Categories: fermanaghthings to doFamilies

Eager for a giant adventure with their families, we challenged broadcaster, Ibe Sesay (@radioibe) and influencer, Caroline O’Neill (@diggmama) to swap locations for a short break with a difference, and experience the best of their respective home towns.

Challenge accepted, Ibe and his family recently headed off to enjoy a weekend in Fermanagh, with an itinerary curated especially for them by Caroline, including stops at the Killyhevlin Hotel, Marble Arch Caves, a water taxi tour and Charlie’s Bar.

Here’s what Ibe and his family got up to…

Ibe and his family on a fun-filled fermanagh getaway

Day One

The whole Sesay family, (my wife Colleen and our children Katie (21), Mollie (18), Stephen (14) and Daniel (13) couldn’t wait for this trip! There are some amazing, unique things to see and do in County Fermanagh and discovering them together has allowed us to create some unforgettable giant memories.

We took Caroline’s recommendation on where to stay and couldn’t wait to experience the luxurious Killyhevlin Hotel for ourselves.

It was just a 90-minute drive door-to-door from our home in Lisburn on the Friday evening, and we were impressed from the moment we stepped into the hotel lobby. That feeling never left us either. We highly recommend the Killyhevlin Hotel as a great base for families exploring this picturesque part of the world. The rooms are beautiful and spacious, the food at the Lakeside Grill was top notch (the bacon and cheese stacked burger was delicious!) and the staff couldn’t have been more welcoming. After our delicious dinner, we all took the opportunity to get an early night ahead of our exciting Saturday.

Day Two

Our day started at a leisurely pace and we enjoyed a delicious cooked breakfast at the hotel before we made our way to the historic Enniskillen Castle for a tour of its museums.

It’s an impressive site with a fascinating backstory and incredibly scenic views - it is a place that we should all make a point of visiting. Stepping outside, you're immediately surrounded by the waters of Lough Erne, and it was a short walk to the next item on Caroline's itinerary; Erne Adventures’ hydrobikes.

This was great fun, it’s brilliant to get on the water - without getting in the water - and we’d never done anything like it before. I think Colleen was a bit nervous, but she was smiling from the second she got going and the boys loved turning it into a bit of a race and getting competitive. It’s safe to say we’ll definitely be coming back to do this again.

Having worked up an appetite we made our way to one of Caroline’s favourite eateries, Charlie’s Bar. It was everything we expected and more, and it was easy to see why Caroline and her family love it in here. The open fire and cosy setting inside were only topped by the fact we could get Little Wing pizza delivered to our table from their restaurant next door, and the warm hospitality of the staff. There's a lovely vibe to the bar, and you could easily spend a whole afternoon soaking it up with a drink or two!

After everyone was fed and watered, we headed back down to the water's edge, and this time climbed aboard the waiting Erne Water Taxi, for their private Devenish Island Experience. This was a fascinating tour - 10/10 for Caroline again! - which we all agreed was equal parts informative and relaxing, while the stop on Devenish Island revealed a beautiful spot to visit. The atmosphere and tranquility of the island, along with the stone structures built on it, together gave the impression that we'd somehow stepped back in time. It felt very mindful.

I think it’s safe to say that we were all impressed with Lough Erne, and the town of Enniskillen is a truly beautiful place. As we dandered through the streets, exploring its shops and chatting with friendly locals, we headed in the general direction of the highly recommended restaurant The Firehouse Bar and Grill for dinner. And it's safe to say that this place didn’t disappoint. The rump steak was delicious, and the kids loved their pizzas, plus I spotted a neighbouring table enjoying a steak pizza (!) which looked incredible - a reason to go back if ever I needed one! The atmosphere in this busy restaurant is welcoming and friendly, and with the high quality of meals it's not hard to see why booking in advance is often necessary.

Ibe and his family on a fun-filled Fermanagh getaway

Day Three

We enjoyed one final delicious breakfast in the hotel, before we checked out (very reluctantly!) and then after packing up the car, drove to the final stop on our tour. And if I had to sum this last stop in one word, it would be: WOW! Caroline definitely saved her best recommendation for last! The Marble Arch Caves are amazing! And if you haven't been to visit the caves before, this is your sign to do so immediately!

We arrived about half an hour before our guided tour started, so had a little time to explore the visitor centre and take in the views of the surrounding Geopark, which in all honesty, were stunning. We were genuinely taken aback by the setting; County Fermanagh is a gorgeous place but the scenery in this area is really special.

Once our tour guide arrived, and we had our safety briefing and hard hats on, we headed underground to explore. The caves themselves felt otherworldly, and our guide was able to bring their history to life by explaining how the caves were formed and first explored. There were fantastic photo opportunities throughout, and the boat ride through the caves, underground, in particular was a standout moment. It’s not often our kids are left speechless, but these deep dark, lofty caves and the waterfalls flowing through them definitely left a lasting impression. This was a great shout Caroline, and somewhere everyone should visit at least once in their life.

Once we re-emerged above ground, it was time to head back home to get ready for the normal work/school week ahead, but we all agreed on the drive back home that County Fermanagh is such a short drive from everywhere in Northern Ireland, and it is well worth exploring. Thank-you Caroline for your wondeful itinerary of suggestions, we thoroughly enjoyed all your recommendations and we’ll definitely be back!

If you're inspired to start planning your own adventure in County Fermanagh make sure to check out our accommodation, things to do and places to eat pages for inspiration.

Marble Arch Caves
Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark

Marble Arch Caves- Magical, Unique and Memorable. The Marble Arch Caves is a major tourist attraction, set in the picturesque foothills of Cuilcagh Mountain, just a short journey from the Island town of Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

Enniskillen Castle
Castle / Fort
Enniskillen Castle

Situated beside the River Erne in County Fermanagh, was built almost 600 years ago by Gaelic Maguires. It was strategically important throughout its history. In the 17th century it became a garrison fort and later a military barracks. Enjoy the many seasonal events and exhibitions including The Inniskillings Museum within the castle grounds and Fermanagh County Museum's Medieval Maguires display.

Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges
Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges

The four star Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel is idyllically set on the shores of scenic Lough Erne, bordered by private grounds and gardens, yet only one kilometre from the historic Island town of Enniskillen.

Erne Water Taxi
Boat Tours
Erne Water Taxi

See Lough Erne your way with Erne Water Taxi's chauffeur driven boats. Travel in the comfort of our covered 8- seater boat, complete with cab, without having to worry about the driving. Your tour guide will help you explore the history of Lough Erne.

Charlie's Bar
View of red leather seats, bar and dancefloor at Charlie's Bar Enniskillen

Established in 1944, Charlie’s is one of Enniskillen's most established traditional, family run bars. Whether it's live music you're after or somewhere to relax in front of an open fire- you'll find it in Charlie's!

Hydrobikes at Enniskillen Castle
Activity Centre
Hydrobikes at Enniskillen Castle

This unique water experience is set in the water below the magnificent Enniskillen Castle and can be done in the day or at nighttime, providing a completely unique perspective of the town.

Little Wing Pizzeria, Enniskillen
Little Wing Pizzeria, Enniskillen

At Little Wing we couldn’t be more passionate about our pizza – just taste one of our yummy, traditionally made Naples style pizzas and you'll know what we're talking about. We tirelessly search for the finest fresh ingredients which we cook using time honoured methods, all served in a warm and friendly atmosphere for the whole family to enjoy!

The Firehouse
The Firehouse

The Firehouse Bar & Grill is one known by the locals and visitors to be one of Enniskillen's best eateries and cocktail bars in the town. Boasting a menu full of flavours and great choice, cooked from a stone baked pizza oven and famous bertha oven, perfect for grilled steaks, burgers and more!