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Scots: Rathgannon
Dungannon from SE 258959.jpg
Killyman Road towards the town centre
Grid reference: H7962
Location: 54°30’0"N, 6°46’12"W
Population: 11,139  (2001)
Post town: Dungannon
Postcode: BT70 - BT71
Dialling code: 028
Local Government
Council: Mid-Ulster
Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Dungannon is a medium-sized town in Tyrone: the third-largest town in the county, after Omagh and Strabane, with a population of 11,139 at the 2001. In August 2006, Dungannon won Ulster In Bloom's Best Kept Town Award for the fifth time.

The name of the town is from the Gaelic language: Dún Geanainn, meaning "Geanann's stronghold".


Dungannon's fortunes have been closely tied to that of the O'Neill dynasty which ruled most of Ulster until the seventeenth century and was the most powerful Gaelic family. Dungannon was the clan's main stronghold which made it by default the most important settlement in Gaelic Ireland. The traditional site of inauguration for 'The O'Neill', was Tullyhogue Fort, an Iron Age mound some four miles northeast of Dungannon. The clan O'Hagan were the stewards of this site for the O'Neills.

The last castle was located at what is today known as Castle Hill; the location was ideal for a fort as it was one of the highest points in Tyrone, and dominated the surrounding countryside with the ability to see seven counties depending on the weather. Its location ultimately led to the Army’s taking over the site for a security installation during The Troubles, only being returned to the local council in August 2007.

The castle was burned in 1602 by Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone as the English forces closed in on the Gaelic lords towards the end of the Nine Years' War. In 1607, ninety-nine Irish chieftains and their followers, including Hugh O’Neill, set sail from Rathmullan, County Donegal, bound for the continent. What followed became known as the Plantation of Ulster and the town and its castle were granted to Sir Arthur Chichester, the architect of the Plantation.

The castle was partially excavated in October 2007, by the Channel 4 show 'Time Team', uncovering part of the moate and walls of the castle.[1]

After the O'Neills

Dungannon remained the county seat of County Tyrone after the Plantation, but High Court judges who travelled to Dungannon to the courthouse were attacked in the village of Cappagh and the county town was then moved to Omagh.

In 1782, the town was the location where the independence of the Irish Parliament was declared by members of the Protestant Ascendancy who controlled the parliament at the time.[2]

Places of interest

An interesting feature of the town is the former police barracks at the top right-hand corner of the market square which is quite unlike any other police barracks of a similar vintage. A popular but apocryphal story relates that the unusual design of this building is due to a mix-up with the plans in Dublin which meant Dungannon got a station designed for the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan and they got a standard Irish barracks, complete with a traditional Irish fireplace. Dungannon Park is a seventy-acre oasis centred round an idyllic still-water lake, with miles of pathways and views of the surrounding townland.[3][4]


Dungannon sprang up in a townland called Drumcoo, within the parish of Drumglass. Over time, the urban area has spread into the neighbouring townlands. Many of its roads and housing estates are named after them.

The townlands include:[5][6]

  • Ballynorthlan
  • Ballysaggart
  • Drumcoo (likely from Druim Cuaiche meaning "ridge of the cuckoo")
  • Drumharriff (likely from Druim Thairbh meaning "ridge of the bull")
  • Gortmerron (likely from Gort Mearain meaning "Merron's field")
  • Killymaddy (likely from Coill na Madaí meaning "wood of the dogs")
  • Killymeal
  • Lisnaclin (likely from Lios na Clinge meaning "ringfort of the bell chime")
  • Lisnahull (likely from Lios na hOlna meaning "ringfort of the wool")
  • Lurgaboy (likely from Lurga Buí meaning "long yellow hill")
  • Mullaghadun (likely from Mullach an Duin meaning "hilltop stronghold")
  • Mullaghannagh (likely from Mullach Eanach meaning "marshy hilltop")
  • Mullaghconnor
  • Mullaghmore (likely from Mullach Mór meaning "big hilltop")


The economy of Dungannon has evolved from agriculture and linen production dominating the landscape to food and light engineering being the main industrial employers.

Dungannon Enterprise Centre, located on the Coalisland Road, supports start-up and growth businesses in the Council area. Dungannon Enterprise Centre's mission is to encourage the development of local economy through the fostering of the local enterprise culture. Its services includes rented workspace units at "easy in - easy out" lease terms, business training on marketing and finance and advice/mentoring on many aspects of business. In 2009, the Centre assisted 123 entrepreneurs to start new businesses and over 55 established businesses to grow.[7]



Dungannon Cricket Club is the oldest sporting club in Dungannon dating back to at least 1865. This was again due to the influence of the Royal School who were playing in 1861 and probably earlier. The club played continuously through to 1914 with a break from 1901 to 1904 when Lord Ranfurly was Governor of New Zealand and there was no ground available until his return. The club became affiliated to the NCU in 1913 and played in the Junior Cup in 1913 and 1914 until the club was discontinued during the Great War.

Attempts were made to reestablish the club after the war and this was done in 1929 and survived until 1933 when Lord Ranfurly died to again leave the club without a ground. Cricket was kept alive by the Royal School, Bankers and the RUC until 1939 when the Second World War broke out.

The club was reformed in 1948 mainly due to the efforts of Eddie Hodgett and the NCU leagues in 1952 and continues to do so to the present time. The club has never quite reached senior cricket as it has limited resources and relies on the District Council for a ground. The club has played on at least five different locations during its existence. Home games are played at Dungannon Park.[8]


Dungannon was one of the first towns in Ireland to form a rugby club, probably due to the Royal School. Dungannon's rugby team's most recent success was sharing the Ulster Senior League title with Ballymena. They were also the first Ulster club to win the All Ireland League.

At least one player from Dungannon is listed in the first ever Irish side. The rugby club was founded in 1873, was the sixth club in Ireland and a founder member of the IRFU. Despite being a rugby union club since inception its official title is Dungannon Football Club. This was in common with other clubs, such as the North of Ireland club from Belfast (since dissolved), who were founded before the formal division of the different styles of football into Association (soccer) and rugby. The town also has connections to New Zealand rugby. The Earl of Ranfurly presented the Ranfurly Shield to the NZRFU.

Gaelic games

The town has also achieved much success in Gaelic games, Gaelic football and hurling. Dungannon has produced many footballers, especially for the Tyrone County Team, who won the All-Ireland Gaelic Football Championship in 2003, 2005 and 2008, in particular, Gerard Cavlan and Thomas "Tommy C" Colton. The local Gaelic Football club is Dungannon Thomas Clarkes (Thomáis Uí Chléirigh Dún Geanainn) and the local Hurling club is Eoghan Ruadh Dungannon (‘’Cumann Iomanaiocht Eoghan Ruadh Dún Geanainn’’), the reigning Tyrone senior hurling champions.


Dungannon Swifts F.C. is the town's local team, which plays in the IFA Premiership, and is Tyrone's only representative in the league, following Omagh Town's collapse. The club represented Northern Ireland in European competition in 2005-06 and 2006-07.


Dungannon Golf Club is one of the oldest 18-hole courses in Ulster, founded in 1890. Six new greens were recently designed by Patrick Merrigan.

Hare Coursing and Greyhound Racing

The local Hare Coursing Club has been in existence since the 1920s but the sport was popular in the area long before the formation of the club. With Hare Coursing currently suspended in Northern Ireland, the Dungannon club organises meetings in the Republic of Ireland. Greyhound racing was a popular sport in Dungannon from the 1940s until the Oaks Park Greyhound Stadium finally closed in January 2003. Large crowds attended the weekly meetings on Wednesdays and Fridays with visitors travelling from as far away as Coalisland to enjoy the races.


Outside links