The Aughnacloy Heritage Trail
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Development and growth of Aughnacloy is largely due to the influence of the Moore family. A member of this family, Acheson Moore, returned from the Grand Tour of Europe in 1722 and this personal experience had a great impact on the design of both his estate and the town. The main street. focusing on the parish church, which he had built in 1736, was named Moore Street and adjoining streets were named after his three wives. His first wife, Sydney Wingfield, has given her name to Sydney street. Truagh Lane now named Ravella Road, was called Henrietta street. after his second wife and Lettice Street was named after his third wife. Lettice Simpson. also known as Back Street, Lettice street was once home to the Ball Alley, a landmark which was demolished, to make way for the recently built St Mary’s Primary School.
1. The McCreedy Mill Centre
The increasing prosperity of agriculture towards the end of the 18th Century and the corresponding growth of Aughnacloy led to the establishment of a corn mill, on the tributary of the Blackwater river. The mill continued to prosper as the demand for corn grew during the 19th Century. The mill also served as a saw mill, but with the import of cheap grain from the New World, its importance waned. The mill was bought by Robert McCreedy in 1919 who changed it to a scutch mill and converted it to motor power. It reached its peak of production during World War 2, but after the war ceased in 1945, the demand for flax disappeared and the mill was closed in 1952. The mill lay derelict until 1998, when it was renovated under a C.R.I.S.P. project and is now the McCreedy Mill Centre, managed by Aughnacloy Development Association.
2. Mill View
This was the site of a Georgian mansion, overlooking the mill, built for the Simpson family, one of the established gentry in Tyrone. During the Napoleonic Wars, when the regiments of the British Army were quartered in Aughnacloy, Mill View was used as a military hospital and the grounds were used for musket practice. Mill View reached its height when it was the residence of Hugh Simpson and his family, during the 19th Century. In the 1920’s it was the headquarters of the “A” Specials and after their disbandment in 1926, it became the R.U.C. station. Its demise came in the early 1930’s when the building was burnt and finally demolished, to make way for a modern building on the site.
3. Mill Lane
This narrow laneway, leading to the mill, was busy in times past, with the tramp of feet and trundle of cartwheels, as workers made their way to the mill. It was also the scene of merriment where locals danced in the Music Hall, or attended The Valley Cinema to see their favourite film.
4. Presbyterian Church
Presbyterianism in Aughnacloy district dates back to the 17th Century. The first Meeting House in Aughnacloy was built in 1743, on a site near the Barrack Yard. It was a thatched building and revenue was raised by renting pews, on a sliding scale. This building was found unsuitable and a new church was built on the site of the present church in 1774. During the 1798 rebellion an English Squadron captured The Hoche off Lough Swilly. Among the prisoners taken was Wolf Tone, celebrated leader of the United Irishmen. He and other prisoners spent the night of 18th October 1798 in Aughnacloy, on the way to Dublin They were quartered in the Presbyterian Church and St. James. The church has a long line of distinguished, ministers, especially Rev. McIlwaine who was ordained on 14th February 1843 and remained a minister until his retirement in 1892. Following the Big Wind of 1848, which blew off most of the roof, the church was rebuilt in 1849 and was later extended to its present size.
5. Caledon Street School
Elementary education for all, was encouraged under the National Education Board, set up in 1831. An earlier school was built at the rear of the Presbyterian Church, on a plot of land occupied by a lime kiln and cabin. This schoolhouse was built in 1851 and is now the caretakers residence. Plans for the new schoolhouse, put by the session to the Board of Works, in Dublin, included that “the outside walls be of hammered limestone, that the quoins, window jams, sills and facing be of cut free stone of best colour and quality.” Caledon Street School was opened in 1887 and many pupils passed through its doors. An extract from minutes of 30th June 1887, “Headed by Dungannon Brass Band, The Sabbath School and Band of Hope of Aughnacloy and Ballymagrane proceeded by the Clogher Valley Railway to Ballygawley. Led by the band the party went to Martray, the residence of John Givan (J.P.). They were met at Martray by Minterburn Band of Hope and Sabbath School who were headed by a flute band. There were in all about 1,000 persons present at Martray that day.”
6. Methodist Church
In the 18th Century a Methodist Society was formed. John Wesley preached in Aughnacloy an April 1767, but the Society seems to have lapsed a short time later. The Methodist Society in Aughnacloy had mixed fortunes for the next 70 years, when in 1836, Mrs.Captain Moore bequeathed £20 yearly to support a resident preacher. Her husband, Captain Edward Moore, added £500 to the bequest, to rebuild, or enlarge, the Preaching House at Mill Street. With this legacy as a nucleus the present church and premises, including residence and school, were built in 1850, at a cost of £750. Recently, the Methodist Church in Aughnacloy celebrated its 150th Anniversary.
7. Barrack Yard
Troops were quartered in Aughnacloy during the 18th and 19th Centuries. This was especially the case during the Napoleonic Wars, which ended with the Battle of Waterloo. Regiments, such as The Wexford, Dublin City, Limerick and Tipperary Militia were stationed here, before joining Wellington’s campaign. The Barrack Yard contained the Officer’s Mess, Guard Room and stalls for 50 horses. The presence of such a large number of soldiers was felt in the social history of that time. Military justice was often melted out, in front of the parish church, whose records contain the names of soldiers in marriage and burial registers.
8. St. James Parish Church
The ancient parish church of Carnteel was burnt down during the 1641 rebellion. It was rebuilt at Rouskey, near Ballygawley, but when Acheson Moore was building Aughnacloy, he decided that it would be fitting to have the parish church in a central position. Thus we read in the vestry minutes, “Every townland in his parish is to send their horses and cars to carry away the flags (stones) of this present church (Rooskey) at Aughnacloy on Monday 10th May next.” This was the year of 1736 and the church became known as St. James. Acheson Moore’s daughter, Madame Malone, added the spire in 1796. St. James has had a distinguished history over the past 250 years, particularly as the rector of the parish was formerly the Archdeacon of Armagh. The church is an imposing landmark in the Aughnacloy district. Its architecture, stained glass windows and organ are worthy of note by the visitor.
9. McIlwaine Hall
Following the death of Rev. McIlwaine in 1902 the Presbyterian Church Committee decided to erect a hall as a memorial to him. A site, in the centre of the town beside the former Belfast Bank, belonging to the Methodist Church, was purchased. Plans drawn up by G. Akerlind (engineer for the Clogher Valley Railway) were accepted for a new hall and teacher’s residence. The hall was officially opened in 1905 and for over a century it has been at the centre of religious and social life of the congregation and community of Aughnacloy.
10. St Mary’s Church
The foundation stone for St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church was laid on 28th February 1904 and its construction was in response to the growth of Aughnacloy, towards the end of the 19th century, when the population reached over 1800. St. Mary’s replaced the old barn chapel at Dernabane, known as Quarry Chapel and serves the ancient parish of Aghaloo. It is an imposing building with many interesting architectural features. The church is approached through a magnificent gateway procured from St. Macartin’s Cathedral, Co. Monaghan in 1948. The adjoining old primary school building has recently been replaced by a car park and attractive landscaping.
11. The Jackson Almshouse
Dr. Alexander Jackson, a distinguished physician and native of Aughnacloy, left a bequest in his will for the provision of an Almshouse, in, or near the town. The Almshouse was for the residence, support and maintenance of a number not exceeding seven well conducted aged men and seven well conducted age women, natives of the said town and neighbourhood who shall have become reduced in their circumstances. The bequest was duly undertaken and the Almshouse was built on a very commanding site, overlooking the Blackwater valley. Its solid Victorian design and structure bears witness to the workmanship and skills of the craftsmen involved. It was opened in 1854 and for over a century was a refuge for a many aged men and women who had fallen on hard times. Recently, it has been given a new lease of life when its role and name changed to become Copperfields Private Nursing, preserving its culture and character.
12. The Commons
This area of Common Land, at the end of the town, leading to Augher and Ballygawley, was know as the Cow Commons, or the Pound Hill. It was here that farmers would herd their animals coming to the fairs and markets. Here also, a varied group of travellers would camp during the period of the fairs. The markets and fairs were regulated by local laws which were enforced by the Parish Courts. Stray cattle were impounded, hence the name, Pound Hill, and were released on payment of a fine. A rare water pump is situated at the Pound Hill, transferred from its original well, on the Augher Road.
13. The Aughnacloy Thistle
When Acheson Moore returned from his grand tour of Europe in 1722, he laid out his desmesne, at Ravella, in the shape of a thistle. This was to show his sympathy to the Stuart cause. He cut a mile in circumference for the bulb of the flower, with double ramparts, from thence, forming the petals, with clumps of trees forming the down. The avenue to his house defined the stalk and several fields, branching off, delineated the leaves. This unique landmark has become a valued emblem of Aughnacloy’s history.
14. Market House
The growth of the linen industry led Acheson Moore to take out a patent for a weekly market in Aughnacloy. Originally, the market was held on a Thursday but changed to a Wednesday, taking effect from summer of 1762. The tradition still exists in Aughnacloy, with the monthly street market held on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. the linen trade was carfully regulated, with the webs of brown linen, which were woven in the farmers cottages, being measured and sealed by a Sealmaster. The Market House was built to control the market, which began with the ringing of the Market Bell in the Bell Tower. Market practices were subject to inspection and offenders were brought before the courts. In addition to the thriving linen market, there were markets for pork, butter and corn.
15. The Commercial Hotel
Standing at the corner of Moore Street and Sydney Street, this three storey building was formerly an important base for commercial travellers. For many years these agents arrived by horsedrawn coach or the Clogher Valley Railway and stopped over while they completed their business. It was known a Campbell’s Commercial Hotel and was a focal point for trade and commerce throughout the district.
16. The Granary
17. Headquarters of The Clogher Valley Railway
The Clogher Valley Railway opened in 1887, linking the G.N.R. stations at Tynan and Maguiresbridge. the 3ft gauge network stretching 37 miles was officially opened on 2nd May 1887, by Mayor Mervyn Knox-Browne, the High Sheriff of Co. Tyrone and operated until the final, sentimental journey, from Fivemiletown, on the 31st December 1941. The railway’s headquarters were in Aughnacloy and the motive power on the line was provided by six engines, called Caledon, Errigal, Blackwater, Fury, Colebrooke and Erne. As well as the main stations there were almost 30 roadside halts, with names such as, Tullyvar, Annaghilla, Ballagh and Tattymukle. The railway played an important role in the social and economic life of the Clogher Valley Railways which are now embodied in the local folklore.
18. Derrycush House / The Erasmus Smith School
Following the formation of the National Education Board, in 1831, a number of charitable organisations allocated funds to provided education for the poor. The Erasmus Smith Foundation built schools throughout Ireland and provide funds to maintain them. One of these was in Aughnacloy and it was run in strict religious principles, providing basic elementary education. Later, in the 19th century it became known as Cave School, after the Cave family who were the teachers. At various time Derrycush House was a Masonic hall, snooker club and parish hall before being converted to a private dwelling.
For all history related inquires please contact the ADA office direct on