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Project 1: Erne Pilgrim Trail

The Pilgrim Trail will uncover and promote an unique and vast spiritual heritage located throughout Lough Erne with the aim of creating awareness, understanding, public access and digital visitor experiences.

Project Partner:

Project 1: Erne Pilgrim Trail

Project Partner:

The Erne Pilgrim Trail project focuses on the development of 11 key sites around Upper and Lower Lough Erne that will create a journey to celebrate the monastic & ecclesiastical history of this area.

For the visitor, the prospect of experiencing an ancient Pilgrim Trail along the inland waterways throughout the island of Ireland makes it a truly unique heritage offering in Europe, with Heritage Lottery Funding central to realising this vision for Lough Erne.

For more information contact Hazel Long call: 07548 155351 email: or Elmarie Swanepoel call: 07702508777 or email:


The Historic Environment Division has identified 36 sites of spiritual/ecclesiastic significance and the concentration of sites of this character and calibre, focused as they are on a particular natural feature such as the Erne Waterway, is unique.  These include monasteries founded on the islands and shores, with as many as twelve early church sites recorded near the Lough.  While the islands may now seem remote, in early Christian times the Erne Waterway was a great highway with the island monasteries important ports of call not only for spiritual renewal but also hospitality.   In the middle ages the Erne waterway was an important pilgrim route to St. Patrick’s Purgatory in Donegal and continues as such today.

This LELP project has further led to the initiation of a larger 350 km spiritual trail heritage programme by Waterways Ireland and 13 county representatives under the Leader Cooperation programme, thus extending the trail from the Erne Waterway in County Fermanagh, northwards to Co Donegal and southwards along the Shannon-Erne and Shannon Navigation to the Shannon estuary in Co Kerry.

Related Videos

John Boyle – Director of Waterways Ireland talking about Lough Erne Spiritual Trail & Great Island Monastries

Project Updates

Recruitment: Project Officer – October 2021

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council are recruiting for the position of Project officer for the Erne Pilgrimage Trail.

The postholder will be responsible for the project, Lough Erne Pilgrimage Trail. The project aims to celebrate and make accessible the unique landscape of the Lough Erne region and to share and develop the rich cultural heritage the area. The postholder will be responsible for the projects objectives, develop sites and a trail inspired by the historic pilgrimage route along the Erne system to Lough Derg that can be used as a catalyst to engage visitors, residents, businesses and communities.

The objectives of the project include: 

  • To enhance physical and/or intellectual access to at least 10 sites associated with the ecclesiastic heritage of the Lough Erne landscape area

  • To increase awareness and understanding of the history and heritage of the great island monasteries

  • To create visitor experiences and journeys along the trail.

  • To increase community engagement and volunteering activities associated with the sites on the trail

  • To promote awareness and use of the trail as recreational and cultural tourism destinations.

The project is being delivered by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council in partnership with Lough Erne Landscape Partnership (LELP) with funding from National Lottery Heritage Fund, Waterways Ireland and Department for Communities Historic Environment Division.

For full details of the post click here.

An event for Sharing Folklore, Histories and Stories – January 2020

On Monday 27th January 2020 in partnership with Waterways Ireland we hosted a community outreach event.  The Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis at Queen’s University Belfast provided an  opportunity for the public to engage with their local history by sharing tales and folklore, as well as their memories and stories concerning selected spiritual sites around Lough Erne.

We are seeking to collect and collate oral histories and heritage of key sites found on the shores of Lough Erne.

For more information click here.