The lively and bustling town of Belturbet is a tourism hot spot along the Shannon-Erne Waterway. Located in County Cavan, it is regarded as the county’s second -largest town after Cavan town. It dates back to the 12th century and ruins from Anglo-Norman settlements have been identified in the surrounding areas. This market town has a wide range of pubs, restaurants and shops to enjoy. The town is famous for its fishing culture and anglers from all over the world come here year after year.
Belturbet was officially founded as a market town by charter of King Charles 1st in 1613. In the charter there was an unusual law decreeing that indigenous people could not enter or be seen in the town after sunset. They would have to rest on the outer roads or face a penalty of being placed on a ducking stool and ducked into the river repeatedly until they had learned their lesson. A heritage trail which marks out the historical points in the town is evident through a number of sign posted symbols.
Turbet Island, next to the bridge, is the town’s most popular attraction. It contains the remains of an Anglo-Norman motte-and-bailey which was abandoned in 1233 and then taken over by the O’Reillys. This was most likely the first large settlement in Belturbet and there is a lovely walk which will take you through the site, over the old railway bridge and back along the canal.
Belturbet was the largest town in the area during the 17th and 18th centuries and serviced the surrounding lands as far as south County Fermanagh and the border areas of County Leitrim. There was a market here on Wednesdays and a fair on Thursdays dating back to the 1600’s. The diamond-shaped town square also dates back to this period.
The Belturbet Railway Station opened in 1885 and was operated by the Great Northern Railway Company of Ireland. The Station now hosts a fascinating museum with an invaluable collection of railway memorabilia and audiovisual footage. In addition to the museum, the Station Masters house, Goods Shed, Engine Shed and Water Tower have all been restored. This Station is located not far from the main street and is a very interesting place to visit. Tours are available but must be pre booked.
Located about 5 Km outside of Belturbet is the historic Abbey, Church and Round Tower of Drumlane and this overlooks Garfinny Lough. The Abbey was founded in the 6th century by St Colmcille and its impressive ten meter high round tower is the only one in the surrounding region.
The famous Festival of the Erne takes place in late July and it is an event full of music, fireworks, street performances and talent competitions, including the renowned ‘Lady of the Erne’ pageant. During the rest of the season Belturbet has plenty of other attractions to enjoy. There is a nine-hole golf course located nearby, which is a challenge to the most dedicated of players and you can also step back in time to the 19th century by visiting the fully restored Old Railway Station located to the south west of the town.
Live music can be found on Tuesday nights and at the weekends in the Widows Bar which is on the main street. It is a great spot and the friendly locals make it easy to enjoy a relaxing evening.