Guided Tours of Ireland's Hidden Gems 2022 book now at 2020 prices
When I first came across Crom Castle, via a random photo of it in the snow, I fell head over heels in love with the fairy tale and vowed to visit one day and see it for real, of course it didn’t disappoint. Manager Noel Johnston who was born and reared on the estate and whose family have lived and worked there for the last 240 years introduced me to the affable Lord Erne, whose son Viscount Crichon owns the West Wing of the castle (a kind of castle within a castle) which is now let out to private groups for self catering (on a very grand scale) weddings and other special occasions. Crom Castle with an estate of 1900 acres bordering Lower Lough Erne and several islands, is very beautiful with all the elements (and more) of the fairy tale lining up. While the estate dates back some 800 years in history the castle itself was built in 1820 for £29,000 by the same architect responsible for Buckingham palace, Edward Blore (it now costs that plus £100,000 just to run the castle every year).
Which is mainly why the West Wing and the exquisite Victorian Conservatory have been renovated (to a very high standard) and made available for exclusive hire. The West Wing is seperated (by a double door) from the private quarters of Lord & Lady Erne who live there permanently and is comprised of a wonderful diningroom / kitchen with the only oak barreled vaulted ceiling in Ireland which used to be the billiards room. Six bedrooms, a mixture of double, twins and four poster beds all ensuite, a sittingroom with access to the terrace and Victorian Conservatory.
Apart from the luxurious accommodation where guests can enjoy total peace and privacy they are also free to explore the grounds, the lakeside Tea House and Boat House or the original plantation castle with its ancient yew under which Hugh O'Neill is reputed to have bidden farewell to his lady love before the Flight of the Earls in 1607. A rowing boat (with an outboard) is also available to guests who would like to visit the various islands including Gad Island with the Crichton Tower, that was built as an observatory during famine times, or Holy Trinity Church that the family still row over to for service on sunday mornings in a 100 year old flat bottomed boat called a “cot” (which is also use to transport brides for their wedding ceremony) can you just imagine?
So if you are fantazing about your own wedding and looking for the perfect venue or just a very exclusive get together (minimum stay 1 night for 12 people, 2 nights costs £2500 excluding food, although this can be arranged) you should consider Crom Castle, meanwhile I’ll dream on....
10 Hidden Gems near Crom Castle.
1 Take a boat trip out on to Lough Erne to explore the islands.
2 Enniskillen Town visit the castle, museum, guild hall and the park at Fort Hill.
3 Florence Court is a beautiful Palladian style built by John Cole and named after his mother which you can visit on the outskirts of town.
4 Marble Arch Global Geopark a few miles further on is Northern Ireland's only cave complex which you can visit by underground boat
5 Castle Coole is the finest Neo-Classical House in Ireland designed by James Wyatt it is truly unique in that it retains all of the original furniture.
6 Visit Boa Island to see the ancient Janus Stone and Lusty Beg Man sculptures which are thought to be over 2000 years old.
7 Belleek Pottery take a guided factory tour of this internationally acclaimed pottery.
8 Stay at the Manor House Country Hotel, very stylish but affordable with great views out over the lakes.
9 Magho Cliffs take a detour (or get lost like me) off the scenic route between Belleek and Enniskillen for an excellent view of the lakes.
10 Belle Isle Cookery School, brush up your cookery skills at another breath taking castle in a perfect lakeside setting at Lisbellaw.