Belleek, County Fermanagh
|Irish: Béal Leice|
Belleek shown within Northern Ireland
|Population||836 (2001 Census)|
|Irish grid reference|
|- Belfast||104 miles|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||Northern Ireland|
|UK Parliament||Fermanagh and South Tyrone|
|NI Assembly||Fermanagh and South Tyrone|
Belleek (from Irish Béal Leice, meaning "mouth of the flagstones") 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.
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.
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
- 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.
- Castle Caldwell Forest Walk lies four miles outside Belleek at the western end of Lower Lough Erne. Castle Caldwell was originally built in 1612.
- Lower Lough Erne is home to various protected wildlife, including Inland Sandwich Tern, Curlew, Lapwing, Redshank, and Snipe colonies. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds keeps up-to-date records as to colony numbers and well being.
Bus Éireann 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.
- Belleek Pottery Ltd has long been a major employer in the region, with its visitor centre hosting 150,000 guests per annum. 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.
Belleek is classified as a small village or hamlet by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (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.
- Dr Edward Daly, Roman Catholic Bishop of Derry from 1974 to 1993, was born in Belleek on December 5, 1933.
- List of villages in Northern Ireland
- List of towns in Northern Ireland
- The Troubles in Belleek
- List of civil parishes of County Fermanagh
- Flanagan, Deirdre & Laurence; Irish Place Names, page 182. Gill & Macmillan, 2002. ISBN 0-7171-3396-6
- Bus Éireann
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Belleek.|