DROMORE PARISH, COUNTY TYRONE, NORTHERN IRELAND
Dromore parish is located in the southwest of Tyrone Co, Ulster. Dromore consists of 60 townlands in an area of approximately 25,000 acres. The land is made up of sandstone, limestone and clay deposited by glaciers from the last Ice Age.
J.G. Cruickshank, a leading authority described the land as:
Pastures are infested with rushes and wet-site weeds, and the agricultural land is seasonally water-logged and flooded….it has been suggested that 40 per cent of these soils in Co. Tyrone are clay loams in texture. It is possible to find 35 per cent clay in the lower horizon of the soils within a radius of 8 km. (5 miles) of Dromore, Co. Tyrone. These exceptionally clay soils also have a high proportion of silt, which makes mole-drainage difficult. 1
Ancient artifacts from the Stone and Bronze ages have been discovered by locals over the past few centuries. In 1948, David Colton of Doocrock found a stone ax-head and another was found in Letteree. J. McGrath’s find in Corladergan was flint scrapers; flint knife and bronze axe were found in Glengeen. A bronze rapier found in
1864 in Galbally and Charles Ferris of Letteree found bronze spears from Dullaghan Bog.2
While working in his garden, a canoe was discovered by Edward McCusker in Dullaghan in 1945 and described by an expert that examined it as:
Digging down with the long, broad-mouthed spade of the district, he encountered a block of wood, and on further excavation unearthed the dug-out…I visited the spot on VE Day…On completing my examination it was covered in once more and the potatoes replanted. The site is a small shelf of bog about a quarter mile long, by 100 to 150 yards wide, between a range of hills and a glaciated trough-valley. The peat has grown on the shoulders of the waterlogged soil ponded up behind a low gravel ridge on the edge of the main valley…The boat lay in a prepared anchorage…These facts suggest a prepared channel in a shallow waterway and coupled with the fact that fragments of two paddles were found, lead to the conclusion that this dug-out had been used for water transport and might be called a canoe.. 3
These early settlers of the Stone and Bronze ages left behind stone structures that were most likely connected to some type of ritual to include burials. They are all that remain. It is likely other sites have long disappeared or have yet to be discovered. These individuals appear to have been hunters and nearer the coastal areas, fisherman. The settlers’ successors from the New Stone age were farmers, and both groups, pagans.
Ancient sites of these settlers can be seen in the following townlands:
Carnalea: all that remains here today is a number of old, standing stones, locally known as a “giant’s grave.” The site is located in a field on the property of Andrew McGlinchey, Knockahorn.
Doocrock: another “giant’s grave”, situated on land of Michael Gallagher, approximately half mile south of Doocrock Lough. Described as:
A long, chambered grave running north and south. At the end is a wedge-shaped chamber with two portal stones at each end, the entrance being blocked. To the south of these are the remains of what is perhaps another chamber. There may be traces of a horn on the north. 4
Dullaghan: burial site on land belonging to James Curran. Described as:
Wedge-shaped, single chamber grave with two side-slabs leaning together and two portal-stones; no capstone. The end has probably fallen out.5
Also in Dullaghan on “Curran’s Mountain” a burial urn was unearthed in the past century.
Glengeen: On land belonging to Stephen Monaghan’s land are the remains of a large stone circle. Also on Charles Surplus’s property on “Allingham’s Mountain” is another burial site described as:
Remains apparently of a circular cairn with small chambers or large cists round the circumference, of which two survive. The centre has been dug out and several large structure stones have fallen, their original positions being uncertain.6
1 J. G. Cruickshank, “Soils and Pedogenesis in the North of Ireland”, in Irish Geographical Studies, ed. N. Stephens & R.E. Glascock (Belfast, 1970)
2 Listed in JRSAI, vol 96, part 1, 1966 is the stone axe-head from Latteree which is now in the National Museum. The flint knife and bronze axe found in Glengeen is mentioned by W.P. Wakeman in the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland Journal, series 4, vol v, part 2 (1880). Full account of the bronze rapier is noted in RHAAIFk, series 4, vol. ii, part 1 (1872).
3 J. M. Mogey, “Wooden Canoes”, in Ulster Journal of Archaeology (1946), vol ix.
4 Preliminary Survey of the Ancient Monuments of Northern Ireland (PSAMNI), (Belfast, 1940).
5 PSAMNI, (Belfast 1940)
6 PSAMNI (Belfast 1940)