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National Trust, Florence Court

Image credit: National Trust Images/Matthew Antrobus

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Florence Court, named after the wife of Sir John Cole (1709–1767), 1st Baron Mount Florence, only daughter of Sir Bourchier Wrey, Bt, of Devon, was built on land amongst the mountains and forests of west Fermanagh, given to his great-grandfather William Cole (d.1653), Governor and first Provost of Enniskillen, in 1719. It was completed with the pavilions by William Willoughby (1736–1803), 1st Earl of Enniskillen, where the collection of almost 10,000 fossil fish of the palaeontologist, William Willoughby (1807–1887), 3rd Earl of Enniskillen, now in the Natural History Museum, was once housed. Florence Court was given to the National Trust by the eccentric John Henry Michael (1876–1963), 5th Earl and his son, Viscount Cole (1921–1956) in 1954 but was gutted by fire only a year later. Although most of the contents survived, they were removed to Scotland in 1973 by Viscount Cole’s cousin, David Lowry-Cole (1918–1989), 7th Earl of Enniskillen, a Kenyan-born rancher, and his second wife, the American journalist, Nancy MacLennan (1917–1998), Countess of Enniskillen. She explained the reasons in her book, 'Florence Court – My Irish Home' (1972). In 1997 she made a splendid restitution of the major contents. The most intriguing pictures are the three unattributed large views of 'Lough Erne at Enniskillen with Castle Barracks in the Middle Distance’, 'Devenish Island' and 'Belleek Falls' (The Falls of Ballyshannon, County Donegal), possibly by an immigrant scenery-painter employed by Dublin’s vigorous Smock Alley Theatre.

Enniskillen, County Fermanagh BT92 1DB Northern Ireland

02866 348249

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