CALEDON, a market and post-town

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

CALEDON, a market and post-town, in the parish of AUGHALOO, barony of DUNGANNON, county of TYRONE, and province of ULSTER, 7 miles (W.) from Armagh, and 70 miles (N. N. W.) from Dublin; containing 1079 inhabitants. This town, which was formerly named Kennard, as it is still frequently called by old people, although its manor, markets, and fairs, are all known by the modern name of Caledon, appears to have been more anciently called Aghaloo, it being the head of the parish of that name, and the site of its venerable church, which was destroyed in the insurrection of 1641. It appears to have been an important military post from a very early period, having been the property and principal residence of one of the princely sept of O'Nial. The first direct mention of it is in 1498, when the Lord-Deputy Kildare marched against Mac Art O'Nial, and having defeated and driven him from his strong hold in Kennard, presented the fortress and territory to the British ally, Tirlagh O'Nial, whose descendants seem never to have been found in arms against England, until Sir Phelim O'Nial headed the insurgents in 1641; for, in the settlement under James I., Tirlagh O'Nial had a grant of Kennard, with 4000 acres.

Tirlagh built here a bawn of lime and stone, some time prior to 1619, near which he erected a castle. This was afterwards the residence of Sir Phelim, from which he sallied on the evening of the 22nd of October, 1641, having invited himself to supper with Lord Caulfield, at Charlemont. While at the supper table he made Lord Caulfield a prisoner, and having separated his lordship's family and the garrison, carried them prisoners to Kennard, in the castle of which he put his lordship to death. Sir Phelim, who had been educated as a Protestant in England, soon found himself at the head of 30, 000 men, and waged a sanguinary warfare against the English. The whole of the county of Tyrone remained in the possession of the insurgents till 1646, when General Munroe, at the head of 6000 foot and 800 horse, marched against the Irish under Owen Roe O'Nial. Having passed through Armagh, Munroe, on the 6th of June, crossed the Blackwater at the ford near Kennard, and fought the battle of Benburb, or, as it is here called, Batterford Bridge, in which he was defeated and many British officers and men were slain.

This town, which is situated on the river Blackwater, and on the road from Armagh to Omagh, was, before 1816, a mean village, but is now, through the exertions of the Earl of Caledon, one of the best built towns in the North of Ireland: it contains 226 houses, nearly all of which are built of stone. The neighbourhood presents gentle swells and fertile vales, producing abundant crops. Close to the town are extensive flour-mills, erected by Lord Caledon in 1823, where above 9000 tons of wheat are ground annually, all of which is grown in the vicinity, where scarcely an acre of wheat was sown at the beginning of the century. The Ulster canal, now in the course of formation, passes through the Earl of Caledon's demesne, a little to the westward of the town. The market is on Saturday, and is well attended; and a fair is held on the second Saturday in every month. A constabulary police force has been stationed here; and there are barracks for the militia. A court for the recovery of debts under 40s. is held in the market-house, on the first Monday in each month, for the manor of Caledon, which extends into the parishes of Aughaloo and Clonfeacle, in the county of Tyrone, and of Tynan, in that of Armagh; and petty sessions are held in the town once a fortnight.

There are several large and elegant houses in the neighbourhood, the principal of which is Caledon Hill, the seat of the Earl of Caledon, which stands in a richly ornamented demesne of 650 Irish acres, extending beyond the Blackwater into the county of Armagh. Not far distant are Tynan Abbey, the residence of Sir James Stronge, Bart.; Glasslough, of Mrs. Wynne Leslie; Crilley, of R. Pettigrew, Esq.: Rahaghy, of N. Mayne, Esq.; Annagh, of C. Richardson, Esq.; Drummond, of H. Moore, Esq.; and the glebe-house, of the Rev. E. A. Stopford; besides several large and good houses in the town.

The living was made a perpetual curacy in 1807, and 20 acres were then added to the old glebe, which consisted only of 6 ½ acres: it is in the diocese of Armagh, and patronage of the Archdeacon. The income is £100 per annum, arising from a salary of £50 paid by the archdeacon; £15, the estimated value of 26 ½ acres of glebe land; and £35. 2., paid by the trustees of Primate Boulter's augmentation fund. The present church occupies the site of the ancient building, and is the parish church of Aughaloo: it was erected by Primate Robinson, in 1767, during the incumbency of the Rev. C. W. Congreave; the spire was built by the present Lord Caledon, by means of a bequest by his late father; and the church was enlarged and otherwise improved by his lordship. It is a large and handsome edifice, in the later English style of architecture, comprising a nave, chancel, and south transept, and for repairing it the Ecclesiastical Commissioners recently granted £175. 8. 11.

There are a R. C. chapel and a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists. The parochial school is situated near the church: it was built in 1776 by Mr. Congreave, and is endowed with 3 acres of land and 3 tenements given by Primate Robinson, and also with £8 per annum by Lord Caledon. Schools at Ramakit, Curlough, Dyan, and Minterburn, are principally supported by Lord Caledon; there are national schools at Rahaghy and Mullinahorn; and near the demesne is a female school built and supported by the Countess of Caledon, in which 40 girls are clothed and educated. Here is a dispensary; and a mendicity association was established in 1829, to which Lord Caledon subscribes £100 per annum. Among the charitable bequests is £100 left by Alex. Pringle, Esq., and vested in the funds, in the name of Lord Caledon; the interest, with that of several smaller sums, is applied to the relief of the poor. Two extensive lakes existed here formerly, one on the north and the other on the south side of the town, with an island in the centre of each; that on the south has been drained and brought into cultivation; the north lake remains, and the island in it, which borders on the glebe is beautifully planted.

Almost the last vestiges of the ancient castle of the O'Nials were removed a few years since, and a clump of trees planted to mark the entrance into the courtyard: some of the flooring of the castle was subsequently discovered, about four feet beneath the surface of the ground, in forming the new road to Aughnacloy. Some old swords and other military instruments have been found in the neighbourhood, and are preserved at Caledon Hill. Caledon gives the titles of Baron, Viscount, and Earl to the family of Alexander, in which the proprietorship of the town is vested.—See AUGHALOO.

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