Belleek, County Fermanagh

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For the village in County Armagh, see Belleeks, County Armagh.
Belleek
Irish: Béal Leice
Belleek is located in Northern Ireland
Belleek
Belleek
 Belleek shown within Northern Ireland
Population 836 (2001 Census)
Irish grid reference G943593
   – Belfast  104 miles 
District Fermanagh
County County Fermanagh
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ENNISKILLEN
Postcode district BT93
Dialling code 028
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
UK Parliament Fermanagh and South Tyrone
NI Assembly Fermanagh and South Tyrone
List of places
UK
Northern Ireland
Fermanagh

Coordinates: 54°28′56″N 8°05′12″W / 54.4821°N 8.0866°W / 54.4821; -8.0866

Belleek (from Irish Béal Leice, meaning "mouth of the flagstones"[1]) is a village and civil parish in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. While the greater part of the village lies within County Fermanagh, part of it crosses the border into County Donegal, in the Republic of Ireland. This makes Belleek the western-most village in the United Kingdom. It had a population of 836 people in the 2001 Census, and is situated within the Fermanagh District Council area.

Belleek is a thriving market town with a variety of pubs, shops, restaurants and a hotel. It is most famous for the fine parian china produced there at the Belleek Pottery, the oldest pottery in Ireland. The china is valued by collectors from all over the world. It is also a noted location for angling and other recreational activities and is now linked to the River Shannon by canal.

The highest temperature in Northern Ireland recorded by the Met Office, 30.8°C, occurred at Knockarevan (near Belleek) in County Fermanagh on June 30, 1976.[2]

History[edit]

In earlier times Neolithic settlers appeared around the town and legend has it that Fionn mac Cumhail's men sharpened their swords on the big limestone rock at Belleek Falls.

A royal castle was built at Caol Uisce near Belleek at the entrance to Lower Lough Erne by Gilbert Costello in 1212. Belleek Town in its present layout was founded on the Blennerhassett estate during the Plantation of Ulster in the early 17th century.

The establishment of the pottery in 1857 saw the start of growth and the town developed further with the founding of a cooperative creamery in 1899, a police station, a courthouse, post office and dispensary.

Belleek town centre, 2006

The Troubles[edit]

For more information see The Troubles in Belleek, which includes a list of incidents in Belleek during the Troubles resulting in two or more fatalities.

Places of interest[edit]

  • The internationally renowned Belleek Pottery in the centre of the village is currently owned by US-based Dundalk man, George Moore. It was founded in 1857 by John Caldwell Bloomfield, who declared that any piece with the slightest flaw would be destroyed and this is still the case today. The first examples of this fine Parian china were made using kaolin and feldspar deposits found in the lands surrounding Castle Caldwell. With the establishment of the pottery new houses were built for workers in Rathmore Terrace and in Hawthorn Terrace. There is a visitor's centre at the pottery.
  • A stained glass window featuring a potter's hands is located above the altar in St. Patrick's Roman Catholic church. This was built in 1903 at a cost of £2000.

Three stained glass windows were unveiled in Belleek Church of Ireland in May 2009 to commemorate the founders of Belleek Pottery, John Caldwell Bloomfield, the local landowner, Robert Williams Armstrong, architect, ceramics expert and first manager of Belleek Pottery and David McBirney, Dublin who provided the finance for the project. All were members of the Church of Ireland.

Transport[edit]

Bus Éireann[5] offers routes to Enniskillen and then to major cities and towns in the Republic of Ireland including Cavan and Dublin. Many bus services meet and hopefully connect with each other's timetables in nearby Ballyshannon in County Donegal, where onward connections can be made. Ulsterbus provide limited connections on the longer route via Belcoo to Enniskillen.

The Enniskillen and Bundoran Railway served Belleek railway station from 1868 until 1957.

The nearest railway station to Belleek is Sligo railway station which is served by trains to Dublin Connolly and is operated by Iarnród Éireann.

Local enterprise[edit]

  • Belleek Pottery Ltd has long been a major employer in the region, with its visitor centre hosting 150,000 guests per annum.[6] Fermanagh District Council reports that 70% of Belleek Pottery's product is manufactured for export.
  • Belleek also hosts a street mart every third Tuesday of the month, where local crafts and goods can be bought and sold.

2001 Census[edit]

Belleek is classified as a small village or hamlet by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA)[7] (i.e. with a population between 500 and 1,000 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 836 people living in Belleek. Of these:

  • 26.4% were aged under 16 and 22.1% were aged 60 and over
  • 46.8% of the population were male and 53.2% were female
  • 87.8% were from a Catholic background and 11.6% were from a Protestant background
  • 4.5% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.

Sport[edit]

The local Gaelic Athletic Association club is called Erne Gaels (Gaeil na hÉirne)

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]