In the time of Ptolemy it was inhabited by the Scoti, which tribe extended itself over most of the inland regions; though some writers place Erdini here as well as in the neighbouring maritime county of Donegal. It was afterwards known as the district or kingdom of Cineal Eoghain, frequently called Tir Oen, whence its present name of Tyrone is derived, a portion of its southern border embraces the northern parts of the ancient district of Orgial or Uriel. According to Camden it was divided into Upper and Lower, or North and South Tyrone by the Slieve Callion mountain; but as this range is now wholly included within Londonderry, it is probable that the name of Tyrone was then extended to the greater part of that county also.
This district was from the earliest period of the Irish annals the chief seat of the power of the O'Nials, the princes or kings of the country and the O'Nial's retained power for the next centuries.
In 1597, the whole of Ulster, except the castles along the coast, was in the possession of O'Nial or his adherents; and in an attempt made to relieve the fort of the Blackwater, Sir Henry Bagnall, Marshal of the English, was routed and slain. After having baffled the celebrated and unfortunate Earl of Essex by a succession of affected submissions and unexpected hostilities, and joined in the expedition to Munster to aid the Spaniards at Kinsale, he was invaded in turn by the royal forces under Lord Mountjoy, who, by seizing on the passes and erecting forts at Charlemont, Mountjoy, and other important positions, reduced him to such extremities that he surrendered at Mellifont, and attended Mountjoy to Dublin, who proposed to send him thence to the Queen. Her death changed his destination for that time; but in the beginning of the ensuing reign, being suspected of an attempt to excite a new insurrection in Ulster, he fled to Spain; and his princely property being consequently confiscated.
His property was parcelled out into six counties, which were modelled, divided and planted with English settlers under special instructions from the king. According to the rules of his settlement, the whole county, which was estimated to contain 1571 balliboes, or 98,187 acres, being at the rate of 1000 acres to 16 balliboes, was divided into 78 portions, which, after deducting a portion for the church and some lands for Trinity College, Dublin, were granted to English and Irish undertakers, that is, settlers, who engaged to build, fortify, and stock the lands with British tenantry.
Five borough towns, Dungannon, Clogher, Omagh, Strabane, and Mountjoy, were allowed a certain portion of the surrounding grounds; and another portion was assigned to some of the members of the O'Nial family. The Irish were distributed as tenants among the undertakers, the swordsmen excepted, who were to be removed to the waste parts of Connaught or Munster, where they were to be dispersed and not suffered to settle together in one place.
On an inspection of the progress of the plantation, made by Captain Pynnar under the king's direction in 1618, it appeared that the county was divided into the five precincts of Strabane, Omy, Clogher, Mountjoy, and Dungannon.
Strabane and Mountjoy were allotted to Scotch undertakers, Omy and Clogher were allotted to English undertakers and Dungannon was allotted to servitors and natives.
The only towns, in the erection of which any progress had been made, were those of Strabane and Augher. The county continued to improve during the reign of Jas. I., but it suffered greatly during the war of 1641, at the termination of which, much of the lands fell into the hands of new proprietors; and in the subsequent war of 1688 it was the scene of many military events connected with the siege of Londonderry.
|Electoral Division/Ward||The Sandholes|
|Poor Law Union||Cookstown|
|Roman Catholic Parish||Desertcreight in Armagh Dioceses|
|Church of Ireland Parish||Desertcreat|
DESERTCREIGHT, a parish, in the barony of DUNGANNON, county of TYRONE, and province of ULSTER, 2 1/4 miles (S) from Cookstown, on the road from Dungannon to Coleraine; containing 1516 inhabitants.
Desertcreat; corrupted from Disert-da-Chrioch [Disert-á-cree], F.M., the hermitage of the two territories.
This parish comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 14,399 1/2 statute acres, chiefly rich arable and pasture land in a high state of cultivation; in the southern part of it are about 1000 acres of mountain and bog. Here are slate quarries, but they are not now worked; and seams of coal may be distinguished in various parts, but no pits have ever been sunk. freestone and limestone are abundant. At Tullylaggan are two extensive bleach-greens, and near Desertcreight is a smaller, which annually bleach and finish upwards of 30,000 pieces for the London market; and a great quantity is woven by the country people in their own houses, the occupation of weaving being followed generally by the inhabitants, in addition to agricultural pursuits. In the upper part of the parish is the village of Rock, where fairs are held on the last Monday in every month, for cattle, sheep, pigs, &c.; and there are four during the year at Tullyhoge.
The principal gentlemen's seats are Loughry, the elegant residence of J. Lindesay, Esq.; Desertcreight House, of J. Greer, Esq.; Rockdale, of J. Lowry, Esq.; New Hamburgh, of T. Greer, Esq.; Milton, of W. Greer, Esq.; Turniskea, of the Misses Bailie; Pomeroy House, of R. W. Lowry, Esq.; Elder Lodge, of Dr. Dickson; Rock Lodge, of Captain Daniell; Lime Park, of the Hon. And. Steuart; and the Glebe house, of the Rev. A. G. Steuart.
The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Armagh, and in the patronage of the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin: the tithes amount to £507. 13. 10 and the glebe comprises 177 acres. The church is a very ancient edifice, for the repairs of which the Ecclesiastical Commissoners have recently made grant of £205. 14s. 7d., : it is situated in a deep and romantic valley.
In the R, C. divisions this parish forms part of the union or district of Derryloran; there is a chapel at Tully O'Donnell, also an altar where divine service is performed on alternate Sundays.
At Sandholes is a Presbyterian meeting-house in connection with the Seceding Synod, of the first class; and there is one at Grange for the Covenanters. A commodious school at Tullyhoge was built and is supported by J. Lindesay, Esq.; at Caddy is one built and supported by T. Greer, Esq.; others at Shevy, Sandholes, Drumbellahue, and Grange, are in connection with the Kildare-place Society; and there is one at the slate quarry, in connection with the National Board. There are also three private schools.
At Donarisk stood the ancient priory of that name, founded by one of the O'Hagan family, in 1294, of which nothing exists but the cemetery, remarkable as the burial-place of the sept of O'Hagan, and more recently as that of the ancient family of Lyndsay and Crawford, of whom there are several tombs, but the most remarkable is that of Robert Lyndsay, chief harbinger to King James this Robert obtained the grant of Tullyhoge, &c, from Jas. I in 1604, where, and at Loughry, the family have ever since resided. Their house and documents were burnt during the civil war of 1641, and this tomb was also mutilated and covered over, in which condition it remained till 1819, when, in sinking a vault, it was discovered.
Numerous ornaments of gold, silver, and copper, with various military weapons, have been found here; the latter seem connected with the camp and fortress of Tullyhoge, the chief residence of the sept of O'Haid-hagine, or O'Hagan, where the kings of Ulster were in-augurated with the regal title and authority of the O'Nial from the most remote period. Of this important fortress nothing remains but large masses of stone lying scattered around, and the mound, surrounded by deep fosses and ramparts of earthwork.