Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

Seven Wonders of Northern Ireland: Truly rural estate of grace

Gloria Hunniford a television legend concludes our series on what makes the province special

When I was working in the BBC in Belfast a colleague discovered that Lord Erne was renting out cottages on his Crom Castle estate in Fermanagh known as the Piggery. A few of us rented them at a ridiculous peppercorn rent of £138 a year with the proviso that we would do some refurbishment to the properties.

My three children were quite young at the time and had this amazing 28,000-acre estate to roam around. Paul, who was in his early teens, actually learned to drive on the estate. We bought him a secondhand Mini for his birthday and he drove it all the time there, as it was on private roads.

We were also able to buy a horse cheaply for my daughter Caron and Lord Erne allowed us to graze

it on the estate for £50 a year. We could never have afforded to keep a horse at Hillsborough where we lived at that time. The cottages have since been taken over by the National Trust and I think this is just a magical part of Northern Ireland.

I came back to Crom Castle — it is possible to rent part of the main residence now — twice last year. One group who came with me had never been there before and they just adored it.

What I love about Fermanagh is that you can have a holiday that is as sophisticated as you like or as simple. The amazing waterways, the landscape, the friendliness of the people, the pace of life and the range of restaurants all make it the ideal location for me.

Gloria Hunniford, one of the UK’s most accomplished broadcasters, began her career with UTV and the BBC in Belfast before going on to host a wide range of programmes on national radio and television.

How you can shape the Seven Wonders

So what do you, the reader, think makes Northern Ireland special?

As our series runs every day over the next month we invite readers to vote on which landmark or aspect of life here as detailed by our celebrity contributors that they most agree with.

At the conclusion of the series this will enable us to draw up a list of the Seven Wonders of Northern Ireland — the things that really make Northern Ireland great.

Your choices can be sent to Belfast Telegraph, 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EB or alternatively send an email to featureseditor@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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