Lough Erne

Artist(s) : Thomas Creswick (Draughtsman), Robert William Wallis (Engraver)

Lower Lough Erne on a calm day. In the foreground, to the right, three women are standing by a stream under a tall tree on rising ground near the shore. A catboat is moored nearby with three men on board and a fourth approaching. A second small boat appears to be attached to the first. In the distance several sails are visible on the lake.

Inscribed in Image

  • Signature – T. Creswick. / R. Wallis

Image Details

Genre Landscape
Technique Etchings
Subject(s) Nature, Rural life
Geographical Location
  • Lower Lough Erne - Lake
  • Fermanagh - County
  • Ulster - Province
Keywords(s) Boats, Hats, Lakes & ponds, Passengers, Peasants, People, Women
Colour Monochrome
Dimensions 10.8 cm x 12 cm
Published / created 1838

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account Ireland Picturesque and Romantic
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy Vol. II, title page
Source copy National Library of Ireland Ir 9141 r 15
Alternative source

This is a link to a digital copy hosted by an external website.

Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

I was now desirous of seeing Lough Erne, so ce- [p. 164] lebrated for its beauty; and the best way to do this completely is to seat oneself on the top of the mail-coach for Enniskllen. The road runs along the edge of the water almost the entire distance, and the traveller has a better opportunity of observing at least the lower lake than when floating on its bosom. For some time we journeyed on by the side of a most uninteresting stream, which I was told was the lake. The land on either side was a mere heath, with here and there cottages as miserable as any I have seen in the Bog of Allen. This, however, was by and by at an end; for the river widened into a lake, and the hills on the right hand became bolder and loftier. Still I profess myself to have been altogether unable to discover on what the reputation of Lough Erne rests. It possesses, no doubt, the softness of shading that must belong to a large sheet of water, situated in a tract of country which is, generally speaking, without rugged, or otherwise remarkable features; but even in this respect it is eclipsed by several both of the Scottish and English lakes. There are some fine points of view, and some beautifully wooded islands, but this is all I can say. The islands at length become so numerous that the traveller cannot fail to be struck with the truth of a remark which has been applied to the lake— that it looks like a country laid under water.

I confess, however, that Lough Erne would, in all probability, have appeared more beautiful to [p. 165] me, had not its beauties been so grossly exaggerated. But, such as they are, I fear next year's visitors will see still fewer of them than 1 did, the islands of a considerable portion of the lower lake being sentenced to lose their trees. That these trees are not in themselves, as wood, of great importance, may be collected from the fact, that they have been bought by a Birmingham house, chiefly for the purpose of making women's clogs. Within a mile or two of Enniskillen is Devenish Island, which may be described as a large grassy knoll, with out tree or shrub. Here, however, is interest enough without the picturesque; the whole soil of the island being holy ground to the antiquarian.

Near the summit are the ruins of an abbey, dedicated to St. Mary; and below, a church, dedicated to St. Molush. There are also a Gothic building, called St. Molush's House, and a stone trough sunk into the ground, called St. Molush's Bed; and last, not least, a Round Tower, which, as I have observed in last year's volume, is usually, if not always found — when it is found at all — by the side of Christian antiquities. "The abbey," says a writer in the Belfast Magazine, "is built of black marble, a material not used in any other edifice on the island; and it seems, from its style of architecture, to be of more modern date than any of them. A stranger is greatly struck on passing under the fine Gothic arch of the transept, still in excel- [p. 166] lent preservation, by the sharpness of all the lines of the work, which are so highly polished, and so perfect as to seem fresh from the chisel of the workman."

Stanihurst accounts for the formation of Lough Erne by the following tradition. A woman came one day to a holy well which was on the spot, and after she had finished her devotions, instead of covering down the lid, she turned away to still her child, who cried. Her omission to cover the well, which should have been done instantaneously, was fatal; for, in returning, in a fright, to redeem her error, she was met by the water, and drowned in the inundation which took place. Our author adds, that this story is the more probable, from the fact, that fishermen, in a sunny day, perceive distinctly various towers and steeples under the transparent wave.

Annexed is a view, presenting the Lower Lake, near Ballyshannon, in its most favourable aspect.

The Upper and Lower Lake are connected by a comparatively narrow channel; and, in the middle of this channel, there is an island, on which stands Enniskillen. The situation of the town, therefore, is fine. It is a busy, bustling place, which enjoys a considerable traffic; but there is no object in the interior which can detain the steps of the traveller. [Vol. II, p. 163-166]
Lough Erne