STEAM travel will once again return to Fermanagh as part of the Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival (22-26th August). Three vintage steam traction engines are due to arrive in Enniskillen on Thursday evening, 22nd August.
The engines, and some 20 engine and support crew from throughout Ireland, are planning to travel over 100 miles in four days, around Upper Lough Erne, stopping off at several former Great Northern Railway (Ireland) stations.
They include – Newtownbutler, Lisnakea, Maguiresbridge, Lisbellaw and Enniskillen.
A spokesman for the organisers said the young Samuel Beckett would have been familiar with many of these railway stations.
“He travelled by steam train from his home in Dublin to Enniskillen from 1920-23 to attend Portora Royal School.”
To coincide with their arrival in Enniskillen on 22nd August, patrons will be filtering in to the Unionist Hall (the former Regal Cinema) for the opening night of the Beckett Festival.
And, as the engines stop at the various railway stations around the Upper Lough, there will be readings of Beckett’s early novel, ‘Mercier & Camier’.
And, it will be following the first Beckett reading that the, ‘ the ‘Slow & Easy’ vintage steam traction engine road run will be officially started by Alex Baird, the chairman of Fermanagh District Council at Enniskillen Castle, on Friday 23rd August, at 9am.
All three engines will then travel through Belnaleck and Derrylin to Belturbet for an evening of music and entertainment.
On Sunday 25th August, the engines journey from Monaghan through Clones and Newtownbutler, ending in Lisnaskea. Locals will have an opportunity to see the engines outside the Donn Carragh Hotel.
On Monday, 26th August, the engines will leave Lisnakea, travelling through Maguiresbridge and Lisbellaw into Enniskillen, before joining the family fun day at Enniskillen Castle (from 2pm).
During their 100-mile round trip, the steam engines will use over two tons of coal provided by Hayes Fuels. And, to ensure the boilers are kept filled, a vintage 1940’s fire brigade owned by Ignatius McGreevy will accompany them.
The spokesman for the organisers said donations would be welcomed along the route for a local charity, ‘Tinylife’, which supports premature babies.