Britannia, by William Camden

The County of Tir-Oen.

Small B BELOW Colran southward, lies the County of Tir-Oen, that is, the Land of Eugenius. This is a midland County; divided from Tir-Conell on the west by the river Liffer, from the County of Antrim on the east by the Lough-Eaugh, and from the County of Armagh on the south by Blackwater (which is call’d in Irish More, i.e. a great water.) Though it is somewhat rough and uneaven, yet it is fruitful and very large (being sixty miles in length, and thirty in breadth,) and divided into the Upper Tir-Oen on the north, and the Nether Tir-Oen on the south, by the mountains of Sliew-Gallen. In this, lies Cloghar,Cloghar. a * * Satis exilis, C.small Bishoprick, ⌈but well-endow’d. Ware, p.130. It was founded by St. Patrick,Bishoprick of Cloghar. who gave it to his beloved disciple and indefatigable Assistant, St. Macartin. The name is said, in the Register of Clogher, to be taken from a golden Stone; by which, as from an Oracle, Answers were given in the times of Gentilism.⌉ Then, Dunganon,Dunganon. ⌈heretofore⌉ the chief Seat of the Earls, which by the favour of Henry the eighth,Barons of Dunganon. gave the title of Baron to Matthew, son to the first Earl of Tir-Oen. The house is more neat and elegant, than is generally to be met with in this County; but hath been often burnt by the Lord of it, to save the enemy that trouble. ⌈From hence, the honourable Family of Trevor took the title of Viscount Dungannon; and lately, William Vane Esq; hath been created Baron Vane of Dungannon, and Viscount Vane.⌉ Next, Ubloganell,Ubloganell. where O-Neal, who † † So said, ann. 1607. will have himself solemnly Inaugurated King of Ulster, has that Ceremony perform’d after the barbarous custom of the Country. Then, the Fort upon BlackwaterFort upon Blackwater. or the river More, which hath suffer’d exceedingly from the Wars, being the only passage into this Country, † † So said, ann. 1607.which is the constant harbour of Rebels. But it has been neglected, ever since the discovery of another Ford below, which is defended by Forts on both sides, and was built by Charles Montjoy Lord Deputy, when he pursu’d the rebels into these parts. At the same time, he made another Fort, called from himself Montjoy, and situate upon the Lough Eaugh,Lough. or SidneySidney. (as the Soldiers, in honour of Henry Sidney, call it ¦ ¦ Ann. this day) which encloses the west-side of the Shire, and is either wholly made or much enlarg’d by the river Bann, as I have already observ’d. ⌈At this day, the Honourable Family of Stewart enjoy the title of Viscount Mountjoy.⌉Viscount Montjoy.

The Lough Eagh is very beautiful and full of Fish, and very large, being about thirty miles in extent; so that this, as the Poet says,

Dulci mentitur Nerea fluctu.

With his sweet water counterfeits the Sea.

And considering the Varieties upon the banks; the shady Groves and Meadows always green, and rich Corn-fields, where they meet with husbandry; as also the gentle hills and pleasant brooksAnn. 1607. (all contriv’d for pleasure and profit;) Nature seems to upbraid the Inhabitants, for suffering them to be so wild and barbarous, for want of care.

In the Upper Tir-Oen,Tir-Oen the Upper. stands Straban,Straban. a noted castle, inhabited * * Ann. our time by Turlogh Leinigh of the family of O-Neal; who, after the death of Shan O-Neal (as I shall tell you by and by) was elected by the people to the dignity of O-Neal. ⌈This is now a large Town, and a flourishing Corporation; and from hence, an honourable Person of the name of HamiltonViscount Straban. (to whom it belongs) enjoys the title of Viscount.⌉

The Castles of Ireland. Here are also some other Castles of less note, which, like those in other parts of the Island, are no more than towers, with narrow † Foraminibus.loop-holes, rather than windows; to which adjoins a Hall of turf roof’d with thatch, and a large yard fenc’d round with a ditch and hedge, to preserve their Cattle from thieves.

Phil. Trans. an. 1713. p.254. ⌈Several remains of Antiquity have been discovered in this County: As, near Omach (the Shire-Town) UrnsUrns. in Chests, under two heaps of Stones: Near Cookston, an Urn, in a hole encompass’d with six Stones of great Bigness, which made a Hexagon, wherein the Urn stood: At Dungannon, another Urn, of an uncommon bigness, being large enough to hold about three quarts: and at Killimeille, near Dungannon, within a circle of Stones on the top of a Hill, have been found other Urns.

All these were Repositories for the Bodies, when burnt;Altar. and on the last mentioned hill, at about thirty yards distance to the Eastward of that Circle of Stones, was discover’d the Altar, on which they used to burn their dead, in the times of Heathenism; with Coals and Bones, fresh, among the Stones, and the stones burn’d with the fire. At the east end of the Altar, was found a Pit, that was the Receiver into which they swept whatever remain’d on the Altar, after burning. Upon digging deeper, the substance of the Earth appear’d all alike, viz. black and greasy: and it had tinged the Hill in a streight line, from the Pit to the bottom of the Hill.

Phil. Trans. ann. 1713. p.250. In the lower Barony of Dungannon, have been discover’d several TrumpetsTrumpets. of an uncommon make; which are supposed by some to have been used by the Priests in the Pagan times, at their Funeral Rites, in consort with those who made a Noise on such occasions: perhaps, the same Howling Noise which is used at Funerals, among the Natives, to this day.⌉

If this County is famous or eminent for any thing, ⌈except the Antiquities before-mention’d,⌉ it is for its Lords, who have rul’d as Kings, or rather Tyrants over it; of whom,Earls of Tir-Oen. two have been Earls of Tir-Oen; namely Conus O-Neale, and Hugh his Grandchild by a son. But when I treat of the Earls and Lords of Ulster, I will speak more at large of these; ⌈and only observe here, that Sir Marcus Beresford, Baronet, hath been lately created a Baron and Viscount of this kingdom, by the title of Baron Beresford of Beresford in the County of Cavan, and Viscount Tyrone.⌉

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52