When people think of sawmills in Fermanagh, they most likely think of Balcas at Ballycassidy and the impressive operation in place.

But more than 100 years ago, there were sawmills dotted across the county, along the shores of Lough Erne and around the Tempo area.

One family who ran successful sawmills in Fermanagh was the Kidney family, who brought the business to Ballycassidy.

The old waterwheel at Blaney (pictured) is a poignant reminder of the time when sawmills were dotted across the Fermanagh landscape.

And nearby this, a sawmill was once run by an industrious man named Thomas Kidney.

A century ago, there were many small water-powered sawmills in Fermanagh, as trees were difficult to transport over long distances.

"Born in 1900. Thomas learned his trade in Tempo where his father Robert had one of these water-powered sawmills," explained Roisin McManus, Communications Manager at Balcas.

"The young Thomas – who left school at 14 to join his father in Tempo sawmill – was hard-working and ambitious, and would eventually lay the foundations of a multi-million pound sawmilling business in Fermanagh.

"In the 1920s, he was invited by Lord Ely to manage the sawmill at Ely Lodge, and he worked there for a number of years before taking on the mill at Blaney.

"During the 1930s, his business expanded and in 1942 he moved to a site at what is now the Derrychara Link, which was very busy during and after the war.

"By the early 1950s, Thomas Kidney needed more space and he moved his business and his family to Ballycassidy."

And so, Ballycassidy Sawmills was born. Sadly, a few years later, illness forced Thomas to step back from the company.

His son George, another hardworking and far-sighted man, took over the day-to-day running of the business, where later he would be joined by his three sons.

Ballycassidy Sawmills moved again to the old airport site in the 1960s, becoming a limited company in 1962 – the precursor of Balcas.

Today’s computerised automated sawmill is a far cry from the old water-powered mill. But in one sense at least, the wheel has come full circle.

Many years ago the old waterwheel in Tempo was harnessed to provide the first electricity supply to the village, and one hundred years later, Balcas is generating its own electricity and feeding into the national grid.

"Thomas Kidney would be impressed if he could see what he had started," added Roisin.

Now, officially in its 60th year, Balcas has been gathering stories and artefacts for inclusion in an anniversary publication and also for an exhibition celebrating sawmilling in Fermanagh.

The exhibition display highlights other sawmills within the locality, and the history, products, development and innovation of the sawmilling industry in Fermanagh.

Held in association with Fermanagh County Museum in Enniskillen Castle, the now open exhibition closes with the launch of the Balcas anniversary publication on June 16. Normal admission rates apply.