Omagh facts for kids

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Omagh
Odc crest of arms.jpg
Omagh Coat of Arms
Omagh shown within Northern Ireland
Population 21,297 
District
  • Fermanagh and Omagh
County
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town OMAGH
Postcode district BT78, BT79
Dialling code 028
Police Northern Ireland
Fire Northern Ireland
Ambulance Northern Ireland
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
UK Parliament
  • West Tyrone
NI Assembly
  • West Tyrone
Website Official website
List of places
UK
Northern Ireland
Tyrone

Omagh (/ˈmə/ or /ˈmɑː/; from Irish: An Ómaigh, meaning "the virgin plain" [ənˠ ˈoːmˠəi]) is the county town of County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It is situated where the rivers Drumragh and Camowen meet to form the Strule. Northern Ireland's capital city Belfast is 68 miles (109.5 km) to the east of Omagh, and Derry is 34 miles (55 km) to the north.

The town has a population of 21,297, and the former district council, which was the largest in County Tyrone, had a population of 51,356 at the 2011 Census. Omagh contains the headquarters of the Western Education and Library Board, and also houses offices for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development at Sperrin House, the Department for Regional Development and the Northern Ireland Roads Service at the Tyrone County Hall and the Northern Ireland Land & Property Services at Boaz House. The town is twinned with L'Haÿ-les-Roses, a town in the suburbs of Paris, France.

History

The name Omagh is an anglicisation of the Irish name an Óghmaigh (modern Irish an Ómaigh), meaning "the virgin plain". A monastery was apparently established on the site of the town about 792 CE, and a Franciscan friary was founded in 1464. Omagh was founded as a town in 1610. It served as a refuge for fugitives from the east of County Tyrone during the 1641 Rebellion. In 1689, James II arrived at Omagh, en route to Derry. Supporters of William III, Prince of Orange, later burned the town.

In 1768 Omagh replaced Dungannon as the county town of County Tyrone. Omagh acquired railway links to Londonderry with the Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway in 1852, Enniskillen in 1853 and Belfast in 1861. St Lucia Barracks were completed in 1881. In 1899 Tyrone County Hospital was opened. Today the hospital is the subject of a major campaign to save its services. The Government of Northern Ireland made the Great Northern Railway Board close the Omagh – Enniskillen railway line in 1957. In accordance with the Benson Report submitted to the Northern Ireland Government in 1963, the Ulster Transport Authority closed the Portadown – Omagh – Londonderry main line in 1965, leaving Tyrone with no rail service. St Lucia Barracks closed on 1 August 2007.

The Troubles

Omagh came into the international focus of the media on 15 August 1998, when the Real Irish Republican Army exploded a car bomb in the town centre. 29 people were killed in the blast – 14 women (including one pregnant with twins), 9 children and 6 men. Hundreds more were injured as a result of the blast.

Omagh after blast
The site of the Omagh bombing just minutes after the bomb went off.

In April 2011, a car bomb killed police constable Ronan Kerr. A group of former Provisional IRA members calling itself the Irish Republican Army made its first public statement later that month claiming responsibility for the killing.

Geography

Omagh taken from Strule Bridge
Omagh as seen from the Strule bridge. In the background is the Sacred Heart Catholic church.

Wards

These wards are only those that cover the town.

  • Camowen (2001 Population – 2,377)
  • Coolnagard (2001 Population – 2,547)
  • Dergmoney (2001 Population – 1,930)
  • Drumragh (2001 Population – 2,481)
  • Gortrush (2001 Population – 2,786)
  • Killyclogher (2001 Population – 2,945)
  • Lisanelly (2001 Population – 2,973)
  • Strule (2001 Population – 1,780)

Townlands

The four hill churches (St Columba's COI), Omagh - geograph.org.uk - 754131
St. Columba's Church of Ireland in Omagh.

The town sprang up within the townland of Omagh, in the parish of Drumragh. Over time, the urban area has spread into the surrounding townlands. They include:

  • Campsie
  • Conywarren
  • Coolnagard Lower, Coolnagard Upper (from Template:Etymology/lang Cúil na gCeard, meaning 'nook/corner of the craftsmen' or from Template:Etymology/lang Cúl na gCeard, meaning 'hill-back of the craftsmen')
  • Crevenagh
  • Culmore (from Template:Etymology/lang Cúil Mhór, meaning 'big nook/corner')
  • Dergmoney Lower, Dergmoney Upper (from Template:Etymology/lang Deargmhuine, meaning 'red thicket')
  • Gortin
  • Gortmore (from Template:Etymology/lang Gort Mór, meaning 'big enclosed field')
  • Killybrack (from Template:Etymology/lang Coillidh Bhreac, meaning 'speckled wood')
  • Killyclogher (from Template:Etymology/lang Coillidh Chlochair, meaning 'wood of the stony place')
  • Lammy (from Template:Etymology/lang Leamhaigh, meaning 'place of elms')
  • Lisanelly (from Template:Etymology/lang Lios an Ailigh, meaning 'ringfort of the stony place')
  • Lisnamallard (from Template:Etymology/lang Lios na Mallacht, meaning 'ringfort of the curse')
  • Lissan (from Template:Etymology/lang Liosán, meaning 'small ringfort')
  • Mullaghmore (from Template:Etymology/lang Mullach Mór, meaning 'big hilltop')
  • Sedennan (possibly from Template:Etymology/lang Sidh Dianáin, meaning 'Dennan's fairy mound')
  • Strathroy (from Template:Etymology/lang Srath Rua, meaning 'the red strath' or from Template:Etymology/lang Srath Crua, meaning 'hard strath')

Weather

Omagh Snow 2006
Snow is common in Omagh during the winter months. Shown here is the River Strule.
Omagh Flooding (1969)
One of the major floods of 1969, shown here on Drumragh Avenue.

An air temperature of −19.4 °C (−2.9 °F) was recorded once, and it remains the coldest air temperature ever recorded in Ireland. Omagh has a history of flooding and suffered major floods in 1909, 1929, 1954, 1969, 1987, 1999 and, most recently, 12 June 2007. As a result of this, flood-walls were built to keep the water in the channel (River Strule) and to prevent it from overflowing into the flood plain. Large areas of land, mainly around the meanders, are unsuitable for development and were developed into large, green open areas, walking routes and parks. The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Cfb" (Marine West Coast Climate/Oceanic climate).

Climate data for Omagh
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.8
(46)
8.9
(48)
10
(50)
12.2
(54)
16.1
(61)
17.8
(64)
18.9
(66)
18.9
(66)
17.2
(63)
12.8
(55)
10
(50)
7.8
(46)
12.8
(55)
Average low °C (°F) 2.2
(36)
2.2
(36)
2.8
(37)
2.8
(37)
6.1
(43)
8.9
(48)
11.1
(52)
11.1
(52)
8.9
(48)
6.1
(43)
3.9
(39)
2.2
(36)
6.1
(43)
Precipitation mm (inches) 119
(4.7)
79
(3.1)
79
(3.1)
74
(2.9)
71
(2.8)
69
(2.7)
76
(3)
64
(2.5)
86
(3.4)
122
(4.8)
99
(3.9)
117
(4.6)
1,052
(41.4)
Source: Weatherbase

Demography

Omagh is classified as a large town settlement by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 19,910 people living in Omagh. Of these:

  • 24.8% were aged under 16 years and 14.9% were aged 60 and over, with an average age of 34.0 years.
  • 48.9% of the population were male and 51.1% were female.
  • 68.2% were from a Catholic background and 29.5% were from a Protestant background.
  • 3.9% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.
  • 13.8% of people were born outside Northern Ireland.

Population change

According to the World Gazetter, the following reflects the census data for Omagh since 1981:

  • 1981 – 14,627 (Official census)
  • 1991 – 17,280 (Official census)
  • 2000 – 18,031 (Official estimate)
  • 2001 – 19,910 (Official census)
  • 2010 – 22,834 (Calculation)

Places of interest

Tourist attractions

Glenpark Road - geograph.org.uk - 1503127
Glenpark Road. Heading south-west towards Omagh; to the left is the "Rest and be thankful" bench.
  • The Ulster American Folk Park near Omagh includes the cottage where Thomas Mellon was born in 1813, before emigrating to Pennsylvania, in the United States when he was five. His son Andrew W. Mellon became secretary of the US Treasury. The park is an open-air museum that explores the journey made by the Irish (specifically those from Ulster) to America during the 1800s. The park is famous for its large events during Easter, Christmas, Fourth of July and Halloween. It also hosts a major Bluegrass festival every year. Over 127,000 people visited the park in 2003.
  • The Gortin Glens Forest Park, 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) north of Omagh is a large forest with many attractions, including a deer enclosure and many areas of natural beauty, including waterfalls, lakes, etc.
  • Strule Arts Centre opened in 2007 is good example of urban renewal in Omagh town centre. Creating a modern civic building, in a newly created public space reclaimed from the formerly disused area, between the River Strule and High Street.

Parks

  • Omagh boasts over 20 playgrounds for children, and a large amount of green open area for all the public. The largest of these is the Grange Park, located near the town centre. Many areas around the meanders of the River Strule have also been developed into open areas. Omagh Leisure Complex is a large public amenity, near the Grange Park and is set in 11 hectares (27 acres) of landscaped grounds and features a leisure centre, boating pond, astroturf pitch and cycle paths.

Retail

Omagh is the main retail centre for Tyrone, as well as the West of Ulster (behind Derry and Letterkenny), due to its central location. In the period 2000–2003, over £80 million was invested in Omagh, and 60,960 m2 (656,200 sq ft) of new retail space was created. Shopping areas in Omagh include the Main Street Mall, Great Northern Road Retail Park and the Showgrounds Retail Park on Sedan Avenue in the town centre. Market Street/High Street is also a prominent shopping street, which includes popular high street stores such as DV8 and Primark.

Omagh lower market street in 2001
Lower Market Street

Transport

Omagh - geograph.org.uk - 507071
Looking at the town's Bridge Street area from an elevated height at the College.

Former railways

Neither the town nor the district of Omagh has any railway service.

The Irish gauge 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway (L&ER) opened as far as Omagh on 3 September 1852 and was extended to Enniskillen in 1854. The Portadown, Dungannon and Omagh Junction Railway (PD&O) reached Omagh in 1861, completing the Portadown – Derry route that came to be informally called "The Derry Road". The Great Northern Railway (Ireland) absorbed the PD&O in 1876 and the L&ER in 1883.

The Government of Northern Ireland made the GNR Board close the Omagh – Enniskillen line in 1957. The Ulster Transport Authority took over the GNR's remaining lines in Northern Ireland in 1958. In accordance with The Benson Report submitted to the Northern Ireland Government in 1963, the UTA closed the "Derry Road" through Omagh on 15 February 1965. Later the Omagh Throughpass road was built on the disused trackbed though Omagh railway station.

Bus Services

The Omagh Bus - geograph.org.uk - 539651 crop
Ulsterbus in 2007 in Omagh Ulsterbus station.

Bus Services in Omagh are operated by Ulsterbus. The town has seven bus corridors that run daily which are the following:

384A- Strathroy

384B- Killyclogher

384C- Tamlaght Road

384D- Culmore Park and O'Kane Park

384E- Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital

384F- Mullaghmore and Lisanelly Heights

384G- Dergmoney and Coolnagard Estate

Proposed railways

There is a proposal for Omagh to become a rail hub again by 2050. However, this is only a proposal in the planning stage, and no plan has been finalised as yet.

A proposal to reopen the line between Portadown and Omagh was considered by the NI Department for Regional Development in their Future Railway Investment: A Consultation Paper in early 2013. The proposal is not ranked as a high priority in the report for railway investment from 2015 to 2035. The report estimates that a link from Portadown to Omagh would cost around £475 million, thought it admits that no detailed feasibility study has been carried out.

There are plans to reopen railway lines in Northern Ireland including the line from Portadown via Dungannon to Omagh.

Road connections

  • A32 (Omagh – Enniskillen – Ballinamore) (Becomes N87 at border)
  • A5 (Northbound) (Omagh – Strabane [and from here north-west to Letterkenny, via Lifford on the A38, becoming the N14 at the county border] – Derry)
  • A5 (Southbound) (Omagh – Monaghan – AshbourneDublin) (Becomes N2 at border)
  • A4 (Eastbound) (Omagh – Dungannon – Belfast) (A4 joins A5 near Ballygawley)
  • A505 (Eastbound) (Omagh – Cookstown)
  • The Omagh Throughpass (Stage 3) opened on 18 August 2006.

Major developments

Lisanelly Shared Educational Campus

The Department for Education proposed a plan to build Omagh's six existing secondary schools at the former 190-acre St Lucia Army Barracks, to form one large educational campus, with shared facilities, but with separate school buildings to enable each school to maintain their individual ethos'.

On 22 April 2009 at the inaugural Lisanelly Shared Educational Campus Steering Group meeting held in Arvalee School and Resource Centre, the Education Minister, Caitriona Ruane announced that funding had been allocated by the Department of Education and Strategic Investment Board Ltd to be used to develop exemplar designs and associated technical work for a Shared Educational Campus in Omagh.

Work on the development began in October 2013, with the first school, Arvalee School, and a proposed completion of 2019 has been put forward. The construction is said to be costing in excess of £120million.

OASIS Project

Environment Minister Alex Attwood announced in April 2013 that planning was approved for the Omagh Accessible Shared Inclusive Space (OASIS), a £4.5million facelift for Omagh's riverbank. The development is wholly funded by the European Union.

The project includes the construction of a new pedestrian bridge linked from Drumragh Avenue car park (beside the bus depot) to Old Market Place, a riverside walk, exercise areas, electronic information hub, artwork panels, games tables and fishing stands. It will also include the development of covered performance and stage area and a neutral civic space able to accommodate markets, concerts and general recreational activities partially occupying lands at Drumragh Avenue car park.

Artist's Impression of the OASIS Project, Omagh
An artist's impression of the OASIS Project

Construction for the project began in March 2014, and is expected to last 12 months. The steel bow arch foot and cycle bridge was put into place on 26 July 2014.

Woodbrook Village

Woodbrook Village is an age exclusive residential housing development for the people over the age of forty-five and consists of 30 small homes, 12 apartments and a community building. The project was approved in January 2010 but was delayed until 2015 due to a depressed housing market.

Religious buildings

Omagh Community House - geograph.org.uk - 70058
Omagh Community House

The following is a list of religious buildings in Omagh:

  • Christ the King (Roman Catholic)
  • Gillygooley Presbyterian Church
  • First Omagh Presbyterian
  • Independent Methodist
  • Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Omagh Baptist
  • Omagh Community Church (non-denominational)
  • Omagh Free Presbyterian Church
  • Omagh Gospel Hall (A company of Christians sometimes referred to as "open brethren")
First Omagh Church with a mantle of trees - geograph.org.uk - 1020671
Omagh First Presbyterian Church
Three Omagh Churches - geograph.org.uk - 1765246
Three Churches in view: Church Street Methodist, Sacred Heart RC, and St Columba's Church of Ireland.
The four hill churches (Trinity Presbyterian), Omagh - geograph.org.uk - 754121
Trinity Presbyterian Church, behind the Three Church view.

People

Notable residents or people born in Omagh include:

  • John Meahan, New Brunswick shipbuilder and politician, born and raised in Omagh
  • Willie Anderson – Ireland Rugby Union International
  • Charles Beattie – Auctioneer and briefly Member of Parliament
  • Jimmy Kennedy (1902–1984) – Songwriter's Hall of Fame-inductee (Red Sails in the Sunset, Teddy Bears Picnic)
  • Benedict Kiely (1919–2007) – author (Land Without Stars)
  • Ciaran Maguire - Artist (Bath Spa graduate (4th place))
  • Linda Martin – musician (Eurovision Song Contest-winner 1992)
  • Patrick McAlinney (1913–1990) – Actor (The Tomorrow People)
  • Frankie McBride – country musician
  • Joe McMahon – All-Ireland-winning Tyrone Gaelic footballer.
  • Justin McMahon – All-Ireland-winning Tyrone Gaelic footballer.
  • Gerard McSorley – actor (Veronica Guerin), (Omagh)
  • Alice Milligan - Protestant Nationalist poet
  • Sam NeillJurassic Park actor (born in Omagh)
  • Pat Sharkey – Ipswich Town F.C. and Northern Irish football player in the 1970s.
  • Ivan Sproule – current Northern Irish football international and Bristol City F.C. player.
  • Juliet Turner – singer/songwriter
  • Barley Bree - Irish Folk Group
  • Arty McGlynn – International renowned guitarist.
  • Gerald Grosvenor – 6th Duke of Westminster.
  • Aaron McCormack – company CEO and one of the Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum
  • Brian Friel – playwright was born in Killyclogher near Omagh.
  • Aoife McArdle - Film Director
  • Philip Turbett – bassoonist, clarinettist and saxophonist
  • Janet Devlin - X-Factor Finalist 2011 (5th place)
  • Sean McDermott - American Football manager and alumni of University of Liverpool Law School
  • Phil Taggart - BBC Radio 1 DJ
  • Martina Devlin - Journalist and author

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