Omagh (pronounced /'omæ/; ) is the county town of County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, situated where the rivers Drumragh and Camowen meet to form the Strule. The town, which is the largest in the county, has an estimated population of 22,182 and a further 30,017 live in the Omagh District Council area (2008 estimates). Omagh also contains the headquarters of Omagh District Council.
It is the county town of Tyrone, having taken the title from Dungannon around 1768. The town is said to owe its origins to an abbey founded in 792 CE, making it one of the oldest towns in Ireland.
The town is in west central Ulster and is traditionally considered to be part of West Tyrone.
The town is twinned with L'Haÿ-les-Roses, France.
Omagh was founded as a town in 1610, nearly 150 years after the foundation of the Franciscan Friary in the town. It served as a refuge for fugitives from the east of Tyrone during the 1641 Rebellion. In 1689, the same year as the Battle of the Boyne
, James II
arrived at Omagh, en route to Derry
. Supporters of William III
, Prince of Orange, burnt the town.
In 1768, Omagh replaced Dungannon as the county town of Tyrone. Omagh acquired railway links to Derry in 1852, Enniskillen in 1853 and Belfast in 1861. The Military Barracks was built in 1881. In 1899 Tyrone County Hospital was opened. Today the hospital is the subject of a massive campaign to save its services. The Ulster Transport Authority closed the Omagh-Enniskillen railway line in 1957 and the Portadown-Derry main line in 1965, leaving the town with no rail service. The town's large military barracks closed on 1 August 2007.
Famous visitors to Omagh have included U.S. President Bill Clinton, Irish President Mary McAleese, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
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.
Divisions and suburbs
These wards are only in the town, there are many outside the town in the council area.
These can also double as neighbourhoods. Population figures are for 2001, and will not add up to the 2007 estimate.
In general summers are temperate to warm and winters are cool to mild. Rainfall is pretty much constant throughout the year. Omagh, as an inland area, has a more extreme climate than Irish coastal areas. In the summer, daytime temperatures usually range from 17°C to 19°C (63°F to 66°F) with warm days often extending to 20°C (68°F) or higher. Temperatures surpassing 30°C (86°F) usually happen once every decade. Night time temperatures are usually between 9°C and 12°C (49°F and 53°F) though rather uncomfortable and humid temperatures of up to 20°C (68°F) have occurred. Thunderstorms are also rare, though some will happen, usually between June and August.
During the winter the days are usually either cloudy and mild (and often wet) or sunny and cool. Snow is fairly common (especially on the hills/mountains) and tends to fall during the months of December, January and February though it has been known for it to fall as early as September and as late as May. Temperatures in winter normally range from 7°C to 10°C (45°F to 50°F) during the day, and fall back to 3°C to 5°C (37°F to 41°F) at night. On cooler days the temperature can often struggle to rise above 2°C or 3°C (35°F or 37°F) or even above freezing (0°C or 32°F) during the day, and fall below freezing at night. On very cold nights the temperature can fall as low as -7°C (19°F) while in late December 1995 a temperature of -17.6°C (0°F) was recorded. An air temperature of -19.4°C (-3°F) was recorded once, and it remains the coldest air temperature ever recorded in Ireland.
| Average daily maximum temperature (°C)
|| 12.8 |
| Average daily minimum temperature (°C)
|| 6.3 |
| Mean total rainfall (mm)
|| 1,107.2 |
| Source: MSN Weather
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.
Statistical Classification - Large Town
- Population - 19,910
- Population under 16 years - 24.8%
- Population over 60 years - 14.9%
- Average age - 34.0 years (N.I. average - 35.8 years)
- Male population - 48.9%
- Female population - 51.1%
- People from a Catholic community background - 68.2%
- People from a Protestant or other Christian community background - 29.5%
- People born outside Northern Ireland - 13.8%
- People from a non-white ethnic group - 1.2%
- 1981 - 14,627 (Official census)
- 1991 - 17,280 (Official census)
- 2000 - 18,031 (Official estimate)
- 2001 - 19,910 (Official census)
- 2006 - 21,380 (Calculation)
- 2007 - 21,708 (Calculation)
- 2008 - 22,182 (Calculation)
Places of interest
- The Ulster American Folk Park in 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 to the US Treasury. The park is an open-air museum that explores the journey made by the Irish 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 (10 miles) north of Omagh is a large forest with many attractions, including a deer enclosure and many areas of natural beauty, including waterfalls, lakes, etc.
- The 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.
- Omagh boasts over 20 playgrounds for children, and a large amount of green open area for all the public. The largest (and most well known) 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 (26 acres) of landscaped grounds and features a leisure centre, boating pond, astroturf pitch and cycle paths.
- Omagh is the main retail centre for Tyrone, as well as the West of Ulster (behind Derry), due to its central location.
- In the period 2000-2003, over £80 million was invested in Omagh, and 60,960m² (200,000 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. High Street is also a prominent shopping street.
- There are also supermarkets such as Asda and Super Valu and fast food outlets such as KFC and McDonalds.
- Many bus services link Omagh with the rest of Tyrone and indeed, the rest of Ireland (both North and South). Mainly, two bus companies serve Omagh — Ulsterbus and Bus Éireann. There are bus services to nearly all major towns and cities from Omagh including Derry, Belfast and Dublin. There is a town bus service that runs daily, and a night bus service at weekends. Both services serve the town's suburbs.
- Neither the town nor the district of Omagh has any rail service. The Portadown–Derry main line (also known as "The Derry Road") through Omagh was closed in 1965 and the Omagh Throughpass was built on its trackbed. At the turn of the last century, Omagh was served by four different rail systems which stretched throughout Ireland, into Derry. At the turn of the last century, Clones was one of the major junctions from Derry, Omagh, and Belfast to north Leinster, in particular, the major market towns of Athlone, Cavan, and Mullingar via the Inney junction. This back-bone rail infrastructure was administered by Midland Great Western Railway which also linked to other major centres namely, Sligo, Tullamore, via Clara, other destinations such as Dublin, Limerick, and other market centres of the south coast. Omagh railway station opened on 3 September 1852 and finally closed on 15 February 1965.
- There is some hope that Omagh will become a transport hub again by 2050. There is a proposal to reopen the rail line to Belfast via Portadown, and also the rail link between Derry and Limerick via Omagh is also planned. However, this is only a proposal in the planning stage, and no plan has been finalised as yet. If this were to happen, Omagh would have rail links for the first time since 1965 to most of the other major towns and cities in Ireland. For further infrastructure details, refer to: Transport 21.
There is no airport in Omagh. People in the town usually use Belfast International Airport
, George Best Belfast City Airport
, City of Derry Airport
and Dublin International Airport
Omagh is connected to the rest of Ireland through a system of A roads
and B roads
. The Omagh Throughpass (Stage 3) opened on 18 August 2006
The main roads to/from Omagh are as follows -
Omagh has a large variety of educational institutions at all levels. Omagh is also the headquarters of the Western Education and Library Board
(WELB), which is located in Campsie House on the Hospital Road.
Primary Schools (Elementary Schools)
- St. Colmcille's Primary School
- Christ The King Primary School
- Gibson Primary School
- Loreto Primary School
- Omagh County Primary School (and Nursery School)
- Omagh Integrated Primary School
- St. Mary's Primary School
- St. Conor's Primary School
Grammar/Secondary Schools (High Schools)
Omagh has many religious sites, including:
- Church of Christ the King (Roman Catholic)
- Evangelical Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian)
- First Omagh Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian)
- Independent Methodist Church (Methodist)
- Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses (Jehovah's Witnesses)
- Omagh Baptist Church (Baptist)
- Omagh Community Church (Non-Denominational)
- Omagh Free Presbyterian Church (Free Presbyterian)
- Omagh Gospel Hall (A company of Christians sometimes referred to as "open brethren")
- Omagh Methodist Church (Methodist)
- Sacred Heart Church (Roman Catholic)
- St. Columba's Church (Church of Ireland)
- St. Mary's Church (Roman Catholic)
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon)
- Trinity Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian)
In addition to this, BBC Radio Ulster also has a studio in the town.
National Irish and British radio stations are received in Omagh on FM and AM frequencies, as well as the recent addition of digital radio.
Omagh does not broadcast any television natively, but the area receives the regional Northern Ireland channels, and national channels from both the United Kingdom
, and Republic of Ireland
, on both terrestrial frequencies as well as digital. Cable pipes were laid down in the area, however the transmissions were never made live, and as such, Omagh is not served by any cable network.
Omagh was one of the first areas in Northern Ireland, outside the Belfast commuter belt to transfer to broadband
internet. Prior to this, the only means for internet connection was through dial-up
, primarily gaelic football
, are the most abundant sports in Omagh. The town has two Gaelic football clubs, Omagh St. Enda's
, who play their home games in Healy Park
, and Drumragh Sarsfields
, who play their home games in the outskirts of the town.
Healy Park, the main GAA stadium in the town, located on the Gortin Road, has a capacity nearing 25,000, and had the distinction of being the first gaelic stadium in Ulster to erect floodlights.
The stadium now hosts the latter matches of the Tyrone Senior Football Championship, as well as Tyrone's home games, and other inter-county matches that require a neutral venue.
Association football (soccer)
Omagh no longer has a top-flight local football team
, due to Omagh Town F.C.
folding in the early 2000s, due to financial irregularities. Football in the town is represented by regional amateur teams with Omagh United Football Club emerging at the forefront to bring top-flight football back to the town.
Omagh's rugby team, Omagh Academicals
(nick-named the "Accies") is an amateur team, made up of primarily of local players. They would be considered the second team of Tyrone, after Dungannon RFC
Notable residents or people born in Omagh include: