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Belturbet (Irish: Béal Tairbirt, meaning "mouth of the isthmus")[7] is a town in County Cavan, Ireland. It lies on the N3 road, around 14 km (8.7 mi) north of Cavan town and 123 km (76 mi) from Dublin. It is also located around 4 km (2.5 mi) south of the border with Northern Ireland, between the counties of Cavan and Fermanagh, and 36 km (22 mi) from Enniskillen.


Béal Tairbirt
Main Street
Main Street
Belturbet is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 54°06′N 7°27′W / 54.1°N 7.45°W / 54.1; -7.45Coordinates: 54°06′N 7°27′W / 54.1°N 7.45°W / 54.1; -7.45
CountryRepublic of Ireland
CountyCounty Cavan
57 m (187 ft)
Eircode routing key
Telephone area code+353(0)49
Irish Grid ReferenceH361168



Belturbet's location is historically one of the best places for crossing the River Erne. When the Anglo-Normans tried to conquer Cavan in the early 13th century, Walter de Lacy built a motte-and-bailey on Turbet Island. The fort was probably made of wood and has not survived, although the steep mound of earth where it was built can still be seen. In the late 16th century the local O'Reilly chieftains built a castle opposite Turbot Island, but this has not survived either.

As part of the Plantation of Ulster in the early 17th century, the lands around Belturbet were granted to the English "undertaker" Stephen Butler. He soon established a thriving urban centre, whose prosperity relied heavily on its position on the Erne. The town was seized by the Irish during the Irish Rebellion of 1641, and was the site of one of the massacres of planters, in which over two dozen people were thrown from the town's bridge and drowned. In March 1653, under Viscount Magennis of Iveagh, it was the last town in Ireland to fall to Cromwell; the final Irish stronghold at nearby Cloughoughter held out for a further month.[8]

The town also acquired an English garrison in the late 17th century. Many of the original fortifications are in good repair. Belturbet retains much of its original layout. The main street leads to the square or 'diamond' where all of the town's important buildings are situated. The Church of Ireland church dominates the skyline; some of it dates from the early 17th century, and it was one of the first Anglican churches built in Ireland, reputedly using materials from Drumlane Abbey. The proto-Quaker leader, William Edmundson, was detained in Belturbet in the 1650s, and put in the stocks.[9] The church was damaged by lightning in the 1720s.

Belturbet was represented in the Irish House of Commons from 1611 to 1800. Between 1725 and 1793 Catholics and those married to Catholics could not vote.

John Wesley passed through in 1760, and noted[10]

a town in which there is neither Papist nor Presbyterian; but, to supply that defect there are, Sabbath-breakers, drunkards, and common swearers in abundance.

James Somers won the Victoria Cross during the First World War. He is buried at Modreeny, in County Tipperary.

Two young people, Geraldine O'Reilly, from Staghall, Belturbet, and Patrick Stanley, from Clara, County Offaly, were killed by a Loyalist car bomb in Belturbet on 28 December 1972.[11]

Andrew Grene (1965–2010), a civil affairs officer with the United Nations, grew up largely on a small farm outside Belturbet. He was killed in the Haiti earthquake of January 12, 2010, and was laid to rest in Belturbet churchyard. The Department of Foreign Affairs dedicated the annual Andrew Grene Conflict Resolution Scholarship in his honor. The Andrew Grene Foundation, a charity dedicated to assisting Haiti through education and microfinance, was also founded in his memory.


The town contains four schools, three of these are primary schools.

Primary schoolsEdit

St. Mary's BNS, a male primary school for second class up to sixth class. Fairgreen National School, a mixed-gender Church of Ireland primary school. Covent of Mercy National School, a primary school for boys up to 1st class and girls up to sixth class.

Post-primary schoolsEdit

The town's only secondary school is St Bricins Vocational School(school website). It is a vocational school run by County Cavan VEC.


Rail transportEdit

The railway station in Belturbet has recently been restored and is back to its former glory. It was opened on 29 June 1885 for the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) connecting to the broad gauge branch to Ballyhaise railway station on the Clones to Cavan line. It also served the narrow gauge Cavan and Leitrim Railway to Dromod and Arigna, for which it opened on 24 October 1887. The station finally closed for all services on 1 April 1959.[12][13]

Belturbet railway station is a railway museum.

Coach/ bus transportEdit

Bus Éireann Expressway Route 309, jointly operated with McGeehan Coaches. This bus route links Dublin with Donegal providing several stops per day. This bus runs several times daily.[14] Also, Ulsterbus Route 5810 from Enniskillen has its terminus in the town. The bus stop is located outside the former post office on the Diamond (for Cavan/Dublin-bound services it is on the opposite side of the road). Leydons Coaches operate route 930 linking the town to Cavan, Ballyconnell, Bawnboy, Swanlinbar and Enniskillen.[15]


The Staghall to Drumaloor section of the N3 Belturbet Bypass opened on 2 August 2013.[16][17] The remainder to the south opened on 13 December 2013.[18]


The town's main source of revenue is tourism, which includes fishing, boat cruising, the local railway station and country walks. The town has its own festival, Belturbet Festival Of The Erne which also includes the Lady Of the Erne competition. The festival attracts large crowds for the last week in July and boasts one of the largest fancy dress parties in Ireland. Employment for most of the locals is in Cavan Town, Ballyconnell or other nearby areas. There are few sources of employment in the town itself, aside from tourism related jobs. The town has a Farmers Mart every Friday afternoon, where local and fresh produce is sold, and specialities include Cheese, Fish, Breads, Vegetables, etc. There is a Car Boot Sale at the Railway Station on the last Sunday of every month, commencing around 10.30a.m.


Belturbet has a local GAA club, Belturbet Rory O'Moores.


Dead Can Dance singer and composer Brendan Perry lives in the vicinity of the town.

A Play entitled "The Tangler in Court" written by local Playwright Brendan McCann, and produced by Belturbet Dramatic Society is presented at Belturbet Festival of The Erne during the period July 26 - August 3, 2009.

The Erne Palais Ballroom is one of the buildings in the town listed by the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.[19]

From 1893 to 1931, Shan Fadh Bullock wrote 14 novels set in the Cavan-Fermanagh borderland, renaming Belturbet "Bunn" for his books.[20] Belturbet is mentioned in James Joyce's 1922 novel Ulysses, in the fifteenth episode, Circe. The reference comes from Cissy Caffrey, who says: 'More luck to me. Cavan, Cootehill and Belturbet'.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements Belturbet". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 17 March 2019.
  2. ^ Census for post 1821 figures.
  3. ^ Archived 2016-05-07 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-17. Retrieved 2011-11-03.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Lee, JJ (1981). "Pre-famine". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. (eds.). Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
  6. ^ Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700-1850". The Economic History Review. Volume. 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x.[dead link]
  7. ^ Placenames Database of Ireland
  8. ^ Pádraig Lenihan, ‘Magennis, Arthur, third Viscount Magennis of Iveagh (1623/1626–1683)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  9. ^ Richard L. Greaves, ‘Edmundson, William (1627–1712)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2010
  10. ^ Wesley, John: The Journal from May 6, 1760, to October 28, 1762
  11. ^ Children of Ireland
  12. ^ "Belturbet station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
  13. ^ Baker, Michael HC (1999). Irish Narrow Gauge Railways. A View from the Past. Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 0-7110-2680-7.
  14. ^ "Bus Éireann Timetables" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-12-01.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-06-08. Retrieved 2013-02-14.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2013-08-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Erne Palais Ballroom, Holborn Hill, Belturbet, County Cavan". National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 2018-10-04.CS1 maint: others (link)
  20. ^ Patrick Maume, ‘Bullock, Shan Fadh (1865–1935)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004

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