken by Brian Willis in 2003
Brian's 2003 photo of St Michael's Enniskillen

A return visit

When passing through Enniskillen earlier this year I took the opportunity to visit the church again and discovered that all the wee houses have gone and there's a by-pass in their place (built about 1981). I tried to reach the spot where I'd sat and drawn, but the BT Call Centre is there now.

If you compare my 1960s drawing with this 2003 photograph, you'll notice that the church has gained a spire too which was added in 1996.

Your Responses:

Valerie Brewster Willis
- Nov '06
Brian - were you researching family history in Eniskillen? Would very much like to contact anyone with a knowledge of the Willis family in Farmanagh. I believe them to be descended from Plantation times.

Return to 'Enniskillen - a stroll through town'


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