On our most recent trip to Ireland (June 2011), we decided to spend the majority of our time in Northern Ireland, starting our trip in the Lough Erne area of County Fermanagh. One of the first sites we visited in the area was Florence Court, which is managed by the National Trust.
Depending upon what you choose to do there, you could spend a few hours, an afternoon, or a full day at the Florence Court demesne. In addition to a guided tour of the house, visitors may also stroll through the Pleasure Garden and the Walled Garden, or take one of the many forest park walks (the demesne is part of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark complex).
The main house at Florence Court was built in the early to mid-18th century and was the owned by the Coles, Earls of Enniskillen, until the home was turned over to the National Trust in 1954. The agreement between the National Trust and the family ensured the Cole lineage the right to continue to live in the house and also allowed them to retain ownership of the furniture in the house. (The family ceased residence in the home and the furniture was dispersed a few decades ago; however, the National Trust was able to reacquire some of the original pieces – when they came up at auction – due to the generosity of some donors.) A tour of the house takes about an hour, with the last tour beginning about one hour before closing (which is 5 p.m.).
The property also includes a tearoom, which offers a variety of flavors of local ice cream, sandwiches and soup, and a variety of baked goods. For a few pounds, you can also purchase a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds. Other amenities include a gift shop, bathrooms, and Tracker Packs (cute little ladybug or frog backpacks) for kids to use temporarily while they’re at Florence Court (a £5 refundable deposit is required). Dogs on leash are allowed in the gardens and grounds but not in the house itself.
Admission fees for 2011 are as follows:
Garden/Grounds entry (paid when you enter the gate of the grounds) -
Adult £3.25, Child £1.75, Family £7.75
House Tour (purchase tickets at Reception in the Tearoom) -
Adult £5, Child £2, Family £12
If you would be interested in wandering the grounds on your own after everyone has left for the evening, you might consider renting one of the self-catering accommodations located on the Florence Court demesne: Men’s Way is an apartment located above the old rooms used in the laundry yard (formerly the area of the servants’ quarters), and Rose Cottage is the former home of the Florence Court Groundskeeper/Gardener. You may obtain more information or check availability of this property by visiting the National Trust Holiday Cottages website for the Rose Cottage at http://www.nationaltrustholidays.org.uk/holiday-cottage/rose-cottage-enniskillen-county-fermanagh/.