Cars on both sides of the street, a tight fit for parking spaces and queues are some of the hallmarks of traffic issues in Lisbellaw.

At the fryer of the Corner Café is Gwen Ovens, who had a steady stream of customers when The Impartial Reporter visited at lunchtime.

Taking a break from the heat of the kitchen, Ms Ovens noted how the ongoing cost-of-living crisis is impacting small businesses like hers.

She said: “I had an electricity bill at £5,000 – that’s a lot of money before you buy a chip or a coffee bean.”

Having opened in November, 2019, just weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the world, Ms Ovens says how the price of some of her stock, including potatoes, has now doubled, with a bag of spuds costing £14.

While traffic and parking is on the minds of many local people, public transport is on Ms Ovens’.

“There is only one bus through the village now, and it’s the Clones bus, and it comes twice a week.”

She adds that villagers now need to walk to the edge of the village, sometimes in wind and driving rain, to get the Belfast bus.

“It would help me if the bus came [through] here; people could come into the village when the bus stops.”

Investment is always on the tip of people’s tongues in Fermanagh, and Lisbellaw is no different.

Ivan Wilson, Manager of Creighton’s Hardware and Building Supplies, sees many people through the doors of his shop as they buy tools or supplies, with some even using them for upgrades to their home.

He thinks Lisbellaw itself needs an upgrade. “I would like to see a grant or something for the signage; we have sort of oldish aluminium windows, and when a big lorry goes up the street, they shake.”

Mr. Wilson adds: “I would like to see grants for the smaller more rural places.”


Reflecting on some of the issues facing Lisbellaw, he said: “Parking can be an issue here, especially now once the schools come back, on that main street – especially with people parking on both sides.”

Another thriving part of the village is the local butcher. When asked on the traffic issues affecting the town, and what can be done about them, butcher John Graham, of J. A. Graham, says: “I don’t think there is very much you could do about it.”

Pondering the issue, he adds: “Really and truly, the village was built for a horse and cart.”

There are less buses now but when schools-related traffic passes through, there is bedlam, this paper heard.

Asked if cars could be at risk of damage, Mr. Graham says: “No – everybody just has a stand-off, sitting looking at each other in the middle of the street.”

Traffic is also an issue for local man John Smyth, who says he’d like to see speed ramps and security cameras in the village, believing the town is “socially deprived” without them.

Pointing down Brook Street, Mr. Smyth says: “Up there is like a racing track. They rally up and down the town.

“Cameras would be good; we have no police station, so we have no law and order.”

Also, on parking issues, which are on the minds of so many Lisbellaw residents, Mr. Smyth says: “Some days, they [motorists] are not even parked on the double yellow lines – they are parking on the footpath on the double yellows.”

Best friends Sasha Ovens and Alex McCullough sat in the Corner Café.

When asked what Lisbellaw needs, Miss Ovens replies bluntly: “Anything, really.”

It is noted by this reporter that phone signal in Lisbellaw is patchy. The tech-savvy teens say: “The phone is fine; sometimes I can send messages without WiFi, but it can be a bit iffy.”

When the girls check their phones, Miss McCullough notes she had no signal.

Both teenagers are students at Devenish College and are due to return to school soon.

When asked if it’ll be good to get into their new school when the new-build is complete, having been delayed yet again, the girls sigh: “Eventually.”

One resident believes that sufficient infrastructure is simply not in place for the number of people living in Lisbellaw.

Mark Robinson says: “There are 200 houses proposed for this area, and there are not enough road services for them.”

Echoing the thoughts of many residents, he says: “If you come here at the right time of day, you could sit here waiting 20 minutes at times [in traffic].”

Offering a solution, Mr. Robinson says: “I think, to fix it, you’d need to only park on one side of the street.”

Leaning in, he adds: “The traffic warden is never here. He came last year, and gave out a load of tickets one day – and people thought they were fake!”

However, despite issues in the area, Mr. Robinson is optimistic about the village he calls home.

“I think Lisbellaw is one of the best up-and-coming places for young families.

“You’ve got The Dog and Duck [inn] which opened last year, and it’s a big help.

“You’ve two great schools, and you’re only ten minutes from Enniskillen. There are a lot of young, educated people moving back to the area.”