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Castlederg & Skirts of Urney Parish, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland in 1837 Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Ireland

Transcribed, Compiled and Submitted by
Len Swindley, Melbourne, Australia
len_swindley[at]hotmail.com

SKIRTS, or SKIRTS of URNEY, also called DERG, a parish, in the barony of OMAGH, county of TYRONE, and province of ULSTER, 8 miles (W.) from Newtown-Stewart, on the river Derg; containing, with the post- town of Castlederg, 3,113 inhabitants. This parish, which in the ecclesiastical divisions is generally known as Derg, Derg-bridge, or Castlederg, was formerly considered to be included in the parishes of Urney and Ardstraw, but in 1812 the portion of the latter parish was claimed by its rector, and since that period the parish has been called the Skirts of Urney. It comprises 17 townlands, containing (together with the portion of Ardstraw before mentioned), according to the Ordnance survey, 14,286 statute acres. Petty sessions are held every second, and a court for the manor of Hastings every third, Saturday, at Castlederg, where also are held a monthly court for the manor of Ardstraw and a monthly fair. The living is a perpetual cure, in the diocese of Derry, and in the patronage of the Rector of Urney: the tithes of the 17 townlands, over which the cure extends, amount to £258. 9. 3. The glebe-house is a neat building, erected in 1795, at an expense of £200, of which £150 was a gift from the late Board of First Fruits; and there is a glebe of 30 Cunningham acres. The church is situated at Castlederg, [see of Derry]. In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Urney: the chapel is at Castlederg; and there is a place of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Seceding Synod. About 270 children are educated in the national schools at Castlederg, Ganvaghan, Kilclean, and Mount Bernard, of which the first and last are patronised by Sir R. Ferguson, Bart.: there are also three private schools, in which are about 130 children; and three Sunday schools.

CASTLEDERG, or DERG-BRIDGE, a market and post-town, in the parish of SKIRTS, barony of OMAGH, county of TYRONE, and province of ULSTER, 8 miles (S.) from Strabane, and 107¼ (N.) from Dublin; containing 575 inhabitants. The town is indebted for its origin to Sir John Davis, attorney-general for Ireland to Jas. I., to whom a grant of 2,000 acres of land, then called Garvetagh, was made in 1609, on which Sir John, prior to 1619, built a castle and established 16 British families; he also erected a stone bridge over the river Derg, adjoining the castle, which, being the first built over that river, gave the town the name of Derg-Bridge, by which it is still frequently called. Sir John had another grant of land at Claraghmore, upon which he built a castle, called Kerlis (sic), and constructed a causeway, seven miles long and eight feet wide, in a straight line over mountains and through bogs, from one castle to the other. Several parts of this road are still traceable, but others have been broken up to make the road from this town to Drumquin. In the war of 1641, Sir Phelim O’Nial besieged the castle of Derg; and although he was driven away with disgrace and considerable loss of men, horses, and ammunition, yet he so greatly injured it that it was never afterwards repaired, and remains a noble pile of ruins on the northern bank of the river. The bridge erected by Sir John Davis remained till 1835, when it was taken down, and a handsome bridge of hewn stone, of four arches, has been erected. The town, which is also called Castle-Derrick and Churchtown, is situated on the road from Newtown-Stewart to Pettigo, and on the new line of road from Londonderry to Enniskillen, between which places two coaches running daily pass through it. It consists of one principal and two smaller streets, containing 105 houses, many of which are large and well built, and has much improved under the patronage of Sir R. A. Ferguson, Bart., its proprietor, who has lately built a very handsome inn. The market is on Friday, and is large and well attended; a fair is held on the first Friday in every month, A constabulary police force has been stationed here; petty sessions are held on alternate Saturdays; a court for the manor of Hastings every third Saturday, in which debts under 40 shillings are recoverable; and a monthly court for the manor of Ardstraw, for debts to a similar amount. There was anciently a church in the town, which was in ruins in 1619, when it was rebuilt by Sir John Davis; but being destroyed by Sir Phelim O’Nial in 1641, there was no church till 1731, when the present neat edifice was built by Hugh Edwards, Esq., of Castle-Gore, and was much improved in 1828. There is a national school for boys and girls, and a dispensary. Hugh Edwards, Esq., in 1735, bequeathed an acre of land on which to build a schoolhouse, and £24 annually for the support of a master, to teach eight poor boys, but the school was not built; it is now, however, about to be erected and endowed. Not far from the town are the ruins of Castle-Gore, formerly the residence of the proprietors of the Manor Hastings estate.