THE O’Neill Country Historical Society kickstarts its Winter programme with a special talk on the history of the Brantry.
It will take place on Tuesday October 23rd with local historian Brendan McAnallen, who will delve into the steep history associated with one of County Tyrone’s oldest placenames.
The Brantry is a place of loughs and woods, drumlins, hillforts and crannogs which make it an area of outstanding beauty.
It is also replete with historical significance. Over the centuries many historic artefacts have been unearthed including many Stone Age and Bronze Age implements. One of the most unusual finds was a 12th Century coin displaying the head of Robert the Bruce. How this coin came to be located in The Brantry is a subject of much debate.
During the time of Shane O Neill, The Brantry Woods were recorded in the English state papers as a place of ‘Strength of Wood and Bog’.The name Brantry appears on a map of the same period in which the area is described as one of O Neills Strongholds. After the Plantation of Ulster in 1609, many of the dispossessed native families, including the Franciscan community in Armagh, established a refugee monastery in the townland of Gort. One of the Friars, who resided in The Brantry, Tirlagh O Meallian, kept a diary of the many horrific events of the area including the Battle of Benburb in 1646. When the United Irishmen, consisting mainly of Presbyterians, rose in rebellion in Antrim, Down and other areas in 1798, the Brantry was one of the main areas of activity in County Tyrone in support of this cause, when 27 men were court martialled in Dungannon in 1798.
With all its history and conflict, The Brantry still retained a strong cultural tradition. The Hibernians, the Orange Order and the GAA all continued to preserve their different strands of culture in their many halls during the 20th Century. To hear more about this historic area and its people, come along to the Brantry BARD Centre on Tuesday 23rd October at 8pm when local historian Brendan McAnallen, who has left no stone unturned relating to the history of the area, will be the main speaker.