Along the old Gola and Crom former coach roads in county Fermanagh, you may be forgiven for missing the old stone milestones which sit on our verges. They exist in defiance and represent an era gone by.
They stand as an indicator of times gone by on the former coach road from Derry to Dublin, passing through Fermanagh towards Cavan. We believe there are 16 milestones on the Gola-Crom road, all set one Irish mile apart or 1.28 modern miles. The milestones were first put down in the late 18th century into the 19th century, with the improvement of the road system and the introduction of the Irish coach mail in 1784. Before this, it was up to local landlords to maintain roads. On the face, they tell the passenger and coach driver the distance to various places including, Lisnaskea, Enniskillen, Cavan, Dublin and Crom castle. The one at Crom cross, we believe to have been put up by the local landlord as it differs from the other 15 milestones. This seemingly was not unusual. One of the milestones sits just across from Manorwaterhouse on the Crom road. This was a former coach stop and Inn. This is about halfway between Derry and Dublin, built in the early 19th century.
One can only wonder about the stories of the people who stepped on the coach for an onward journey for Dublin and the many reasons for the journey they took. Of the 16 milestones on this route, we have located 12, 5 of which we have reclaimed.
A poem by Robert Elliott:
I stand a sentry on this side,
The same road within my sight.
Carved in my torso.
Head and neck which all are one are place names and irish miles.
Called from a quarry and into existence,
To stand for decades and in one place.
Like my brothers and sisters that to were made.
Many I am told still survive.
Yet none I have ever met.
Noticed, admired and thanked was I.
Before the advent of these metal signs.
My obsolete state, I am aware.
As are they with their superior height.
My miles are wrong, these roads have changed.
Many stop for these signs to seek their aid.
That once was me!
That once was us!
Nothing more then a relic on the sides of these roads.
Nothing more then a useless beauty of the past.
Yet still I stand, yet perhaps I must!