A TRADITIONAL flat-bottomed boat that has been a fixture of daily life at the Crom Estate, outside Newtownbutler, for the last 100 years has been lovingly restored for recreational use at the popular National Trust property.

The relaunch of the Crom cot, after a significant restoration project, helped to mark the 30th anniversary of the Fermanagh estate being under the care and conservation of the National Trust.

Cots, the traditional flat-bottomed crafts of Lough Erne, were once a very familiar sight on the Fermanagh waterways, including the 100-year-old vessel that transported family, staff, children and even occasionally livestock, across to the various islands at Crom, to church and school.

The cot was even involved in some smuggling in its day!

It has been a fixture of Crom for over 100 years and was restored by the National Trust in 2007 for recreational use on the estate, giving visitors a taste of life on the shores of Lough Erne.

With so many years of use, the cot required some conservation work.

The boat has been undergoing a restoration project since February in the capable hands of Cavan Men’s Shed, overseen by Bert Robinson, who was part of the original restoration project.

Cavan Men’s Shed also had some experience of the necessary skills when they made a replica cot back in 2014, and two smaller racing cots alongside Lough Erne Heritage in 2016.

The Crom cot is a large vessel – 36 feet in length and weighing over two tonnes - so it required all hands on deck to remove it from the water and machinery to help lift and support it when turning so the group could work on both sides.

Rotten boards were removed and replaced along with the seating, then the entire craft was pitched, tarred and repainted - resulting in a boat which looks much younger than its 100 years.

The volunteers from Cavan Men’s Shed have been absolutely integral to the project, all giving their time up to three days a week working on the boat at Crom.

As much as the team enjoyed learning and using their skills, they also made sure they stopped for a well-earned tea break often with the National Trust rangers!

Mr. Robinson said the work would guarantee the cot was water-worthy for another 10 years, but as she is over 100 years old, more work will be required regularly to ensure its safety for the future.

The original restoration of the cot brought it back into use after many years out of the water and is part of the National Trust’s vision for the long-term conservation of Crom.

“It’s been an important fixture of daily life here on the estate and the National Trust is proud to continue important conservation work like this in its 30 years here and wants to continue this work into the future,” a spokesperson added.