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TYRONE

"TYRONE, an inland county, province of Ulster, Ireland, is bounded N. by Londonderry, E. by Lough Neagh and Armagh county, S. by Monaghan and Fermanagh and W. by Fermanagh and Donegal. It lies between 54° 19' and 54° 67' N. lat., 6° 35' and 7° 56' W. long. Its greatest length from E. to W. is 60 miles, and from N. to S. 46 miles. The area, which includes a portion of Lough Neagh, is 1,260 square miles, or 806,640 acres, of which 450,826 acres are arable, 311,867 acres are uncultivated, 11,981 acres under plantations, 710 acres in towns, and 31,796 acres under water. The population in 1841 was 312,956, in 1851 it was 255,734, and in 1861 it was 238,500. The number of inhabited houses in 1861 was 44,577; of uninhabited, 1,842; and 70 were in course of building. The Poor Law valuation in 1851 was £366,010, and the general valuation in 1861 was £419,023. The number of persons from this county who emigrated from Irish ports, with the expressed intention of not returning, between May, 1851, and December, 1865, was 52,221, or 20 per cent. of the population at the former date. The county seems to have been originally peopled by the Scoti, who occupied most of the inland regions, and afterwards formed the kingdom of Cineal Eoghain or Tgr-oen, now written Tyrone. From the earliest times it was the chief seat of the family of O'Neill, many of whom ruled over the entire island. O'Neill assisted Roderick O'Connor in his attempt to drive the English from Dublin; his successor, however, attended the court and acknowledged the authority of King John. The O'Neills assisted Edward Bruce in his attempt to conquer Ireland, but were faithful to Richard II. when he landed in the country. They received the title of Earl of Tyrone from Henry VIII. During Elizabeth's reign they revolted in consequence of alleged grievances, and joined a league of the northern chieftains against the English. They seized and occupied nearly the entire of Ulster, defeated Sir H. Bagnall, the English marshal, at Dungannon, and resisted and baffled the Earl of Essex. Lord Deputy Mountjoy, who succeeded him, compelled them to submit; and in the reign of James I., when the English and Scotch settlements in Ulster took place, Tyrone was divided into districts and given to "undertakers," who undertook to form settlements or colonies.

This gave a considerable impulse to progress, but the county was actively concerned in the disturbances succeeding 1641, which checked the spirit of improvement. Dungannon was seized by Phelim O'Neill, who, in 1646, defeated the English and Scots at Benburb, cutting off 3,000 men, and thus established his temporary supremacy in Ulster, which, however, Cromwell quietly put an end to in 1649. In the war of the Revolution, the army of James fell back upon Strabane after raising the siege of Londonderry. The surface is for the most part hilly, rising to the N. into the mountain-ranges of Donegal and Londonderry, and to the S. into those of Monaghan, Cavan, and Fermanagh. The county lying between these principal chains is to a great extent moorland, diversified by the hills and mountains which rise, now in isolated peaks, and now in groups, to elevations varying from 1,000 to 2,200 feet, while between them rich valleys are occasionally met. This district is flanked by the plain of Lough Neagh gradually sloping towards the E. to the borders of the lake, and S. to the Blackwater, which drains this part of the county, the N. of this plain being watered by the Ballinderry, which, after a course of 26 miles, falls into Lough Neagh. The Blackwater, 46 miles in length, is navigable from the Lough to Charlemont, a distance of 8 miles, and is there joined by the Ulster canal. The Tyrone canal also, 6 miles long, connects this river with the collieries at Coalisland. The north-western districts belong to the basin of the Foyle, and are drained by it and its affluents. The lakes are numerous but unimportant, except Lough Neagh, of which 27,355 acres belong to this county. The Irish North-Western railway enters the county near Trillick, and runs N. past Omagh to Strabane, and on to Londonderry; the Portadown, Dungannon, and Omagh Junction railway connects the Irish North-Western, and the Ulster lines, and a branch of the Belfast and Northern Counties railway passes north of Lough Neagh to Cookstown. The roads are well laid off, and are kept in good order. The principal are the Dublin and Londonderry road, passing by Aughnacloy, Omagh, Newtownstewart, and Strabane; and the Armagh and Coleraine road, by Moy, Dungannon, and Cookstown. The elevated mountain district occupying the N.W. of the county is of mica slate, or Old Red sandstone formation, while granite is to be found in the north-eastern parts. The great central parts are of Old Red sandstone, or sandstone conglomerate, which extends southwards into Fermanagh. Carboniferous limestone occupies a considerable portion of the S. There is a small coal-field about Dungannon and Coalisland, which supplies a quickly burning coal, resembling that of Ayrshire. Tho seams are thicker than in other districts in Ireland, but the yield has not equalled the expectations formed, and though the mines are still worked, the amount raised is not considerable. Marble is quarried in the neighbourhood of Monaghan, and potter's clay about Coalisland. Traces of lead, copper, and iron are also found. The soil in the lower land is fertile, the hilly parts afford good pasturage for cattle, and much of the central district is reclaimed moor or bog, but a great deal may yet be done towards improvement by judicious drainage. Wheat and barley are little grown, oats being the staple crop. Potatoes and flax are also attended to. The county is partly in the diocese of Clogher, but principally in those of Armagh and Derry, in the distribution of the Roman Catholic as well as of the Established Church. In 1861, 52,016, or 21.8 per cent. of the population belonged to the latter Church; 134,716, or 56.5 per cent., were Roman Catholics; 46,568, or 19.5 per cent. were Presbyterians, and 5,200, or 2.2 per cent., belonged to other denominations. The county returns three members to Parliament, two for the county at large, constituency in 1864, 8,421; and one for Dungannon borough, constituency 177. It is divided for civil purposes into eight baronies-Clogher, Dungannon, Lower, Middle, and Upper Omagh, East and West, and Strabane, Lower and Upper, and contains 46 parishes. The government is entrusted to the lieutenant and custos, the high sheriff, 24 deputy lieutenants, and about 112 magistrates. It belongs to the N.W. circuit. The assizes are held at Omagh, and petty sessions at 20 other towns. The county gaol, county infirmary, and district lunatic asylum are at Omagh, where there is also a barrack station. The county is within the Dublin military district. It is divided into 7 Poor-law Unions and 28 dispensary districts. There are 25 market-towns. The principal seats are Stuart Hall, Earl of Castlestuart; Barons Court, Marquis of Abercorn; Dungannon Park, Hon. W. S. Knox; Ballygawley House, Sir J. M. Stewart; Fecarry Lodge, Sir B. B. M'Mahon; Lissan, Sir N. A. Staples; besides numerous residences of the gentry of the county. The antiquities are not numerous, and are generally confined to the ruins of monasteries and ancient castles, none of which are of much importance. The Marquis of Waterford is Baron Tyrone in the peerage of Great Britain."

 

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)]
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2018