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Dungannon
Church of St Patrick, Dungannon - geograph.org.uk - 112576.jpg
St Patrick's Roman Catholic church
Dungannon shown within Northern Ireland
Population 15,889 (2011 Census)
Irish grid reference H7962
• Belfast 40 miles (64 km)
District
  • Mid-Ulster
County
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town DUNGANNON
Postcode district BT70, BT71
Dialling code 028
Police Northern Ireland
Fire Northern Ireland
Ambulance Northern Ireland
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
UK Parliament
  • Fermanagh–South Tyrone
NI Assembly
  • Fermanagh–South Tyrone
List of places
UK
Northern Ireland
TyroneCoordinates: 54°30′N 6°46′W / 54.50°N 6.77°W / 54.50; -6.77

Dungannon (from Irish: Dún Geanainn, meaning "Geanann's stronghold") is a town in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It is the third-largest town in the county (after Omagh and Strabane) and had a population of 15,889 at the 2011 Census. The Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council had its headquarters in the town, though since 2015 it has been covered by Mid-Ulster District Council.

For centuries, it was the 'capital' of the O'Neill dynasty, who dominated most of Ulster and built a castle on the hill. After the O'Neills defeat in the Nine Years' War, the English founded a Plantation town on the site, which grew into what is now Dungannon. Dungannon has won Ulster in Bloom's Best Kept Town Award five times. Today, it has the highest percentage of immigrants of any town in Northern Ireland.

History

For centuries, Dungannon's fortunes were closely tied to that of the O'Neill dynasty which ruled a large part of Ulster until the 17th century. Dungannon was the clan's main stronghold. The traditional site of inauguration for 'The O'Neill', was Tullyhogue Fort, an Iron Age mound some four miles northeast of Dungannon. The clan O'Hagan were the stewards of this site for the O'Neills. In the 14th century the O'Neills built a castle on what is today known as Castle Hill; the location was ideal for a fort as it was one of the highest points in the area, and dominated the surrounding countryside with the ability to see seven counties depending on the weather.

This castle was burned in 1602 by Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone as Crown forces under Lord Mountjoy closed in on the Gaelic lords towards the end of the Nine Years' War. In 1607, ninety-nine Irish chieftains and their followers, including Hugh O'Neill, set sail from Rathmullan, bound for the continent. What followed became known as the Plantation of Ulster and the town and its castle were granted to Sir Arthur Chichester, one of the architects of the Plantation.

In 1641 after seizing the town in the opening stages of the Irish Rebellion, Sir Phelim O'Neill issued the Proclamation of Dungannon in which the rebels set out their aims and proclaimed their loyalty to Charles I. O'Neill hinted that they had been ordered to rise by the King and later produced a commission which he claimed Charles had issued to him.

Visitor's Centre - Council Offices, Dungannon - geograph.org.uk - 942255
Dungannon's Visitor Centre, Ranfurly House, at the top of Market Square. Castle Hill is behind it.

The castle was partially excavated in October 2007, by the Channel 4 archaeological show Time Team, uncovering part of the moat and walls of the castle. In 1973, the town became the seat of the new district of the Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council. In 1782, the town was the location where the independence of the Irish Parliament was declared by members of the Protestant Ascendancy who controlled the parliament at the time.

The Troubles

In the late 1960s, Northern Ireland was plunged into an ethno-political conflict known as the Troubles. During the conflict almost 50 people were killed in and around Dungannon, and there were many bombings in the town. The deadliest attack in the town was on 17 March 1976, when a loyalist car bomb attack on the Hillcrest Bar killed four Catholic civilians.

On 24 August 1968, the Campaign for Social Justice (CSJ), the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), and other groups, held Northern Ireland's first civil rights march from Coalisland to Dungannon. The rally was officially banned, but took place and passed off without incident. The publicity surrounding the march encouraged other groups to form branches of NICRA.

Demography

Dungannon is classed as a Large Town and had a population of 15,889 at the time of the 2011 Census. It has a larger share of immigrants than any town in Northern Ireland. Immigrants make up about 11% of its population; more than twice the average. Between 2001 and 2011, the number of immigrants in Dungannon increased tenfold; the biggest increase of any town. Many came to work in the local food processing plants. There have been several attacks on immigrants and clashes between rival groups of immigrants in the area.

The population of the town increased slightly overall during the 19th century:

Year 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Population 3801 3854 3994 3886 4084 3812
Houses 675 686 720 727 812 830

Places of interest

An interesting feature of the town is the former police barracks at the top right-hand corner of the market square which is quite unlike any other barracks of a similar vintage in Ireland. A popular but apocryphal story relates that the unusual design of this building is due to a mix-up with the plans in Dublin which meant Dungannon got a station designed for the Nepal and they got a standard Irish barracks, complete with a traditional Irish fireplace. Dungannon Park is a seventy-acre oasis centred round an idyllic still-water lake, with miles of pathways and views of the surrounding townland.

Geography

Dungannon is in the southeast of County Tyrone, within the historic barony of Dungannon Middle and the civil parish of Drumglass.

The town grew up around a hill, known locally as Castle Hill. There are three small lakes on the southern edge of town, the biggest of which is Black Lough. There are also two parks in the eastern part of town: Dungannon Park and Windmill Park. Surrounding settlements include Moygashel (a village at the southern edge of Dungannon), Coalisland (to the northeast), Donaghmore (to the northwest) and Castlecaulfield (to the west).

Townlands

Dungannon sprang up in a townland called Drumcoo. Over time, the urban area has spread into the neighbouring townlands. Many of its roads and housing estates are named after them. The following is a list of these townlands and their likely etymologies:

  • Ballynorthland Park
  • Ballysaggart (from Irish: Baile Sagairt, meaning "homestead of the priest")
  • Coolhill (from Cúlchoill meaning "the back woods")
  • Drumcoo (from Druim Cuaiche meaning "ridge of the cuckoo")
  • Drumharriff (from Druim Thairbh meaning "ridge of the bull")
  • Gortmerron (from Gort Mearain meaning "Merron's field")
  • Killymaddy (from Coill na Madaí meaning "wood of the dogs")
  • Killymeal (from Coill na Maoile meaning "wood of the bald/hornless cow")
  • Lisnaclin (from Lios na Clinge meaning "ringfort of the bell chime")
  • Lisnahull (from Lios na hOlna meaning "ringfort of the wool")
  • Lurgaboy (from Lurga Buí meaning "yellow shin" i.e. shin-shaped hill)
  • Mullaghadun (from Mullach a' Dúin meaning "hilltop of the fort")
  • Mullaghanagh (from Mullach Eanach meaning "marshy hilltop")
  • Mullaghconor (from Mullach Chonchobhair meaning "Conchobhair's hilltop")
  • Mullaghmore (from Mullach Mór meaning "big hilltop")

Transport

Dungannon is linked to the M1 motorway, which runs from the southeast of the town to Belfast. There is an Ulsterbus town bus service that runs daily that serves the town's suburbs. Usually operated by the Optare Solo buses. The nearest railway station is Portadown on Northern Ireland Railways.

Former railways

The Irish gauge 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) Portadown, Dungannon and Omagh Junction Railway (PD&O) linked the town with Portadown from 1858 and Omagh from 1861, completing the Portadown – Derry railway route that came to be informally called "The Derry Road". The Great Northern Railway took over the PD&O in 1876 and built a branch line from Dungannon to Cookstown in 1879.

The GNR Board cut back the Cookstown branch to Coalisland in 1956 and the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA) closed the branch altogether in 1959. In accordance with the Benson Report submitted to the Government of Northern Ireland 1963 the UTA closed the "Derry Road" through Dungannon in 1965. The site of Dungannon station is now a public park and the former trackbed through the station is now a greenway.

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