Villages and Resorts in County Tyrone. Now there's something that will give anyone a giggle who knows this area. Resorts in county Tyrone? There's nothing but hills here!
Now, I live in the mountains in Tyrone, but I'm not originally from here, so I suppose its a good thing. I can give you an unbiased trip around the county and tell you exactly what I think of each location without being romantically linked to the places. Tyrone in the largest county in Northern Ireland so there is quite a lot to get around. Let's start with the biggest places to go and work down in size....
Omagh is probably one of the best known towns in Northern Ireland following the Omagh bombing of 1998. Now I dont want to base this review on bombings and murder because that's not what the people of Northern Ireland are about, but unfortunately it is probably the reason why people are familiar with the name of the town.
Omagh was reginerated following the bomb, and has been turned in to a vibrant shopping town with a lot of culture. The people there are quite friendly and it's an easy town to drive around. Let's just say they like their traffic lights. The town has a lot of one-way system going on there.
Places worth a mention in Omagh are:
Ulster American Folk Park- where history has been brought back to life
Gortin Glens Forest (You will need a car to get to both of these locations)
and also advertised is the Strule Arts centre. I've never been there, but apparently it is worth a visit.
Cookstown is the very heart of mid-ulster. It is one of the most central towns in Northern Ireland. It had gotten quite delapidated during the 90s but is now enjoying a new lease of life with several retail parks being built there recently. It is now buzzing. I like to go there when I get the chance. Shopping is good, but not quite as good as Omagh. People are friendly and most importantly parking is good, with a new multi-story car park being built here.
Cookstown are proud owners of one of the longest main streets in Ireland. It is 1.25 miles long and is the main thoroughway through the town. If you want a real treat you should see it at christmas time. They light trees the whole mile long and it is quite special.
Things to do in the area include:
1)The Saturday market on the main street
2) A visit to the gorgeous Kilymoon castle
3) A walk around Drum Manor forest (in the summer time lots of couples get their wedding photographs taken here which is nice to see)
I heard Typhoid Mary originated from Cookstown. That's someone they probably wouldn't want to lay claim to!
Dungannon has the highest migrant population in Northern Ireland. I don't quite know whether this is politically correct or not to say, but a trip to Dungannon kind of leaves you wondering exactly what country you are living in. It has a lot of Polish and Lithuanians living in the area. I used Dungannon hospital for my last child's hospital appointments and on one visit we were actually the only English speakers in the room, the rest of the mums were using translators to talk to the staff.
Dungannon is not a particularly nice town and it's one that I would avoid if I can. It is grey and a lot of the streets have empty shops. In years gone by it would have been a bustling town, but the streets are narrow and winding and it did not keep up with the times, the town cannot handle the traffic that it now has.
That said, there is a little gem of a place outside Dungannon called Moygashel. It is an old mill, renovated into an up-market shopping centre. It is seriously worth calling in to.
2005 'Worst place to live in the UK' Strabane gets a bit of a hard time. It is the butt of a lot of Strabane-man jokes, but I actually really like Strabane. If you go shopping here you will find that some people even greet you on the street when you pass them by. They can't do enough to help you. It is a little bit quaint as a town, but the people aren't quaint at all. It is towards the North of the county and is almost bordering Derry. Strabane has always been economically deprived, but dont let that keep you away from the area. The people there have a great way about them (no i'm not from there! Im just really fond of the place)
Shopping in Strabane can be a bit of a nightmare as it borders the Republic of Ireland and so a lot of people from the ROI come there to do their shopping as it is cheaper in the North. That's great for the economy, but a total nightmare when you are trying to get a space outside Asda!
Coalisland is the next biggest area in Tyrone and it's quite a buzzing little town that has been well regenerated. I am trying to keep this review quite light yet truthful, and I don't quite know what to say about Coalisland, Its not all that interesting a place... sorry Coalisland people.
Places of interest include a visit to the CRAIC theatre and a trip to Island Turf crafts (that last one is definitely worth going to)
The dubious honour of being the most-bombed town in Northern Ireland belongs to Castlederg. It is just beside Strabane, and it is only through writing this review that I have learned that it is home to a ruined castle and druid's tombs. I shall have to update the review when I go to investigate these as I drive through Castlederg often and I always assumed that there was nothing of interest there!
If I were to go through each and every village in Tyrone I would be totalling well over 6000 words so I think from here I will let you know the names and anything interesting that there is to know about the area. It's not that I'm getting bored, I could wax on about the place forever, but there's only so much people really need to know about the county.
A quick trip around the county would take you to
Ardboe (There is a GREAT gift shop in the village)
Dromore (Not to be confused with the county Down Village)
Fivemiletown (Pronunced as you see it. American tourists asked as for directions to Fivvymillton and we were confused until they held a piece of paper than said FIVEMILETOWN on it)
Sion Mills (Has a really interesting History about the flax mill there)
Moy (One half is in County Armagh the other half is in County Tyrone)
There are many other much-smaller villages that you will pass through on a trip through the county. And what you will find is an altogether friendly and happy county. People are certainly welcoming. I'd definitely recommend the county to anyone coming on a trip here as it has never been anything other than kind to me.
Be careful on the roads here though, the recent bitter winter has left a lot of the country roads dangerously potholed.