Common Buzzard (Buteo Buteo)

Things to See and do

Ireland is a popular tourist destination, and while we cater for fly-fisherfolk, it would be a pity if you didn’t build in some sightseeing. Travelling to some of the attractions is part of the experience as you go through our countryside. This section highlights things to see and do in the areas surrounding the rivers and loughs we fish in. Your guide can also be asked for advice about events taking place, restaurants or entertainment in the area.

Omagh, Tyrone's County town, less than two hours from Belfast, is an ideal central location to explore Northern Ireland. A long, steep main street is dominated by a classical-styled courthouse and behind it rise the spires of the Church Hill .The Drumragh and Camowen rivers merge in the centre of town to form the river Strule, an artery of the Foyle River System, one of the premier salmon and sea trout fisheries in the Northern hemisphere. The cultural identity of the area is encapsulated in music, song, and literary events held throughout the year, such as, the Appalachian and Bluegrass Music Festival, the Omagh and District Arts Festival, and the Mid-summer Carnival.

The Ulster American Folk Park / Centre for Irish Migration Studies
Ulster American Folk Park

The Ulster American Folk Park, Castletown, Omagh is the ‘must see’ visitor attraction in the Omagh area. Telling the story of emigration from Ireland to the USA it is centred on the Irish home of Thomas Mellon, founder of the Pittsburgh Bank and the leading business man of his day. The story is told through the buildings; all original moved and rebuilt stone-by-stone from their original sites.

Special events include the 4th July Celebration and, over the first weekend in September, the “Appalachian and Bluegrass Music festival”. Evening concerts and stages around the park let you see and hear leading Bluegrass musicians from the USA and around the world play in one of the friendliest venues you will ever hear music played.

The park also houses a Centre for Migration Studies, with the world’s leading collection of books on Irish migration history and the Irish Emigration Database: 33,000 primary source documents that you may search for family names. Perhaps you may find your ancestor there!

Gortin Glens Forest Park
Gortin Glens Forest Park

Gortin Glen Forest Park, 5 miles from Omagh is situated in the foothills of the local range of hills – The Sperrins. Pine forests clothe these and several trails set-up for spectacular walks, take you through them. With a deer park and natural wildlife pond it is ideal for relaxing walks and family outings. If you like to hill-walk bring suitable footwear.

Boorin Nature Reserve
Green Hairstreak butterly, Boorin Nature Reserve

Nearby Boorin Nature Reserve formed when the melting ice sheets of the last Ice Age left behind huge amounts of sand and gravel. These hills are now cloaked in heather surrounded by peat bog. A good place to explore and learn about glacial topography e.g. the small loughs found here are deep and are known as ‘kettle-hole lakes’. In summer the air is filled with the song of skylarks. Look for buzzards circling lazily overhead. It might be possible to catch a glimpse of a red grouse among the heather. Watch out also for the green hairstreak butterfly basking on bilberry in the sunshine.

Clinging to a steep slope at the northern end of the reserve is a rare surviving fragment of mature oak woodland. This wood is famous for its great variety of lichens, ferns and mosses, testament to the unpolluted nature of the local air. In springtime a carpet of bluebells and other woodland flowers paint the woodland floor in a riot of colour.

Visit in April – September for birds, butterflies and flowers and October – December for autumn colour in the wood.

Newtownstewart Castle
Newtonstewart Castle

Newtownstewart Castle is now in ruins. Sir Robert Newcomen. began work in 1615 on a castle was described as“of lime and stone, 4 stories high. Around it is a Bawn of lime and stone, 81 feet long, 66 feet long and 9 feet high, with 2 flankers.” In 1629 the lands and castle were sold to Sir William Stewart, of Newtown Stewart in Galloway, Scotland, who renamed the town after his family and birthplace. Today only its south-west and north-west walls and a little of the south-east return survive. The most distinctive feature is the triple gables, with the tall chimney-stack over the smaller centre gable. The stepped gables are a Scottish feature while the 8-pointed, star-shaped brick chimney-stack is derived from England.

Half of a fine door survives near the south corner with a frustrating half date, 16.., on the remaining stone. Other features include the mullioned windows, clearly domestic and not defensive, fireplaces, a circular projecting stair tower, and a rectangular tower at the north east corner, perhaps a flanker tower on the bawn wall. The archways in the interior remain from its use as the town market place in the C19th. The castle was burned by Sir Phelim O’Neill in 1641 and again by King James in 1689, on his retreat from Londonderry.

The castle has also the distinction of being the site of a significant Bronze Age discovery, an intact double cist grave and capstone.

Harry Avery’s Castle
Harry Avery’s Castle

Harry Avery’s castle, also at Newtownstewart is thought to have been built around 1320 by a local chieftain of the O’Neill clan, but named after Harry Avery (Henry Aimbreidh) O’Neill, a local chief who died in 1392, this structure is considered unusual in that Irish chieftains of the time rarely built stone castles.

Its design is also unusual, its two towers look like a gatehouse, similar to that of Carrickfergus Castle, but in reality it served a similar function to a medieval tower-house. Getting to the courtyard behind would thus have involved climbing a flight of stairs. Behind the towers a large mound forms the courtyard. This was surrounded by a curtain wall, of which only the foundations remain today. Other surviving structures include: a draw bar slot for the main door and a latrine chute. There would have been many wooden buildings such as kitchens and stables in the courtyard but no evidence of these survives.

While fishing, walking and travelling around to see the various sights you will see our rich landscape. The modern agricultural fields bear witness to Northern Ireland’s main industry of agriculture. The main type carried out here is raising beef so grazing animals are common along with grass and grain being harvested for winter fodder. Travelling uphill the emphasis changes, as sheep become more common. This is especially noticeable if you take a drive through the Glenelly valley, one of our most picturesque, so don’t forget your camera!

Irelands ancient past is evoked very well in the area with stone circles, dolmen (burial mounds) and standing stones. These remnants are the only physical evidence of our ancient native culture.

Beaghmore Stone Circles
Beaghmore Stone Circles

Beaghmore stone circles are the most accessible of the stone circles, of which there are several good examples in the area. The near-by “An Creagan” visitor centre is an excellent facility for interpreting these and other ancient archaeology in the area.

Marble Arch Caves
Marble Arch Caves

The Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark is host to one of Europe's finest show caves and has been developed to allow visitors to explore a fascinating natural underworld of rivers, waterfalls, winding passages and lofty chambers. Lively and informative guides conduct tours past a bewildering variety of cave formations - stalactites glisten above stream ways and chambers while fragile mineral veils and cascades of creamy calcite coat walls and spread as shimmering terraces across rock strewn floors. Spectacular walkways allow easy access while powerful lighting reveals the stunning beauty and grandeur of the caves. Electrically powered boats glide through huge caverns carrying visitors along a subterranean river.

Tours last for 75 minutes and are suitable for people of average fitness. Comfortable walking shoes and a warm sweater are recommended. Advice from ReelDeal – book tour times before going, especially in height of season.

Florence Court House
Florence Court House

Florence Court, now in the care of the National Trust, is one of Ulster's most important 18th-century houses, and the former home of the Cole family, Earls of Enniskillen. Surrounded by a large area of parkland, garden and woodland, there are breathtaking views to Benaughlin and the Cuilcagh Mountains. It’s a great place to bring a picnic. Walk the extensive paths and discover many serene and beautiful corners when exploring the Pleasure Grounds and Walled Garden in this magnificent demesne. 'Living History Tours' provide an entertaining insight into 1920s Florence Court and there is a first-class tearoom / café with home baking.

Florencecourt, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh BT92 1DB

Castle Coole
Castle Coole

If you are looking for stately grandeur then Castle Coole, now a National Trust property, is a rare treat. Surrounded by its stunning landscape park on the edge of Enniskillen town, this majestic 18th century home of the Earls of Belmore, designed by James Wyatt, was created to impress. The surrounding wooded landscape park, sloping down to Lough Coole, is ideal for long walks.

Castlecoole Rd, Enniskillen BT74 6JY

Belleek Pottery
Belleek Pottery

When the local landowner found the necessary raw materials to make pottery - feldspar, kaolin, flint, clay and shale, and organised the railway to come to Belleek to bring coal and take the goods produced to market, Belleek pottery began and went on to become the most collectable of Irish pottery. The visitor centre is popular and the tour, facilitated by a personal group guide, is informative, and you may get the chance to decorate a piece yourself!

History of the pottery
3 Main St, Belleek, BT93 3FY