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Enniskillen

Although John Wesley recorded only four visits, he must have passed through on other occasions. The 'Protestant mob' mentioned by him in a letter to Charles Wesley in 1773 stoned his chaise from one end of the town to the other. The first class was formed in the early 1760s by John Smith. The first chapel (c.1780), in the vicinity of Wellington Place, demolished in the redevelopment of the area some decades ago, was replaced by New Street chapel in 1793 (enlarged in 1826, when it was reorientated to face the present Wesley Street and renamed accordingly).

Successful WM Camp Meetings were held on an island in Lough Erne between 1861 and 1863, reflecting the more evangelical ethos of Protestant church life in Ireland. With congregations enlarged following the camp meetings, the Wesley Street chapel was in turn replaced by the larger Darling Street church, opened in 1867 by William Arthur. The old chapel on the adjoining site was itself replaced by the McArthur Hall, named after Sir William McArthur.

By 1822 the Primitive Wesleyan Methodists had a chapel in East Bridge Street.

Quotations

John Wesley's Journal:

May 1769: 'About noon I preached in the market-place at Enniskillen, once inhabited only by Protestants. But it has lost its glorying, having now at least five Papists to one Protestant. There was a large number of hearers, some civil, some rude, almost all totally unaffected.'

May 1773: 'When we came near Enniskillen, I desired two only to ride to ride with me, and the rest of our friends to keep at a distance. Some masons were at work on the first bridge, who gave us some coarse words. We had abundance more as we rode through the town; but many soldiers being in the street, and taking knowledge of me in a respectful manner, the mob shrunk back. An hour after Mr. Watson came in the chaise… The mob quickly rewarded him by plastering him over with dirt and mortar from head to foot. They then fell upon the carriage, which they cut with stones in several places, and wellnigh covered with dirt and mortar…

'The road [from Sidaire to Roosky] lay not far from Enniskillen. When we came prertty near the town both men and women saluted us first with bad words, and then with dirt and stones. My horses soon left them behind; but not till they had broke one of the windows, the glass of which came pouring in upon me, but did me no further hurt.'

May 1787: 'About eleven I preached in the market-house at Enniskillen, formerly a den of lions; but the lions are become lambs. They flocked together from every part, and were all attention. Before I had half done God made bare His arm, and the mountains flowed down at His presence. Many were cut to the heart, and many rejoiced with joy unspeakable. Surely the last shall be first; and poor Enniskillen shall lift up its hed above many of the places where the gospel has been long preached.'

May 1789: 'At noon I preached to an unwieldy multitude in the market-house at Enniskillen; and, I am persuaded, not in vain. God was there of a truth.'


Thomas Coke's Journals:

May 1797: 'I went to Enniskillen, where our late venerable Father in the Gospel once nearly lost his life. The mob intended to waylay him on a bridge, over which he was to pass, and to thrown him into the lake which surrounds the town… I happened, in the course of Providence, to be the first who preached peaceably out of doors in this place. But now we have a little chapel, where I had a good congregation, chiefly made up of the neighbouring societies.'

Sources

  • A.G. Hanna, Methodism in Enniskillen (Eniskillen, 1967)

Entry written by: DALC
Category: Place

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