THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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FERMANAGH, a county of Ireland, in the province of Ulster, bounded N.W. by Donegal, N.E. by Tyrone, E. by Monaghan and S.W. by Cavan and Leitrim. The area is 457,369 acres or about 715 sq. m. The county is situated mostly in the basin of the Erne, which divides the county into two nearly equal sections. Its surface is hilly, and its appearance (in many parts) somewhat sterile, though in the main, and especially in the neighbourhood of Lough Erne, it is picturesque and attractive. The climate, though moist, is healthy, and the people are generally tall and robust. The chief mountains are Cuilcagh (2188 ft.), partly in Leitrim and Cavan, Belmore (1312), Glenkeel (1223), North Shean (1135), Tappahan (1110), Carnmore (1034). Tossett or Toppid and Turaw mountains command extensive prospects, and form striking features in the scenery of the county. But the most distinguishing features of Fermanagh are the Upper and Lower Loughs Erne, which occupy a great extent of its surface, stretching for about 45 m. from S.E. to N.W. These lakes are expansions of the river Erne, which enters the county from Cavan at Wattle Bridge. It passes Belturbet, the Loughs Erne, Enniskillen and Belleek, on its way to the Atlantic, into which it descends at Ballyshannon. At Belleek it forms a considerable waterfall and is here well known to sportsmen for its good salmon fishing. Trout are taken in most of the loughs, and pike of great size in the Loughs Erne. There are several mineral springs in the county, some of them chalybeate, others sulphurous. At Belcoo, near Enniskillen, there is a famous well called Daragh Phadric, held in repute by the peasantry for its cure of paralytic and other diseases; and 4 m. N.W. of the same town, at a place called “the Daughton,” are natural caves of considerable size.

This county includes in the north an area of the gneiss that is discussed under county Donegal, and, west of Omagh, a metamorphic region that stretches in from the central axis of Tyrone. A fault divides the latter from the mass of red-brown Old Red Sandstone that spreads south nearly to Enniskillen. Lower Carboniferous sandstone and limestone occur on the north of Lower Lough Erne. The limestone forms fine scarps on the southern side of the lake, capped by beds regarded as the Yoredale series. The scenery about the two Loughs Macnean is carved out in similarly scarped hills, rising to 2188 ft. in Cuilcagh on the south. The “Marble Arch” cave near Florence-court, with its emerging river, is a characteristic example of the subterranean waterways in the limestone. Upper Lough Erne is a typical meandering lake of the limestone lowland, with outliers of higher Carboniferous strata forming highlands north-east and south-west of it.

With the exception of the pottery works at Belleek, where iridescent ware of good quality is produced, Fermanagh has no distinguishing manufactures. It is chiefly an agricultural county. The proportion of tillage to pasture is roughly as 1 to 2˝. Cattle and poultry are the principal classes of live stock. Oats and potatoes are the crops most extensively cultivated. The north-western division of the Great Northern railway passes through the most populous portion of the county, one branch connecting Enniskillen with Clones, another connecting Enniskillen with Londonderry via Omagh, and a third connecting Bundoran Junction with Bundoran, in county Donegal. The Sligo, Leitrim & Northern Counties railway connects with the Great Northern at Enniskillen, and the Clogher Valley light railway connects southern county Tyrone with the Great Northern at Maguiresbridge.

The population (74,170 in 1891; 65,430 in 1901; almost wholly rural) shows a decrease among the most serious of the county populations of Ireland. It includes 55% of Roman Catholics and about 35% of Protestant Episcopalians. Enniskillen (the county town, pop. 5412) is the only town of importance, the rest being little more than villages. The principal are Lisnaskea, Irvinestown (formerly Lowtherstown), Maguiresbridge, Tempo, Newtownbutler, Belleek, Derrygonnelly and Kesh, at which fairs are held. Garrison, a fishing station on the wild Lough Melvin, and Pettigo, near to the lower Lough Erne, are market villages. Fermanagh returns two members to parliament, one each for the north and south divisions. It comprises eight baronies and nineteen civil parishes. The assizes are held at Enniskillen, quarter sessions at Enniskillen and Newtownbutler. The headquarters of the constabulary are at Enniskillen. Ecclesiastically it belongs to the Protestant and Roman Catholic dioceses of Clogher and Kilmore.

By the ancient Irish the district was called Feor-magh-Eanagh, or the “country of the lakes” (lit. “the mountain-valley marsh district”); and also Magh-uire, or “the country of the waters.” A large portion was occupied by the Guarii, the ancestors of the MacGuires or Maguires, a name still common in the district. This family was so influential that for centuries the county was called after it Maguire’s Country, and one of the towns still existing bears its name, Maguiresbridge. Fermanagh was formed into a county on the shiring of Ulster in 1585 by Sir John Perrot, and was included in the well-known scheme of colonization of James I., the Plantation of Ulster. In 1689 battles were fought between William III.’s army and the Irish 275 under Macarthy (for James II.), Lisnaskea (26th July) and Newtownbutler (30th July). The chief place of interest to the antiquary is Devenish Island in Lough Erne, about 2˝ m. N.W. from Enniskillen (q.v.), with its ruined abbey, round tower and cross. In various places throughout the county may be seen the ruins of several ancient castles, Danish raths or encampments, and tumuli, in the last of which urns and stone coffins have sometimes been found. The round tower on Devenish Island is one of the finest examples in the country.


Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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