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Welcome to Tyrone

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Towns in Tyrone
Gortin Omagh Stewartstown

County Tyrone has something for everyone to explore, from its rich heritage to its woodland setting. For a great selection of places to see and have fun, its series of picturesque towns and villages make ideal touring bases. One of the least explored counties of Northern Ireland, its uncrowded rural roads allow for some excellent sightseeing off the beaten tourist track.

Situated north-west of Tyrone is the pretty town of Newtownstewart, which remains the scant ruins of a plantation castle built in 1618 by Sir Robert Newcomen. Newcomen's daughter later married William Stewart who was confirmed in the lands by Charles 1 and gave the place its name. The castle was burned down in the mid 1600's at the outbreak of the 1641 Rebellion along with the town itself, which was rebuilt in 1722. Half a mile west-south-west of here is the remains of Harry Avery's Castle, an O'Neill stronghold of the 14th Century ( until 1603 at the battle of Mellifont, when Red Hugh O'Neill, the Earl of Ulster finally submitted to the dominion of British rule, Tyrone was the territory of the O'Neill clan )

Moving south brings us to one of Tyrone's largest commercial centres, Omagh, sitting in the Clogher Valley 33 miles (53km) south of Derry. This county town of Tyrone is an excellent touring base with the Sperrin mountain range just a few miles north. The mountains are full of forested glens and walking trails, ideal for picnics and walking, for the enthusiasts among you. The Noble Prize winning Irish poet, Seamus Heaney grew up on the edge of the Sperrins and in his work, still drawing inspiration from their effects on his life. The Sperrin Heritage Centre stands at the base of the highest point, Mount Sawel (2,200ft.) Why not try panning for gold in the streams nearby? Small amounts have already been found! Infact, the Irish world champion boxer of the 1980's Barry McGuigan had his first medal made from it. Close by, the forest park at Gortin Glen is worth a visit - fascinating for nature lovers.

Omagh's main attractions are the Ulster American Folk Park, 3 miles (5km) north of Omagh and the Ulster History Park, 17 miles (27km) north of Omagh. Dedicated to Northern Irish emigrants in America during the 18th and 19th Centuries the Ulster American Folk Park houses many life size exhibits to make this an altogether believable tour. Included are Pennsylvanian farmhouses, a New York tenement, immigrant transport ships and full scale replicas of Irish peasant cottages. It has been said that the 4th of July festivities at the Ulster American Folk Park are almost as good as being in the States!

The Ulster History Park is another open air museum dominated by full scale models tracing Irish history from the first known Settlers to the 12th Century arrival of the Norman's. Replicas include Crannogs and Dolmen, a plantation settlement and a monastery. Omagh is also home to the museum of the Royal Enniskillen Fusiliers Regiment.

Moving South from Omagh, we pass the pretty towns of Fivemiletown, and Clogher. In a more easterly direction we approach Dungannon, home to Tyrone Crystal factory where visitors are welcome to see the blowing and cutting stages of fine glass manufacture. Close by is the fascinating forest park at Parkanur where you can spot deer grazing or take in one of the many walking trails available.

Coalisland, not too far from Dungannon houses the Cornmill Heritage Centre which hosts an international folk-music festival each summer.

North of Dungannon is the historic market town of Cookstown, founded in 1609 by planter Alan Cooke. Another excellent touring base, as only 8 miles (13km) north of Cookstown is the Beachmore Stone Circles. Seven mysterious Bronze Age ceremonial stone circles and cairns. Only discovered in the 1950's and thought to have something to do with pagan astrological practices. Two miles (3km) south east of Cookstown is Tullaghoge Fort, the site of an 11th Century burial ground of the O'Hagans.

Not too far from here you will find the last mill where hammers can be seen at work, the Wellbrook Beetling Mill, where Beetling refers to the final stage in linen making when the cloth is beaten with hammers known as beetles, in order to achieve a flattened sheen on the material.

A fantastic rural destination, steeped in history, County Tyrone is the perfect place to get away from it all.

Neighbouring Counties
Armagh | Derry | Donegal | Fermanagh | Monaghan
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