From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837
TANDERAGEE, or TAWNATELEE, a market and post-town, in the parish of BALLYMORE, barony of LOWER ORIOR, county of ARMAGH, and province of ULSTER, 4 ½ miles (N. W.) from Loughbrickland; containing 1559 inhabitants. This town appears to owe its origin to the erection of a baronial castle here by the O'Hanlons, proprietors of the surrounding territory, on whose participation in the Earl of Tyrone's rebellion, in the reign of Elizabeth, the estates became forfeited to the crown, and were on the plantation of Ulster granted by James I., in the 8th year of his reign, to Sir Oliver St. John, who rebuilt the castle and laid the foundation of the present town, which he peopled with English inhabitants. Sir Oliver, in 1622, also built the church, which afterwards became the parish church of Bally-more; and it appears to have been the intention of the King to make the town a free borough and to incorporate the inhabitants; but this design was never carried into effect; the only privileges they received were those of a market, fairs, and courts leet and baron.
The town is beautifully situated in a richly cultivated part of the country, on the confines of the county of Down; within a mile of the Newry canal, which opens a communication between that town and Belfast; and on the estate of Lord Mandeville. It consists of two principal and three smaller streets, and in 1831 contained 253 houses, most of which are handsome and well built; its general appearance is prepossessing, and as seen from a distance, ascending from a beautiful vale, through which the river Cusher winds between its lofty and richly wooded banks at one extremity, the demesne of Tanderagee crowning the hill at the other, forms a strikingly picturesque feature in the landscape. Several coaches pass and re-pass through it to and from Bristol.
The linen manufacture is carried on extensively in all its various branches: there are two large establishments in the town, and one at Derryallen, in all which linens, sheetings, damasks, diapers, drills, and other articles are manufactured in large quantities. There are also several extensive flax-mills, and in the various departments of the linen trade carried on here and in the immediate neighbourhood, more than 6000 persons are employed. The manufacture of damask was first introduced here in 1805, by Mr. J. Davis, who is now the only manufacturer of that article in the county. On the river Cusher, near the town, is a very extensive flour and meal-mill, the property of John Creery, Esq., in which more than 2000 tons of wheat and 1000 tons of oats are annually ground. This river and the Newry navigation join the Bann at about two miles distance from the town, affording facilities of conveyance and a supply of coal from Newry.
The market is on Wednesday, and is largely supplied with flax, the weekly sale of which has amounted to £7000; besides linen, butter, and pork, averaging nearly £3000 weekly; much pork is bought in this market for Belfast. Fairs are held on the first Wednesday in every month, and also by charter on the 5th of July and Nov. A constabulary police force is stationed in the town; courts leet are held twice in the year, and courts baron, at which debts under 40s. are recoverable, every third Thursday; petty sessions for the division are held once a fortnight.
Adjoining the town is Tanderagee Castle, the splendid seat of Viscount Mandeville, erected on the site of the ancient castle of O'Hanlon, which, after it was rebuilt by Sir Oliver St. John, was surprised and completely destroyed by the O'Hanlons in the war of 1641: the present structure, which is still in progress, is spacious and of elegant design, and is situated in an ample demesne, richly embellished and pleasingly diversified with bold eminences clothed with stately timber. In the immediate neighbourhood is also the glebe-house, the elegant residence of the rector, the Very Rev. Thomas Carter, Dean of Tuam, situated on a hill overlooking the town.
The church, originally built by Sir Oliver St. John, was nearly demolished during the war of 1641, and rebuilt in 1684; having fallen into decay it was taken down in 1812, and the present handsome structure built upon its site. In removing the materials of the old church, the skull of its founder, who was shot by an assassin on his return to the castle, was discovered, perforated by a bullet.
A very extensive and important charitable establishment has been founded on the moral agency system by Lord and Lady Mandeville, upon the estate of Tanderagee, the benefits of which are open to the whole of their numerous tenantry, in the improvement of whose moral, intellectual, and social condition, it has, though comparatively in its infancy, already produced the most beneficial effects. The establishment includes a loan fund, a clothing fund, three dispensaries, an orphan asylum, a circulating library, and 25 public schools, to each of which is attached a lending library. The loan and clothing funds are conducted by the moral agent resident at the castle; the dispensaries are in the towns of Tanderagee, Portadown, and Tullahappy, and are open one day in every week, under the care of a physician, who devotes the whole of his time in dispensing medicines and in visiting the poor tenants at their own dwellings.
The orphan asylum, at Tanderagee, is open to the female orphans of the Protestant tenantry, who are boarded, clothed, and educated for service in respectable families. The schools, for which spacious and handsome buildings, with houses for the master and mistress, have been erected, are scattered over the whole estate; those in this parish are at Tanderagee, Corvernagh, Cargans, and Ballymore, in which are about 260 children and 100 infants. There are also schools at Portadown and Mullantine, in the parish of Drumcree, and also in the parishes of Seagoe, Kilmore, and Killevy; to each is attached a Sunday school, and the aggregate number of children in all the schools exceeds 2000.
An annual festival takes place at the castle, where all the children assemble and are hospitably entertained by Lord and Lady Mandeville; on the last occasion more than 2000 children attended. To the south-east of the town is the pass of Scarva from the county of Down into that of Armagh, which was formerly defended by the strong and ancient castle of Glan Flusk, erected by Colonel Monck, afterwards Duke of Albemarle, and of which there are considerable portions remaining.