Lough Erne- The Second Biggest Lake System in Northern Ireland

Lough Erne

Updated On: April 05, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

Tucked away in the heart of Northern Ireland lies a hidden gem of unparalleled beauty and tranquillity: Lough Erne. A journey through this mesmerizing landscape unveils a tapestry woven with nature’s finest threads, historical intrigue, and cultural richness. As the second-largest lake system in Northern Ireland, Lough Erne beckons adventurers, history buffs, and nature enthusiasts alike to explore its sprawling waters and enchanting shores.

With its origins dating back thousands of years to the last Ice Age, Lough Erne’s formation is a testament to the earth’s enduring forces and the timeless allure of water. Spanning over 80 kilometres, the lake system comprises two main sections: Lower Lough Erne, adorned with many islands, and Upper Lough Erne, a tranquil expanse framed by rolling hills and verdant forests. Its creation, sculpted by retreating glaciers and shaped by the ebb and flow of time, has endowed the place with a captivating natural beauty that captivates the senses and stirs the soul.

Beyond its picturesque landscapes, it is a treasure trove of wildlife, teeming with diverse species that call its waters and shores home. From graceful swans gliding serenely across the surface to elusive fish darting beneath the waves, the lake’s ecosystem is a vibrant tapestry of life, offering visitors a glimpse into the wonders of the natural world. Moreover, Lough Erne’s rich biodiversity reminds us of preserving and protecting our planet’s fragile ecosystems for future generations to cherish and enjoy.

However, Lough Erne’s allure extends far beyond its natural splendour; it is also steeped in a rich tapestry of history and culture that reflects Northern Ireland’s storied past. From ancient monastic settlements on secluded islands to historic towns brimming with charm and character, the shores of Lough Erne bear witness to centuries of human endeavour and ingenuity. Each village and landmark tells a tale of triumph and tribulation, weaving a narrative that is as captivating as it is enduring.

As visitors traverse the shores of Lough Erne, they are invited to embark on a journey through time, exploring ancient ruins, medieval castles, and centuries-old traditions that continue to thrive today. Whether delving into the mysteries of Devenish Island’s monastic ruins or wandering the cobbled streets of Enniskillen, there is no shortage of historical and cultural treasures waiting to be discovered around every bend.

In the following exploration of Lough Erne, we will delve deeper into the myriad wonders that await those who dare to venture into this captivating water wonderland. From its natural beauty to its historical significance and recreational opportunities, the place offers many experiences that promise to leave a lasting impression on all who set foot on its shores. So, join us as we embark on an unforgettable journey through the enchanting realm of Lough Erne, where every ripple tells a story and every vista inspires wonder.

Lough Erne County Fermanagh; NI Second Biggest Lake System-Irish Fishing – Enniskillen Fermanagh

Geography and Formation of Lough Erne

Lough Erne comprises two main sections: Lower Lough Erne and Upper Lough Erne. Lower Lough Erne is the larger of the two, spanning approximately 26 kilometres and dotted with numerous islands, while Upper Lough Erne stretches for about 12 kilometres. The lake system is fed by a network of rivers and streams, including the River Erne, which flows into Lower Lough Erne from the southwest.

The place’s formation can be traced back to the last Ice Age, approximately 10,000 years ago, when glaciers carved out deep valleys in the landscape. As the glaciers retreated, these valleys filled with water, creating the expansive lake system we see today. Over time, the natural processes of erosion and sedimentation have further shaped the lake’s contours, contributing to its unique beauty and biodiversity.

Natural Beauty and Wildlife

Lough Erne
Lough Erne

Lough Erne is renowned for its breathtaking scenery, characterized by rolling hills, lush forests, and tranquil waters. The lake is surrounded by abundant flora and fauna, making it a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can explore the many walking trails and cycling routes that wind through the picturesque countryside, offering panoramic views of the lake and its surroundings.

One of the highlights of a visit to Lough Erne is the opportunity to spot its diverse wildlife. The lake is home to various bird species, including herons, swans, and kingfishers, which often glide gracefully across the water or nest in the reeds along the shoreline. Birdwatchers will delight in observing these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, particularly during the spring and summer months when migratory birds flock to the area.

In addition to its avian inhabitants, Lough Erne is also home to a rich diversity of fish, including perch, pike, and trout, making it a popular destination for anglers seeking a peaceful day out on the water. The lake’s clean, clear waters support a thriving ecosystem, providing essential habitat for native and migratory species.

Historical and Cultural Significance

Beyond its natural beauty, Lough Erne is steeped in history and folklore, with evidence of human settlement dating back thousands of years. The surrounding area is dotted with ancient monuments and archaeological sites, including megalithic tombs, stone circles, and ringforts, attesting to the region’s long and storied past.

One of the most iconic landmarks in the place is Devenish Island, a secluded sanctuary home to a monastic settlement dating back to the 6th century. Visitors can explore the ruins of an ancient round tower, a medieval church, and a series of intricately carved stone crosses, which offer glimpses into the island’s rich religious heritage.

The shores of Lough Erne are also dotted with picturesque villages and towns, each with its unique charm and character. Enniskillen, the largest town in the area, is a bustling hub of activity, with a lively arts scene, vibrant markets, and a wealth of historic buildings and landmarks. Other notable villages include Belleek, renowned for its world-famous pottery, and Lisnaskea, home to the fascinating Castle Balfour.

Recreational Activities and Attractions

Lough Erne Resort Fermanagh Northern Ireland | Golf Northern Ireland | Golf Ireland | Lough Erne

Lough Erne offers many recreational activities for visitors of all ages and interests. Boating enthusiasts can explore the lake’s tranquil waters by kayak, canoe, or motorboat, taking in the stunning scenery and visiting the many islands and hidden coves that dot the shoreline. Several marinas and boat rental companies operate on the lake, providing everything needed for a day on the water.

The place offers plenty of hiking, cycling, and golfing opportunities for those seeking adventure on dry land. The area is crisscrossed with scenic walking trails and cycling routes, ranging from gentle strolls through meadows and woodlands to more challenging treks along rugged cliffs and hillsides. Golfers will also find plenty to love about Lough Erne, with several world-class golf courses nearby, including the renowned Lough Erne Resort.

In addition to its outdoor pursuits, the place is home to various cultural attractions and events. Visitors can explore historic sites such as Enniskillen Castle and the Marble Arch Caves or immerse themselves in the local arts scene by attending a concert or exhibition at one of the many galleries and performance venues. Throughout the year, the lake plays host to a range of festivals and events celebrating everything from music and literature to food and drink, providing ample opportunities to experience the vibrant culture of Northern Ireland.

Culinary Delights

No visit to Lough Erne would be complete without savouring the region’s culinary delights, which showcase the freshest local produce and traditional Irish flavours. From quaint tearooms serving homemade scones to award-winning restaurants specializing in seafood delicacies, there’s no shortage of dining options to tempt the palate. Sample freshly caught fish and shellfish paired with locally sourced vegetables and artisan cheeses, or indulge in hearty Irish stews and savoury pies prepared with time-honoured recipes. Wash it all down with a pint of stout or a dram of Irish whiskey, and you’ll experience the authentic taste of Lough Erne’s culinary heritage.

Preservation and Conservation Efforts

As Lough Erne’s natural and cultural heritage custodians, efforts are underway to ensure its long-term preservation and conservation. Conservation organizations, local authorities, and community groups are collaborating to protect the lake’s fragile ecosystems, promote sustainable tourism, and raise awareness about the importance of environmental stewardship.

Initiatives such as habitat restoration, water quality monitoring, and eco-friendly tourism practices are helping to safeguard Lough Erne for future generations to enjoy. These efforts aim to ensure that Lough Erne remains a cherished destination for years by fostering a deeper appreciation for the lake’s beauty and significance.

Hospitality and Accommodation

Lough Erne offers many accommodations for every taste and budget, from luxury resorts and boutique hotels to cosy bed and breakfasts and self-catering cottages. Many establishments boast breathtaking views of the lake and provide easy access to various recreational activities, ensuring a memorable stay for visitors.

Dining experiences around Lough Erne are equally diverse, with many restaurants, cafes, and pubs serving delicious cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients. From hearty Irish stews and freshly caught seafood to gourmet delicacies and international fare, this gastronomic paradise has something to tantalize every palate.


Lough Erne is a shining example of Northern Ireland‘s natural heritage in a world where natural beauty is increasingly rare and precious. From its ancient shores to its tranquil waters, the lake system embodies the timeless allure of the Irish countryside, inviting visitors to explore, discover, and connect with the land and its people.

Whether seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural enrichment, Lough Erne offers something for everyone to enjoy. As we marvel at its splendour and immerse ourselves in its rich tapestry of history and ecology, let us also commit to preserving and protecting this precious resource for future generations. In Lough Erne, we find beauty and inspiration and a reminder of our shared responsibility to safeguard the natural world for future generations to cherish and enjoy.

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