BLACKWATERTOWN, a post-town

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

BLACKWATERTOWN, a post-town, in that part of the parish of CLONFEACLE which is in the barony of ARMAGH, county of ARMAGH, and province of ULSTER, 5 miles (N. N. W.) from Armagh, and 70 (N. N. W.) from Dublin; containing 103 houses and 528 inhabitants. This place is situated on the old road from Armagh to Dungannon, and on the river Blackwater, from which it takes its name; it is connected by a stone bridge of three arches with the old village of Clonfeacle, now forming part of the town. During the rebellion of the Earl of Tyrone, in the reign of Elizabeth, an English garrison was placed here to check the incursions of that chieftain, who, under a plea of some injuries done to his party by the English, in 1595, attacked and expelled the garrison, and obtained possession of the fortress, which he afterwards destroyed and abandoned on the approach of Sir John Norris. In 1596 the Earl covenanted to rebuild it, and to supply an English garrison to be then stationed in it with all necessaries, as one of the conditions upon which peace was granted to him by the queen. In the following year the English forces, under Lord-Deputy Borough, assaulted the place and easily took possession; but the insurgents soon reappeared, and commenced an attack; and though the further progress of the war was prevented by the death of the general, yet a strong English garrison was stationed here as a frontier post.

Tyrone was once more compelled to agree to repair the fort and bridge, and to supply the garrison; but he shortly after attacked the former with the greatest vigour; and as the works were weak and imperfect, the assailants were repulsed only by the determined valour of the garrison. The earl afterwards attempted to reduce it by famine; and the besieged were driven to the last extremities, when Sir Henry Bagnall, with the English army of about 5000 infantry and cavalry, and some loyal Irish clans, marched to their relief. This force, however, suffered a total defeat between Armagh and the Blackwater, and the fortress was immediately surrendered to the enemy, though it was soon after recovered.

This town, from its situation on the Blackwater, carries on a considerable trade in the export of corn and potatoes, of which great quantities are annually shipped to Belfast and Newry, and in the importation of coal and timber. Sloops of 50 tons' burden can deliver their cargoes at the quay; and the Ulster Canal, which is now in progress, passes close to the town. There is an extensive bleach-green at Tullydoey, belonging to Messrs. Eyre; and the extensive spirit and corn stores of Mr. Hanna furnish an abundant supply for the neighbourhood. Fairs are held on the second Wednesday in every month throughout the year; and a constabulary police force is stationed here.

Tullydoey, the seat of J. Eyre Jackson, Esq., and also the residence of T. Eyre, Esq., are within a short distance of the town. There is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists, also a dispensary. On the western side of the river is the ancient and extensive cemetery of Clonfeacle, the church of which being in ruins, another was erected at Benburb, which is now the parish church. Opposite to the town are vestiges of a fort, by some called the Blackwater fort, in the attempt to take which Sir Henry Bagnall lost his life; and by others supposed to have been the strong fortress of the Earl of Tyrone, and one of those for which he stipulated when he obtained a patent of favour from Queen Elizabeth.—See CLONFEACLE.

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