Enniskillen Castle,
County Fermanagh

All roads in Fermanagh converge on Enniskillen, which commands a vital strategic crossing of the Erne between the Upper and Lower lakes. The first castle was built here around 1415 by Hugh "the Hospitable" Maguire but was retaken many times by the O'Donnells, the O'Neills and the English, until wrecked by Niall Garbh O'Donnell in 1602. The castle became the focus of a plantation town after 1607, when William Cole proceeded to build "a fair house upon the foundation of the old castle with other convenient houses for store and munition". This withstood a Jacobite siege in 1690 and remained the Cole family residence until a fire in 1710; the ruined castle was refurbished as a barracks during the 1790s and remained in military occupation until 1950.

The bawn had two circular and two rectangular flanker towers, but only the south flanker now survives - the so-called Watergate - one of the most photographed buildings in Ulster. It has a three-storey fašade with stepped Irish battlements and a pair of round conical-roofed turrets. As tall turrets are a feature of late 16th-century architecture in Scotland, it has been argued that the Maguires built it in the 1580s using Scottish masons. Most authorities, however, believe the Watergate was constructed around 1616-19, though it is difficult to imagine a planter like Cole, who did not even own the castle until 1620, spending much-needed resources on such a refined architectural feature just to make the castle look more impressive from the water. The castle keep now appropriately houses the regimental museum of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. On the east side of the complex stands the recently constructed Heritage Centre.

Enniskillen. NGR: H 231442.