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Omagh ( in English; – ) is the county town of County Tyrone in Northern Irelandmarker, 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 (2008 estimates). Omagh also contains the headquarters of Omagh District Council and the Western Education and Library Boardmarker.

It is the county town of Tyrone, having taken the title from Dungannonmarker around 1768. The town is said to owe its origins to an abbey founded in 792 AD, making it one of the oldest towns in Irelandmarker.

The town is in west central Ulster and is traditionally considered to be part of West Tyrone.

The town is twinned with East Kilbridemarker, Scotlandmarker.

History

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 Derrymarker. Supporters of William III, Prince of Orange, burnt the town.

In 1768, Omagh replaced Dungannonmarker as the county town of Tyrone. Omagh acquired railway links to Derry in 1852, Enniskillenmarker in 1853 and Belfastmarker in 1861. The military barracks were 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 Portadownmarker-Derry main line in 1965, leaving the town with no rail service. The town's large military barracks, St Lucia Barracks, closed on 1 August 2007.

Famous visitors to Omagh have included Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, former US president Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton, Irish president Mary McAleese, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The Troubles

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.

Geography

Omagh as seen from the Strule bridge.
In the background is the Sacred Heart Catholic church.

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.



Climate

Snow is common in Omagh around the winter months.
Shown here is the River Strule.


Omagh has a temperate oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfb), albeit with a more variable range of temperatures compared to other Irish towns and cities due to its northern inland location some 60 km from the Atlantic Oceanmarker coastline. In general, winters are cool to mild and summers are mild to warm with conditions being changeable and unpredictable throughout the year.

Rainfall occurs throughout the year, with the autumn (September to November) and winter (December to February) months normally being wetter than those in the spring (March to May) and summer (June to August); however the summers of 2007 and 2008 were notorious for being wetter than normal with August 2008 in Northern Ireland as a whole being the wettest since 1956.

Strong winds often occur during the winter but they can also occur at any time of the year. Omagh is helped however by its inland location surrounded by local hills and mountains, diminishing the power of the winds coming off the Atlantic and wind speeds higher than force 8 on the Beaufort scale are uncommon except in high, exposed locations.

During the winter the days are normally either cloudy and mild or clear and cool. With cloudy and mild conditions, this is often accompanied by rain from prevailing south western winds from the Gulf Stream that helps keep many parts of Western Europe warmer than most other locations at its latitude, and keeps local temperatures well above freezing. Clear and cool conditions are not as prevalent but occur when there is high air pressure, often bringing settled weather in the form of morning frosts and occasional fog and ice. Snow and other wintry showers will fall on occasions (especially on the hills and mountains to the north of the town) and is most likely to fall between the months of December and March although such weather has been seen in all months of the year except in June, July and August. Snow lying from these falls rarely gather more than 10 centimetres (4 inches) deep except in high, exposed locations and often last no more than a few days (or even just a few hours) when milder, wetter weather melts the snow. Winter temperatures 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 though temperatures of up to 14°C (57°F) both day and night have been noted in the past. 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.

Summer days present more variation depending on weather patterns over western and central Europe and the North Atlantic. Wet weather normally occurs in the same way as that in the winter except with warmer temperatures and that the rain itself may fall in shorter, heavier bursts compared to prolonged light to moderate falls in the winter. Clear and dry conditions normally come from southern and easterly winds originating from mainland Europe which bring with it sunshine and warm temperatures. Daytime temperatures usually range from 17°C to 19°C (63°F to 66°F), falling to between 9°C and 12°C (49°F and 53°F) at night. During warmer weather, temperatures often climb up to 24°C to 26°C (75°F to 79°F) and may go higher – conditions reaching 30°C (86°F) occur about once every 7 to 10 years. Humidity levels are constantly high and such temperatures often bring about more personal discomfort than would be experienced with the same temperatures in other parts of the world. During such periods night time temperatures may still remain as high as 20°C (68°F) making sleeping difficult, in part to the summer nights being short and the sun setting in June and July only after 10:00pm. During occasional cool spells in the summer, daytime temperatures may stay in around 12°C to 14°C (54°F to 57°F) with night temperatures falling as low as 5°C (41°F) however temperatures dropping below freezing are unheard of. Thunderstorms may also happen, but rarely do so with frequent occurrence, and are most likely to happen when cooler, fresher conditions move in to replace warm, stale air.

During the spring and autumn months, in particular April, May, September and October, it is not uncommon to see "4 seasons in a day" weather which may see a multiple combination of clear sunshine, heavy rain, strong winds, wintry showers and warm and cool temperatures prevail over a period of 24 hours. It is also not uncommon, especially in the spring, to see one day for mild or warm weather that may reach between 15°C to 17°C (59°F to 63°F) to then see 48 hours later the same place covered in a layer of snow with temperatures just above freezing (0°C or 32°F).

Climate Table
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average daily maximum temperature (°C) 7 8 10 12 15 17 18 19 17 13 10 7 12.8
Average daily minimum temperature (°C) 3 3 4 4 6 9 11 12 9 7 5 3 6.3
Mean total rainfall (mm) 98.5 97.9 60.6 77.4 66.6 69.6 71.3 68.3 80.6 126.8 95.5 98.6 1,107.2
Source: MSN Weather


Floods

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.

One of the major floods of 1969, shown here on Drumragh Avenue.


Demography

Statistical Classification - Large Town

Demography -

  • 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 Irelandmarker - 13.8%
  • People from a non-white ethnic group - 1.2%


Population change

  • 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

Tourist attractions



  • 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.


  • 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.


Parks

  • 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.


Retail

  • Omagh is the main retail centre for Tyrone, as well as the West of Ulster (behind Derrymarker and Letterkennymarker), due to its central location.
  • In the period 2000-2003, over £80 million was invested in Omagh, and 60,960 m2 (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 Parkmarker 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.
  • Other well-known 'chain' retail firms in the town include Homebase, Next, Argos, M&S and Halfords.


Transport

Bus

  • Many bus services link Omagh with the rest of Tyrone and, indeed, the rest of Irelandmarker (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 Letterkennymarker, Enniskillenmarker, Derrymarker, Belfastmarker and Dublinmarker. There is a town bus service that runs daily, and a night bus service at weekends. Both services serve the town's suburbs.


Railways

  • Neither the town nor the district of Omagh has any rail service. There is some hope that Omagh will become a transport hub again by 2050. There is a proposal to reopen the rail line to Belfastmarker via Portadownmarker, and also the rail link between Derrymarker and Limerickmarker 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 Irelandmarker.


Railways history

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 Derrymarker. At the turn of the last century, Clonesmarker was one of the major junctions from Derry, Omagh, and Belfastmarker to north Leinster, in particular, the major market towns of Athlonemarker, Cavanmarker, and Mullingarmarker via the Inney junction. This back-bone rail infrastructure was administered by Midland Great Western Railway which also linked to other major centres namely, Sligomarker, Tullamoremarker, via Claramarker, other destinations such as Dublinmarker, Limerickmarker, and other market centres of the south coast.
Rail-map-Viceregal-1906


Construction of the standard gauge Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway (L&ER) began in 1845 and reached Strabanemarker in 1847. By 1852 it had extended to Newtownstewartmarker and Omagh and its terminus in Enniskillenmarker was reached in 1854. The company was absorbed into the Great Northern Railway in 1883. Omagh railway station opened on 3 September 1852 and finally closed on 15 February 1965.

Air

There is no airport in Omagh. People in the town usually use Belfast International Airportmarker (popularly known as Aldergrove Airport), George Best Belfast City Airportmarker, City of Derry Airportmarker and Dublin International Airportmarker. Those who practice light aviation as a hobby often use Enniskillen Airport (better known as St. Angelo Airport), just 23 miles southwest of Omagh.

Drumragh Avenue, a major road in Omagh.
Also seen is the town's bus depot.


Road connections

Omagh is connected to the rest of Ireland through a system of A road and B road. The Omagh Throughpass (Stage 3) opened on 18 August 2006.

The main roads to/from Omagh are as follows -



Education

Omagh has a large variety of educational institutions at all levels. Omagh is also the headquarters of the Western Education and Library Boardmarker (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



Colleges/universities



Religion

Omagh Community House
Omagh has many religious sites, including:

  • Sacred Heart Church (Roman Catholic)
  • 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)
  • 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)


Media

Local newspapers



Local radio



In addition to this, BBC Radio Ulster also has a studio in the town.

UK national radio stations are received in Omagh on FM and AM frequencies, as well as the recent addition of digital radio. Due to Omagh's proximity to the border, RTÉ and other stations from the Republic of Ireland are also available.

Community Radio project Strule FM broadcast for 4 weeks in December 2008. The station featured a mixture of local interest programming and music programming produced by local radio presenters, historians and South West College Media/Music students. The station received the Bronze award for Community Radio at the 2009 Sony Radio Academy Awards.

Television

Omagh does not broadcast any television natively, but the area receives the regional Northern Ireland channels, and national channels from both the United Kingdommarker, and Republic of Irelandmarker, 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.

Internet

Omagh was one of the first areas in Northern Irelandmarker, outside the Belfastmarker commuter belt, to transfer to broadband internet. Prior to this, the only means for internet connection was through dial-up connections.

Sport

Gaelic games

Gaelic games, 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 Parkmarker, and Drumragh Sarsfields, who play their home games in the outskirts of the town.

Healy Parkmarker, the main GAA stadium in the town, located on the Gortinmarker Road, has a capacity nearing 25,000, and had the distinction of being the first gaelic stadium in Ulster to erect floodlights. Trillick are considered their greatest rivals. With Mark Mcgrade to the fore for trillick it should be an interesting tussle this year between mcgrade and justin Mcmahon.

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 emerging at the forefront to bring top-flight football back to the town. They currently play at an intermediate-level in the Mid-Ulster Football League.

Rugby

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.

People

Notable residents or people born in Omagh include:



References

  1. G.M. Miller, BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names (Oxford UP, 1971), p. 110.
  2. BBC News Northern Ireland "Month was gloomiest 'for century'"
  3. Premier Irish Forestry Fund
  4. World Gazeteer
  5. Ulster American Folk Park
  6. Omagh District Council
  7. GAA
  8. http://www.songwritershalloffame.org/inductee_ceremony_detail.asp?ceremonyId=9&inducteeCeremonyId=79
  9. http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0209/kielyd.html
  10. http://www.irishwriters-online.com/benedictkiely.html
  11. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0563935/
  12. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0574561/
  13. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000554/


External links




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