GEOGRAPHICAL STATE AND CIRCUMSTANCES section 1. Situation and Extent.
The county of Tyrone is inland, being bounded by the county of Donegal on the north, and north-west; by the county of Londonderry, on the north, and north-east; by part of Loughneagh, and the county of Armagh, on the east; and by the counties of Monaghan and Fermanagh, on the south, and south-west. The county is very irregular, and much pointed and indented in its circumference. The greatest extent from north to south is from Donnelong, on the borders of the river Foyle, to Slieve-Beaygh mountain, on the borders of the county of Monaghan, being an extent of 33 miles; in English measurement 42 miles. The greatest length from east to west is, from the borders of Loughneagh, in the parish of Arboe, in the barony of Dungannon, to the extremity of the parish of Farmonomungan, joining the counties of Donegal and Fermanagh, being in extent 43 miles; in English measurement 54.8 miles. Messrs. M'Crea's
map of the county, made out in 1774, 1755 and 1776, and Dr. Beaufort's
memoirs agree perfectly with the above statement. According to Dr. Beaufort's
statement, the accuracy of which we have no reason to suspect, the county contains 467,700 acres, and, of cource, 724 square miles; in English measurement 751,387 acres, being equal to 1163 square miles.
SECT. 2. Divisions
THE principal divisions are into Baronies, namely;
Barony of Strabane, to the north.
Baronyof Dungannon, to the east.
Barony of Clogher, to the south.
Barony of Omagh, partly to the west; but a large portion of it lies between the baronies of Strabane and Clogher, and meets the barony of Dungannon on the east.
The above Baronies are divided into parishes
The barony of Strabane
contains- the parishes of
4. Urney; with a small part in Donegal.
6. Upper Bodony
7. Lower Badony
9. Cumber only a small part of this is in the county.
The barony of Dungannon
contains- the parishes of
1. Lisson, partly in the county Derry.
6. Ballinderry, partly in the county Derry.
11. Tullyniskal (V)
The barony of Clogher
contains-the parishes of
1. Donacavey, or the parish of Fintona
4. Errigle Frough, partly in the county Monaghan. (V)
5. Aghalurcher, partly in Fermanagh.
The barony of Omagh
contains-the parishes of
3. Dreomragh, or parish of Omagh
6. Longfield, lately divided into two livings.
Total number of parishes in the baronies
Strabane 9 parishes
Dungannon 18 "
Clogher 5 "
Omagh. 7 "
39 in the whole.
There are only 35 parishes, properly within the county, as only a small portion of the remaining four parishes are marked within the limits of the map of the county. Except the parish of Tullyniskal, and the parish of Errigle-Frough, (both marked V. to denote a vicarage) the whole of the parishes are rectories.
The Barony of Dungannon contains the following towns and villages.
1. Dungannon, one of the most prosperous towns in the North of Ireland in the linen trade, nor is it inferior to any for its rapid progress in building. When the new town will be completed, Dungannon altogether will have no equal in the North. In the buildings there is one fault, which generally prevails, and that is, that the houses are narrow, which, in buildings in general is certainly bad economy.
2. Cook's-town, tolerably eminent in the linen trade. The muslin manufacture is likely to take place here.
3. Aughnacloy; linen and yarn. .
4. Stewart's-town; ditto.
7. Moye; extremely well situated for trade, having the Blackwater river navigable, so far as Blackwater town, from Lough Neagh.
The above are the principal towns in the barony and the following are the villages.
6. Coal-island; navigation might be improved.
7. Donaghmore; brewery and mill for preparing barley.
11.Benburb; a famous limestone quarry.
The Barony of Clogher contains the following towns and villages.
5. Fintona; good linen market. The above are small towns, but of more consequence than country villages.
The Barony of Omagh contains the following towns and villages.
1. Omagh, the assize town.
7. Derg-bridge ; bleaching might be established.
8. Drumquin ; bleaching might likewise be established here, by removing a mill.
The above are villages, except Omagh.
The Barony of Strabane contains the following towns and villages.
1 . Strabane ; a good market town for many articles, and especially cloth.
2. Newtown-stewart - a good market for cloth and yarn. Several bleach-greens might be established on the river Struel, between this town and Omagh.
4. Ballimagorry ; situation for a bleach-green.
5. Ardstraw-bridge ; - ditto.
7. Claudy ; a situation for a bleach-green. Except the two first, the above are small villages. Strabane is at present improving ; its canal is the chief cause. Newtownstewart is most eligibly situated for improvements of many sorts.
The following are established breweries.
One at Dungannon, on a large scale.
Two at Donaghmore, near Dungannon.
One at Stewart's-town.
One at Aughnacloy, on a large scale. .
One at Newtown-stewart.
Two at Strabane
Soil and Surface.
It would be found an endless talk to enumerate the great variety of soils and surfaces within the county; the following sketch may, however, be depended upon. The mountainy parts are generally shallow, wet, and sour; in other parts dry, husky, and peaty, the depth seldom exceeding six inches. In some places the substratum is tenacious, and hence we find the tops and sides of mountains generally wet and spongy. In other parts, the substratum is a black, solid bog, which is equally as tenacious as strong clay soil, and of course prevents the water from sinking, by which means the surface is equally as bad as in the former casse.
But where the substratum is open rock, gravel, or any other porous body, through which the water may readily pass, the surface is always dry and wholesome, and very well calculated for young stock in summer. Mountains of the latter description are always valuable to the owners as they get a better price for feeding the stock, which are sent to them generally in May, than those possessed of land of the two first descriptions; when the wet mountain lets only at five or six shillings a fum** the dry mountain claims ten shillings, and sometimes more.
Soils of the foregoing descriptions are peculiar to the baronies of Strabane and Omagh ; the baronies of Dungannon and Clogher are, generally speaking, of as good a quality of land, as perhaps any in the kingdom. A large tract of the west parts of the barony of Dungannon, and of the north part of the barony of Clogher, may be ranked with the mountainy parts of the baronies of Strabane and Omagh.
** A phrase most commonly used in this county: a cow three years old is a fum ; a two year old and one yearling a fum; three yearlings a fum; a horse is in some parts a fum and a quarter, but is most commonly a fum. A fum, bead collop, and ball, are synonimous, according to different countries.
The surface of the whole county is wonderfully diversified, hill and vale being the prevailing character. The mountains of the greatest magnitude are in the barony of Strabane. The vast chains of the Munterloney mountains, stretching into the county of Derry, are the most considerable; Mullaghcairn, or Cairntogher, with Bessy Bell, and Mary Gray, and many others are very considerable. Mullaghcairn is the highest mountain in the county, which I have proved; the next to it is Knockfowel, part of which is in the county of Derry. To the above may be added the mountains of Ballygawley, on the west of the barony of Dungannon, and Morley on the west of the barony of Clogher. In order to give the reader a more comprehensive view of the soil and surface of the county, I shall set down Omagh, the assize town, as a common centre; and proceed with the principal roads, throughout the county, to the extremities of it. But first, I shall take a circular course, which will include part of the barony of Omagh, the whole of the barony of Clogher, and more than two parts of the barony of Dungannon. In the different excursions, the crops usually followed shall be remarked, which will, in some measure, give an idea of the quality of the soil.
Between Omagh and Dromore, distance of about seven miles, the lands are, in general, light and gentle, very much undulated. In many parts the soil inclines to a reddish colour, a great indication of fertility. Potatoes, flax, and oats, are the principal crops; in some spots barley; about the town of Dromore, the soil is not calculated for the latter. Limestone is scarce; but as far as lime has been tried, it has been found to answer extremely well.; vast quantities of ashes are made from the peaty soils, which are in this direction tolerably plenty, though the bogs are not numerous or extensive. Limestone is not found nearer to Dromore than the parish of Longfield, which abounds in that article, but the want of good roads renders it precarious, and of course very expensive.
From Dromore to Fintona, distance about five miles, light soil; appears extremely well calculated for sheep, as the substratum is in general sand and gravel, which, of course, render the surface sound and wholesome. Crops; potatoes, oats, and flax, or rather potatoes, flax, and oats in rotation, because in few situations, in this course, flax will not answer, unless sown immediately after potatoes, which is almost universally the case in their mountainy soils. Two crops of oats in such situations are usually taken off after flax, which is wrong, as the last crop is frequently not worth reaping.
Between Fintona and Five-mile-town, distance about seven miles; about the former the soil is thin and cold, the substratum much inclined to strong tenacious clay. Near this town, a good plan of cutting out a bog for present economy, and future profit, is spiritedly pursued by Mr. Eccles
, which deserves particular notice, since so good a system, I believe is not to be met with in the county, except near Verner's
ferry, on the borders of the Black-water, which separates the county of Armagh from this county. About half way between the above towns is a large mountain called Murley, which makes a great and striking feature in the barony of Clogher. This mountain affords a great capability for improvement, the surface being in general a rich peaty soil, with a substratum of reddish clay mixed with innumerable small stones. To render this mountain profitable, nothing more need be done, than to mix the upper and lower soils, which could be performed at little expense, since the substratum lies only at a small distance from the peat, or rich moor, the depth of which seldom exceeds a foot. Nothing can support this observation better than the sides of the road through the mountain, where the soils were mixed in forming the road from the water-tables. The white clover springs immediately with many other useful grasses. This circumstance is not peculiar to this district; it is common throughout many of our mountains, but the effects are here most conspicuous; though I could not discover the least particle of limestone-gravel, which abounds in almost the whole of the low-lands in this barony, and which I shall presently take notice of. In the flat country, below this mountain, which is rich and extensive, the soil incapable of producing as good crops as any part of the kingdom; generally a deep soil, abounding with limestone and limestonegravel, but the latter is very sparingly attended to. The general crops are potatoes, barley, oats, and flax, and the rotation of them is most commonly as here set down, with this difference, that two or three successive crops of oats are taken after barley; but here this system is more pardonable than in the soils of the county in general. Some patches of wheat are to be met in the barony of Clogher, the culture of which might be extended to a large scale, as the soils, in general, of this neighbourhood are peculiarly suited to that grain.
From Five-mile-town to Clogher, distance about five miles; soil remarkably good for grass and corn; abounds with limestone and limestone-gravel. From Clogher to Augher, distance about two miles; soil shallow, and inclining to a reddish hue; limestone scarce: crops, potatoes, flax, and oats.
From Augher to Aughnacloy, by Killybrick, &c, distance about six miles; soil shallow, inclining to clay, very tenacious; crops, chiefly potatoes and oats, some flax,, but not abundant. Though the soil about Killybrick and Favoroyal is, in general, cold, wet, and shallow, yet timber trees, in general, succeed very well. Some, patches of barley about Aughnacloy; but this grain is not much favoured by the soil of this neighbourhood. From Aughnacloy to Callidon, distance about six miles, all gentle swells and fertile vales; abundant crops of hay, oats, barley, potatoes, flax, and some rye; soil inclining to red, and, in many parts, abounding with limestone and limestone-gravel; some marle to be met with in the fertile vales.
From Callidon to Benburb, distance about six miles along the Blackwater, and on to Blackwater town, which lies principally in the county of Armagh. In most part of those districts the soils are fertile and well calculated to every kind of grain peculiar to the county, and, perhaps, to the kingdom, if judiciously managed. The exertions of Doctor Richardson
, of Clonfeckle, near Blackwater-town, in the line of farming, particularly on green crops, fully show what the fertile soils of the major part of the barony of Dungannon are capable of producing. From Blackwater-town to the Moy, Dungannon, &c. is beautiful and fertile, almost beyond description. Every kind of crop succeeds well, when the weather is at all favourable, as the fault of a bad crop can never be imputed to the soil; I wish the same observation hold good with respect to good management. From Dungannon to Coal-Island, and along the canal towards Verner's
ferry, &c.; soil in general thin and poor; scanty crops of potatoes and oats. Again,-from Dungannon to Cook's-town, Stewart'stown, &c.; soils in general deep and fertile; generally produce every kind of grain and vegetable, peculiar to the county, in great abundance. Very few hills or mountains of any magnitude are within a considerable distance of Dungannon particularly in the direction of Cook's-town, Stewart's-town, Tullyhog, &c.
From Dungannon almost the whole way to Six-mile-cross, distance about fifteen miles; almost a continued scene of dreary bog and mountain. And again, from the latter village to within two or three miles of Omagh, an extended flat bog, of several thousand acres, which is supposed to be the most extensive in the county; I am sure it is the most unprofitable, and, from its situation, the most difficult to be improved. Here ends a circle through part of three baronies.
I shall now proceed upon the different roads leading from Omagh through most parts of the county. From Omagh to Ballygawley, distance about twelve miles; potatoes, flax, and oats; very thin, light soils. The same may be said from Ballygawley to Dungannon, distance about ten miles. To Augher and Clogher, distance twelve miles; soil and surface nearly the same as on the Ballygawley road, and, of course, so are the crops.
To Fintona, distance from Omagh about six miles; soil in general good, dry, and much undulated; produces, in general, good and certain crops.
To Drumquin, Derg, and Clady, the latter about twenty miles distance from Omagh. Except within two miles of the town of Omagh, the whole of this course exhibits nothing but one continued scene of dreary mountain; though the country for several miles round Drumquin was, not more than forty years ago, very well wooded, the remains of which are still visible. It is a soil, in general, peculiarly adapted for planting, both for aptness of soil, situation, and case in inclosing.
To Newtown Stewart, distance seven miles; the whole way an indifferent soil, thin, substratum strong and tenacious. Much bog and mountain occur in this direction, on both sides of the river. Between Omagh, and the north part of the demesne of Rath, there are large tracts of excellent feeding-land, along the river on either sides. Except some spots about NewtownStewart, there is little or no good land along the banks, the whole of the way to Strabane, except some trifle on the west fide of the river, near that town. The banks in many parts are steep, and of very little value, except for planting, for which purpose they are extremely well calculated. From Omagh to Gortin, distance about seven miles. Near Omagh a bog of several hundred acres, which will in time be of great advantage to that town: at present it is in a bad state, but is, however, very capable of being improved, which, no doubt, will shortly be the case. Good roads is the first step towards the improvement of bogs, in which the bog under consideration is not deficient: some excellent roads are made, and others are in contemplation.
The remainder of the way to Gortin, except about two miles through Lord Mountjoy's improvements, is nothing but a continuation of rocky and barren mountain, romantic and picturesque to the highest degree. In most of those rocky features there are fertile veins, where timber-trees, such as beech, larch, and Scotch fir, would flourish space.
At Gortin, or rather over the village as you go from Omagh, there is a most extensive view of many of the Munterloney mountains. The village of Gortin may be considered the capital of this immense region. Before the woods were cut down, the scenes about Gortin must have been truly picturesque, and especially the banks of the rivers and brooks, which situations the wood chiefly occupied. Very little wood at present to be seen in this part of the country, except the woods of Carrick, the property of Lord Mountjoy, which are in a very flourishing state, and kept in the highest degree of preservation.
But to return from this digression; From Omagh to Green-castle, Cook's-town, &c,; almost the whole way is bog and mountain. In approaching Cook's-town, however, the soil mends considerably, and the magnitude of the mountains diminishes. The lands every where about Cook's-town are of a good quality, and produce abundant crops; the town-parks, with the approaches to them from the main street, are well imagined, and very judiciously laid out.
To enter into a minute detail of the great variety of soils in this county, would require a large volume; and, after all, perhaps, sufficient justice might not be done in point of accuracy, since it is well known, that there are many parishes in the county, fully descriptive of all I have here endeavoured to explain, and which, I candidly confess, is far from the degree of justice the subject deserves.
extracts from the Statistical Survey of the County of Tyrone: With Observations on the means of improvement.
By John McEnvoy
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