Dromore and District Local Historical Group Journal

Volume 4




A Moving Force.
By Rosemary McMillan

R.I.C. Uniform, circo 1880 MR.) On copies of maps covering Dromore and District during the 19th and 20th centuries it can be seen that the position of the Constabulary Barracks has moved no less than five times since the formation of the force in the early 1800's. Knox, in his history of County Down 1875 records that "The first Irish Police Force was organised under the 54th of George the 3rd in 1814 but their pay and duties are regulated under the 6th of William the 4th chapter 13 passed in 1836. (Mr. R. Sinclair, curator of the R.U.C. Museum, has a copy of these first regulations which he believes may be one of only two left in existence). It was Queen Victoria who conferred the title Royal Irish Constabulary on the force in 1867.

From Knox we also learn that the Police Force in County Down in 1863 consisted of one County Inspector, seven Sub-Inspectors, eight Head Constables, fifty seven Constables and acting Constables and 196 Sub-Constables, but "the number varies from time to time". The total expenditure for policing the County in that year was �14,905.

The County Inspector was stationed at Downpatrick, and the Sub-Inspectors at Banbridge, Downpatrick, Hillsborough, Newcastle, Newtownards and Rathfriland. There were about thirty constabulary stations situated at "suitable parts" over the County.

The map of Dromore for 1830-33 shows the Constabulary Barracks situated in Princes St. The name is printed directly across the street so it is not easy to state with any certainty which building it occupied but it is thought to have been on the left hand side of the street going towards Hillsborough and either beside, or in, No. 17.

The O.S. Memoirs of Ireland Vol. 12 log "a serjeant and four constables being stationed in the town of Dromore" and Police Records of that time, 1834-44, list the appointment of a Francis Murphy, Head Constable, 2nd Class, to Dromore on 21st November 1840. The then Sub-Inspector in Banbridge rejoiced in the Bronteish name of Brudenell Plummer.

Our map of 1859, again proved rather indistinct, in fact the Constabulary Barracks is not noted at all but, two constables, Daniel Leddy and, appropriately enough, Hugh Gun, are mentioned in both Police Records and Belfast Street Directories for the 1850's.

When a map was produced to correlate with the Griffiths Valuation, -our copy is for 1863, the Constabulary Barracks had moved to the area now occupied by Wm. Reids Newsagents. The Constable recorded as serving then, 1861-66, was a John H. Tuthill and there was also an acting Constable by the name of Thomas Hayes. During Tuthill's period of service the Barracks moved to its third location - this time in Church Street.

He is recorded as serving there in 1866. Once again the exact position is not shown on any of the maps belonging to our Group, however, I have managed to ascertain that it was located in the building in which Sandy Ferguson now has his Barber Shop. The old cells, one for "ladies" and one for men are still there to-day complete with the original bolts on the doors. These premises were vacated by the Constabulary in 1923.

Another colourful name appears in the Police Records for 1863 when the Sub Inspector at Hillsborough was one de Courcy Plunkett Ireland -1st class.

During the late 1860's and early `70's there appear to have been only two acting Constables in Dromore namely H. Hamilton 1866-68 and H. Keown 1870. Jos. Hanna policed the town from 1874-78 when his post was then taken by Patrick Fitzgerald who continued to fill that position until 1884 during which period he was promoted to the rank of sergeant. Bassetts History of County Down 1886 names the town Constable as James Kearney while between 1890-92 the post was held by Constable Thomas Gallagher.

We entered the 20th century with men like Constable M. McNaughton 1903 and acting Sergeant J. Mallon being responsible for law keeping in Dromore. From 1910-1919, the period which covered events leading up to, and beyond, the First World War, this duty was carried out by a Sergeant Joseph Barton. In the Belfast Street Directory for 1925, two Sergeants are noted as serving in Dromore, Edward McClean and M. McMahon but Mr. Sinclair doubts the authenticity of this.

Between the wars the names of the men in charge of policing the town are Sergeant John William Tutty (1928-31) and Sergeant H. Crawford (1938-39)

By the 1940's when the Police Barracks is depicted on the new town map as now occupying premises in Lower Mount Street, names like Sergeant W. McCarroll 1940-44, and Sergeant H. McCullagh 1946, appear in the records. The list of law keepers continues into the 50's and 60's with such names as Sergeant J.C. Cross 1954, Sergeant S. Kidd 1959 and Sergeant R. Dunlop 1964.

With the seventies information was not so readily available. The format of the Police Records changed;- not official documents, they have become less comprehensive in recent years. They now reflect a wider range of activities and interests within the Force, rather than a list of postings. The Belfast Street Directories also no longer list the names of the men in charge.

Nevertheless the 1980's saw our local force on the move once again. This time to a building on the Banbridge Road referred to locally as "Captain Wallace's house". The armourlike fortification of the building reflects the troubled times we have all experienced during the last quarter of a century.

So why all the moves? None of the buildings were purpose built but one of -the rules incumbent upon the Constabulary was the provision of living accommodation for the men. The change of site may have quite simply reflected the numbers of men, and possibly families, involved. More men - a larger place, fewer men - a smaller place. Among other reasons suggested to me are that perhaps leases ran out or landlords failed to make adequate repairs. The move may have been to what was deemed more suitable accommodation, with perhaps better out buildings for storage of essential items like coal. Overall it was not so much the size of the local Constabulary force which necessitated the moves but rather a search for more suitable accommodation.

Modernisation within the force, entailing part-time opening in Dromore and patrol cars, manned for the most part, by men unknown to the townsfolk, are all a far cry from the day when a Sergeants boot in the rear-end was an effective curb to incipient criminal activity and street urchins called out in mock fear "Run quick, here comes the Peeler!"

Church Street. Dromore

Remembering "Islanderry"
by Freda Bingley (nee Waddell)


There was a faint smell of a wet chimney and the hiss of a gas lamp but I was centuries away. I was alone in the old house which had been the home of our family for centuries. My Aunt was in hospital with a broken hip and I had come to the house to clean up, and make sure all was secure. It was a good thirty miles from my house so it seemed simpler to stay the night and then I could go and see her in the hospital before heading home.

It was at the back of the airing cupboard, a black jappaned tin box with a big padlock and our name on the top - WADDELL - in white paint. I had the key along with the others my Aunt had given me. And I knew it was the deedbox that my father had told me was in the bank and in it were kept the family papers. I had no idea why it was in the house, and yet I knew it was there for me.

What did I find? Wills from the early 17th century with money and furniture left to the younger children. The eldest was always left the estate, out of which he had to find the money left to the others. The housekeeper and the rest of the servants were named as well. And how little they really had to leave. Would you leave your dirty grey leather breeches to Barney the plowman?

There were many of the marriage settlements that had used to have to be drawn up before a marriage to ensure that at least part of a bride's dowry would be divided among her children. Lists of moneys received from tenants. Land bought and sold. Money borrowed and lent in the days before banks. Commissioning papers for those who had served in the Militia of 1798, the Peninsular and other wars and in the East India Company. Bills, receipts, all the paraphernalia of lives long gone.

In the past someone had tried to sort out the papers. There was even a family tree. We had cousins in Monaghan!! But where did the earliest Alexander come from and was he a son of James the first Waddell in Dromore?

But what was this - who was this John Waddell of Newby Hall in Yorkshire and why did we have the same coat of arms? And then a roll of legal documents - all about a Barony in Bedfordshire being claimed by someone called Chetwood - The Barony of de Wahull of Odell. It appeared that it was given to a Walter of Flanders by William the Conqueror. That was strange. Youngsters always used to call my mother Mrs. 'ODELL'.

And there were maps showing the tenant farms and other parts of the estate long since sold. Some were of individual fields and these were stuck to pages of music `Miss Peggy Woffington's New Madrigal'.

I never got to bed. I just went on sorting and trying to read the spidery writing. Morning came and there was still a great pile unread. I put them all back in the black tin box and put them away. Maybe I would have a chance to see the rest another day. Time went by. My Aunt died and the house had to be sold and the box went uncatalogued to the Public Record Office. And there it lay until I retired and started the long process of unravelling the past exploits of my family.

But even now, as I am writing, I can recall the smell of that wet chimney and the sound of hissing gaslight, and the feeling that all my family had come back to surround and encourage me.


Last year I went home but the house has lost its roof and the walls are tumbling down. So I scrambled through the shrubbery and found the walled garden. Once it had been a proper garden, an Irish acre not a measly English one, with an other half acre of orchard besides. But now it was a mass of overgrown fruit bushes and ancient trees among the weeds. The high wall of stone still stood and the little doorway with the pockmarked stone beside it was still there.

As a child I was told that the marks were the result of a duel. And I went around asking all and sundry `What duel?, who fought the duel?, when did they have the duel?. Silence - no one knew. And the matter might have rested there but I hate mysteries.

Decades later I started to sort out the history of our family. Some had been attainted for High Treason, others were "respectable"-Lawyers, Sheriffs, Militiamen, Soldiers, Writers in the East India Company. Others departed to foreign climes - America, Australia, New Zealand. Some just died and left no imprint of their lives.

Time past and as I lived far from home I decided to search for others of my name close by in the hope that I might find some of the long lost links, and discover where my family had originally lived. Well you know what it is - someone tells somebody else and they pass it on to another person and before I knew where I was, there were letters arriving from all over the globe. And not only that, many were able to tell me of others who were also on our family trail. One of these energetic souls lives in Louisiana U.S.A. and what a grand person she is at sharing all her research with everyone.

One of the problems one finds is that there is always an accumulation of `Johns, Willys and Hughs' who you know belong but where they fit in, you haven't a clue. And why did they name everyone Mary, Martha, Susan and Jane in every generation? There is no possible way of telling which was which a man's wife or son.

Hope springs Eternal and one day a fat envelope arrived written in an unknown hand. Martha my friend in Louisiana had passed my name on to another American enthusiast and what was this? A DUEL - THE DUEL? - eureka!! Ah! But wait - no mention of where it was fought. However the name is right, the period likewise and what is wonderful is that this man who fought and ran away had a family who have kept records.

He was married to Isabella Brown of Lisburn and when he fled he took his son Hugh with him and they reached America. He fretted for home and came back to Ireland to die but he never returned to his old home. His son succeeded in life. He was a General in Militia in the War of Independence, married well, died prosperous in N. Carolina, leaving sons. What a wonderful surprise. It made all my searching worthwhile.

And the next letter brought me a copy of Young Hugh's will, his portrait, a copy of our coat of arms and more information about all his descendants. In his will he left �100 to his sister Hannah (Anna) in Ireland. He was born in 1734 and died in 1773. For a time he was Secretary to the Governor Arthur Dodds, who came from County Antrim, and was Governor of North Carolina.

I wander if I shall ever know why Hugh Waddell fought a Duel beside the little door into the walled garden at Islanderry Dromore in the County of Down? But who knows maybe I will find out more about Isabella Brown and her daughter Hannah.

The Younger Generation

During a review of possible sources of material for the current Journal, it was suggested to the Editorial Committee, that there must be a number of Students in our area who had, or were in the process of, researching historical information of one kind or the other. The following three items were gleaned from academic work by Gary Turnbull, Ann McMillan, and Mark Dewart. These Students are personally known to the Committee, but if there are more of you out there with interesting work of historical interest, we would love to hear from you.


Gary Turnbull is a Civil Engineering Student at Napier University in Scotland. During his first year of study he submitted a project on Bridges in Dromore from which the following is an extract.


The original Downshire bridge was constructed in the 1740's by the turnpike trust on the Belfast to Newry road, it replaced a fording point near Dromore in which stepping stones had been put in order to keep walkers dry (horses would have had to be swum across) The only reference I could find to the materials used were that the bridge had been constructed of mainly "fieldstone with some granite" and given the design of the Regent's bridge it could be surmised that the arch was the granite construct with the remainder of the bridge made with whinstone boulders and stones. The bridge itself was of two equal arches with a total span of 40 ft and a breadth of 13 ft 9 ins. although how much of this was usable is questionable as a contemporary traveller once remarked that "it is of little use except for the passage of horses or of men on foot" and it was certainly it's limiting breadth which caused it's replacement with the Regent's bridge. It is probable that the builders of this bridge were local inhabitants of Dromore as it was built when the system of six day labour was still in existence. The name itself shows the Marquis of Downshire was famous for his generosity in the construction of bridges.


In 1805 the Irish Post Office in Dublin commissioned a Major Alexander Taylor and a team of engineers to survey the turnpike roads in Ireland the reason being the post office by Act of Parliament had been made responsible for the bringing forward of improvements and repairs to these roads. As stagecoaches had been brought in as a replacement to the system of delivery by foot or horse and an average speed of 3.5 Irish mph for any carriage of the mails it was stipulated that the width of the road should be no less than 42ft and no slope greater than 1 in 35. Although many of the plans drawn up were not implemented the replacement of the Downshire Bridge in Dromore seems to have carried through as it was deemed insufficient to it's task and so in 1811 a new bridge was constructed 40 yds downstream. Like the Downshire bridge The Regent's bridge was constructed of granite and whinstone the whinstone again being referred to as fieldstone with the granite (quarried from the nearby Mountains of Mourne) being used for the main construction with the whinstone used mainly as infill. Locals say that any mortar or cement used came from the nearby village of Moira but I have been unable to substantiate this, however given the fact that Ireland is made up mainly of limestone it would almost certainly be quarried fairly locally. The bridge itself is composed of three semi-circular arches with the central arch being some two feet or so more in radius than the other two, its total span is some 75 ft in length with a breadth of 35ft. (this span is adequate in the present day for a footpath on either side and the main roadway able to allow two lorries to pass (with some apprehension). It is testament to the strength of the bridge that after over 150 years as part of the main Belfast to Dublin road it does not require any weight restrictions. The method of payment for this bridge was almost definitely by presentment and by the local taxes gathered in.

There is a plaque on the Regent's Bridge, unfortunately it does not give the name of the engineer who designed it or it's builders. It reads:

Regent Bridge built in the 30th year
of the residence of his see of the
Right Reverend Thomas Percy,
DD, Lord Bishop of Dromore,
To whom this memorial of their respect
Is inscribed by the inhabitants of
the town of Dromore A.D.1811


The new Downshire bridge was built in 1885 at the request of the county as the older bridge had fallen into disrepair this bridge was designed by the county surveyor a Mr W. McKeown of Ardlee near Downpatrick it was made of Mourne granite in it's entirety and like the previous bridge it was of two semi circular arches and was of greater width than it's predecessor at 23 ft 6 ins in breadth.

To give protection to the bridges a weir has been built approximately 20 yds downstream from the Regents Bridge, this has the effect of slowing the water flow at the bridge supports the Regents bridge has voussoirs on one side facing upstream while the Downshire Bridge has voussoirs on the upstream and the downstream sides.

The Regents bridge finally lost it's place of importance when the Department of the Environment decided to construct a new dual carriageway to by-pass Dromore, this was completed in 1974 and one wonders whether the reinforced concrete from which it is built will last as long as the granite.

The Evolvement of Dwellings at Meeting
Street, Dromore.

Ann McMillan was studying for a B.Tec. in Building Studies at Lisburn College of Further Education when she wrote a study on Meeting Street from which this extract is derived.

a) The earliest recorded, but not thought to be the first houses.

Although no exact date has been ascertained for the construction of these dwellings it is known that before 1860 there were older houses on this site, but when these had been demolished to permit the building of a manufactory and houses on Circular Road, the houses were built on the reduced Meeting Street frontage, apparently between 1870 and 1879.

Reference is also made to them being leased by David Fitzsimons of Greenan, Co. Down from George Brush of Gillhall in 1879 for a period of 21 years subject to a yearly rent of �4 10 shillings sterling payable half yearly. Renewal of the lease was to be obtained from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for Ireland. If the rent was 21 days late George Brush could repossess the property.

In a letter from T A Johnston of George Preston and Son (Estate Agents in Dromore) of 28th January 1981 to Philip Robinson of the Department of Building at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, it would appear that James Fitzsimons inherited the lease from David and it subsequently and finally belonged to Miss Elizabeth Fitzsimons of 19, Meeting Street.

The houses were occupied until 1977 when the street was demolished except for Nos. 3541 which were rebuilt at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.

b) The modern day development on the same site.

Towards the end of 1978 the Housing Executive began the construction or 41 dwellings on the Meeting Street site. I obtained the following information from the Housing Executive.

The plans were drawn up by A D F Crawlay, an architect with the firm of G R Smith and Partners of 525, Antrim Road, Belfast. The builders were Brown Bros. of 11, Rathfriland Road, Hilltown and the building materials were supplied by various local firms. The houses took 36 months to construct at a cost of �560 000. The rent of a Meeting Street dwelling these days is approximately �25 a week - very different from that of the houses of 100 years ago!

A comparison of the size, layout and building materials used in the original and replacement dwellings.

From measurements taken at No. 3 on the Ulster Folk Museum site, the above 'front section' and 'ground plan view', were able to be drawn up.It sometimes happens that old terrace houses in Ulster towns are very similar to traditional houses in the surrounding countryside. This can often be seen in the layout of the house - see Plan View - particularly in the relationship between the position of the kitchen hearth and the front door. Over much of Mid-Ulster the hearth and the front door are to be found at the same end of the kitchen. A "jamb wall" screens the fire from the door creating a small entrance lobby. Three of the four Meeting Street houses, contain a "hearth-lobby" layout, the fourth house being slightly larger, with a kitchen in the back of the house.

They were built about 1870 quite late for urban houses, and yet were very basic. Each dwelling of the hearth-lobby type had one ground floor room (the kitchen) with a mud floor and the only bedroom was directly upstairs and was reached by climbing steep, narrow and twisty stairs.

An open fire heated the building in 1900 and all cooking was done over this. Running water and a flushing toilet were amenities which were unheard of in those days and the toilet was a small but in the back yard. The only access to the yard was through the house although legislation already existed in Belfast stating that a small pathway must run along the back of the row with a gate leading into the yard.

On the outside the houses had a yellow appearance brought out by wet-dashing the walls and adding yellow ochre to the limewash.

Unlike many other terrace houses, these appear to have been occupied by only one family at a time, although there was a considerable and surprisingly rapid turnover in the names or occupants between 1899 and 1911.

b) The replacement dwellings

The information collected, verbal, photographic and from records leaves us in no doubt that the modern housing is a vast improvement on the former use of the site e.g. the superior utilisation of the space available.

A greater variety of size of dwelling has been built with four different types including 7 person/5 bed/2 storey, 5 person/3 bed/2 storey, 3 person/ 2 bed/single storey and finally 2 person/1 bed/single storey.

The houses are traditionally built with a cavity and the rough cast plaster. The style of vertical sash windows was retained as was the cosy open fire place but the use has been changed from cooking to the provision of central heating and hot water. The provision of a mains water supply, sewage, drains, and electricity to all dwellings has been the basis for the great improvements in the interior of the houses.

An all electric kitchen is provided in today's houses. This is more hygienic and safer than the old open fire (to say nothing of making the task of preparing meals easier). The two well equipped bathrooms with constant hot running water are a far cry from the tin bath before the fire-which was very limiting on the timing and frequency of baths. The enclosed back yard is another feature which has been retained but nowadays there is access to a running entry.

Added to all this the architect has recaptured the style and character of the street by his sympathetic treatment of the exterior of the dwellings. The old idea of an arched entry between the houses has been kept and the newer houses have successfully merged with the older buildings still standing on the opposite side of the street.