Tyrone Main Towns


A small village located in South Tyrone near the border with Monaghan. Augher marks the convergence points of two main roads, the A4 and A28.

The station house at Aughnacloy is now a masonic hall and carefully maintained. This is more than can be said for many of the tall houses, old hotels and faded shop fronts-‘Medical Hall’, ‘Georgian Hall of Antiques’-lining the main street. It is unusual to see such obvious neglect in an Ulster village. Despite its generally derelict air, however, Aughnacloy has some attractive houses, a spruce bed and breakfast guesthouse, a bicycle shop and two eighteenth century churches. The village runs along a high ridge, with good views of Slieve Beagh. An elaborate numbering system marked out along the wide main street is for the benefit of stall holders at the big street market held twice a month. Here you are only half a mile from the Republic and the border customs post is more or less in the village. Four miles east is Rehaghey House, a resored Georgian mansion in pleasant gardens. It is open to visitors and has a restaurant.

Ballygawley is a small town located at the junction of two major roads, the A4 and A5, the Ballygawley roundabout is one the most frequented traffic routes in Ulster. Nearby, the river Blackwater provides some good fishing.

Benburb has an impressive visitors centre, which deals with the lives of mill-workers’ lives. This is locted in a 19th century linen mill, and there are displays on the 1646 Battle of Benburb.

Beragh, meaning “The Place of Birch Trees” is a typical small village approximately 13km from Omagh. The village is in the parish of Clogherney. One of the first refences to the village is that found in the plantation map of Ireland of 1609. The principal antiquity and that which makes Clougherney celebrated through this part of Tyrone is the ruins of an old church in Donaghanie said to have been founded by Saint Patrick in 5th century. A stone at the church bears what is supposed to be the mark of Saint Patrick’s knee. One vault in the graveyard contains an inscription that it must not be open to the day of resurrection or after.The main industry of the village and its hinterland is agriculture with rich grazing land and a thriving cattle market.

At one time a narrow gauge railway ran from Victoria Bridge to the lively little market town of Castlederg, now the remotest town in the province.

Coaslisland where brick making is a local industry, is disfigured by large scale sand, gravel and clay extraction and the detritus of old coal mines. Industrial archaeologists enthuse about the beehive kilns, old brickworks chimney and the derelict canal basin. The town was briefly the inland port for the coalfields.

The main street in Cookstown is perfectly straight. 1 1/4 miles long with a hump in the middle, and 130ft wide. It was part of an ambitious town plan by William Stewart of Killymoon, an eighteenth-century Tyrone landlord. However, neither he nor his descendants ever got round to developing the town beyond this remarkable central avenue. Its great advantage, from the visitor’s point of view, is convenient parking. The life and bustle of Cookstown, at the centre of good farming country, focuses wholly on the main street which, for some reason, has changed its name no fewer than eight times.

Located 19km east of Omagh within the Sperrins Area of outstanding beauty on the Omagh – Cookstown Road. Creggan is focused around a church and a school at the crossroads. It has a strong community identity. The settlement has 14 houses, a community centre and playing field, a church, primary school, post office, shop and petrol pumps. An Creag?n Visitor Centre is situated on the A505 midway between Omagh and Cookstown. The rural Tourism facilities include an Interpretative Exhibition, sixty seaterRestaurant, Craft Shop, Craft Units and a Children’s Adventure Play Area. A range of walks from the Centre provide Access to the unique resource of archaeological and geographical features of the area.

Donaghmore is located a short distance from Dungannon in east Tyrone. Lough Neagh is nearby as Parknaur Forest Park.

Dromore is the district’s second largest local town. It is situated 14km south – west of Omagh and has roads leading to Enniskillen, Irvinestown, Trillick, Drumquin and Fintona. As a local town it functions as a market and service centre for its hinterland. In particular the building and building/agricultural suppliers’ trade exerts an extensive influence on commerce. It also functions as a residential centre and dormitory town for people working elsewhere and as a local service centre with recreational facilities.

The name “Drumquin” tells it’s own story as forming part of the lands of the great O’Neill and his clansmen, and it was mountainous around it as it’s name suggests. But the early name of Drumquin according to Joyce on the authority of The Four Masters was Druimchaein or Pleasant Hill Ridge. Dooish nearby, a place were black fawns sported about. Perhaps when Dooish mountain was covered with primeval forest, these black deer roamed there in perfect safety. Dressogue points to the traveller that herewas another bushy place in old Tyrone. Legfreshy, a place situated in a lug or hollow of mountains were a stream or rivulet glides onward murmuring to the ocean bed. Langfield, a corruption of leamchoill or elm wood.

The M1 from Belfast ends around Dungannon, a market and textile manufacturing town where the focus of interest for visitors is the glassware works of Tyrone Crystal (year-round tours). Dungannon was the chief seat of the O’ Neills from the fourteenth century until the plantation, and the first bible in Irish characters was produced here on a printing press established by Shane O’ Neill in about 1567. All trace of the O’ Neill castle on the hill has gone. The Royal School in Northland Row dates from the early seventeenth century. Its first headmaster died in the 1641 rebellion but the school reopened in 1662. The bronze statue in front of the present eighteenth-century building is ex-pupil General John Nicholson, killed storming Delhi during the Indian Mutiny (1857). The statue stood at the Kashmir Gate in Delhi until 1960. This same general pops up again in the market place in his home town of Lisburn, though the Dungannon bronze is nicer.

The town of Fintona, situated approximately 13km south of Omagh, has a fairly detailed recorded history, stretching back over 500 years. In fact, the nearby district, known as “the Bar”, has been inhabited since around 2000B.C. Bronze Age pottery hasbeen found in the area and there are numerous examples of pagan centres, burial places, standing stones, stone circles, ancient graves and cairns. The modern name “Fintona” dates from about the 17th century and has been passed down to us from the original Irish “Fionntamhnach” variously translated as “the fair coloured field”, “the fair watered land” or even “the island of the fair watered land.

Fivemiletown is so called because it is 5 Irish miles from the villages of Clogher, Brookeborough and Tempo (1 Irish mile = 2,240yd). Its simple parish church was built in the same year as St Jame’s in Aughnacloy (1736). Old photographs showing the railway running down the middle of the main street are displayed in the library. Ask here for directions to houses where lace is made – a local cottage industry.

Located 16km north of Omagh, Gortin is the third largest village. It has preserved its nucleated form being constrained from extending southwards and westwards by steeply rising grounds. In form it is essentially a street village. The Sperrins, an area of natural beauty, with its wooded hills envelops the village to give it a most attractive setting. With an abundance of hills, streams, flora and fauna and magnificence views on the entrance to the village, Gortin has the feeling of an Alpine village. Enclosed on three sides by hills and forest, the potential for a thriving tourism industry has been identified over a number of years.

Moy was laid out in the 1760s for the Volunteer Earl – the patriot and aesthete James Caulfield, Earl of Charlemont (1728-99) – opposite Charlemont Fort across the Blackwater. The formal rectangular market place, with lawns and horse-chestnut trees, was inspired by the square at Marengo in Lombardy, admired by the arty young earl during his grand tour of Europe. Houses round the sides are mostly eighteenth-century though all the four churches are later. A local riding school is the last vestige of the days of the great Moy horse fair, held once a month and lasting a whole week. For over 100 years, Moy supplied the best cavalry and carriage horses in the British Isles.

Newtownstewart – James II spent the night here in 1689 on his way back from the unsuccessful assault on Londonderry. He got up next morning in a bad mood and ordered the Stewart castle, and the town, to be burnt down. In the main street a piece of the castle wall still stands. The Northern Bank building on the corner was the scene of a famous murder in 1871 when bank cashier William Glass was killed and robbed of ?1,600. District inspector Montgomery, of the Royal Irish Constabulary, who was in charge of the case, turned out to be the murderer. Half a mile south-west, on a hill, is ruined Harry Avery’s Castle, a fourteenth-century Gaelic stone castle – most unusual in Ulster. Only the massive D-shaped twin towers of the keep, built by Henry Aimbreidh O’ Neil (died 1392), are left.

Omagh is the county town to Tyrone. A busy commercial centre in the foothills of the Sperrins, Omagh is easily accessible from all parts of the Province, being only 70 miles from Belfast and 34 miles from Londonderry. The town is also an ideal stopover for visitors travelling to and from the Republic of Ireland. Omagh has a wide range of shops, cafes, restaurants and fast food bars and there are two hotels to choose from. Many of the local bars and nightclubs feature top quality entertainment. For a little relaxation, Omagh has a four screen cinema, leisure complex including swimming pool, sauna and training zone. Within the district there are 3 golf courses, a golf driving range, pony trekking and shootng facilities. The nearby Sperrins offer some beautiful scenic drives, as does Gortin Glen Forest Park. Omagh is also home to The Ulster American Folk Park, The Ulster History Park and An Creagan Visitor Centre. Not to be missed these modern, educational and interpretative centres make Omagh an ideal holiday base.

A secondary road from Cookstown to Omagh runs through the upland village of Pomeroy with a modern forestry school on the estate of the Rev. James Lowry, eighteenth century planner of the village. American connections in the area are interesting. the grandfather of James B. Irwin, the Apollo 15 astronaut who drove round the moon in a buggy in 1971, was born in Pomeroy. Irwin’s still live in the house. James Shields, one of Lincoln’s generals in the American Civel War, was born in 1806 near Cappagh south of Pomeroy.

Located 6.5km south of Omagh, Seskinore is the district’s smallest village. In form it is well nucleated, centred on a main street, with little commercial or residential development. It has an attractive setting, adjacent to the Department of AgricultureForest. Just outside the village is the Seskinore Game Farm. Seskinore is a quiet country village in the parish of Clogherney in Barony of east Omagh. It is situated 4km Northeast of Fintona and 11km from Omagh, in the centre of Tyrone. The name “Seskinore” means “a pale, grey marshy bog”. Originally Seskinore was a Townland of some 860 acres. The village is made up of one school, three churches, a post office, a garage, a few shops and neat pebble-dashed houses.

Sion Mills
Sion Mills was laid out as a model linen village by the god fearing Herdman brothers, James, John and George. In 1835 they converted an old flour mill on the Mourne into a flax spinning mill, and erected a bigger mill behind it in the 1850’s. The village is an exotic mix of polychrome brick, black and white half timbered buildings and terraced millworkers’ cottages, all set off by wide grassy verges, horse chestnut trees and on the Strabane road, some nice beeches. Nearly everthing in Sion Mills except St Teresa’s Church was designed by James Herdman’s son in law, the English architect William Unsworth. Sion House, a half timbered Elizabethan style mansion with pepperpot chimneys, was planned by Unsworth at the same time as he was designing the first Shakespeare memorial theatre in Stratford on Avon, destroyed by a fire in 1926. More modest half timbered buildings include the pretty gatehouse, the recreation hall and Old St. Saviour’s church. Unsworth based his design for the polychrome Anglican church (1909) on a church in Pistoia in Tuscany. It has tall campanili and huge semicircular windows. By contrast the modern Catholic church of St Teresa (1963 by Patrick Haughey) is admirable for its severly plain lines – a long rectangle with a striking representation of the Last Supper on the slate facade. Oisin Kelly was the artist.

Sixmilecross is situated on a hill in the parish of Termonmaguirk, Union and Barony of Omagh. It is said to have got its name from a Celtic cross, which stood in a field at the top of the village, and it’s distance from Omagh – thus “Sixmile Cross”. The ancestral home of John Buchannon, President of the United States from 1857-1861 still stands at Deroran.

This picturesque village lies at the foot of Brougher mountain, located halfway between Omagh and Enniskillen – making it an ideal touring base. Sites of interest include Castle Mervyn (an O’Neill settlement) built in 1628 and Magheralough Crannog – a small cairn of stones, the site of a possible Crannog or fortified dwelling. Visitors can also enjoy walks on Brougher mountain as well as experiencing local culture in one of the villages public houses.