A couple of weeks ago, whilst out to do my weekly shop, on a whim, I turned off the main road into Enniskillen and made my way down to Trory Jetty. I’d been meaning to do it for months, but you know how you never get to visit the places that are right on your doorstep? Well, this time I did! I parked up and took a stroll along the banks of the lough, enjoying the birdsong and checking out the calls on my merlin app (yes, I know I’m a geek!) Anyway, once I’d enjoyed my walk I went back and tried the other direction and that’s when I found Devenish Island across the water, within swimming distance if you’re a good swimmer. It’s a real gem of a place, nestled in the tranquil waters of Lough Erne and steeped in history. Devenish Island boasts the remnants of an ancient monastery that look great from every angle and will take you back to a time when life was much harsher, but probably less complicated than it is today.
So, fast forward a couple of weeks and we found ourselves with a rare Sunday afternoon off and, instead of heading to the beach, which is our go-to on a day off, we decided to pick up a ride with the Erne water taxi from Enniskillen Castle, which takes you up the river (or down, whichever way you want to look at it) and drops you off, with a guide, at Devenish Island. As we stepped off the boat and onto the lush greenery of the island, we were struck by the mesmerizing ruins that dominate the landscape. The hauntingly beautiful remains of the monastery, dating back to the 6th century, stand as a testament to the island’s rich religious heritage. We were able to wander at leisure and explore the intricately carved high crosses and roam through the atmospheric graveyard, where time seems to stand still. Oh and I mustn’t forget, standing in an ancient burial grave and turning around three times and making a wish. I can’t tell you what I wished for but it didn’t stop raining for at least another half hour!!
But Devenish Island isn’t just about history. The tranquil shores are home to a plethora of bird species, making it a birdwatcher’s paradise. Keep your eyes peeled for graceful swans gliding across the water or the elusive kingfisher darting through the reeds and don’t forget to use your app to identify the birdsong – what do you mean, you haven’t got an app???
For the adventurous souls, climb the narrow spiral staircase of the round tower and be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. I had to hold on tight because heights are not my thing. On a sunny day, the shimmering waters of Lough Erne stretch out before you, whilst rolling hills and idyllic villages in the distance paint a picture-perfect scene. Even in the rain, it’s still an awesome sight.
On a drier day you could complete your visit with a leisurely picnic by the lough shore before getting your ride back to Enniskillen Castle for your tea and scones. Or stay to see the sunset in the summer when it gets dark quite a lot later.
And if the water taxi doesn’t float your boat (see what I did there?), then you could take the MV Kestrel from the Round O or hire your own craft from Castle Archdale marina or the Manor House marina and make your own way to Devenish Island. Whichever you choose, you’d be mad to miss the magic of this beautiful, historic spot. Oh, and of course, you could drive to Trory Jetty, park the car and swim across, assuming you have all the gear!