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Enniskillen - a stroll through town

Enniskillen is on an island which is about half a mile long, with a bridge at either end.

Article by Brian Willis.

Fermanagh

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Let's start at the East Bridge and see what we find. The main street which we will traverse in this virtual wander changes its name six times in the short half-mile length. Starting at the East Bridge we have, East Bridge Street, Town hall Street, High Street, Church Street, Darling Street and Anne Street where we meet the West Bridge.

The East Bridge

Enniskillen's East Bridge
Enniskillen's East Bridge

Has three arches. Although, as you can just make out from this photograph, the far one on the left has been filled in and forms the back of a low building. However there's a story that there may even be two more arches, now hidden, under the banking.

Entrance doors of Enniskillen Town Hall
Entrance doors of Enniskillen Town Hall

The Town Hall

Is in Townhall Street. It's worth taking a close look at the main oak entrance doors, for they were carved by local man William Scott. in 1900. It is possible the bog oak fireplace within the building was also carved by the same man.

William Scott had a "Music and Art Warehouse" in Darling Street. As well as being a wood carver he was also an accomplished musician, playing the violin, cello, dulcimer, xylophone, banjo, and guitar. And at this stage I will hasten to add, (before some other eejit does) ... not all at the same time of course.

Town Hall Statues

On one corner of the outside of the Town Hall are statues of a Royal Inniskilling Fusilier and an Inniskilling Dragoon. (The Dragoon is on the right in my photo.)

Town Hall statues
Soldier statues, Enniskillen Town Hall

But why Inniskilling and not Enniskillen? When the regiments were formed in 1689, they took the, then, name of the town which was Inniskilling - a gaelic word meaning the 'Island of Kathleen'. Since then the name has changed about 20 times before finally settling on its present spelling of Enniskillen. (I am indebted to the Regimental Museum of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers for that information - www.inniskilling.com )

Incidentally there are those who still argue that the marching air of the Inniskillings later became the tune of the American National Anthem the "Star Spangled Banner".

St Macartan's Cathedral

Is in Church Street. It has a set of eight bells. At one time two of them were cast from a cannon taken at the Battle of the Boyne. They were affectionately known as "William" and "Mary". However those two bells have subsequently been melted down and made into one.

Bell pulls at St Macartan's Cathedral, Enniskillen
Bell ropes at
St Macartan's Cathedral

The bells are unusual in that, not only do they have the normal ringing chamber where each bell is tolled separately by a ringer pulling on a rope, but there are also a series of ropes mounted close together so that one person can play all the bells - rather like a simple harp. So tunes can also be played. I imagine each bell must also have a striker outside the mouth for this purpose (as well as the usual donker in the middle... I'm sure "donker" is not the correct word) but I can't imagine quite how this system would operate. Any your place and mine campanologist willing to explain this to me?

Hey and I can see the figure "9" above the ropes yet I understood there to be only eight bells.

Grave

A gravestone within the church to William Pokrich (1628), has half the inscription upside down.

St Michael's Catholic Church

Is in Church Street. Above the main entrance door is a stone carving of Judgment Day with angels and devils dividing the souls. St Michael stands in between, with Christ the Redeemer above. Apparently a sculpture with this theme is quite rare in Ireland.

Stone carving above entrance door, St Michael's, Enniskillen
Stone carving above entrance door
St Michael's, Enniskillen

The left hand panel at the bottom of the carving depicts heaven and the bottom right panel depicts purgatory. Click here to view close-ups of these panels.

I sketched the back of this church in 1963. Click here to take a look at the drawing I produced. When I had a recent photograph developed and compared it with my sketch I was interested to see that the church had gained a spire!

Sign for Peg o' The Bull Lane

Peg O' The Bull Lane

One building away from St Michael's, this quaintly named lane leads off from Church Street. Peg apparently sold Bulls Eye sweets here.

Bowed out balcony of Methodist Church in Darling Street, Enniskillen

The Methodist Church

This church is in Darling Street.

The church had a balcony fitted in 1883. This balcony was bowed out at the front to allow the crinolined ladies of the congregation to sit comfortably. (Crinolines were invented about 1850 and by the 1860's some were up to 18 feet in diameter)

One of the Queen's Stones

Queen Street

Where Queen Street meets Anne Street, either side of the road are these two stones. I only photographed one.

These are known as the "Queen's Stones" and date back to when soldiers were drilling within Queen Street, a rope would be put from one stone to the other, thus shutting off the area to give them a clear right of way for their parading.

And then we reach West Bridge and the end of our perambulations.

I enjoyed this walk, meeting people and taking in the sights. It's a fascinating town. My thanks to all those who literally "opened doors" for me to take the photographs. Actually that's not strictly true, for in the case of the Town Hall they shut the doors especially for me - rather than opened them.

Can you add more to this stroll through the centre of Enniskillen? Have I got my facts wrong? I'm sure you'll let me know.

 


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