Emigration and Education Statistics, 1931, Co. Fermanagh

County Fermanagh, an inland county in the province of Ulster, is bounded on the north by counties Donegal and Tyrone, on the east by counties Tyrone and Monaghan, on the south by county Cavan and on the west by Cavan and Leitrim. It’s length from near Rosslea to the north-west boundary near Beleek is 45 miles, and its breadth from north-east to south-west is 29 miles.


The name of the county is derived from the tribe called Fir-Monach. Monach who was fifth in descent from Cahirmore, King of Ireland from A.D. 120 to 123, settled on the coast of Lough Erne towards the end of the third century, and his descendants eventually spread themselves over the entire county. For several centuries the county belonged to the family of Maguire, and hence was known as the “”Maguire’s Country.”” The ancient name of Enniskillen was “”Inis-Cethlenn,”” called after Kethlenda, who was the wife of the famous mythical hero “”Balor of the Mighty Blows,”” chief of the sea robbers called Formorians. Bellisle was formerly called Ballymacmanus or Senat Macmanus, after the family of Macmanus, its owners. Cahal Maguire, Dean of Clogher lived there in the 15th century, one of the greatest of Irish Scholars and Historians: his “”Annals of Ulster”” is one of the most valuable works dealing with Irish history. “”Tooraw”” was the ancient name of that part of the county which lies between Lough Melvin and Lough Erne. The Baronies of Clankelly and Clanawley are named after the tribes which inhabited these districts.


The chain of lakes formed by the two Loughs Erne practically divides the county into two halves. On either side of the lakes the ground is level for one or two miles, but the greater part of the remainder of the county is hilly. The Upper Lough Erne and the Lower Lough Erne are connected by the river Erne, the distance between the two being about eight miles. The Upper lake is about 10 miles long and has an average breadth of about two miles; its coast-line is very much broken and it contains many small islands. The lower lake is about 18 miles in length, and is about five and a half miles wide at its greatest breadth. The other larger lakes are Lower Lough Macnean or Lough Nilly, a small portion of which is in Co. Cavan, and Upper Lough Macnean which is four and a half miles long. Only a small portion of Lough Melvin lies in the county. Drumgay Lake, two miles north of Enniskillen is remarkable for a number of “”crannoges”” a name given to old island habitations. There are many smaller lakes scattered throughout the county.

The two highest Mountain summits with their heights expressed in feet, are Cullcagh(2,188) and Tiltinbane (1,949), they stand on the south-west boundary, and run into county Cavan. Six miles west of Enniskillen stands Belmore Mountain (1,312) remarkable for some ancient sepulchral monuments, and near by is Ora More (854). Knockmore Cliff (919), near Derrygonnelly, is remarkable for its caves and the ancient inscriptions which they contain. Close by stands Trustia (989). Shean North (1,135) rises precipitously from Lough Erne, and near by is Drumbad(1,009). In the south of the county is Slieve Rushen (1,269) and Knockninny (628). On the eastern side of the lakes, starting from the south-east are Slieve Beagh which belongs partly to counties Fermanagh, Tyrone and Monaghan, the principle summit of this range is Dooharn (1,255) entirely in Fermanagh. Carnmore (1,034) lies east of Lisnaskea, Brocker (1,056) and Topped (909) near Tempo. Tappaghan (1,122) is the principle summit in the north.

The principle river in the county is the Erne which forms a fine cascade near the town of Beleek: it has several small tributaries running into it from the hills on either side. The Woodford River forms part of the boundary, between Fermanagh and Cavan before it falls into Upper Lough Erne. The Clodagh or Swanlinbar River and the Arney also flow into Upper Lough Erne. The Sillees joins the Erne above Enniskillen, and the Roogagh flows west into Lough Melvin. On the north-east side of the county the Colebrooke River flows by Maguiresbridge into Lough Erne, and the Tempo River joins it a mile below the town. The Ballinamard River flows by the town of that name into Lower Lough Erne, and into the same lake flow the Kesh, past Ederney and Kesh, the Bannagh and the Termon River flowing by Pettigo.

The islands of the two Loughs Erne are very numerous and of various sizes. In the Upper Lake the chief islands are Innismore Cleanish, Traunish, Inishcorkish, Naan and Belleisle. In the Lower Lake, Boa Island is four and a half miles long, and the other islands are Lustymore, Lustybeg, Cruninish, Hare, Crevinshaughy, Inishmakill and Inishmacsaint which contains an ancient church ruin. Two miles below Enniskillen stands the island of Devinish.


There were 12,984 families in the county according to the 1911 Census for Ireland, the average number in each family being 4.4. The number of ‘inhabited houses’ was 12,924, with an average of 4.4 persons to each house. The Special Inmates of Public institutions are omitted from these figures.

There were in the county 8,648 ‘Occupiers’ or ‘Heads of Families’ who were in occupation of less than five rooms, this was 66.6% of the total for the whole county. Of these 318, or 2.5% occupied one room; 1,785 or 13.7% occupied two rooms; 3,802 or 29.3%, occupied three rooms; and 2,743 or 21.1% were in occupation of four rooms.

There were 187 tenements in the county, in which the room had only one occupant at that time; 111 cases where the room had two, three or four occupants; 17 cases in which there were five, six or seven occupants and three cases where the occupants of one room exceeded 7 in number, including one case where nine persons occupied the same room.




Total Pop.
1821 63,627 67,370 130,997
1831 73,117 76,646 149,763
1841 76,982 79,499 156,481
1851 56,829 59,218 116,047
1861 51,835 53,933 105,768
1871 45,430 47,364 92,794
1881 42,460 42,819 84,879
1891 37,344 36,826 74,170
1901 33,321 32,199 65,430
1911 31,690 30,146 61,836
1926 30,102 27,882 57,984


In 1911, there were in the county 51,156 people aged 9 years and upwards; of these 43,466 or 85% could read and write; 2,468 or 4.8% could read only; and 5,222 or 10.2% were illiterate. As that census was the first for which the age for consideration had been raised from 5 years to 9 years, no comparison can be made with figures from earlier censuses. But – the percentage of those of five years and upwards who were unable to read and write in 1891 was 15.4%. By 1901 this figure was listed as 13.1% and in 1911 had fallen to 13%.

IRISH SPEAKING (1861-1911)

of people
1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911

Irish only
15 10

Irish & English
1,663 349 1,270 561 1,005 1,563

Irish Total
1,678 359 1,270 561 1,005 1,563
% of
1.6 0.4 1.5 0.8 1.5 2.5

RELIGIONS, 1871-1926(% of population)

1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1926

1.9 2.0 1.8 1.96 2.05 2.5

Church of Ireland
37.1 36.4 36.2 35.3 34.16 33.6

Roman Catholic
55.9 55.8 55.4 55.32 56.18 56.0

4.1 5.7 6.4 7.25 6.51 6.3

0.3 0.1 0.2 0.17 1.1 1.6

EMIGRATION (1861-1911)

1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
17,372 10,864 10,514 10,158 5,403 3,562