STRABANE, an incorporated market and post-town (formerly a parliamentary borough), partly in the parishes of LECKPATRICK and URNEY, but chiefly in the parish of CAMUS-JUXTA-MORNE, barony of STRABANE, county of TYRONE, and province of ULSTER, 12 miles (S. S. W.) from Londonderry, 14¼ (N. W. by N.) from Omagh, and 107 (N. N. W.) from Dublin, on the mail coach road, and at its junction with that from Sligo, to Londonderry; containing 4700 inhabitants. Little notice of this place occurs prior to the 14th century, when a Franciscan monastery of the third order was founded here, which flourished only for a short time and ultimately merged into the abbey of Scarvaherin. This place was formerly in the district of Munterlony, but on the formation of part of the territory of Tir-Owen into the county of Tyrone, in 1591, it was made the head of the barony of Strabane. It appears, however, to have been merely an inconsiderable village till the plantation of Ulster by Jas. I., who, in 1611, granted the surrounding district to the Earl of Abercorn, who, previously to the year 1619, had erected a strong castle, around which he built a town of 80 houses, and settled 120 families, mustering together 200 armed men, for whom, in 1612, he obtained a charter of incorporation and other valuable privileges. He also erected three water-mills for grinding corn, and began to build a church. The town now ranks the third in the county, and promises to rival Omagh and even Dungannon. In 1641 it was besieged by Sir Phelim O'Nial, who took the castle and carried off the Countess of Abercorn and detained her as a prisoner till ransomed by the payment of a large sum of money. The Irish forces of O'Nial remained for a long time in possession of the castle, till it was at length retaken by the troops under the command of Col. Sir G. Hamilton, brother of the Earl of Abercorn. In the war of the Revolution it was garrisoned for the Protestants, and on the 14th of March, 1688, afforded an asylum to the inhabitants of Dungannon and its neighbomhood, when abandoned by Col. Lundy; but in the following month it fell into the hands of the enemy, and on the 18th of April, Jas. II. arrived in person at this place and passed the ford to Lifford. From Lifford he proceeded to Londonderry, but finding that city in a state much more opposed to his views than he had anticipated, he returned to the castle of Strabane on the 20th, and received a deputation who surrendered to him the fort of Culmore.
The town is situated on the river Morne, near its confluence with the Fin, and consists of ten principal and several smaller streets; it contained 836 houses in 1831, since which time several more have been built and great improvements made, among which are the newly constructed roads to Londonderry, Newtown-Stewart, and Castlefin. The houses generally are well built and many of them are spacious and handsome, especially in such of the principal streets as are of more recent formation. Over the river Morne is a bridge, which has been recently widened; and over the Foyle, by which, name the united rivers Morne and Fin are called, is another, to which three arches have been added. The appearance of the town is strikingly prepossessing, and the effect is further increased by the thriving orchards attached to the houses and in the immediate neighbourhood, producing apples, pears, and cherries in abundance. The manufacture of corduroys and other cotton fabrics was formerly carried on here to a limited extent; and in the neighbourhood are several bleach-greens, none of which at present are in operation. The principal trade is in grain, of which more is sold in this market than in any other in the county; great quantities are annually shipped for Liverpool, Glasgow, and other ports. The provision trade is also very extensive; more than 1000 tierces of beef and 2000 barrels of pork are annually cured here for the English market. There is a large ale and beer brewery of some celebrity, chiefly for the supply of the town and neighbourhood, yet considerable quantities are sent to Londonderry, Coleraine, Lifford, Donegal, and other places. The chief exports are wheat, oats, barley, flax, pork, beef, butter, eggs, and poultry; and the imports, timber, iron, staves, groceries, and articles of general merchandise. The trade of the place is much facilitated by the Strabane canal, which meets the river Foyle at Leck, about three miles below the town, and is navigable for vessels of 40 tons'burden. It was constructed in 1793, at an expense of £12,000, defrayed by a grant from the Commissioners of Inland Navigation, aided by the Marquess of Abercorn, and brought into the town by two locks. On its banks are large ranges of warehouses and stores for grain, with wharfs and commodious quays, well adapted to the carrying on of an extensive trade. Near the town, on the river Foyle, is a salmon fishery, which belonged formerly to the corporation of Lifford, but is now the property of the Earl of Erne; great quantities of fish are annually taken. The market is on Tuesday, and is largely supplied with corn, provisions, and brown linen; and fairs are held on the first Thursday in every month, and on the 12th of May and November (O. S.), for horses, cattle, sheep, and pigs. The market-house is a commodious and handsome building; and the grain and meal markets, built by the corporation in 1823, are large and well arranged; over the principal gateway are the arms of Strabane.
Jas. I., in the 10th of his reign, made the town a free borough, and granted the inhabitants a charter of incorporation, by the title of the "Provost, Free Burgesses and Commonalty of the borough of Strabane", with a weekly market, two annual fairs, and the power of returning two members to the Irish parliament, holding a court of record and other privileges. By this charter the corporation consists of a provost, twelve free burgesses, and an indefinite number of freemen, assisted by a recorder, chamberlain, two serjeants-at-mace, and other officers. The provost, who is also clerk of the market and judge of the borough court, is annually elected on the 29th of Sept. from the free burgesses, by a majority of that body; if no election takes place, he continues in office till the next appointment. The free burgesses fill up vacancies as they occur, from the freemen, by the provost and a majority of their own body, and also admit freemen by favour only. The corporation continued to return two members to the Irish parliament till the union, when the borough was disfranchised. The court of record held before the provost had jurisdiction to the amount of 5 marks, but after the abolition of arrest for small sums, the business of the court declined, and it has since fallen into disuse. The corporation has no property but the tolls of the fairs and market, which are under their regulation. There is a chief constabulary police station; the quarter sessions for the county are held here in April and October; petty sessions on alternate Tuesdays, and a court for the manor of Strabane, every month, at which debts to the amount of 40s. are recoverable. The church built here in 1619, by the Earl of Abercorn, has, since the parliamentary war of 1641, been the parish church of Camus-juxta-Morne: it has been enlarged from time to time and is now a handsome cruciform structure in the Grecian style, with a cupola, and the arms of the founder over the principal entrance. There are a spacious R. C. chapel, and two places of worship for Presbyterians and two for Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists. A handsome school-house, with apartments for the master and mistress, was erected in 1826 by the Marquess of Abercorn, who endowed it with £40 per ann.; and there is a fever hospital, with a dispensary attached. About one mile from the town, on the road to Londonderry, is a chalybeate spring, containing iron, magnesia, and sulphur, held in solution by carbonic acid gas. Of the castle built by the Earl of Abercorn nothing now remains; the site is occupied by a dwelling-house and merchant's stores. Strabane gives the inferior titles of Baron and Viscount to the Marquess of Abercorn.
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Strabane from the following:
Land and Property
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