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Dromore (Droim Mor) “The Great Ridge”

Dromore Co.Tyrone, in the Parish and Barony of Omagh, was in 1838 described as a poor village in hilly and bleak country which stretched far around, yet the arable lands were the most part good. The population of the village was 480 in 1831, in 1841 it numbered 551 and 2008 is estimated to be 1,258.

The Town was originally built in 1757 when the then Lord of the manor, William Hamilton, of Aughlish House  gave a grant of the townland of Mullinacross, now called Dromore, to two families – Stewart and Humphreys. The Town at that time consisted of only four houses. The original name of the townland is derived from an ancient stone cross which formerly stood on the top of the hill overlooking the town, and near to where the Cistercian Abbey was located. The abbey which was destroyed by a fire in 1960 is said to have been built on the site of a nunnery founded by St. Patrick for St. Cettumbria , the first Irish female who received the veil from his hands. In the town, still to be seen, are the ivy-clad remain of a Protestant church built in 1694.

During the Irish Rebellion of 1798, when Lord Blayney came to Tyrone, as Dromore was principally inhabited by rebels, he set it on fire and burned some of the houses, but owing to the exertions of Captain Charles Muirhead, Lieutenant James Alexander and the Rev. Benjamin Marshall the balance of the town was saved from destruction.

In the area around Dromore are to be found a number of ancient earthen forts. At Dullaghan about four miles to the northwest is a Druid’s Altar – a small roofless chamber tomb. A tannery was known to have existed in the village.

In the Dromore Parish at least nine locations of Mass Rocks are known. During the times of the Penal Laws certain “Mass Gardens” were located in the district where the local parishioners met in seclusion to celebrate Mass. It is said that Lord Belmore, who owned considerable property around Dromore, was so impressed with the devotion of the congregation at one of these gatherings, which he came across one day by chance, that he made available a piece of ground for the erection of a church. This is where the Catholic Church of Dromore now stands.

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