Enniskillen Castle lies in the town by the same name, on the shore of the River Erne, in County Fermanagh, in Northern Ireland.
The first castle at this site was a square tower house built by Hugh Maguire around 1415. Enniskillen Castle stood on an island between the canals connecting Lower an Upper Lough Erne, a strong defensive position, guarding one of the few passes into Ulster and defending Fermanagh from attack from neighbouring clans.
Enniskillen Castle was taken by the O'Donnells and the O'Neills frequently but often quickly retaken and rebuild by the Maguires. In 1508 the Maguires may have extended the castle to its present rectangular ground plan.
At the end of the 16th century, during the Nine Years War, the castle was taken several times by the English and retaken by the Maguires. In 1602 the castle was dismantled to prevent the English using it as a base and in the same year Niall Garbh O'Donnell and a force of English completed the destruction of the castle. The only remains of the medieval castle are the lower parts of the keep.
After 1607 the plantation town of Enniskillen was built on the island on which the castle stood. The present Enniskillen Castle was built on the foundations of its medieval predecessor by Sir William Cole, the Constable of Enniskillen. The turreted building, known as the Watergate, is the most important remainder of that time. Although its name suggests otherwise, this building never was a gate.
In 1796, because of the threat of a French invasion, Enniskillen Castle was refurbished as a barracks. Most of the buildings on the castle complex, besides the Watergate and the keep in the central courtyard, date from that time or later.
At present the castle complex houses the Fermanagh County Museum and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Regimental Museum.
Although the castle looks attractive on the outside, I was a little disappointed by the interior. Not much remains of the medieval castle and it feels more like a 20th century military barrack, but the museum in the former keep has a nice part about its medieval history. The castle complex can be visited for a small fee.