County Fermanagh (Fear Manach, "Region of the monks")


After the defeat of the O'Neills and the subsequent emigration of most of the native leaders at the start of the seventeenth century, Fermanagh was incorporated into the Plantation of Ulster, and an influx of English and Scottish settlers took place. The colonization was less successul than elsewhere in the north, however, and a majority of the population remains Roman Catholic.

Upper and Lower Lough Erne, a unique maze of channels, islands, waterways and semi-connected lakes, cover a large part of the surface of the county. The locals say "in summer Lough Erne is in Fermanagh; in winter Fermanagh is in Lough Erne".

Of all the surnames associated with the county one stands out: Maguire. From the time of its first firm establishment, in Lisnaskea around the start of the thirteenth century, all the associations of the family have been with Fermanagh. By the start of the fourteenth century, the chief of the family, Donn Carrach Maguire, was ruler of the entire county, and for the following three hundred years there were no fewer than 15 Maguire chieftains of the territory. By the year 1600, what is now Co. Fermanagh quite simply belonged to the family. It is still the single most common surname in the county.

Other names common in the county include Lunney, Rooney, McGovern, Muldoon, McGoldrick, McCartan, Johnston, Nixon, Ferguson and Irvine.