Kesh, County Fermanagh
|Irish: an Cheis|
Kesh shown within Northern Ireland
|Population||972 (2001 Census)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||Northern Ireland|
|UK Parliament||Fermanagh and South Tyrone|
|NI Assembly||Fermanagh and South Tyrone|
Kesh (from Irish Ceis, meaning "wicker bridge") is a village in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. It is on the Kesh River about 1 mile (1.6 km) from Lower Lough Erne. The 2001 Census recorded a population of 972 people.
Because of its location close to Lough Erne the village has been a popular tourist resort. It has two caravan parks, a small attractive marina and other related industries both within its boundaries and the surrounding area. It is about 5 miles (8 km) from the border with the Republic of Ireland and 22 miles (35 km) from the Atlantic coast resort of Rossnowlagh in County Donegal, thus adding to its popularity with holiday makers, day-trippers and weekenders.
The toponym Kesh comes from 'ceis', the Irish word for 'wicker bridge', which refers to the crossing in the middle of the village. The village is unusual in that it is not built around a parish church or chapel. Instead, the two Church of Ireland parishes of Magherculmoney and Tubrid meet at the river and their respective parish churches are each about 2 miles (3 km) either side of the village.
Kesh began as a ford or crossing place on the Glendarragh River. In the past Lough Erne came very much closer to the village than it does today. Before the first great Erne Drainage in the 1880s the lake was about eight feet higher and especially in time of flood may almost have reached Kesh. The rath on Rosscah Hill above the late Joe Robert's house, (a former rectory of Drumkeeran Parish) indicates original settlement here probably as far back as the Iron Age c 2000 years ago. There are two raths on this hill but the nearer to the house is believed to be a decorative feature made at the time of the construction of the house in the late 1700s. The large standing stone in Rosculban may be a relic of the Iron Age as well.
After a time the ford was augmented with a wicker bridge for which the Gaelic word is ceis and hense the village got its name. The name had been spelt in varying ways but generally as Kish or Cash until relatively modern times. An ancient saying in the locality which may refer to basket making and osier working in the area states that anyone gifted with a big behind, "had an ass on them like a Kesh creel."
The remains of Crevenish Castle are south-east of the village on the Crevenish Road, or 'the back road' as the locals call it. During its time it was home to the Blennerhasset and Maguire families in the 1600 and 1700s.
According to the O.S. Memoirs of 1834, Kesh had a police force of one constable and four subconstables and had a recently established weekly market as well as five fair days per year. It had a population of 120. A riding post arrived daily from Enniskillen at 12 o'clock and departed again at 1 p.m. A walking penny post was established at Kesh for letters to Pettigo.
Slater's Directory 1870
This information from Slater's directory of 1870 tells of the economic activity about Kesh at that time. BAKER. Bernard Kelly. BLACKSMITH. Alexander Coulter and Henry Irwin. BOOT AND SHOE MAKERS. Bernard Flynn, Terence Harran, James Irwin, Samuel Mc Caffrey and William Wherry. CARPENTERS AND CART MAKERS. William Mc Clintock. CHINA, GLASS AND EARTHENWARE DEALERS. William Gilmore. EMIGRATION AGENTS. James Aiken. GROCERS. James Aiken, Richard Elliott, Adam Eves, William Gilmore and Bernard Kelly. GUANO DEALERS AND SEEDSMEN. James Aiken. HARDWAREMEN. James Aiken and William Gilmore. LINEN AND WOOLLEN DRAPERS AND HABERDASHERS. James Aiken. MILLINERS AND DRESSMAKERS. Catherine Doonan. NAIL MAKERS. William Graham and Joseph Mc Barron. PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS. Baptist G. Graham, Drumrush, Kesh. POSTING HOUSES. Adam Eves. SPIRIT AND PORTER DEALERS. William Aiken, William Campbell and Thomas Muldoon. TAILORS. Patrick Doonan and Edward Johnston. TIMBER IRON AND COAL MERCHANTS. James Aiken. KESH RAILWAY STATION. James Connell, Station Master. CONSTABULARY STATION. Thomas Lewers. Sub-Inspector, Thomas Kernan, Head Constable.
- The Lough Erne Hotel previously the Royal Irish Constabulary Irish then was a tapestry house, now the only hotel in kesh by the Glendurragh River at the top of the main street. Still has the old Jail doors intact from the 1800s
- Belleek Pottery, world famous producer of Parian china, which is about half an hour's drive away
- Crevenish Castle remains
- The Boa Island carved stones, graveyard, and enclosure are Scheduled Historic Monuments sited in the townland of Dreenan 5 miles from Kesh, in Fermanagh District Council area, at grid ref: H0852 6197. The Lustymore stone figure was moved here in 1939 from the nearby island of that name. The oldest stone monument on the island is a denuded cairn at Inishkeeragh Bridge near the southern tip of the island.
- Castle Archdale Estate and marina, a large amenity that includes gardens, walks, water sports and other facilities; the complex also has a large caravan and camping park
- Castle Caldwell is about 20 minutes from Kesh on the Belleek road
- Drummoney Falls, a local beauty spot on the northern side of the village
- Drumrush Lodge, a restaurant and caravan park that also has a private marina that offers a full range of water sports
- Lough Erne is nearby and linked with Kesh by a navigable river terminating at the marina in the middle of the village beside the Lough erne Hotel
- The Manor House Hotel, 6 miles (10 km) away in Killadeas, provides golf and water sports facilities as well as a private leisure club and swimming pool
- Muckross, an inland lakeside 'beach' which used to be popular with families is now taken over almost exclusively by jet-skiers. It is south of Kesh, about 1 mile (1.6 km) from the village on the shore of Lough Erne
- North Fermanagh Club, a football (during winter) and cricket (during summer) venue on the Crevenish Road
- The scenic route out of Kesh offers views of Lower Lough Erne
A local village carnival takes place every year in the middle of August. It is run by locals now named the 'Maid of the Lough Erne', for locals and attracts a small but appreciative crowd during its two weekend events when there is a 'duck derby' at the Lough Erne Hotel, in 2012 they are celebrating its 30th year of the duck derby, historic car rally, tug-of-war competition and various evening functions usually based in or around the Mayfly Inn and the Lough Erne Hotel by the river.
Kesh Primary School
The date the school was established is unknown but the Chlogher Records record a school in Kesh,Rosscolban in 1820 beside the school master's house. The original building was built in 1865 (as marked on the memorial stone on the front of the school). In 1957 The Right Honorable Edward Archdale paid for the renovation of the school of 1 classroom making it into 3 classrooms and a PE hall. Many Children were demanding enrolment as a result of the closure of other rural schools in 2001 WELB decided to build a new school. Building started in 2006 and the same year the school was ready to intake an average of 200 children
Notable Kesh connections
- Comedian Frank Carson spent time as plasterer in Kesh and is responsible for the work in some of the local authority housing on the Ederney Road. He is warmly remembered.
- Although born in Oxford, former Arsenal and England defender Martin Keown spent a lot of his childhood in Kesh as his father is from near the village. He is still often spotted relaxing amongst family and friends in the 'close season' weeks.
- Kyle Lafferty was born and bred in Kesh, attended the local primary and secondary school in the village and learnt his football at the local club. After a spell with Burnley in the English Championship, he signed for Rangers who play in the Scottish Premier League. He is a Northern Ireland regular where he partners David Healy up front.
- Former England cricket captain, Michael Vaughan has often been spotted in Kesh, his wife Nichola is from a village nearby and the Baslow-based sportsman is understandably a regular visitor to the south-west of Northern Ireland.
- Although unsubstantiated, Cambridge educated lyricist, musician and singer-songwriter Richard Stilgoe is alleged to having been spotted regularly in Kesh as his aunt was born and bred in the village.
- Frank Ormbsy, poet and former editor of The Honest Ulsterman lives in the neighbouring village of Irvinestown.
- Fame Academy contestant and pop singer Sinéad Quinn was born and bred down the road from Kesh, again in Irvinestown.
Kesh railway station on the Enniskillen and Bundoran Railway was opened on 13 June 1866 and closed on 1 October 1957. The greatest impetus ever provided to Kesh was the arrival of the railway in 1866. It provided employment and a focus for traffic to and from the station. Hardware shops and shops providing for the needs of farmers could now carry a greater variety of goods and stock could be replenished more quickly than by horse and cart. Cattle and other livestock could also be transported to distant markets after being bought in local fairs such as Ederney and Lack itself. Butter and eggs could be produced in greater quantities and markets in Belfast and Dublin easily reached by train. Another boon to Kesh was the establishment of the Creamery there although this was done against much local opposition.
Kesh is classified as a small village or hamlet by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (i.e. with population between 500 and 1,000). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 972 people living in Kesh. Of these:
- 23.7% were aged under 16 years and 17.6% were aged 60 and over
- 49.2% of the population were male and 50.8% were female
- 15.8% were from a Catholic background and 83.1% were from a Protestant background
- 2.3% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed
For more details see: NI Neighbourhood Information Service
- "Kesh station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
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