The town of Enniskillen has become an immense living chess board with the installation of the Isle of Enniskillen Beckett Chess Set, a permanent public artwork by Fermanagh-based artist Alan Milligan. With Beckett chess pieces being moved and positioned throughout the year, the Isle of Enniskillen Beckett Chess Set is located in 64 locations – from pubs, to civic buildings, from shops to public amenities - across Enniskillen.
The Beckett Chess Set begins the county Fermanagh town’s journey to becoming synonymous with its literary heritage. The entire town, from business owners to community leaders and from church heads to politicians, have embraced this heritage with chess pieces installed in their premises throughout the town.
Inspired by the famous and most valuable historical chess set known as the Isle of Lewis Chess Set now in the British Museum and National Museum of Scotland, the Isle of Enniskillen Beckett Chess Set is the world’s most exclusive chess set devoted to the characters (the back rows) and props (the pawns) from the plays of Nobel Laureate Samuel Beckett (the Isle of Lewis chess set were also human figures with the pawns as geometric shapes).
Beckett’s lifelong obsession with chess included titling his arguably greatest play Endgame, a nod to the third and final part of a chess game. Beckett regularly played with the artist and chess champion Marcel Duchamp.