Updated: Jul 7
*From a Local Perspective*
The twin villages of Belcoo - Blacklion straddle the Border between Co. Fermanagh & Co. Cavan in the North West of Ireland.
The origin of the name Belcoo is linked to its location between Upper & Lower Lough Macnean. According to Belcoo & District Historical Society, Belcoo is probably an anglicised form of the Irish “Béal Atha Conga” meaning “a narrow neck, a strait where a river or lake contracts”.
Belcoo & Blacklion (Co. Cavan) both developed with the arrival of the railway in 1878.
Belcoo evolved from a ford to a thriving village and Blacklion started to house the monthly fair in the market house and the fair green. The Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway was the shortest railway line in Ireland with its 43 miles connecting Enniskillen to the CIE line 5 miles short of Sligo. The line closed in 1957.
Belcoo is a picturesque village. It is centered around a large cottage meadow looking out onto the lake, with a children's playground and outdoor gym.
The twin villages have everything a visitor needs
McCann's Spar shop on the main Enniskillen – Sligo road sells: groceries & fresh vegetables, Barista coffee, whipped ice cream, fresh bread & buns. It has an ATM, Paypoint and Lottery. It also hosts the local Post Office.
In Blacklion, Flynn's butchers is a must for your barbecue meat, with burgers that don't shrink!!
The Bazaar.Blacklion is a lovely intimate coffee shop with delicious home baked cakes, scones and sweet treats. It has an eclectic collection of little gifts: crystals, Agate keyrings, Smudge sticks, artwork from local artists etc... It opens from Wed-Sunday.
Belcoo Pharmacy will look after your health care but also offers a wide range of gifts for little ones, accessories, jewellery, make up, skin care, perfumes...it is a real Ali Baba Cave!
Leo’s Off-Licence provides for all your drinking needs from soft drinks to wine, beer and the stronger stuff.
No village would be complete without eating and drinking venues.
In Belcoo, The customs House Inn offers fine dining with contemporary cuisine, bar, lounge & accommodation.
Blacklion is home to the famous award winning chef Neven Maguire at MacNean House and Restaurant. You can also book a cookery class at the Neven Maguire Cookery School.
Or you could opt for the Blacklion Just Eat Good Day with an array of take away food.
For a little tipple
Our personal favourite pub is Frank Eddies in Blacklion: it has the charm of the old traditional pub and a welcoming open fire usually hugged by a few local musicians. It brings us back to our caving days when the whole Reyfad caving group would congregate after a day-long caving trip to enjoy a perfectly poured Guinness.
But there are plenty more pubs: Maguires Public House in Belcoo offers pub grub and is renown for its cocktails.
The Dug out & Fitzpatrick's in Blacklion.
For the visitor, there is an abundance of accommodation locally:
Corralea offers self-catering cottages on the shores of the lake,
Rushin House Caravan Park, located on a family farm, provides high quality facilities in a lakeside setting for touring caravans, motorhomes and tents.
There are numerous B&B and airbnb lodgings in both villages.
Finally, both villages offer a wide range of services:
There’s lots to do around the area
Belcoo is in the centre of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark which boasts over 50 stunning sites including the Marble Arch Caves, The Cavan Burren Park, the famous Cuilcagh Boardwalk and many more breath-taking viewpoints. More about that in my next blogs.
Belcoo has its own Holy Well. Holy wells are said to hold the power to cure ailments and perform miracles: St Patrick’s Well just outside Belcoo reputedly has the cure of stomach and nervous complaints. It is a fine example of a site where paganism merged with Catholicism, where feasts and dances have been replaced by the Christian ritual of the Stations of the Cross.
Just up the road, is Margaret’s cottage, a 280 years old thatched cottage, off the grid, where simple daily chores have not changed for generations: get fresh spring water, revive the fire, bake bread and cakes in a cast-iron pot oven.
The Irish Times has a very interesting article here.
If you are looking for outdoor activities, Blacklion Golf Club on the shores of Upper Lough MacNean is a scenic 9 hole multiple tee golf course that can be stretched to 6,325 yards for a Par of 72. It has great facilities including a clubhouse & is open to visitors daily.
Here Corralea Activity Centre offers you a choice of self-guided activities on the lake: canoe, SUP board Hire. You are provided with all the equipment to go on your adventure. If you are not a water lover, you can hire electric mountain bikes: a fabulous way of enjoying the rugged countryside with minimum effort.
You can avail of experiences combining a gentle activity (such as canoeing or e-biking) with a relaxing eco spa (wood-fired hot tub and sauna on the lake shore).
This is only a tiny fraction of what you can do in Fermanagh. More details to come up in the next few weeks to make your Fermanagh staycation one to remember.
Fermanagh Series: Blog 1 of 5 (edited July 2023)