Around 30 people met at Darling Street Methodist Church for the first visit of the UHCT Churches Walking Tour of Enniskillen on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. The church had very kindly laid on refreshments which were particularly welcome to those travelling from further afield. Once we were all settled, the Chairman of Fermanagh District Council, Mr Bert Johnston, welcomed us all to the town. This year the tour was lead by Caroline Maguire, a Senior Conservation Architect from NIEA, who stepped in at the last minute to replace Manus Deery, our usual guide, who was recovering from surgery.
Caroline gave a potted history of the church and local tour guide, Catherine Scott, ably assisted her in bringing the history of the area to life. Following a chance to walk around the church, we visited the impressive hall to the rear and then walked next door to St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church. Unbelievably there was a funeral in both the RC church and St Macartin's Cathedral that afternoon so whilst we waited for St Michael's to clear of mourners, we stood out in the afternoon sunshine and Caroline and Catherine showed us the massive flying buttresses which had been built in 1921 to support the west wall. We were then treated to a visit to the sacristy at the rear of the church before walking round back into Darling Street to access the main church.
One of the nicest things about this walking tour was the close proximity of all the churches. After our visit to St. Michael's which was next door to the Methodist Church, we only had to cross the road to visit St Macartin's Cathedral. Unlike the other two churches which sit directly on the footpath, St. Marcartin's is angled on the slightly elevated site with a path leading from the footpath up to the entrance. After a welcome by the Rev Rob Clements, on behalf of the rector, the Very Rev. Kenneth R. J. Hall, once again Caroline and Catherine explained about the origins and architecture of this lovely church, pointing out the many artefacts linking the church, town and the Inniskilling Regiments. There was much discussion about the positioning of the older church and how it might have been incorporated into the church we could see today.
From the west end of the town, we walked along the main street to Scots Presbyterian Church to see the recent renovation works and new hall extension which had recently been completed. The minister Rev. David Cupples welcomed us to the church and pointed out some of the interesting historic plaques in the church as well as the more recent alterations. Of interest was the magnificent stained glass window behind the pulpit which commemorated the First World War - particularly because of the centenary this year.
Scots Presbyterian Church provided very much appreciated refreshments in the new hall complex to the rear which gave magnificent views out over the river. After everyone had been replenished with tea and cake, Caroline took to the floor for the last time to give the usual and very interesting talk on church maintenance. To round off the day, those who were left and had time were invited to visit the Convent Chapel where the beautiful stained glass was designed by the Harry Clarke Studio.
Once again, this delightful afternoon gave us the opportunity to learn a little more about the churches in our province and the lovely weather set all the buildings off to their best advantage.