OMAGH, TYRON, NORTHERN IRELAND
Our Given family's roots are planted in Irish soil, in the area of Omagh, Tyrone County, Northern Ireland. Our immigrant ancestor, George E. Given, Sr. was born in Omagh in 1827. He left Ireland and immigrated first to Canada about 1850. There he met and married a young Canadian woman, Isabella Welch, whose family had earlier come from England.
First settling in Ontario, Canada, they later received a land claim and settled in the Willamette Valley of Oregon in 1871. Today the valley remains "sprinkled" with their many descendants.
Omagh (English pronunciation: /ˈəʊmə/ or /ˈəʊmɑː/; Irish pronunciation: [ˈomæ] – from Irish: an Ómaigh, meaning "the virgin plain" [ənˠ ˈoːmˠəi]) is the county town of County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.
It is situated where the rivers Drumragh and Camowen meet to form the Strule. The town, which is the largest in the county, had a population of 19,910 at the 2001 Census. Omagh also contains the headquarters of Omagh District Council and the Western Education and Library Board. The town is twinned with East Kilbride (Scotland) and L'Haÿ-les-Roses (France).
The town and district of Omagh has been moulded over the centuries by its rich culture and heritage. The rural landscape is replete with historic monuments extending back over 9000 years and the County town of Omagh itself enjoys a superb townscape with gothic-styled spires that overlook the confluence of the Drumragh and Camowen Rivers to form the River Strule.
The name Omagh is an anglicization of the Irish name an Óghmaigh (modern Irish an Ómaigh), meaning "the virgin plain". A Franciscan friary was built on the site of the town in about 792 AD. Omagh was founded as a town in 1610. 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, burned the town.
In 1768 Omagh replaced Dungannon as the county town of County Tyrone. Omagh acquired railway links to Derry in 1852, Enniskillen in 1853 and Belfast in 1861. The military barracks were built in 1881. In 1899 Tyrone County Hospital was opened. Today the hospital is the subject of a major campaign to save its services. The Government of Northern Ireland made the Great Northern Railway Board close the Omagh – Enniskillen railway line in 1957. In accordance with The Benson Report submitted to the Northern Ireland Government in 1963, the Ulster Transport Authority closed the Portadown – Omagh – Derry main line in 1965, leaving Omagh with no rail service. St Lucia Barracks in the town closed on 1 August 2007.
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.
In April 2011, a car bomb killed police constable Ronan Kerr. A group of former Provisional IRA members calling itself the Irish Republican Army made its first public statement later that month claiming responsibility for the killing.
These wards are only those that cover the town.
- Camowen (2001 Population – 2,377)
- Coolnagard (2001 Population – 2,547)
- Dergmoney (2001 Population – 1,930)
- Drumragh (2001 Population – 2,481)
- Gortrush (2001 Population – 2,786)
- Killyclogher (2001 Population – 2,945)
- Lisanelly (2001 Population – 2,973)
- Strule (2001 Population – 1,780)
The town sprang up within the townland of Omagh, in the parish of Drumragh. Over time, the urban area has spread into the surrounding townlands. They include:
- Campsie (from Irish: Camsán meaning "riverbend" )
- Coolnagard Lower, Coolnagard Upper (from Irish: Cúil na gCeard meaning "nook/corner of the craftsmen" or from Irish: Cúl na gCeard meaning "hill-back of the craftsmen")
- Culmore (from Irish: Cúil Mhór meaning "big nook/corner")
- Dergmoney Lower, Dergmoney Upper (from Irish: Deargmhuine meaning "red thicket")
- Gortin (from Irish: Goirtín meaning "small enclosed field")
- Gortmore (from Irish: Gort Mór meaning "big enclosed field")
- Killybrack (from Irish: Coillidh Bhreac meaning "speckled wood")
- Killyclogher (from Irish: Coillidh Chlochair meaning "wood of the stony place")
- Lammy (from Irish: Leamhaigh meaning "place of elms")
- Lisanelly (from Irish: Lios an Ailigh meaning "ringfort of the stony place")
- Lisnamallard (from Irish: Lios na Mallacht meaning "ringfort of the curse")
- Lissan (from Irish: Liosán meaning "small ringfort")
- Mullaghmore (from Irish: Mullach Mór meaning "big hilltop")
- Sedennan (possibly from Irish: Sidh Dianáin meaning "Dennan's fairy mound")
- Straughroy (from Irish: Srath Rua meaning "the red strath" or from Irish: Srath Crua meaning "hard strath")
The River Strule in Summer, Omagh, Northern Ireland
Snow is common in Omagh during the winter months. Shown here is the same scene on the River Strule, this time in the winter.
An air temperature of −19.4 °C (−3 °F) was recorded once, and it remains the coldest air temperature ever recorded in Ireland. 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.