Tyrone

 

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Tyrone: 54.602960, -7.094100

County Tyrone (Irish: Tír Eoghain, meaning "land of Eoghan") dates back to ancient times when the two sons of Niall of the Nine Hostages, Conall and Eoghan, divided the northwest of the country. Conall got much of what is now Donegal while Eoghan got the remainder. The history of this county is closely tied to the O’Neills who claim to be descendants of Eoghan and ruled this area for over one thousand years. When Hugh O’Neill was defeated in 1603, it marked the end of the old Gaelic order and the start of the Plantation of Ulster.

County Tyrone existed from the 1500s and became one of the six counties of Northern Ireland from 1921 until 1972, when the counties were replaced by 26 unitary authorities. Even so, many still identify with the ancient boundaries. It is the largest county in Northern Ireland and the county town is Omagh. Tyrone borders the largest lake in Ireland, Lough Neagh, and offers varied terrain from its eastern peatlands to the Sperrin Mountains.

As can be imagined, the county is full of sites of historic interest. An impressive list of abbeys, priories, friaries and other monastic houses can be found on Wikipedia. Some of these monasteries date back to the earliest Christian times. An Creagán, in the Sperrin foothills, re-creates the archaeological discoveries of the area. Newtonstewart Castle, home of the O’Neill chieftains, still has some surviving ruins and is also the site of an important Bronze Age find. Harry Avery O’Neill’s castle is nearby, and the remains of Henry Og O’Neill’s Castlederg Castle can be found by the River Derg.

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