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Brexit & Bordercross

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

Brexit, Northern Ireland protocol, unclear and complicated rules about exports & trading across Europe, have once again brought the focus on the Border.

Upper Lough Macnean

Corralea is a unique destination at a cross road between 3 counties and 2 countries in the centre of the first Cross-border Global Geopark.

It is situated on the northern shore of Lough Macnean in County Fermanagh, Northern-Ireland.

If you want to cross the border to the Republic of Ireland, you can just jump in a canoe and paddle less than 1.5km (or approx 1 mile) across the lake to reach either Co. Leitrim or Co. Cavan

or you can opt for the slower 5km (approx 3 miles) cycle to the twin Border villages of Belcoo/Blacklion.

Indeed in 2016, the ARD German Television came to film the Border: In their documentary “Bye-Bye, Britain!”: they came to Corralea to experience the Border crossing on a canoe.

They interviewed Marius & local celebrity Neven Maguire from MacNean House & Restaurant to find out their views on Brexit and the impact it may have on ordinary life along the border.

You can see the documentary on youtube: Bye-bye, Britain! (skip to 17:00 to 22:15) it’s in German but the views are superb.

“Border” means “Smuggling”...And this area has a colourful history of smuggling…

The collection of stories in the book “If Only , Historical sketches of the Belcoo Area” are an infinite source of information and authentic testimonies from the past.

Smuggling of cattle started around 1932 when the British government imposed a tariff on cattle coming out of the South. People along the border started to smuggle cattle and drive them at night through fields and across mountains up to 10-12 miles away from the border.

Men would do sentry watching for a patrol by foot or by bicycle. A man without a light on his bicycle could be charged with doing scout for the smugglers if he was caught in the border area.

My favourite stories are of smuggling cattle across the lake by boat, it sounds like such hard work! Here is an extract from "If Only":

Currently you can cross the Border without even knowing it: no passports needed nor customs forms filled.

There's still something about the border though- a secret challenge, a sense of freedom, that dare to sneak across the lough in your canoe or travel the old smuggling routes with an e-bike! Is it my French upbringing? Or maybe like my European counterparts, the wish to defy this strange & absurd notion of a border in the middle of an indistinguishable landscape and country!

If this sounds like something that you'd be interested in, why not look into our