Lord Erne of Crom Castle dies at the age of 78
Lord Erne, the last master at Crom Castle in Fermanagh, has died at the age of 78.
Henry George Victor John Crichton, the former Lord Lieutenant of Fermanagh, was the sixth earl of Erne and had lived at the imposing Crom Estate for more than half a century.
Lord Erne inherited the estate and castle near Newtownbutler when he was just two years old, following the death of his father, the fifth Earl Erne, in 1940 during the Second World War.
The former Irish peer, who was known to his family and friends as Harry Erne, died yesterday following a short illness.
The Eton-educated father-of-five handed over the management of the 1,900-acre estate, one of Northern Ireland's most important conservation areas on the shores of Upper Lough Erne, to the National Trust in 1987.
DUP leader Arlene Foster led the tributes flooding in to the much-loved late earl, describing him as "a man of such distinction and really proud of being from Fermanagh".
"He was very well respected in the community and there will be a great sense of sadness across Fermanagh," Mrs Foster said.
"No matter where I met him he had words of encouragement for me, and my deepest sympathy is with his widow, the Lady Erne, his son John and all the family today."
Tom Elliott, the MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, said Northern Ireland had lost "an honourable citizen and true friend".
"The earl managed [Crom] Estate and castle as a home, but also, in recent years in partnership with others, progressed the development of the estate, including the west wing as an area that was a major tourist attraction and hosted many events," he said.
He added that the Lord "was a generous individual with his time and community support".
Lord Erne, a godchild of King George VI, appeared in a television documentary alongside his son, Viscount Crichton, in 2013 when he revealed his deep affection for his family seat.
"I've spent a lifetime looking after it and I can't describe how much I love it," he said.
He was a Page of Honour to George VI in the 1950s and later a junior officer in the North Irish Horse, a yeomanry unit of the Territorial Army.