£3.5m redevelopment heralds new era for Enniskillen Castle

Published: 23rd September 2016

Enniskillen Castle Heritage Gateway was officially opened yesterday by the Chairperson of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Mary Garrity, following a multi-million pounds refurbishment programme.

The £3.5 million project – which received funding from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund; the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland and administered by Tourism Northern Ireland; the Department for Communities – Historic Environment Division; Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and the Friends of Fermanagh County Museum, has transformed Enniskillen Castle into a state of the art visitor attraction and flagship events space for the area.

The multi-million pounds investment has enabled Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to open up the whole of the Enniskillen Castle complex and enable more museum collections of local, national and international significance to be viewed and enjoyed by visitors.

Enniskillen Castle now boasts new galleries which tell the story of the local area from prehistoric to modern times with imaginative displays of objects, photographs, paintings, archives and oral histories. Visitors to the Castle can also view restoration work being undertaken on museum collections in ‘behind the scenes’ rooms and trace their family tree with assistance from the Fermanagh Genealogy Centre volunteers.

There is a stunning new Visitor Centre signposting attractions and providing information on the local area and beyond.  The Centre provides panoramic views of the Castle’s redeveloped grounds and Lough Erne as well as cafe facilities.

Speaking at the official opening, Chairperson of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Mary Garrity, said:

“The refurbishment of Enniskillen Castle has enabled the Council to open more of the complex to the public, creating extra space for additional museum collections of local, national and international significance to be displayed. The resultant redevelopment of the Castle is stunning, transforming it into an information and heritage gateway, not only for the local area but also beyond. I am confident that the redevelopment will lead to a significant influx of visitors to the site which houses both the Inniskillings Museum and the Fermanagh County Museum.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has long espoused the philosophy of working in partnership with other statutory and voluntary agencies to deliver projects which have a positive impact on the lives of the local community. The benefits of this multi-sectoral approach has been borne out in this wonderful redevelopment project with combined funding of £3.5 million being provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland and administered by Tourism Northern Ireland; the Department for Communities – Historic Environment Division, Friends of Fermanagh County Museum and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council. On behalf of the Council, I would like to thank our funders for their unstinting support for the project. We, collectively, have delivered a project of which we can all be extremely proud.

I would also like to thank the project architects, Kriterion Architects, the main contractor QMAC and main designers, DesignMap, together with the large number of sub-contractors who have ensured that the redevelopment has been finished to such a high standard and within a timeframe of approximately 18 months.

I would also like to thank the staff for their forbearance over the last 18 months while the redevelopment was ongoing and to wish them every success for the future.”

Speaking at the official opening event, Head of HLF Northern Ireland, Paul Mullan, said:

“Enniskillen Castle has been significant throughout its 600 year old history as a strategic asset that was fought over many times.  But I think everyone can agree that this project has been a great success which reaffirms the Castle’s role as the gateway to the region.

“Thanks to National Lottery players this historic complex has been transformed, with new galleries and exhibitions space, visitor information centre and enhanced facilities creating a world-class heritage attraction for everyone to enjoy.”

Speaking about today’s official opening, Minister Givan stated,

“I am absolutely delighted to see the Fermanagh Heritage Gateway open to visitors.  This is a major asset for the county, and for Northern Ireland, and will serve as a destination, an important resource for the local community, and as a starting point to explore and discover the rich heritage in the area. It is fitting that it sits within Enniskillen Castle, one of the key monuments in State Care in County Fermanagh.”

Supporting the opening of Enniskillen Castle John McGrillen, chief executive Tourism NI added:

“Tourism Northern Ireland in conjunction with the ERDF Sustainable Competitiveness Programme has been closely involved with the Enniskillen Castle refurbishment project and I am delighted that we were able to contribute funding support to this important tourism facility.

“Enniskillen Castle is a beacon attraction in County Fermanagh, the enhanced visitor centre, redeveloped grounds and gardens and galleries have uniquely cemented the castle as a tourism hub for the region. The introduction of the flagship events space also enhances the site’s potential as a major all year round events and conference venue.”

Now a flagship events space, Enniskillen Castle is currently part hosting Fermanagh’s first Restaurant Week with pop up restaurants and fine dining experiences available within its atmospheric setting.  Festival Lough Erne – a celebration of Fermanagh’s food and waterways – will also take place within the grounds at Enniskillen Castle this weekend.

Admission to Enniskillen Castle and its new and improved facilities includes entry to the Maguire Story in the Castle Keep and the Inniskillings Museum.

Its opening hours are Monday – Friday *9.30 am – 5.00 pm, Saturday 11.00 am – 5.00 pm, Sunday (June – September) 11.00 am – 5.00 pm, (*9.30 am for Visitor Centre. 10.00 am for other buildings).

For further information on Enniskillen Castle please visit www.enniskillencastle.co.uk or telephone 028 6632 5000.

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