Fintona shown within Northern Ireland
|Population||1,423 (2013 calculation)|
|Irish grid reference|
|– Belfast||66 miles / 106 km|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||Northern Ireland|
|UK Parliament||West Tyrone|
|NI Assembly||West Tyrone|
Fintona (from Irish: Fionntamhnach, meaning "bright clearing") is a village and townland in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It is the second largest settlement in the Omagh District Council area, after Omagh itself. Its 2013 population is calculated at 1,423.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Transport
- 4 Sport and leisure
- 5 Education
- 6 Literature
- 7 Media and communications
- 8 Government
- 9 Churches
- 10 People
- 11 2001 Census
- 12 References
- 13 External links
The local area has been known to have had human activity for around 4000 years; there are many burial places, standing stones, stone circles and graves in the area around Fintona. The current village is developed from an Uí Néill fortress built in 1431 and is one of Tyrone's oldest settlements. Some time after the Plantation of Ulster, by 1668 the dominant landowners in the area was the Eccles Family and their Manor House, which was located in what is nowadays Fintona Golf Club and Ecclesville Park on the Ecclesville Demense, was built in 1703.
As in many other parts of Ireland during the 19th Century, the expansion of the railway network saw the village connected with the rest of the country. There was two stations, Fintona (open 5 June 1853) and Fintona Junction (open 1 May 1856). Connecting the two stations was a horse-drawn tram which took passengers from the village to Fintona Junction railway station which was a stop on the Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway which itself was part of the Great Northern Railway. Both stations closed on 1 October 1957.
Perhaps the most well known bit of history associated with Fintona was the horse-drawn tram (or "van" to the locals) that took passengers from Fintona railway station to Fintona Junction station one mile away. The name of the horse was always "Dick". First class and second class passengers travelled inside while third class travellers sat exposed to the elements on the top. The tram made its last trip on 30 September 1957 when the Omagh to Enniskillen line closed, and with it, Fintona's rail links to the rest of Ireland. When retired, it was the second last existing example of a horse-drawn tram in public service in the British Isles, the only remaining one now being on Douglas promenade, Isle of Man. The "van" now lies at the Ulster Transport Museum.
The legacy of the horse tram can be seen when you enter the village by road, with the welcome signs greeting you with a silhouette of the horsetram with "Dick" pulling the tram along with the driver, conductor and a third person on board.
In 1841 the population of Fintona was 1327 with another 7980 people living in the surrounding hinterland of the civil parish of Donacavey. However the effects of the Irish Famine of the 1840s meant that by 1851, the population in the village rose to 1504 with the population in the rest of Donacavey falling to 5972. Nevertheless this was to mark the start of a continual fall in population, in common with much of rural Ireland, that by 1891 the population in the village fell to 1271 with 3551 in the remainder of Donacavey, a rate that continued to slowly fall until the middle of the 20th century. By 1971 the population of Fintona was recorded in that years census as 1190, rising to 1353 in 1981 but then falling slightly to 1324 in 1991. With a change in the defined population area starting in 2001, a population of 1344 was recorded. As of 2013, 1423 persons are calculated to be living in Fintona.
Fintona lies about halfway between two of Ulster's notable natural landmarks, the Sperrins to the north and Lough Erne to the south. Omagh, the county town of Tyrone, lies 8 miles (13 km) north. Enniskillen is 19 miles (30 km) south-west, Belfast 66 miles (106 km) east and Dublin 108 miles (173 km) south-east.
The village itself lies across several gentle hills, including Main Street whose summit lies at its centre with both ends at the foot. There are small pockets of flat ground, mostly in the Ecclesville Demesne. Halfway between Fintona and Fivemiletown (nine miles south-east) the land rises where Murley Mountain lies. This mountain marks the western edge of the Clogher Valley, and rises to a peak of 312 metres (1,024 feet) above sea level. On the summit is the Lendrums Bridge wind farm, one of the largest in Ireland, with 20 turbines which was opened in 2000. Another 8 turbines at neighbouring Hunter's Hill went into operation in January 2008. The location of both wind farms are lonely and exposed, especially to prevailing south-westerly winds. This makes it a prime site for wind-generated power.
Farming plays a key role in the economy of Fintona. Much of the farming is cattle based involved meat and milk production, with some sheep rearing, particularly on higher ground. There are also some pig farms in the area. The land and climate does not lend itself to arable farming, but some maize is grown. This does not ripen and is not meant for human consumption, but is used to boost the protein of cattle feed. On higher ground near the summit of Murley Mountain, there are also peat bogs.
A small river named the "Quiggery Water" flows through Fintona, with bridges crossing it at Kiln Street and Mill Street. This river then joins with the Ballynahatty Water to form the Drumragh River, which in turn joins the Camowen River at Omagh to form the River Strule.
Fintona today is linked to Omagh though the B122 that connects to the A5 Omagh to Ballygawley road about 2 miles (3 km) outside Omagh. Although major incidents are rare, the road is known for having several tight turns including a near 90-degree turn that gradually climbs up about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) outside Fintona and at a bridge 4 miles (6 km) from Fintona near the hamlet of Tattyreagh which snakes as an S-bend. The former is known for vehicles going off the road into a neighbouring field during very icy weather. The latter bridge had reinforcement work along with the instantiation of crash barriers installed in 2012 after concerns were raised locally about its safety after several accidents along with the fact that the river that flows under the bridge often breaks its banks after heavy rainfall. Work was also completed in 2013 at the Carnlea crossroads junction about 1 mile (1.5 km) outside Fintona providing a turning bay to allow drivers coming from Omagh to turn right over the bridge without disrupting traffic from behind looking to travel straight ahead.
Other roads linking Fintona to elsewhere include the B80 to Enniskillen (via Tempo), the B46 to Dromore, the B122 to Fivemiletown, the B46 to Seskinore and Beragh, the B168 to Clogher and the Derrybard & Greenmount roads that connect to the A5 Omagh to Ballygawley road on to towards Belfast and Dublin.
The only public transport available is an Ulsterbus bus service provided by Translink that connects Fintona to Omagh (Route No.87). Seven services run on weekdays and five on Saturdays. There is no service on Sundays.
Sport and leisure
There are several sports clubs and facilities in Fintona which cater for a range of sporting activities. Local clubs include Fintona Cycling Club, Fintona Badmintion Club and two bowling clubs. Partly thanks to the number of public houses in Fintona (no less than 10), darts, pool and snooker also prove popular.
Fintona Golf Club
Fintona Golf Club was founded in 1 by C.W.L. Brown-Lecky and is located on part of the Ecclesville Demense. It is a nine hole course which have twin tees allowing players a different challenge on their second time round. Ronan Rafferty rated it the best nine hole course in Northern Ireland in a feature on the TV programme 'Ronan Rafferty's Great Golf Journeys'. The course includes a club house and a bar with a function room and catering facilities.
Fintona Pearses GAA Club
Fintona Pearses Gaelic Athletic Association Club was founded in late 1916 and first played competitive Gaelic football games a year later. There was already a GAA club in Fintona at the time, the Davitts, which was founded in 1907 and won the Tyrone Senior Football Championship in 1914 but the Davitts folded not long after the Pearses club started. The current club is based at its own grounds just outside the town on the Tattymoyle Road, named St. Lawrence's Park which has undergone substantial redevelopment since the early 1990s which today includes two full-size pitches (one with floodlights), a training pitch, a clubhouse with four changing rooms and two stands (one roofed). Gaelic Football teams are fielded at adult and underage level while a Ladies Gaelic Football club of the same name also play at the same grounds. A Hurling team was active also in the mid-2000s.
Fintona Swifts Football Club
Fintona Swifts are a Junior Football Club that was founded in the early 1990s. Up until the 2010/11 season the team did not have a home ground in the village and was forced to play their 'home' games elsewhere, normally in Omagh. After years of discussions and stalling, the club finally had a permanent home in Fintona with a pitch based in the Ecclesville Demense opened in August 2010. Presently their first team competes in Division 1 of the Fermanagh & Western league with the second team in Reserve Division 2. The new home ground has also allowed for the club to develop youth teams including one that competes in the Fermanagh & Western Under 16 competitions.
Based within the grounds of the Ecclesville Demense, opened in 1995 the Ecclesville Centre is unique in the UK and Ireland in being a combined equestrian and community/leisure complex. The facility has proven popular not only among show jumpers and horse riders, but also for other sporting activities especially those based indoors. The equestrian end of the centre includes stables, an indoor arena with judges box and seated stand, and an outdoor facility that includes an outdoor floodlight arena, open parkland and the forest of the Ecclesville Demense. The leisure part of the centre includes a minor hall, a sports hall, changing rooms and a fitness suite with outdoor all-weather tennis courts also available. The centre is a popular venue for local and regional sports competitions including bowls, badminton and indoor football. At a community level the centre is the home of Fintona Cross-Community Youth Club and also a local Sure Start centre. The centre is also capable of holding children's parties with catering facilities an inflatable bouncy castle.
The centre has also been the venue for several special events and exhibitions since the early 2000s which have proven popular locally and beyond including Farm Machinery, Sport & Modified Cars, Transport, Home & Garden, and Music Concerts. The Northern Ireland National Charolais Show has in recent years been an annual fixture at the centre as has the Omagh and District Canine Club Dog Show. A three night indoor music festival was held on the May Bank Holiday weekend in 2013 called Jamboree in the Park which billed itself as the biggest indoor country music festival in Ireland.
The main public park in Fintona is at the Ecclesville Demesne, known as Ecclesville Park. The park itself has a play-area for children and all-weather football & basketball area used alongside the Ecclesville Centre, neighbouring a full-size grass soccer pitch, walking routes, pond and forest.
There are also children’s play-areas at Mill Street and Ashfield Gardens.
Fintona has two primary schools; Denamona County Primary School and St Lawrence's Primary School. Two other primary schools, St. Patrick's Garvallagh which lay three miles east of Fintona and St. Joseph's Lisconrea which lay three miles south just off the Tempo road, closed in recent years due to falling enrolments in both schools, St. Joseph's in 2003 and St. Patrick's in 2009.
There are no post-primary schools in Fintona, children continue their education at schools usually either in Omagh, Dromore or Fivemiletown, while a few also attended schools in Ballygawley and Enniskillen.
Fintona has its own branch library that was originally opened in the early 1980s in a prefabricated building in Ecclesville Park before moving to its current location on Main Street in 1991. In early 2011 the library was one of ten marked down by Libraries NI for closure who claimed that the library was one of the least used in Northern Ireland and that the roof of the building required repair at a significant cost. A public consultation meeting in Fintona Golf Club on 3 March that year saw a strong local turn out of at least 245 people calling for the retention of the library. On 20 October 2011, Libraries NI announced that the Fintona branch library would remain open while efforts were made to either improve its current premises or find an alternative location in due course.
Poets Wilson Guy and John Montague came from the area.
Media and communications
In the late 1980s and early 1990s a monthly local news magazine, the Village Voice, was published by the now defunct Fintona Development Association. The magazine covered news, features and activities in Fintona, Seskinore and Eskra.
A Post Office lies in the Main Street with daily collections (inc. Saturdays & Sundays). The local postcode starts with BT78. A second postbox is at the Supervalu supermarket on Tattymoyle Road.
A BT Telephone exchange lies just outside the village on the Castletown Road, serving Fintona and the neighbouring hamlets of Seskinore and Eskra. The STD code is 028 in common with the rest of Northern Ireland, with all local numbers being in the format 8284xxxx. The exchange was enabled for ADSL broadband in September 2004 while Fibre to the Cabinet broadband services went live in early 2011.
Terrestrial Television along with FM & DAB radio can be received from the Brougher Mountain transmitter site, while similar TV & radio services from the Republic of Ireland can also be received by most people in Fintona. Satellite television is also popular, either through Freesat or the Sky subscription service . There are no cable operators in the village.
There are four mobile phone operators that have coverage in Fintona. Vodafone have a cell site on the edge of the village next to Carnalea Road, an O2 cell site lies about one mile west of Fintona on the Cavan Road while Orange and 3 have a shared cell site around two miles away to the east, next to the Gargrim Road. On September 2012, O2 started providing a HSPA 3G signal in the 900Mhz band only to its customers in Fintona as well as a 2G EDGE data service. In March 2013 the Orange cell site, which was originally 2G GPRS only, was upgraded and integrated into the MBNL network infrastructure, providing a HSPA 3G service for both EE and 3 customers in the local area. At present Vodafone only have 2G GPRS coverage available.
Fintona lies in the West Tyrone electoral constituency for elections to both the Houses of Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly. For local government elections (to elect councillors to Omagh District Council), Fintona lies within the West Tyrone District Electoral Area along with Dromore, Drumquin, Trillick, Seskinore and Newtownsaville.
Fintona has several church buildings, including:
- Barr Parish Church (Church of Ireland) 
- Donacavey Parish Church (Church of Ireland) 
- Fintona Gospel Hall
- Fintona Independent Methodist Church 
- Fintona Methodist Church 
- Fintona Presbyterian Church 
- St. Lawrence's Church (Roman Catholic) 
- John of Fintona, fl. late thirteenth century.
- Gerry Armstrong, the Northern Irish footballer, who scored three goals in the 1982 World Cup grew up in Fintona.
- Kieran Corrigan (film producer) producer of films including The General and Evelyn, grew up and went to school in Fintona.
- Country music singer Derrick Mehaffey, a former "Male vocalist of the Year" at the European CMA awards, lives just outside Fintona; he once owned a radio & television sales and repair shop in the village.
- Carl Martin 2013 World Junior Eightball Pool Champion
Fintona is classified as a village by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (i.e., with population between 1,000 and 2,250 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 1,359 people living in Fintona. Of these:
- 24.9% were aged under 16 and 17.4% were aged 60 and over
- 48.3% of the population were male and 51.7% were female
- 72.3% were from a Catholic background and 27.1% were from a Protestant background
- 5.9% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.
For more details see: NI Neighbourhood Information Service
- Fintona Town Centre Action Plan, April 2010, Omagh District Council
- Fintona Horse Tramway
- Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
- Hunters Hill Wind Farm
- Ulsterbus Timetable 87
- Fintona Golf Club - Facilities
- Charolais NI
- AJS Promotions
- Department of Education NI Press Release
- Libraries NI
- Libraries NI
- Tyrone Herald "Reprieve for Fintona library while Moy library faces axe", 24 October 2011
- Ofcom - Sitefinder
- Artist Profile
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