Monday, 12 April 2021

Newtownhamilton

EDITED EXTRACTS FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY GAZETTEER OF IRELAND, PUBLISHED IN 1846


NEWTOWNHAMILTON, a parish, containing a town of the same name, in the barony of Upper Fews, County Armagh.

This place, which is situated on the roads leading respectively from Dundalk to Armagh, and from Newry to Castleblayney and Monaghan, in the midst of the Fews mountains, owes its origin and importance to Mr Hamilton, who laid the foundation of the present town about 1770, previously to which time, the whole district was a dreary, wild, and uninhabited waste.

About the beginning of the same century an attempt had been made to establish a town at Blackbank, and a castle had been erected for the protection of the new settlers; but the undertaking failed, and soon after an attempt was made for the same purpose at Johnston's Fews, which resulted only in the erection of a few mud cabins.

Dundalk Street, Newtownhamilton

Upon the failure of both enterprises, government erected barracks at those places, and troops were regularly stationed there till the establishment of the present town, when they were removed to this place.

The ruins of the castle and barracks of Blackbank, and also of those of Johnston, within a few miles of the town, are still remaining.

THE whole face of this extensive district was completely changed after the establishment of the town: the lands were brought into cultivation; several roads were opened, and great numbers of persons were induced to settle here under the advantageous leases granted by Mr Hamilton.

The town gradually increased in extent and importance, and the surrounding district was erected into a parish by Archbishop Robinson, who severed it from the parish of Creggan, built a church, and endowed the living.

THERE is a large market every Saturday for provisions; and fairs are held on the last Saturday in every month for cattle, horses, pigs, and butter, and are numerously attended.

A constabulary police force is stationed here; also a body of the revenue police, since the establishment of which, the depot for two companies of the regiments stationed at Armagh, which were quartered in this town, has been broken up, and the military withdrawn.

There is an excellent court-house, in which the quarter-sessions for the county were held till 1826, and sessions are now held by the Assistant Barrister, once a year, in June.

Here is also a bridewell.

Near the town were formerly mills for smelting lead ore, which continued in operation so long as wood lasted for fuel.

THE parish land is very good in some parts, but better adapted for oats than for wheat; the soil is light and friable, and the system of agriculture improving.

Here is abundance of bog for fuel: stone of good quality for building is extensively quarried; there are some quarries of excellent slate, not now worked.

In the mountain district is lead ore of rich quality.

There are many good houses in the parish, the principal of which is Harrymount.

The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Armagh, and in the patronage of the Lord Primate.

Creggan Rectory

The glebe house is a handsome residence, built in 1806, and the glebe comprises 31 acres of arable land.

The church is a plain edifice, erected by Archbishop Robinson, in 1775, out of funds provided by the Board of First Fruits.

There are some remains of an extensive encampment at Clogh-a-mether, said to have been the chief residence of O'Neill of Ulster, between whom and Baltragh, Prince of Louth, a battle is said to have taken place near the town.

In this fort, which is nearly two miles in circuit, the army of Cromwell encamped in the winter of 1645, and was severely harassed by the Irish forces, who hemmed them in on every side, and, cutting off their supplies, reduced them to such distress that many perished through hunger.


THE County Water runs on the western boundary; and the Newtownhamilton river drains most of the interior.


Kiltybane Lough lies on the southern boundary; and Lough Lisleitrim on the southern border.

The parochial surface is partly mountainous, prevailingly hilly, and to a large extent romantic.

The highest ground, Dangary mountain, is situated a little north-west of the town, and has an altitude of 1,093 feet above sea-level.

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