History and Photos

Three Stones
Remains of the three ancient standing-stones from which Trillick ("Trí Leac") gets its name.

Trillick Old Castle

Ruins of the Old Castle.

Other photos

To save server-space, we can’t upload masses of modern photos – that’s what Facebook and Instagram are for.  However, we are keen to create a gallery of historic Trillick photos.  If you have any old hard-copy photos that you feel are suitable and that you would be happy to share, contact us and we’ll arrange either to upload a scan (or create one for you if you wish) and obviously will return your valued original photo promptly.

(Incidentally, while we’d love to have had the money to hire a ‘plane to take the aerial shot on the home page, it instead was taken from this site for free.)

The railway at Trillick and Kilskeery


Bundoran Junction station near Kilskeery

Train pulls into Bundoran Junction

Hard to believe now as you face into gridlock on the M1, but up to 1957, if you lived in Trillick or Kilskeery, you could catch the train  from Trillick station (the old station house for Trillick was in Stranagummer townland) or Bundoran Junction station.  If anyone has old family photos relating to the old train network in our area, please get in touch.  Thanks.

Landscapes around Trillick

barr church snow_smaller  
The Barr Church in snow.  Copyright © Sandra Armstrong.  Reproduced by kind permission of the copyright owner.
Looking towards Trillick's "Eiffel Tower", the BBC masts on Brougher; rows of cut grass acting like contour lines.  Copyright © Sandra Armstrong.  Reproduced by kind permission of the copyright owner.
Great weather for tracking foxes.  Fresh snow outside Trillick.  Copyright © Sandra Armstrong.  Reproduced by kind permission of the copyright owner.


Trillick in July 1972 - seemingly no lines on the street; not that parking would have been much of an issue anyway.

Census records

Search the old 1911 census records here.

Extract from Mac McCaughey’s book

The following is taken from local historian Mac McCaughey’s excellent local history book, “Come Listen a While“. Mac notes that “The O’Neills … had a strong fort here [at Trillick], with their soldiers based at nearby Dernagilly. They fought the famous battle of Dreigh Hill in 1379 against the Maguires and won a victory which settled the Tyrone/Fermanagh county boundary here.


Our Town – Trillick

It may be difficult to accept but it is a sad fact that road maps some years ago did not show our town on them at all. Some even showed neighbouring towns which, in our view, were of much lesser importance but not a sign to or of us. Thanks to the broadening of the education system, the big secret got out and our town took its rightful and proud place on the map of Ireland. It looked well on the map, with the TRI balancing the ICK and the goalposts in the middle. No wonder Trillick men always knew where the posts were. Sadly the scene is changing again and just when we thought we were a town for all the world to see, they now try to tell us that we are only a village. It’s a bit much to take and, if they don’t leave us alone, we’ll put up the shutters here and head back to where we first took root at Old Trillick, to start all over again.

Few towns can trace their direct ancestry as far back as Trillick can. The name is referred to in early records as Trelic and Trelic Mór, (and Mor or great/grand we always were), taking that name from the three pillars or standing stones located at what was the original Trelic and now generally referred to as the Old Castle. Even to-day, after 4000 years of weather and land development, the stone circle, the three pillar stones and a stone doorway facing the rising sun, can be seen. It is believed to be a settlement of the Beaker people, who came from Holland to Britain and then to Ulster around 2000 B.C. They were skilled in making decorative gold, copper and metal objects and the gold lunula preserved in the National Museum in Dublin is proof of their presence and activities here.

Remarkably the name of Trillick has been preserved through 4000 years of history. Records show that the Celts had a major base here and, on being converted to christianity, had established an Abbey at Trelic Mór by 613 A.D. Various records refer to St. Mobec of Trelic, whose commemoration or feast day is on 29 May. The Annals of the Four Masters record the death of Bishop Cinead 0’Ceallaigh, Bishop of Trelic, in 813 A.D. The O’Neills of Shane the Proud clan had a strong fort here, with their soldiers based at nearby Dernagilly. They fought the famous battle of Dreigh Hill in 1379 against the Maguires and won a victory which settled the Tyrone/Fermanagh county boundary here. The Annals record the death in 1526 of Henry O’Neill, Lord of the Braghaid, the name given to the territory ruled by the O’Neills from Old Trelic. Henry’s memorial stone, which lies at the bottom of the Wood Hill, shows the name H. O’Neill and three shamrocks encircled in a fort. Henry was a grandson of Shane the Proud and his grandson Con, who died in 1723, has an impressive headstone in the old Kilskeery graveyard. The Civil Survey of 1654 says that the remains of a village, church, burial ground and mill could still be seen at Old Trelic but, by then, the new town of Trillick had been built.

After the flight of the Earls from Lough Swilly on 4 September, 1607, and the division of their escheated lands, the O’Neill territory here was given the description of the Manor of Stowy and allotted to Sir Mervyn Tuchet in 1611. He passed them to his cousin, Sir Henry Mervyn of Hampshire, who in turn passed them to his son, Captain James Mervyn. He arrived here around 1620, began building a castle which was completed in 1628 and the new town of Trillick was completed in the 1630s. A court was established, a weekly market and a fair on 3 May. The castle was described as one of the best of its kind and was occupied up to the 1800s, being vacant in 1814. It had then passed to General Mervyn Archdale, who built the hunting lodge at Glengeen. The Mervyns were noted parliamentarians, holding the Tyrone seat in Parliament from 1639 to 1747 and Captain Audley Mervyn being Speaker of the Irish Parliament from 1661 to 1666.

Our new town lost no time in writing its name into history. Being on the direct route from Dublin to Derry and within striking distance of the strong Enniskilling base at Enniskillen, Trillick became an important post during the Jacobite wars. From 1620, the planters were being trained in the use of firearms by Charles Bastard of Drumdran, while the natives, including rapparees and members of the O’Neill clan on the run, were being trained by agents of Phelim O’Neill of Caledon. In 1641 O’Neill had garrisons at Golan and Liffer, while the planters had garrisons at the Castle and at Corkhill. Both sides had victories over the other here in 1641 and both garrisons were strengthened in 1642, when General Munroe arrived to bolster the royalist forces and Owen Roe O’Neill came to lead the Irish insurrection. Our town would have been a hot place in those years and in 1689 the Jacobite garrison here was for a time under the command of King James’ son, the Duke of Berwick. After lifting the siege of Derry, King William’s army billeted at Trillick on its way back to Enniskillen in August, 1689, a blacksmith in William’s army, who died here, being buried in Magheracross graveyard.

By the early 1800s, our town had well and truly taken shape. A market was held every Tuesday and a fair on the fourteenth of each month, with tolls being paid to the landlord, General Mervyn Archdale. Petty Sessions for Trillick and Dromore were held here once a fortnight in the new Courthouse, the ground floor of which was the market house. There were two hotels or inns in the town, 6 grocers, 1 general dealer, 5 pubs, 2 blacksmiths, 2 leather dealers, a shoemaker, nailer, carpenter, butcher, tailor and cooper. Surgeon John Slevin was the doctor, being succeeded by Dr. Alexander and later by Dr. Atihill, There was a tannery and candle makers in Trillick and an 1830’s survey states that the town had 50 houses of one storey, 26 of two storeys and 4 of three storeys. The houses were all built of stone, mostly whitewashed, with 25 of them slated and the remainder thatched.

Roads here were described as being quite good in the 1830s. The main road from Omagh to Enniskillen passed through Fintona, Trillick and Kilskeery and was in good repair, the road from Dromore to Trillick was just being made, while the roads from Trillick to Tempo and Fivemiletown were described as hilly and in great need of repair. There were two public conveyances serving the town, the Rover and the Tallyho. Each was drawn by 2 horses, the first a sort of caravan or stage-coach and the second a double outside jaunting car. The conveyances left Omagh each morning at 5.30 a.m., arrived in Trillick around 9 a.m., then on to Enniskillen, arriving back here at 5 p.m. and continuing on to Omagh. Religious worship was put on a solid footing with the building in 1821 of St. Macartan’s Church, in the townland of Stranagomer, replacing a small thatched church with flagstone floor. The new church was officially designated as St. Macartan’s Church, Kilskeery but came to be known locally as Magheralough chapel. The 1830s saw the building of the Wesleyan Methodist Church and the Church Methodist meeting-house, both congrega-tions uniting in 1878 to worship at the Wesleyan church. Church of Ireland services were held fortnightly in the Methodist Church, up to the building of their own church in 1872, the Church of Ireland church at Kilskeery having been built 100 years earlier in 1772. In the 1820s and 1830s the town had schools taught by Bernard Slevin, Henry McCann and Thomas Campbell, along with a Sunday school taught by Rebecca Irvine.

From the 1800s, the corn mills at Cavanamarra and Corlea were in full swing and the ‘floe’ bog kept the town well supplied with turf, which sold in the market at around one shilling a crate. There was fire in people’s hearts also and fights between the Orangemen and Ribbonmen were a regular fair day feature. A famous battle was fought on 14 October, 1821, beside the Black Lion Inn on the Moneygar road, between the Orangemen, led by Dr. Alexander and the Ribbonmen, led by Captain Doyle of Effernan. In the battle scythes, graips, spades and pitchforks were used, both sides suffering severe casualties. Twenty years later, the Temperance Crusade led by Father Matthew reached here in 1841, a short time before the famine years of 1846/7/8 were to bring this and every other town and village to its knees. The town’s soup kitchens were at the dispensary and at McQuaides at the Dromore road junction. The Church of Ireland rector, Rev. Arthur Irvine, the Catholic curate, Father Joseph Shields and the rector at Kilskeery, Rev. John Porter, along with Dr. Eaton, worked tirelessly to aid a stricken people, while Cathcart’s and McCullagh’s home bakeries supplied bred daily as far as supplies permitted, mainly made from the new Indian meal. The opening in 1854 of the railway stations at Trillick Station and Bundoran Junction brought a new life to the town, carters and side cars began operating a regular service to meet the trains and there was a big increase in business at the Imperial Hotel, then being run by John Rutledge.

The residents of Trillick 150 years ago were given as follows (starting at the top of the town where the church, built in 1872, now stands, continuing down that side of the street and up the other side):

Mary Kelly, James McFarland, Hugh Caulfield, Anne Carroll, Thomas McQuaide, Rose Campbell, Andrew Holland, John Ferries (forge), Hugh Smith, Joseph Sherrard, Primitive Wesleyan Chapel (now Orange Hall), Andrew Crawford. Dispensary, John Cluff, Courthouse and Markethouse, Patrick Brien, Fanny McCaffrey, Brigid Crozier, James Corrigan, John Donnelly, Gerard Crawford (drapery and boots), Patrick Tierney (forge), Patrick McCourt (pub), William Johnston, Thomas McDonagh (shop and pub), Owen McQuaide, William McMullen, Margaret Kelly, James McSorley (shop and pub), Owen McQuaide, William McSorley, Patrick McGlinchey, George Bradley (tailor), Thomas Morrow (shop and pub), Edward McLoughlin, George McLoughlin (butter and egg merchant), Rebecca Irvine, Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Noble Morrison, Dorothea Armstrong, Margaret Lambert, Bernard Mullholland, Michael McMulkin, William Fyffe (forge), George Elliott, Robert Pacely, Anne McMulkin, James Kerr, George Thompson, Bernard McCann (shop and forge), Henry Coulter, Anthony Mohan, Thomas Pacely, Terence Durnin, Edward Funston, Ellen McGrade, Sam Curry, Thomas Rutledge (pub), Matthew Morrow, Martin Robinson (shop), John O’Hara, Edward Gault, Terence McQuaide, Eliza Gault, Police Barracks (at barracks corner), Michael Nugent (schoolhouse upstairs), Anne Eaton, Margaret Eaton, Doctor Eaton, James Graham, Mary Woods, John Rutledge (Imperial Hotel), Robert Bowker (draper and seeds merchant), Andrew Crawford, Anne McSorley, Arthur McGirr (butter and egg merchant), Thomas McQuaide, Church Education Society School, William Beatty, James Browne, William Browne, Terence McQuaide, Edward Gault, Thomas Pennywick, Robert Barnford, Thomas McBrien 7 (cooper). The total area of the town was given as 458 acres.

The town had a population of 412 in the 1860s and the parish population was 6,273. The 14th remained the date of the monthly fair but the weekly market had changed from Tuesday to Saturday, with corn, potatoes, butter and eggs being the principal commodities on offer. Cornelius McGee had taken over Michael Nugent’s school which was now under the Education Board as Trillick National School. John Fitzsimons was principal of the Church Education Society Protestant School, it too coming under the Education Board in 1889, and John Armstrong was the doctor. General businesses in the town in the 1860s were James Ferris, Peter McAloon and Guy Wilson (blacksmiths), Philip McQuaide, Tague Kelly and John O’Reilly (shoemakers), Gerard McGirr, William McCaughey, George McLoughlin and Patrick Lynch (butter and egg merchants), Thorns Rutledge and Bob Pursley (cartwrights and carpenters), Thomas O’Brien (cooper), Anthony Gallagher, Bernard Mulholland and Christy Bradley (tailors), Thomas Cathcart and Patrick McCullagh (bakers), John Rutledge, Thomas Morrow, James McSorley, James McDonagh, Paul McAloon and Thomas Aiken (pub and grocery), while additional grocers were Mary McGuinness, John Aiken, Arthur Shields, Thomas Everton, Margaret Breen, William Porter and Willie Renwick.

In 1872 a number of houses at the top of the town were demolished and the Church of Ireland and parsonage built. Cornelius Magee resigned his teaching post and acquired McDonagh’s pub and grocery, later acquiring the post office previously run by Robert Bowker. Doctor John Warhock had arrived, Patrick McSorley was the new principal in Trillick school and new businesses included Hugh Tunney (butcher), Bernard McCann (nailer), and Joseph Browne and James McSorley (auctioneers). Before the 1900s Dan McSorley had acquired Bowker’s drapery premises, Fred Everton has a pub and grocery at the bottom of the town, Hugh Tunney had an undertaking business, while other new businesses included James McKenna (shoemaker), McCann brothers (coopers), John Leddin, James Thompson, Sam McKinley and John Cory (stone masons), Charlie Keenan (marine dealer), Willie Davis (photographer) and Robert Davis (circus proprietor).

The town residents in the early 1900’s were (starting as before at the top of the town):

Church of Ireland Rectory (Rev. Mitchell), Elizabeth Smith, William Porter, Orange Hall, William Byrne, Hannah Dixon, Patrick Bradley, Theo Crozier, Courthouse/ Markethouse, John Cluff, Patrick McFadden, Michael Cumiskey, Thomas Ross, Mary Walters, Catherine Armstrong, Eliza Crawford, Margaret Hawthorne, Cornelius McGee, William McSorley, Hugh Brennan, Charlie Keenan, Dan Morrow, John Navin, John Campbell, Methodist Church, James Morrison, Eliza Henderson, Maria Keegan, William Browne, William Crozier, Richard Law, James Kerr, Fred Everton, Bernard Maguire, Dan McCaughey, Trillick No. I Public Elementary School, James Hilliard, Patrick McCarney, James Brunt, Patrick Gallagher, Thomas Logan, Hugh Tunney, Eliza Gilmore, George Hilllard, Hugh McCaughey, Johnny Hilliard, James Rutledge, Noble Brady, Kate Campbell, Sophia Davis, Christy Prentice, Gerard McGirr, Henry McCann, James Goodfellow, Edward Connolly, Catherine Jervis, Police Barracks, Joseph McBrien, Susan Eaton, Dr. John Warnock, Peter Coyle (hotel), Dan McSorley, Thomas McBrien, Trillick No. 2 P,E.S., Thomas Lennon, Thomas Stafford and James Corrigan.

The first Irish Manual Telephone Exchange had been opened in Belfast in 1880 and the first phones came to Trillick at the turn of the century. Initially there were just four lines; the Post Office was Trillick 1, Dr. Warnock was 2, Trillick Station was 3 and the Police Barracks was 4. Each time the phone rang you were expected to wait and count, lifting the phone only if it stopped with your number. There certainly would have been much to hear on the Barracks’s number for with the aftermath of the Dromore meeting, the murders of William Funston on 9 March, 1896 and the murder of Rose Ann McCann on 20 November, 1902, that line would have had a warm initiation. The early decades of the century brought sorrow to many in the town, with the death of townsmen in the 1914-18 war, the activities of the I.R.A. on the one hand and the ‘B’ Specials on the other, the burning of the Police Barracks in October, 1920 and the burning of Roscor School. In the months of March/April, 1922, the murders of George Chittick and his neighbour Frank Kelly of Realtons, Thomas John Gallagher of Drumdran and R.I.C. Sergeant’s son William Cassidy at Drumharvey, along with the arrest and internment of Trillick school principal Frank Gallagher, marked a sad chapter in our history.

There was, however, plenty of entertainment in the town with dances and concerts in the Courthouse and Orange Hall enjoying popular support. What was known as Morrow’s long hall, behind Thomas Morrow’s shop, was much used for meetings and band practices. In 1920 the roof fell in while a meeting addressed by District Councillor Pat McCaughey was in progress and the hall was little used thereafter, except for a brief period in the late 1940s for band practices. The Hibernian Hall, beside the Orange Hall, was also a popular venue until a dispute between the Hibernians and Sinn Féin affected its popularity. The Gaelic League activities attracted many notable personalities to the town in the early decades of the century and the annual Féis was a major attraction from 1907 to 1920.

Dr. Alexander Warnock replaced his cousin, Dr. John Warnock in 1911, the R.U.C. came to Trillick in June, 1922 and, in the early 1920s, Dr. Warnock, Dan McSorley, Charles Gould and Andy Irvine gave the town its first motor cars, Dr. Warnock having had the first motor-bike a few years earlier. Bicycles were quite plentiful then but it was well into the 1940s before cars became more plentiful. The fair on the 14th of each month was now one of the best around and John Tubman held a successful pig market every Thursday in the yard of the Imperial Hotel, which passed from Coyles to Tullys and then to Parkers, who extended the grocery business and commenced a mobile shop/van delivery service. By 1930, Charles Gould and his son Bertie had extended and modernised their drapery and footwear business, Tommy McGee had taken over the family grocery and pub business, Dick Tully was operating McSorley’s grocery and pub business, while Dick and Victor Strong were both conducting an extensive and successful mobile shop business. John Wilkin had acquired Fred Everton’s at the bottom of the town and Mrs. Jackson commenced a ‘quiet’ drapery business. The McKennas, with their nephews Jimmy and Mick McNulty, had a flourishing shoe-making business, Herbie Armstrong and Bob Griffin were in constant demand as cart makers, as was Hughie McBrien for his wheelborrows and box borrows. Crozier’s forge not alone shod horses and cart wheels but also made spades, shovels and a variety of farm implements, while Jim Crozier had established an extensive cycle dealer and repair business. Andy Mills had also opened a bicycle shop, giving the town its first ‘free air’ supply, while Tom Gilligan had settled in the town, from Co. Leitrim, travelling the countryside daily on foot, selling “some soap and spoons, some hair oil, some thread and pins and needles,” etc. Andy Irvine and Dick Tully gave the town its first hackney car service in the late 1920s, followed by Willie Cooke, Gerald Strong, Andy Mills, Willie Campbell and Tommy McCaughey. Willie Laird had a most auspicious opening of his attractive sweet shop in 1930. He held a children’s picnic and sports in Strong’s meadow, giving sweets and lemonade free to all contestants. No wonder some of those contestants still remember that you could then get 12 toffee sweets for one penny and a Fry’s bar of chocolate for two pence.

A unique attraction in the town in those days was Miss Saunders and her prize herd of Anglo-Nubian goats. Miss Saunders had been governess to a German family who had connections with the Ribbentrops and she came to live in Trillick in the early 1990s. She was a fluent German speaker and for a time gave German lessons to students from over a wide area. When tuberculosis was ravaging the country here and elsewhere, Lady Aberdeen had called on people to rear goats and drink goats milk, which did not carry T.B. germs. Not alone did Miss Saunders breed goats and supply goats milk to families suffering from T.B., but she also encouraged many people to keep goats and built up a prize-winning herd herself. Goat shows were a popular feature at that time and she carried home major prizes from shows as far away as Belfast, Derry, Dublin and indeed Cork, where here brother-in-law, Rev. Doherty, was a Church of Ireland rector. Goat shows were held in Trillick every year for a number of years, with Tom Davidson from the Irish Goat Society in Dublin being a regular judge. The shows were held in Miss Saunders’ field beside the church and attracted entries from all over the North. Miss Saunders was a keen gardener and gave expert advice and assistance to Father Matt on his gardening and vegetable growing schemes.

For many years Miss Saunders’ general manager was Johnny Curry and there he developed a great love for goats and gardening. Johnny was quite a character also and Ina Warnock told me a story that was typical of him. The doctor lived next door to Miss Saunders and one Sunday when Ina’s brother Robert, a boy dressed in his Sunday best, went into the yard to see the goats, Johnny dared him to ride the billy goat. Not alone did he fall off but it took, as Ina said, all his mother’s ingenuity, to get the smell of the goat from his clothes. Miss Saunders also set aside a plot of ground on the Fivemiletown road as a halting site for itinerants and both herself and Doctor Warnock worked tirelessly to help the many people in this area who suffered from T.B. in those years. We did not take too kindly to Matt Mulcahy’s description of our town in 1930 when he referred to “the highland village of Trillick where goats eat the grass on the footpaths” but it is a fact that the goats were around in great numbers. Many distinguished people visited Miss Saunders and a list of the prominent people who visited herself and Father Matt in the early decades of the century would make interesting reading. For instance, Lord Ashburne was a regular visitor to Father Matt, while Westminster M.P., Professor Sir Douglas Savoy called regularly to Miss Saunders and to his cousin, Mrs. Warnock. Sir Shane Leslie was a close friend of Father Matt, while the Honourable Hester Plunkett-Connell of Glengeen Lodge, daughter of Bishop Plunkett and a member of the Guinness family, was regularly visited by members of the Guinness family and leading churchmen. Then there was Miss Lily Ailingham, who lived just outside the town at Annahill, with whom her cousin, the renowned Ballyshannon-born poet William Allingham, often stayed and no doubt got inspiration for his verses in his strolls around the Wood Hill.

Despite Matt Mulcahy’s cynicism, the main street in the town and the footpaths were tarred in 1928 and the tarring of other roads followed. The main Omagh to Enniskillen route was via Trillick and Kilskeery and the first delivery lorries, Scotts of 11 Omagh, began serving the town in 1928. In the same year Simpson’s Fleetwing buses began a daily Omagh/Enniskillen service through Trillick, operating until 1935 when the N.I. Road Transport Board took over the service. The advent of the wireless must certainly have caused great excitement. A British radio company began transmissions in 1923, becoming the B.B.C. in 1927 and, with Radio 2 RN from Athlone coming on air on 1 January, 1926, the wireless with its dry and wet batteries was being listened to with interest and excitement in many homes. Jim Crozier and Victor Griffith, a shopboy in Gould’s, were the early wireless repair experts and ‘tuned in’ sets throughout the parish. With so much happening, the police positioned themselves to get a better ‘earful’ and the fine new R.U.C. Barracks was opened in 1931. In 1938 Electricity came to the town, amid great excitement. Up to then, the Coleman petrol lamps were widely used and you can imagine the fire hazard these were, especially in a drapery shop. A variety of oil lamps were also in use, while the Tilley paraffin lamp had been popular for a few decades as well. When Father John Timoney came here as parish priest in 1939, he had electricity extended to the parochial house, a mile from the town and rural electrification continued from there.

There was a great excitement and rejoicing in the town in 1937 when Trillick won the Tyrone senior championship for the first time. The cup was proudly on display in McGee’s shop, where Tommy McGee, a star of that team and then in the twilight of a brilliant career, carefully handed the cup to eager schoolboys, to lovingly touch. Again in 1941, when Trillick won the equally coveted St. Enda Cup by beating Dromore in the final, the cup adorned the new window of Dick Tully’s shop, with the captain of both teams and our lifelong hero, Tommy McSorley, who then worked in Tully’s shop, smiling in the background. The curate here, Father Kirke, had displayed his artistic genius by painting a massive picture of the team in red jerseys, as well as producing the first colour photographs our town had seen, all being on display in Tully’s window. You could look at them all day – and we did.

The war years (1939-45) brought many hardships, especially after the introduction of rationing in 1940. Tea, sugar, butter, bacon, meat, sweets and clothing were all rationed, as ration books and coupons became the order of the day. The buying and exchanging of coupons became a lucrative business and the sugar train to Bundoran was packed every Sunday. Car loads went on regular ‘shopping’ trips to Pettigo and Clones, while the dancing deck at Roslea became a smuggler’s paradise. Gas masks and identity cards were issued and big numbers of refugee children came here from Belfast, making a city of our town. With blackened windows, sand-bags blocking the access roads to the town and a Home Guard straining at the leash, it was a pity Hitler didn’t come as expected, for the war would have been over long before 1945. To help the war effort, the W.V.S. made jam on the primus stove in the Markethouse, waste paper was collected in Wilkins old shop at the Barracks corner, where free orange juice and cod liver oil were given out. There were a number of greyhound owners here at the time and I won’t say who the kind friend was who told me that the cod liver oil “was great stuff for the greyhounds.”

Petrol rationing and restricted train services greatly curtailed travelling and, but for the efforts of Andy Mills and Gerald Strong, this town might have ground to a halt. Both had two big hackney cars each and four in the front with nine or ten in the back was a regular enough load. If there was room for a cap, a body generally followed and Andy had a theory that, if a passenger couldn’t make it in head first, you could ‘back’ him in quite successfully. Many local people fought in the war and, among our emigrants, Billy and George Crozier served with distinction in the Canadian Air Force. The American soldiers who came to Killadeas in 1942 did not frequent Trillick as much as they did some of the neighbouring towns – we were always a ‘what we have we hold’ town! The Americans however suffered tragedies here. An American soldier was killed at Effernan in November, 1942, during parachute dropping exercises around Brougher, and in February, 1945, a Sunderland fighter plane crashed in Knocknagor bog, claiming 14 lives. There were no survivors although local people claim that at least one body was never recovered from the bog and that a woman’s cry for help can occasionally be heard across the bog. The end of the war in May, 1945, was marked by further tragedy. Soldiers had been billeted at an observation post on the Wood Hill and some of them were in Trillick dismantling the post when VE Day arrived. A dance was arranged for the Orange Hall and a plain clothes soldier was shot dead by a soldier on sentry duty at the hall.

The arrival of Doctor Matthewson as dispensary doctor in 1947 marked the end of seventy years dedicated service to the people of this area by two doctors of the Warnock name. Around 1880, Doctor John Warnock from Skelga House, Fintona, succeeded Dr. Armstrong as dispensary doctor and served this area with a care and dedication far beyond the call of duty, taking a particular interest in education and the provision of new National Schools in the town. His brother was dispensary doctor in Donegal town at the same time and was President of the Irish Medical Association. After his death, the people of Donegal erected a fine monumental, plynth to commemorate their beloved doctor, a memorial which still stands at the entrance to the old quayside graveyard there. Doctor John Warnock was succeeded here by his cousin, Doctor Archibald Warnock, also from the Fintona area, in 1911. Dr. P Warnock married the daughter of the Church of Ireland rector. Eleanor Mitchell, in 1924, and for more than twenty years they both took a deep interest in the welfare of the people of this area, as well as playing a leading role through various organisations in securing improvements and services in the town. Dr. Warnock did much to educate people on precautions to be taken against T.B. and other killer diseases of the time, travelling the country in pony and trap, then on motor bike and later in one of the first cars to come to Trillick. The old dispensary beside Gould’s shop, manned by Bob McCormack or Hammy Gray, with the flag floor, big open fire, bench seats and doctor’s bell, was ever a haven of consolation. Doctor Warnock was a keen farmer and took a deep and genuine interest in everything that was being done in the town or in the country. He was immensely popular, worked hard under difficult conditions and is justly remembered here with gratitude and affection.

Our unique relationship with Donegal was continued with Frank Kee, who came from Stranorlar to purchase Miss Saunders premises in the 1940′ and later established a most successful auctioneering business, after encouraging trial runs at jumble sales in the Courthouse. Also in the 1940s, McFaddens and Leonards had light grocery shops, Gerald McCann gave the town its first chemist shop and Bertie Gould took over the extensive family drapery and footwear business. Vincent McCann acquired the Imperial Hotel premises from James Parker, Gerald Strong gave the town its first garage and John Wilkins pub and grocery passed to Sam and Bob Hodge. In 1950, Harry McCann purchased Dan McSorley’s drapery business and also extended the family tailoring business, already operating at Liffer with his brother Frank McCann for many years. Dan The Draper had been a popular business man in the town for more than fifty years, being a keen draper, seeds and manures merchant and an energetic community worker. He served for years as a Justice of the Peace, was a prominent member of the A.O.H. and of Father Matt’s Feis committees and had two sons who were esteemed members of the medical profession in London. James Parker had built up an extensive grocery business, beside operating a van delivery service and supervising the operations of the Imperial Hotel. A jovial and hard working man, his business enjoyed support from all sections of the community and his shop was a popular meeting place.

The 1950s and 1960s saw many changes in the business life of the town. Andy Mills took over Gerald Strong’s garage, later extending his operations to include an extensive oil distribution business extending over a wide area of Tyrone and Fermanagh. James Tunney, a prominent cattle dealer at Springhill, had acquired a number of properties in the town and had made a number of farm acquisitions. His son, Gilbert Tunney, built a modern, extensively equipped garage in the town and established a lucrative car dealer business, becoming the best and most extensive employer the town has known. He also acquired Tully’s shop and pub and took over the Tunney/McGirr undertaking business, established by his grandfather more than fifty years earlier. In 1962 the Post Office passed from Ellie McGee to Peter and Teresa Kelly, who also established a grocery and fancy goods business. McGee’s extensive grocery and pub business was acquired by Pat Warnock, who later combined this with the adjoining grocery business of Gilbert Tunney’s premises to form a modern supermarket. Gould’s drapery business passed to James Armstrong and then to Denise Wilson, the Imperial Hotel passed from Vincent McCann to Ray Cassidy and later to Patsy McAloon, while Willie Laird’s premises passed to Vincent Tunney. Jim Crozier had extended his radio business in the 1950s to incorporate a television sales and repair service, which was eminently successful until he retired from business in the 1980s. Victor Strong’s grocery business passed to Lenny Coulter and Gilbert Tunney’s pub passed to Matt McKenna, then to Patsy Kelly and later Michael Kelly. Vincent Tunney established a successful pig market in the 1960s and Mrs. Ewing had a light grocery business for a period in the 1970s and 1980s.
A sad memory of the 1960s is of the departure of families who had been leaders in the business and social life of our town for very many years. From the time Cornelius McGee acquired McDonagh’s pub and grocery business in the 1880s, the name McGee had been synonymous with Trillick life. When Tommy McGee took over the business in the 1920s, he established a reputation for top-class service, reliability and friendship, being an outstanding footballer, all-round sportsman and responsible public figure as well. The family played a leading role in every aspect of town and parish life, while Ellie in the Post Office gave a prime example of work and prayer in perfect and perpetual harmony. Bertie Gould was leaving behind a business which, through his father and grandfather, had been under the family management for over 120 years. Bertie and his father were keen and charitable businessmen, stocking only the best and always easy to deal with. Dick Tully was a man of many parts and brought plenty of life and excitement to the town, from he took over the running of McSorley’s. He had a ready nature, a great sense of humour and was a businessman to his fingertips. Victor Strong had come from Kilskeery to establish a lucrative family grocery and van delivery service. Like Bertie Gould; his father had come from Donegal and he displayed that Donegal charm and caring nature that endeared him to his customers. It was regrettable that, within a few short years, four businessmen of such quality and character should depart the scene and the town was the poorer for their passing. With Dan McSorley and James Parker gone a few years earlier, the business life of the town had truly been passed to a new generation.

A real ‘relic of ould dacency’ went with the passing of Rose Anne and Cassie Tunney and the closing of their 70-years-old butchery business. Their slogan of ‘don’t hope for the best, come inside and get it’, was truly a personification of two enjoyable and most entertaining ladies. They ran a popular eatin’ house on fair days and many a welcome bowl of hot Soup was enjoyed there on a cold fair day. They would call a spade a spade or describe it as it really was and you would certainly enjoy hearing it. Their horse-drawn hearse, driven by Rose Anne’s husband, Jimmy McGirr, was an impressive turn-out and certainly ‘sent them away dacent’. Equally memorable was Noble and Lizzie Morrison, characters with their own particular charm and way of telling it. Nor could we forget Lizzie’s dog Toby, for although he ran and barked at everything, you would be at the receiving end of Lizzie’s tongue, if the leather of your boot even shaped in the direction of the dog.
Heads of households and businesses in the town in the 1950s and 1960s were as follows (following the order as before and adding present-day residents in cases where occupancy has changed since 1960):

Church of Ireland Rectory, James Keys, T. G. O’Donnell, Orange Hall, John McNabb, Hugh Breen, Eileen Morrissey, Eliza Henderson, Edith Brunt, Gerald McCann (chemist), Theo Crozier, Mervyn Mills, Courthouse, Kevin Monaghan, Gerald Strong, Jim Breen, Catherine Gallagher, Angela Devlin, John Kelly (garage), Bernie Conlin (hairdresser), Berrie Gould (draper), Denise Wilson, Ulster Bank, Vincent Tunney (grocer and video shop), Eamonn McCarney (butcher), Packie McCarney (auctioneer), Tommy McGee (grocery and pub), Pat Warnock (supermarket), Mollie Breen, Pearse McCann, Michael Kelly (pub), Peter and Teresa Kelly (Post Office and grocery), Oratory of Sacred Heart, Joe McGurren, Willie Cambell, John Somerville, Noble Morrison (now demolished), Andy and Joe Mills (garage and oil delivery service), Jim Crozier (retired) (cycly, radio and T.V. dealer), Sam Hodge (grocery and pub), Ernest Coulter (restaurant), Trillick Primary School No. 1, Artie McCaughey, Harry McGee, Tony Mullen, Bob Brunt, Benny McNulty, Miss Martin, Gilbert Tunney (garage and engineering works), Kathleen McGirr, Gerry Murphy (engineering works), Fred Thompson, Danny Breen, Brigid Leonard, Doctor Reilly (dispensary), Declan O’Hagan (chemist), Mrs. Ewing, Brian McGinn, Robert McClintock (Clerk of Petty Sessions and Registrar of births and deaths), Lily McClintock, Gerald Conlin (pub), Packie McDonnell, Community Rooms, Victor Strong (grocery), Lennie 16 Coulter, Jim Thompson, Frank McCann, Bernie McGirr (grocery and confectionery), Health Clinic, John McCauley, Sonny McCaughey, Pam Stevens (hairdresser), Baxter’s Take-Away, Tennis Kee, Dr. Matthewson, Bert Duncan (meal and fertiliser sales and delivery service), Area Agricultural Office, Ray Cassidy (pub), Patsy McAloon, Harry McCann (draper and tailor), Mick McNulty (shoemaker), Bob Griffin (cart and barrow maker), Geoffrey Griffin, Evelyn Hilliard, Cassie McNabb, Anthony Wilson., Trillick No. 2 Primary School, Paddy McQuaide.

Doctor Andy Matthewson left Trillick in the 1960s after more than twenty years caring service as dispensary doctor here. A quiet, friendly man and a great lover of the best in motor cars, the fact that his wife was the former district nurse gave them both a wide knowledge of the people of this area and their problems. Doctor Matthewson was succeeded by Doctor John Reilly, a conscientious and able practitioner with a pleasant, unassuming manner. From the Cavan/Leitrim border, few people in this football-mad town realised that Doctor Reilly was one of the finest Colleges footballers of his day. He won Mac Rory Cup medals with St. Patrick’s College, Cavan, and Inter-Provincial Colleges medals with Ulster Colleges in the 1940s, at a time when colleges Inter-Provincials were the showpiece of under-age football. He was succeeded by his wife, Doctor Helen Reilly, who continues to serve this area with outstanding efficiency and with a dedication seldom to be found in this modern age.

The building of 14 houses in Brunt Terrace in 1950 and of 50 houses in Woodview Terrace in the 1970s and 1980s has added more than 300 to the town’s population, giving a timely boost to the business and social life of the place. This has resulted in the provision of fine supermarket premises by Pat Warnock and Lennie Coulter, and modern confectionery and grocery premises by Vincent Tunney, Peter Kelly and Bernie McGirr. The last word in comfort is to be found in the lounge facilities provided by Patsy McAloon, Michael Kelly, Ernest Coulter, Pat Warnock and Packie McDonnell. Ernest Coulter provides restaurant facilities to equal the best, while the newly-opened Baxter’s Fast Food Carry Out looks set to have a long and profitable innings.

Declan O’Hagan has given the town a second chemist shop and Eamonn McCarney has provided a select butcher shop. Eileen Monaghan had given the town its first ladies hairdressing salon in the 1960s and now Pain Stevens, Bernie Conlin and Anne McBride quiff up the women and men to perfection, We never have had a gents hairdresser although Jack Thompson had a select set of customers for a time, while of course Charlie McCarron had a huge clientele in McGee’s yard, often doing the cutting between two cows in the byre. Charlie turned out the finest of specimens and his ‘short back and sides’ could match the best. The R.U.C. P Barracks in the town was locked up for the last time by Sergeant Bowman in 22 May, 1967, Dromore being given responsibility for policing this area and the barracks being converted into flats. St. Scire’s Primary School was opened on 1 September, 1976, while on 4 November, 1983, the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland attended the celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Methodist Church in the town. The only band now left in the town is Trillick Protestant Pipe Band and while we treasure memories of the ’98 Flute Band, the Protestant Flute and Silver Bands and Jimmy Tunney’s Flute Band of the 1940s, we are all proud of the music and bearing of our present pipers. We also enjoy many welcome visits form Coa pipers, now part of our parish, and from Tummery pipers, who have invariably been backboned by members from the lower side of the parish. One of the newest services in the town and yet a happy link with the past is Eddie Garrity’s Kozie Kabs taxi service. Giving a 24-hour service, Eddie is following in the footsteps of his father Charlie, who was a popular driver with Gerald Strong’s hackney fleet for many years.

The opening of the Father Matt Hall on 10 April, 1949, meant that the town had two fine halls, the Orange Hall and Father Matt Hall, to serve the dancing and social needs of the community. In addition, the Courthouse, which had fallen into decay, has now been repaired and, with the two halls and the recently-provided Community Rooms, gives the town four fine premises for dances, meetings and social functions. It is to the credit of young and old in both communities that all four premises are being widely used for youth club activities and competitions, for dances, drama and socials, for whist drives, card plays and bingo and for the most enjoyable get-togethers of the senior citizens, as well as for meetings of a wide variety of organisations.

The Youth Club activities organised in the Orange Hall and Father Matt Hall include table tennis, badminton, basketball, netball, volleyball, bowling, darts and billiards. The Orange Hall table tennis club, became one of the top clubs in the area, winning the Tarleton Cup, as Clogher Diocesan League champions on two occasions in the mid-1960s. The name Strong was to make the Trillick club known at the highest level, with brothers Alan and Roger Strong being Tyrone Boys and Mens champions, Roger representing Ulster at junior and senior level and being a member of the Northern Ireland team at the 1978 Commonwealth Games. Kenneth Strong was Tyrone senior champion on five occasions in the early 1980s and has been coach to the Ireland team at several European and World Championships. Colm Garrity and Kevin McCann have been our most outstanding badminton players, representing Ulster and winning competitions all over the Province. Colm was destined to reach International class, but for his tragic and untimely death. Camogie has flourished here since the early 1900s, enjoying a revival in 1973/4 spearheaded by Teresa Donnelly and interest being again rejuvenated in the 1980s by Eileen McGrade, Teresa Murphy and Martina McMahon.

A popular sport of the 1940s to 1960s which has not been revived is tug-o’-war and the achievements of the outstanding Grannan team of the period should augur well for a successful resurrection of that strenuous activity. Dog lovers have always been to the fore, with Pat McNulty and Seamus Kelly keeping hunting alive and Herbie and Brian McElholm maintaining a proud tradition in greyhounds training. Horses have made a welcome re-appearance and the Trillick Roadcarts, organised by Gerry Murphy, Lawrence Tunney, Phil McCarney, Teasie Murphy and Willie Bradburn, have an exciting outing in July/August each year. Gerry Murphy is a member of the Tullylagan Horse and Pony Club, Cookestown, one of the most prominent in the country. Card playing has always been popular here, with successful whist drives being organised by Willie McElholm for a number of years. In the past few years the game has been extended to weekly and bi-weekly card plays in houses throughout the parish and these have enjoyed immense popularity.

One of the most progressive and most successful organisations in this area is the Trillick and District Young Farmers Club, established in 1963. Previous to that the Ulster Farmers Union had made a name for itself in the Trillick/Kilskeery area by organising farm management courses, advising on grants for land improve-ments and keeping farmers up-to-date on developments in the rapidly changing farming industry. Playing a leading role in the U.F.U. in those early years were George Henderson, Crozier Beatty, Jim McAnespie, Jim Grey, John McAloon, George Henderson, Eddie Neville and Tommy Armstrong, with expert advice and guidance from a hard-working Area Agricultural Officer, Bill Costello. The Young Farmers Club, which brought youth to the fore, caters for a wide range of activities at club, county and Northern Ireland level, including pig, beef, dairy stock and sheep judging competitions, tractor handling, soil assessment, farm safety and craft competitions, top club and top official awards, debating and public speaking competitions and a variety of entertainment awards.

The Trillick club has taken an active and enthusiastic part in all these competitions right from the start and the club members have consistently reached the Northern Ireland finals in pig, beef, dairy stock and sheep judging competitions, having first prize winners in Linda Crozier in 1972, Derek Edgar in 1975, Harold McKinley and Derek Edgar in 1982 and Ivan Crozier in 1986. Anne Henderson, who won first place in the county farm safety competition in 1986, came first in Northern Ireland in soil P assessment in 1987, being the first lady to win this competition. Top winners in Public Speaking at N.I. level were Linda Crozier (1969), Hazel Bleakley (1973), Yvonne Pattison (1980), James Pattison (1986), Sandra Armstrong (1990), Jill and Avril Funston and Florence Lawder (1987). Lorraine Beacon came first in N.I, in Craft competition in 1992, while Harold McKinley was on the Tyrone team which came second in N.I. in tractor handling in 1985. In the Club Efficiency competition, Trillick has won the top club award in 1986, ’89, ’90 and ’92, taking second place in 1985 and 1987. Tyrone Young Farmers awards have been won by Billy Funston, Derek Edgar, Harold McKinley and Andrew McCutcheon while secretarial awards have been gone to Sandra Robinson, Valerie Irvine, Lorna Grey, Ramey Armstrong, David Bleakley and Linda McKinley.

Travel Award winners were Harold McKinley in 1983 and Robert Pearson in 1992. Under the YFCU Exchange trips, Derek Edgar went to Germany in 1978, Pauline Armstrong to Finland in 1982, Lorna Grey to Norway in 1986, Jill Funston to Wales in 1988, Richard Henderson to Wales in 1989, while Sandra Armstrong will take the best wishes of all in Trillick with her on her forthcoming trip to Germany. Prominent club officials over the years include Jim Funston, Billy Corzier, Billy Funston, Isobel Kee, Una Kelly, John Bleakley, Basil Henderson, Vernon Carson, Billy Grey, Eva Strong, Helena Brown, Elizabeth Bleakley, Linda Crozier, Sandra Brunt, Christine Ferguson, Kim and Drew Armstrong, Derek Edgar, Sandra Marshall, Nan Brunt, Florence and Lorna Grey, Caroline Wilson, Pauline Armstrong, Val Irvine, Harold and Linda McKinley, Florence Barrett, Muriel Edgar, Raymond Armstrong, David Bleakley, Robert Pearson, Alison Kyle, David Armstrong, and Ruth Henderson. The club makes generous donations to charity annually, such as the £1,000 to the Multiple Sclerosis Society in 1992.

The Trillick Senior Citizens Association has been in operation for the past five years, bringing immense enjoyment to, and receiving wholehearted support form, all sections of the community. Weekly get-togethers alternate between the Court-house, Father Matt Hall and Orange Hall, while outings are arranged on a regular basis throughout the summer. Officials include Kathleen Donnelly, Edith Brunt, Margaret Tunney, Patsy McCaughey, Margaret Kelly and Carmel McCarney, The Trillick Community Association, now in existence for a number of years, brings together people from all walks of life, who work harmoniously and tirelessly for the good of all sections of the community. They have achieved worthwhile benefits for the town including the Community Rooms, public toilets, new street lighting and new footpaths, all in the space of a few years. Present office holders are John Corry (chairman), Rev. Johnston (vice-chairman), Nan Crozier (secretary) and Lenny Coulter (treasurer), while others who are or have been actively involved include Jim Henderson, Peter Kelly, Vincent Tunney, Andy Mills, Jim O’Hagan, James Armstrong, Pat Warnock, Vincent McCaughey, Billy Funston, Ciaran McGurren and Bernie McGirr. The A.C.E. scheme, developed through the efforts of Father McKenna, has given worthwhile employment to upwards on 20 people annually, in schemes which bring a welcome improvement to the appearance of our town and give much-needed help to the elderly.

It may surprise some people to know that we had a District Council here at the turn of the century and that Trillick District Council operated for the first dozen or so years of the century. They dealt mainly with road improvements and passed their own estimate, which was £1,500 in 1909. They could have heated discussions too and at a meeting in 1909 they had sharp cross-fire regarding the acquiring of land for the new Moneygar road. A Mr. McBride told the chairman, Daniel McSorley, that the country was up in arms about it and when the chairman told him to sit down, that he wasn’t in the chimney corner now, McBride told the chairman to keep cool and reminded him that the chair was a movable seat. Our ancestors were quite bold of themselves in those days for in that very same year, when the same Daniel McSorley was presiding at Trillick Petty Sessions, a local lady charged with being drunk and disorderly said to Constable Keegan “You had better watch yourself, it’s a long lane that has no turn.” Long lane indeed, for we have now no District Council, no Petty Sessions and no Constable Keegan!

However, one of our newest organisations is leaving no stone unturned to prepare our town for the new century. The Trillick Enterprise Group was set up less than two years ago with the aim of improving the appearance and business life of the town, and countryside, hopefully with the help of monies from outside agencies. The group hopes to encourage investment in job creation, has carried out a survey to pinpoint the urgent needs of the area and is now in the process of contacting officials of agencies such as the International Fund for Ireland, Department of the Environment, N.I. Tourist Board and the Rural Development Council, for financial and technical assistance. The present officials of the Enterprise Group are Oliver McQuaide (chairman), Ella Coulter (vice-chair), Maureen McKeague (secretary and treasurer) and directors include George Henderson, Bernard Barrett, Eric Irvine, Michael King, Pat Warnock, Billy Funston and Brendan McNulty.

These are but some of the many groups who give so readily of their time and talents for the benefit of this area and its people. The list does not include the very many religious, quasi-religious, philanthropic and charitable organisations, whose members work quietly and diligently to discharge the responsibilities of those community-serving societies. There are of course many other interesting things to be said about our town for as Jim Crozier, the esteemed longest serving resident of our town says, it would take several books to tell it all. Hopefully, these pages will revive some happy memories of the past because, despite our occasional differences, a happy relationship has always existed between the different communities in our town.

Copyright © Michael McCaughey 1992. All rights reserved.
Reproduced by kind permission of the author.

See also, by the same author: Around Trillick Way