Enniskillen’s ‘hidden gem’ celebrating 125 years

Cole's Monument and Plunkett's Bandstand at Forthill Park, Enniskillen    RMG01

Cole’s Monument and Plunkett’s Bandstand at Forthill Park, Enniskillen RMG01


Enniskillen’s ‘hidden gem’ the Forthill Park is celebrating125 years this summer. The park was first opened on August 7th 1891.
When it first opened, the landscaping of Forthill Park was considered to be far in advance of anything else in Ireland at that time. 
Formerly known as the Forthill Pleasure Grounds, the park was opened by the Countess of Erne, who was presented with a special jewelled and enamelled key by Mr. T. A. Mercer. 
On the evening of the opening, Forthill Park was ablaze with light as thousands of Chinese lanterns and illuminations hung from the trees, shrubs and along the winding paths.
However, it seems the Forthill Park is not as well utilised as it could be by the local people. 
When the park was first opened, designer Oliver Plunkett explained that the park was to used as a place of rest and relaxation.
The park, it seems has become Enniskillen’s hidden gem as many local people do not use it to its full potential. The beautiful five and a half acre wooded park in the centre  of the town is situated on the hilltop behind Belmore Street. Forthill is a wooded town park with nice walks, colourful flowers and shrub gardens and a children’s play area. 
The Victorian park is home to Cole’s monument where the 108 steps lead visitors to outstanding views of Enniskillen and the surrounding area. The monument commemorates Sir Galbraith Lowry-Cole (1772–1842), who was one of Wellington’s generals and the son of the first Earl of Enniskillen.  The first stone of Cole’s Monument was laid on June 5th 1845 but the monument was not completed until 12 years later in 1857. The monument is said to have inspired Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Happy Prince.’
The Fermanagh and Omagh council are responsible for Forthill Park and holds events throughout the year to publicise the park. The council claim that Cole’s monument attracts 75 visitors to the park in an afternoon.
It also has a fine Victorian bandstand of cast-iron, erected in memorial to Thomas Plunkett, the designer of the park. It comprises an octagonal canopy with a distinctive Oriental flavour, supported by eight columns and an hour-faced clock with a small crown spire. 
The park is a beautiful location where families could easily pass the summer’s day with children having loads of space to run around. The people of Enniskillen should pack a picnic and enjoy the hidden gem that is Forthill Park.

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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