Fermanagh is synonymous with the charms of Lough Erne – but nearby Belturbet, set just across the Border, also taps into the calm tranquility of the waters rolling past.

In the laidback town where cross-Border trade and travel intersect, the Erne is still an attraction for many people visiting and living in the area alike, said Danny Maguire, who has lived in Belturbet for 30 years, having moved there from Butlersbridge.


Danny Maguire.

Danny Maguire.


Mr. Maguire said: “We get lots of people coming through the town. We used to have great tourism in this town, but sadly it has all slackened off a wee bit now.

“The boats would be good for tourism, without a doubt. It’s lovely to go down and walk by the river and watch the boats pulling in – that’s what took me to Belturbet, the beauty of it.”

He said that the town, which once boosted 18 pubs has “slacked off”, and now is home to five pubs.

“With the Covid pandemic, it slacked off like every town around Ireland. We used to have festivals and the agriculture show, but with young people coming on now, they have to get away, and haven’t time to do anything like this any more.”

McGurren Artisan Butcher is at the Diamond area of the town, where butcher Anthony McGurren was busy removing dry aged beef from his Himalayan Salt Chamber – the only one of its kind in Co. Cavan.

At one stage, his shop was part of Belturbet Castle. Mr. McGurren said he gets a lot of cross-Border trade: “We do get a lot of business from Derrylin, Teemore, Newtownbutler.


Anthony McGurren, Artisan Butchers, Belturbet.

Anthony McGurren, Artisan Butchers, Belturbet.


“I know everybody pays by card nowadays, but I still have a bit of sterling in the til by the end of the week.”

He said the trade as a butcher is good, but has “changed a lot”. When he began his business more than 20 years ago, there were four butchers in the town, but now he is the only one left.

“It has changed a lot in the last seven or eight years and people are starting to go back to the butcher again.

“We are the last generation of people that make anything on the high street – there is no other business in any town where there is anything manufactured on the high street.

“We take in raw material – like an animal – and we break them all down and make the products, while years ago you had people making wooden things, and they were carpenters; we are the last artisan trade.”

The meat Mr. McGurren uses is local, with 70 per cent of the beef in the shop coming from his family’s farm, while other meat comes from farmers in the local area.

Mr. McGurren praised the community spirit in the area: “There is a good community spirit in the town; a good few committees are doing positive work to boost the town.”

Praising such initiatives, and the natural beauty of the area, he said: “There are a lot of things other towns would be mad for – we have the River Erne, and nice walks around the town. It is not a bad place to be.”

Exiting the butchers was Juliana Fitzpatrick, who said Belturbet is quiet and “the people are very friendly and very kind”.

She has lived in the town for 17 years after marrying a local man whom she met when he was holidaying in Africa, and they have raised their family here.

Mrs. Fitzpatrick said: “It is a small town, and everybody is like a family.”


Juliana Fitzpatrick.

Juliana Fitzpatrick.


Praising how the community pulls together, she added: “Everybody knows everybody, and we look out for each other. Everybody is ready to help; if you ever need help, you click your finger, and somebody is there.”

She praised the local schools which her children attended or are currently attending, and added: “I want whoever is in charge to keep up the good job and to protect our children.”

One of the most striking buildings in Belburbet is the site of the former post office, now a sorting office.

Outside the grand building was Jason O’Reilly, who said there are lots of positives about the town.

“The GAA underage is going well, the Seniors aren’t going as well. There is a lot of good work behind the scenes in the club, and in the town, with Tidy Towns.


Jason OReilly.

Jason O'Reilly.


“You have your restaurants, you have some of the best restaurants about – Café Nua, the Seven Horseshoes, the Castle.”

Reflecting on how the town has changed, Mr. O’Reilly said: “A lot of them [town] characters are now gone; 20 years ago, it was a different town – you could have left your keys in the car, but it’s the same as every town [now].”

When asked what he’d like to see in the area, he said: “You’d like more employment about it. There are no real big factories, or big employers in Belturbet.”


Out and about getting some messages from a neighbouring shop was Kevin Coogan, who moved to the area a few years ago from Slane, Co. Meath. He hailed the convenience of living in the area. “I am content – it’s only 50 or 60 yards to the shop, and there is a great bus service here.

“There are three or four buses every day, and you can go anywhere you want from there, and Enniskillen and Donegal are the other way.”


Kevin Coogan.

Kevin Coogan.


Someone else who took a minute to stop and sing the praises of the area was Lorraine Sheridan, who is “a blow-in” to the area, hailing originally from Drung, about five miles from Cavan.

She said: “When I came here first, there was a great social life, bands, music and when the economy went down, a lot of people emigrated – there was an exodus.


Lorraine Sheridan.

Lorraine Sheridan.


“It is still a great town, a friendly town. They love a few drinks and a great meal – it is genuinely a friendly town. It is a great town for families; it is a great place to bring up children.”