The lines upon my Mother’s face

This is the village of Sixmilecross in Co Tyrone, where I call home. The first buildings were established here 400 years ago at the start of the plantation period. The wide street is of a typical Scottish design often with a narrow entry and exit. We still use the Scottish term for the lower end of the village called the “Strand Brae”. Strand means a narrow way lined with high dwellings leading into a wide street and brae means hill.

During the O’Neill dynasty, this area was known as “Korragh” meaning a marshy place. The O’Neill heritage is still alive today with “Tullyneill” (hill of O’Neill) looking down over the village. This hill is said to be the geographical centre of the province of Ulster. Dotted around the village are forts/raths that were man-made defence structures built from 9th century though to 11th century, many are still visible. During this time many stone crosses were erected around Ireland and it is thought that a stone cross stood in this area from that time. The cross stood six Irish miles from Omagh, Ballygawley and Pomeroy, so when a new village was growing near this cross, it was named Sixmilecross. The stone cross seems to have been broken apart during the United Irishmen rebellion 1798 by local yeomanry loyal to the British crown.

The new village had barely started, when in the 1641 Irish rebellion it was raised to the ground by Phelim O’Neill. Destroyed was a bawn house, a bridge, corn mills and dwelling houses built by Scottish and English planters. In 1689 James II made camp here on his way to the siege of Derry. Nearby is the homestead of James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States. The Church of Ireland has a stain-glass-window dedicated to the Dunlop family, from this family came John Dunlop, printer of the first United States Declaration of Independence.

Sixmilecross grew rapidly with having a railway station along the Portadown to Derry line from 1861.Sadly the village has been in decline since the closure of the railway in 1965.

The memories and stories of Sixmilecross can be found in the poems of W F Marshall and his brother R L Marshall.

This is my home and community who gave birth to me.

 

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