Devenish Island

Top choice in County Fermanagh

Devenish Island, from Daimh Inis, meaning 'Ox Island', is the biggest of several 'holy islands' in Lough Erne. The remains of an Augustinian monastery, founded here in the 6th century by St Molaise, include a superb 12th-century round tower in near-perfect condition, the ruins of St Molaise's Church and St Mary's Abbey and a 15th-century high cross.

The island is accessible by boat from Trory Jetty, 6km north of Enniskillen, or from Enniskillen with Erne Tours or Erne Water Taxi.

A small visitor's centre outlines the fascinating history of the monastic site, where up to 1000 monks once lived and worked. When the monastery was founded, most of Ireland was covered in thick forest; the island site would have been chosen for its accessibility on one of the country's major waterways. The island was raided by Vikings in 837 and again in 923, but by the 12th century Devenish was a large and important community. The stonemasons and builders responsible for the round tower were some of the most skilled craftsmen of their day, and Devenish continued to thrive as a centre of learning and arts until the 16th-century dissolution of monasteries under Henry VIII.

The licence to run the Trory Jetty to Devenish boat service is renewed annually; call ahead to confirm its operational. To get to Trory Jetty, take the A32 towards Irvinestown and look for a left turn (signed Trory jetty) onto a minor road, just south of Trory village.

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