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Tyrone Guide

Tyrone is one of the "Six Counties" that make up the current Northern Ireland and the least explored of them.

The eastern border of the county is formed by Lough Neagh, where there are a lot of watersports facilities, as well as various other activities. The southern and northern borders are marked by two rivers - Blackwater and Ballinderry, both of them offering excellent angling opportunities.

There's a fine variety of scenery in county Tyrone, ranging from the Sperrin Mountains (around 2,000 feet high) to glens, river valleys, little plains, and even moorland. The hills are low and gentle, and the forests are wild, yet welcoming. For visitors planning to see the Sperrins, autumn is the perfect season, and, although there are plenty of opportunities to hire a car or a bicycle, the best way to experience them is on foot. An Cregan Visitor Centre is a good place to stop for a refreshment.

Tyrone is a county with a rich historic heritage; the lowlands in the south are practically covered with castles, tombs and other interesting historic sites. Perhaps the best example is the High Cross at Ardboe, an 18-feet high Celtic monument with 22 panels depicting Biblical scenes.

For a better idea about the history of these lands, the Ulster History Park should be visited. The Park offers a close-up view on ancient Irish life. The sites here range in time from 7,000 BC, soon after Ireland was first inhabited, to monastic Ireland. There's also a modern reconstruction of a round tower, as well as a Norman bailey. Crannógs are also recreated here, similarly to the Craggaunowen Project in county Clare; the visitor can get an idea about life on a crannóg, which is a little man-made island our ancestors used to live on.

Tyrone has several busy towns, such as Dungannon, Cookstown, and, of course, the county's capital, Omagh. Omagh offers good places to eat and good shopping. Right outside of it, there's the Ulster Heritage Folk Park (American Folk Park), visited by thousands of tourists annually. One can find here, as well, recreations of homes from the past centuries, as well as of sights and scenes that an immigrant to the US would have witnessed in the 18th and 19th centuries. The tourist can find out about Ireland's unique contribution to the New World and the ship at the docks that can be found there is a replica of the ships that used to carry the Irish to America.

The folk park also traces the lives of several US presidents who hail from these lands - the most recent of them being Bill Clinton. The visitor will also find out that several of the signatories to the US Constitution in 1776 were from this area.

As a matter of fact, there are multiple connections between county Tyrone and the United States: John Dunlap, founder of the first American daily newspaper, was born in Strabane and learnt the printing business here, same as James Wilson, the grandfather of the future US president Woodrow Wilson, and these are just two examples.

Though it is an inland county, Tyrone is one of the most beautiful in Ireland, and its people, though bearing the scars of "the troubles", are genuinely friendly.


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