Princess Diana Cairn

Princess Diana Cairn

Princess Diana Cairn
photo courtesy of Roy Crawford photography

On Monday 6th November members of The Rotary Club of Enniskillen met on the Shilling Island for a Service of Dedication of the replacement Inscription stone for Princess Diana Cairn. The service was conducted by the Very Rev Kenneth R J Hall and Monsignor Peter O'Reilly. Afterwards thet retired to the Killyhevlin Hotel for their Lunchtime meeting.


The little round island at the foot of the East Bridge was once known as Shilling Island as it was said to resemble the old shilling coin and for a time some promoted the idea that the name Enniskillen was derived from 'Inis Shilling' or Shilling Island. In its most romantic interpretation Enniskillen derives its name from the Irish: Inis Ceithleann. This refers to Ceithleann, a figure in Irish mythology who may have been a goddess. Local legend has it that Ceithleann was wounded in battle by an arrow and attempted to swim across the River Erne, which surrounds the island, but she never reached the other side, so the island was named in reference to her.


In 1993 young people from Enniskillen Rotaract Club, with the help of Enniskillen Rotary Club and Fermanagh District Council refurbished the area under the East Bridge with new seating, shrub beds and pathways. The park was officially named 'Inis Ceithleann Island Park' by the Chairman of the Council Mr Caldwell McClaughry who paid tribute to young people from Rotaract for having completed an 'excellent job' inside a week

Rotaract (under the inspiration of its President Selwyn Johnston) continued with a further ambitious 3 day community project, with 60 young people from Raleigh International to create a new park in the adjoining waste ground. It was officially named 'Plunkett's Park', after the Town Commissioner who was renowned to have spent many happy hours at this stone pulpit admiring the cam beauty of the River Erne. The completion of both parks helped transform the area while helping to promote the passion young people had for their local community.

Royal Visit:

Her Royal Highness, the Princess of Wales, paid a surprise visit to Enniskillen on Sunday 14th November 1993. After taking part in the Remembrance Day Service the Princess visited Inis Ceithleann Island Park to take part in a service attended by young people from both traditions. Firstly, she met local primary school children and helped to them to plant bulbs. Then she took part in the peace services and read the lessons from the Beatitudes. The reading which included the verse, 'Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God,' was largely taken up by those gathered as 'Diana's call for peace'.

The Cairn :

The teenagers involved in the service had earlier built a Peace Cairn, with locally quarried granite. The Princess laid the last stone before the Rev. Rob Frost, a Methodist Minister from England, poured oil over it - 'oil is a symbol of healing'. He explained that a 'cairn' is used by walkers or climbers to show a way during darkness or bad weather, and he hoped that Enniskillen's Peace Cairn would help show us the way to Peace.

Regrettably, the inscription stone that told the story of the Peace Cairn suffered with erosion to the extent that the writing became illegible. With its close connection with the creation of Inis Ceithleann Island Park, Enniskillen Rotary Club felt it was appropriate to have Princess Diana's visit and the creation of the Peace Cairn recorded for posterity. To do this and with the generosity of two Rotarians, it was decided that the story should be inscribed on a durable surface for future generations.

Sadly, Princess Diana was herself to die in a tragic car crash in a Paris tunnel just 4 years later, on 31 August 1997.

1998 Cairn

1998 Photo courtesy of the Impartial Reporter