Portadown

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Coordinates: 54°25′16″N 6°27′30″W / 54.421027°N 6.458244°W / 54.421027; -6.458244

Portadown
Scots: Portadoun[1] or Portadoon[2]
Irish: Port a' Dúnáin
St Mark's Church of Ireland, Portadown - geograph - 494290.jpg
St Mark's Church of Ireland in central Portadown
Portadown is located in Northern Ireland
Portadown
 Portadown shown within Northern Ireland
Population 22,000 (2011 Census estimate,
see below)
Irish grid reference J008537
    - Belfast 23 mi (37 km)  
    - Dublin 74 mi (119 km)  
District Craigavon
County County Armagh
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town CRAIGAVON
Postcode district BT62, BT63
Dialling code 028
Police Northern Ireland
Fire Northern Ireland
Ambulance Northern Ireland
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
UK Parliament Upper Bann
NI Assembly Upper Bann
List of places
UK
Northern Ireland
Armagh

Portadown (from Irish Port a' Dúnáin, meaning "landing place of the little fort")[3][4] is a town in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. The town sits on the River Bann in the north of the county, about 23 miles (37 km)[5] south-west of Belfast. It is in the Craigavon Borough Council area and had a population of about 22,000 at the 2011 Census. For some purposes, Portadown is treated as part of the "Craigavon Urban Area", alongside Craigavon and Lurgan.

Although Portadown can trace its origins to the early 17th century Plantation of Ulster, it was not until the Victorian era and the arrival of the railway that it became a major town. It earned the nickname "hub of the North" due to it being a major railway junction; where the Great Northern Railway's line diverged for Belfast, Dublin, Armagh and Derry. In the 19th and 20th centuries Portadown was also a major centre for the production of textiles (mainly linen).

Of its population, about 60% are from a Protestant background and 31% from a Catholic background. Portadown has been the site of the long-running Drumcree dispute. This is over yearly Orange marches through the Catholic part of town, which has often led to violence. In the 1990s, the dispute intensified and drew worldwide attention to Portadown.[6]

History[edit]

The old Portadown railway station, c.1879
Portadown's main street on market day, c.1900

Early history and Plantation of Ulster[edit]

The Portadown area had long been populated by Irish Gaels.[7] At the beginning of the 1600s, it lay within the district of Clancann (Clann Chana), which was part of the larger territory of Oneilland (Uí Nialláin). This district was named after the dominant local clan—the McCanns (Mac Cana)[7][8]—who had been in the area since before the 13th century.[9][10] The McCanns were then a vassal sept of the O'Neills (Uí Néill).[7] On the eastern banks of the River Bann was the district of Clanbrasil (Clann Bhreasail).[11]

The town's name comes from the Irish Port a' Dúnáin (or, more formally, Port an Dúnáin), meaning the port or landing place of the small stronghold or small fort. This was likely a stronghold or fort of the McCanns.[7]

From 1594 until 1603, the O'Neills and an alliance of other clans fought in the Nine Years' War against the English conquest of Ireland. This ended in defeat for the Irish clans, and much of their land was seized by the English. In 1608, James I of England began the Plantation of Ulster – the organised colonisation of this land by settlers from Great Britain.

In 1610, as part of the Plantation, the lands of Portadown were granted to a William Powell.[7] In 1611, he sold his grant of land to a Reverend Richard Rolleston, who in turn sold it in two portions to Richard Cope and Michael Obins.[7] Obins built a large Elizabethan-style mansion for himself and his family, and a number of houses nearby for English tenants. This mansion was in the area of the present-day Woodside estate,[12] and the People's Park was part of its grounds.[7] Today this park is bounded on either side by Obins Street and Castle Street, both of which are references to "Obin's Castle".[7]

In 1631, Obins was granted a licence for a "fair and market", which led to the building of the first bridge across the River Bann shortly thereafter.[7]

Irish rebellion of 1641[edit]

During the Irish Rebellion of 1641, Obins Castle was captured by a force of dispossessed Irish led by the McCanns, the Magennises and the O'Neills.[7] In one of the worst atrocities of the rebellion, in November 1641, Irish rebels forced between 100–300 captured English and Scottish settlers (or 'planters') off the Bann bridge and they either drowned or were shot. This became known as the "Portadown Massacre", and partly precipitated the revenge attacks carried out in Ireland several years later by the forces of Oliver Cromwell.

The Irish Confederate troops abandoned Obins Castle during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, and Hamlet Obins (who had survived its capture) repossessed it in 1652.[7] It was then passed to his son Anthony Obins.[7]

Industrialisation[edit]

In 1741, Anthony Obins was involved with the development of the Newry Canal.[7] He was succeeded by Michael Obins in 1750. It was he who set up a linen market in Portadown in 1762 and this laid the foundations of Portadown's major industry.[7]

Michael Obins died in 1798 and left a son, Michael Eyre Obins, to succeed him. In 1814, Eyre Obins took holy orders and sold the estate to the Sparrow family of Tandragee.[7] George Montagu, 6th Duke of Manchester (known as Viscount Mandeville) married Millicent Sparrow in 1822 and came into possession of the estate.[7] This family's legacy to the town includes street names such as Montagu Street, Millicent Crescent and Mandeville Street, as well as buildings such as the Fergus Hall (formerly the Duke's School and Church Street PS), and the Carlton Home (the Duke's former townhouse, latterly a maternity hospital/nurses accommodation and now private apartments).

The Blacker family, descended from Danes who entered Ireland in the 9th century,[13] founded an estate at Carrick, on the Portadown–Gilford road. The land had been bought by Colonel Valentine Blacker from Sir Anthony Cope of Loughgall.[13] It became known as Carrickblacker, and is now the site of Portadown Golf Club. One of the notables in the Blacker family, Colonel William Blacker, High Sheriff of Armagh[14] took part in the "Battle of the Diamond" and was a founding member of the Orange Order.[15] This, and subsequent events like the setting up of a 'provisional' Grand Lodge in the town after the 'voluntary' dissolution of the Order in 1825, led to the town being known as 'The Orange Citadel' and becoming infamous as a center of sectarian strife for two centuries.[16] Many of the Blacker family were soldiers or churchmen. The family estate was purchased in 1937 by Portadown Golf Club,[17] who demolished Carrickblacker House in 1988 to make way for a new clubhouse.

World War II[edit]

A large prisoner-of-war (POW) camp was built at Portadown during World War II.[18] It was at the site of a former sports facility on what was then the western edge of town. This area is now covered by housing from Fitzroy Street and the Brownstown Estates. The camp housed (mostly) German POWs. For a time these POWs were guarded by Welsh servicemen who had been transferred from Germany (known as "Bluecaps") and who were billeted at St Patrick's Hall in Thomas Street. Many of the Welsh soldiers chose to be demobilised to Portadown as they had formed relationships there and this accounts for some of the Welsh surnames in the town.

In 2005, a public air-raid shelter was uncovered during excavation works near the riverbank just outside the town centre. One of ten built by the council during World War II, it is the only one now remaining and a rare example of public air raid shelters in Northern Ireland.[19]

The Troubles[edit]

Permanent security barriers blocking entrance to Portadown town centre in 1982

In 1969, Northern Ireland was plunged into an ethno-political conflict known as the Troubles. The conflict led to the deaths of 43 people in Portadown,[20] as well as numerous riots and bombings. In 1993 and 1998, two large car bombs devastated the town centre. The town also became segregated – the northwestern part of the town became almost wholly Catholic/Irish nationalist, while the rest of the town became almost wholly Protestant/unionist.[21] A separating barrier ("peace line") was built along Corcrain Road and it remains to this day.

The Troubles intensified the long-running Drumcree marching dispute, over Orange marches through the Catholic part of town. Each July from 1995–2000, the dispute drew worldwide attention as it sparked protests and violence throughout Northern Ireland, prompted a massive police/British Army operation, and threatened to derail the peace process. The Catholic part of Portadown was sealed-off with large steel, concrete and barbed-wire barricades and the situation was likened to a "war zone"[22] and a "siege".[23] Since 2001 things have been relatively calm, but there has been occasional clashes.

Community leaders in Portadown have been involved with the Ulster Project since it began in 1975. The project involves teenagers from both of Northern Ireland's main communities. The goal is to foster goodwill and friendship between them. Each year, a group of teenagers are chosen to travel to the United States, where they stay with an American family for a few weeks.

Geography[edit]

River Bann at Portadown
The Bann Bridge in Portadown, 2008

Portadown sits in a relatively flat part of Ireland, near the southern shore of Lough Neagh. There are two small wetland areas on the outskirts of the town; one at Selshion in the west and another at Annagh in the south. The Ballybay River flows into the town from the west before joining the River Bann.

The River Bann[edit]

Most of the town is built on the western side of the River Bann, and owes much of its prosperity to the river. It was the construction of the Newry Canal (linking Carlingford Lough with Lough Neagh) in 1740, coupled with the growth of the railway in the 19th century, which put Portadown at the hub of transport routes.

There are three bridges across the river at Portadown. Bridge Street and Northway are both road bridges and there is a railway bridge beside the Northway. The 'Bann Bridge' on Bridge Street is the oldest. The story of this bridge is unusual in that it was built without a river running underneath it. After building was complete, the course of the River Bann was diverted by some 100 yards to straighten a meander. The old riverbed was then built upon. An archaeological dig in the area of the old riverbed uncovered the bones of some of those drowned in the 1641 massacre. The current bridge has been widened twice since it was built.

Townlands[edit]

Like the rest of Ireland, the Portadown area has long been divided into townlands, whose names mostly come from the Irish language. Portadown sprang up along a road (High Street/Market Street) that marked the boundary between two of these – Tavanagh and Corcrain. Over time, the surrounding townlands have been built upon and they have given their names to many roads and housing estates. The following is a list of townlands within Portadown's urban area, alongside their likely etymologies:[24][25][26][27]

West bank of the River Bann (parish of Drumcree):

  • Annagh (from Irish Eanach, meaning "marsh")
  • Ballyoran (from Baile Uaráin meaning "townland of the spring")
  • Baltylum (from Bailte Loma meaning "bare townlands")
  • Clounagh or Clownagh (from Cluain Each meaning "horses meadow")
  • Corcrain (from Corr Chrainn meaning "round hill of the tree")
  • Garvaghy (from Garbh Achadh meaning "rough field")
  • Mahon or Maghon (from Maigh Ghamhan meaning "plain of the calves")
  • Selshion (from Soilseán meaning "brightness" – possibly referring to fires or fire beacons)
  • Tavanagh (from Tamhnach meaning "grassland")

East bank of the River Bann (parish of Seagoe):

  • Ballyhannon (from Baile Uí hAinchain meaning "Ó hAinchain's townland")
  • Bocombra (formerly Bocomra, from Buaic Iomaire meaning "top of the ridge" or Both Chomair meaning "hut at the confluence")
  • Edenderry (from Éadan Doire meaning "hill-brow of the oak grove")
  • Kernan (formerly Kerhanan, from Caorthannan meaning "place of rowans")
  • Killycomain or Killicomain (from Coill Uí Chomáin meaning "Ó Comáin's woodland")
  • Levaghery (from Leathmhachaire meaning "half plain")
  • Lisnisky (from Lios an Uisce meaning "ringfort of the water") – the fields in Lisnisky separate Portadown from Craigavon
  • Seagoe Upper (from Suidhe Gabha meaning "sitting place of the smith")- alternatively (from Goba of Teg da-goba[28] meaning the house/abode of Goba)

Climate[edit]

The climate of Portadown is like that of much of the rest of the UK and Ireland, being a temperate oceanic climate. It has mild temperatures throughout the year, with summer temperatures not reaching levels to be deemed very hot and winter not very cold. Summer temperatures can reach more than 20 °C though it is rare for them to go higher than 30 °C (86 °F). The consistently humid climate that prevails over Ireland can make these temperatures feel uncomfortable when they stray into the high 20's °C (80–85 °F), more so than similar temperatures in hotter climates in the rest of Europe. It also receives a steady amount of rainfall throughout the year.

Climate data for Portadown
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.4
(45.3)
8.1
(46.6)
10.2
(50.4)
12.6
(54.7)
15.6
(60.1)
18.0
(64.4)
19.7
(67.5)
19.3
(66.7)
16.9
(62.4)
13.4
(56.1)
10.0
(50)
7.7
(45.9)
13.3
(55.9)
Average low °C (°F) 1.9
(35.4)
1.6
(34.9)
3.1
(37.6)
4.3
(39.7)
6.7
(44.1)
9.6
(49.3)
11.7
(53.1)
11.4
(52.5)
9.5
(49.1)
6.8
(44.2)
3.9
(39)
2.1
(35.8)
6.1
(43)
Precipitation mm (inches) 74.5
(2.933)
54.0
(2.126)
65.6
(2.583)
57.6
(2.268)
57.8
(2.276)
58.4
(2.299)
62.7
(2.469)
76.3
(3.004)
68.1
(2.681)
85.5
(3.366)
74.6
(2.937)
77.1
(3.035)
812.3
(31.98)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ Days of rainfall >= 1 mm) 14.3 11.0 13.3 11.6 11.8 10.9 11.7 13.0 12.2 13.7 13.6 13.3 150.3
Source: Met Office[29]

Demography[edit]

For census purposes, Portadown is not treated as a separate entity by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). Instead, it is combined with Craigavon, Lurgan and Bleary to form the "Craigavon Urban Area". However, a fairly accurate population count can be arrived at by combining the data of the electoral wards that make up Portadown. These wards are Annagh, Ballybay, Ballyoran, Brownstown, Corcrain, Edenderry, Killycomain and Tavanagh.

On the day of the last census (27 March 2011) the combined population of these wards was 22,899.[30]
Of this population:

  • 13,957 (60.9%) were Protestant or from a Protestant background
  • 7,300 (31.8%) were Catholic or from a Catholic background
  • 1,642 (7.3%) were of other religious backgrounds or no religious background.[30]

Governance[edit]

Plaque of the old Portadown Town Council

Portadown is part of the Upper Bann constituency for elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly and Parliament of the United Kingdom. The boundaries of the Assembly constituency and Parliament constituency are identical. This has long been a safe unionist seat.[31]

Portadown came under the governance of Portadown Borough Council following the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898. This was abolished with the Local Government (Boundaries) Act (Northern Ireland) 1971 and the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972. Henceforth, the town has been under the jurisdiction of the larger Craigavon Borough Council. Councillors are elected to the council every four years by proportional representation.

The councillors elected in 2014 for the new council are:

Name Party
Jonathan Buckley DUP
Darryn Causby DUP
Doug Beattie MC UUP
Arnold Hatch UUP
David Jones UKIP
Gemma McKenna Sinn Féin

Religious sites[edit]

Portadown sits on the boundary between two parishes. This boundary is the River Bann. The part of the town on the west of the Bann is in Drumcree parish, while the part of the town on the east of the Bann is in Seagoe parish.

Protestant churches[edit]

A Methodist Chapel was built in 1790. The site of this church has moved several times and it now stands in Thomas Street where it was rebuilt in 1860. There is also a Methodist chapel in the Edenderry area of the town and another smaller Epworth Methodist church, along with a meeting hall on the Mahon road.[32] There is also an Independent Methodist Church.

In 1826, Saint Martin's Church of Ireland was built, and later renamed Saint Mark's.[33] Before this, Church of Ireland members attended either Drumcree Parish Church or Seagoe Parish Church.[34] This church has a tall clock tower and stands in a commanding position at the centre of the town. Another Church of Ireland church is Saint Columba's on the Loughgall Road which was built in 1970. The current Seagoe Parish Church of St. Gobhan's (Church of Ireland), was built in 1814, and replaced the many previous church foundations dating from circa the 7th century, which existed in the ancient cemetery of Seagoe some one hundred yards distant. It is linked to Seagoe Primary School, which is maintained by the Church, and one of the few remaining Anglican primary schools. The current Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church The Most Revd David Chillingworth was rector at Seagoe for 19 years. There is also St Columba's Parish.[35]

There are two Presbyterian churches, First Portadown (aka Edenderry) Presbyterian Church (1822) and Armagh Road Presbyterian Church (1859). The Rev Stafford Carson was Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, June 2009 – June 2010.

There are also Baptist meeting halls on Thomas Street and Killicomaine Road; an Elim church on Clonavon Avenue; a Quaker meeting hall on Portmore Street; a Free Presbyterian church in Levaghery and meeting hall on Fitzroy Street. The pentecostal Light of the World Ministries are located in the town, as are the evangelical neocharismatic Vineyard Church. The Salvation Army have a hall in the town beside the town hall.

Edenderry Methodist 
First Presbyterian 
Seagoe Parish 
Salvation Army Citadel 

Catholic churches[edit]

Saint John the Baptist's Church was built in the townland of Ballyoran in 1783. The original church sat in the middle of what is now a large graveyard. A second Catholic church, Saint Patrick's, was built on William Street in 1835.

In the 1970s, Saint John's was taken down brick-by-brick, moved and rebuilt at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra, County Down.[36] A new Saint John's church was built close to where the original stood; it sits where the Garvaghy Road meets the Dungannon Road.

Saint Patrick's Roman Catholic Church on William Street 
Saint John's Roman Catholic Church in the townland of Ballyoran 

Other churches[edit]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) has a church on the Brownstown Road. In addition the Jehovah's Witnesses have a Kingdom Hall, on the town outskirts in Kernan.

List[edit]

  • Protestant (33)
    • St Mark's Church of Ireland
    • St Columba's Church of Ireland
    • St Gobhan's (Seagoe) Church of Ireland
    • Church of the Ascension (Drumcree) Church of Ireland
    • St Saviour's Church of Ireland
    • Killicomaine Baptist Church
    • Portadown Baptist Church
    • Ballinacorr Methodist Church
    • Battlehill Methodist Church
    • Derryanville Methodist Church
    • Edenderry Memorial Methodist Church
    • Epworth Methodist Church
    • Thomas Street Methodist Church
    • Mahon Methodist Church
    • Independent Methodist Church
    • Armagh Road Presbyterian Church
    • First (Portadown) Presbyterian Church
    • Vinecash Presbyterian Church
    • Newmills Presbyterian Church
    • Bethany Free Presbyterian Church
    • Friend (Quakers) Meeting House
    • Ahorey Gospel Hall
    • Apostolic Church
    • Bible Pattern Pentecostal Church
    • Elim Pentecostal Church
    • Grace Fellowship
    • Hanover Street Gospel Hall
    • Killicomaine Evangelical Church
    • Portadown Christian Centre
    • Scotch Street Gospel Hall
    • Upper Bann Vineyard Church
    • Salvation Army
    • Light of the World Ministries
  • Roman Catholic (2)
    • Church of St John the Baptist
    • Church of St Patrick
  • Other (2)
    • Portadown Ward (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon))
    • Kingdom Hall (Jehovah's Witness)

Transport[edit]

Portadown railway station

A combination of road, canal and rail links all converging on Portadown railway station gave it the nickname "Hub of the North" and this created employment through mass industry as well as helping the traditional agronomy of the area. The Newry Canal, opened in 1742, linked Carlingford Lough and the Irish Sea with Lough Neagh. It joined the River Bann a couple of miles to the southeast of Portadown. The canal opened up waterborne trade and left Portadown ideally situated to take full advantage of the trading routes. However, the canal went into decline with the growth of the railway network and it closed to commercial traffic in the 1930s.

With the establishment of the Great Northern Railway the overland trading routes were extended and delivery times shortened. The town's first railway station opened in 1842 in Edenderry.[37] At Portadown railway station the line went in four directions – one went northeast toward Belfast, one northwest toward Dungannon, one southwest to Armagh and one southeast toward Newry and onward to Dublin. Today only the Belfast–Dublin line remains. Repair yards were opened in 1925[37][38] and these large concrete buildings dominated the skyline on the west of the town centre. In 1970 the current station opened, however this has recently saw mass renovation and refurbishment. This new station was complete in late 2012. The old Edenderry station, on the other side of the river, was demolished.

The Northway bypass road opened around this time, linking Portadown more directly with the "new town" of Craigavon. This meant building a new road bridge across the river. The road runs parallel with the railway line for most of its length.

Economy[edit]

Portadown has a manufacturing sector that has grown beyond its roots in linen production to include carpet-weaving, baking and engineering.

There are a number of companies that have been a major part of Portadown's history:

  • Irwin's Bakery was established in 1912 by William David Irwin, grandfather of the existing joint managing directors, as a grocery retailer. The town centre bakery at Woodhouse Street was moved to larger premises at Carn in 1994, and the High Street Mall shopping centre now stands in place of the old bakery. Today Irwin's bakery is the largest independent bakery in Northern Ireland.
  • Wade (Ireland) Ltd. Wade Ceramics[39] had a substantial plant in Portadown[40] between 1946 and 1989 in Watson Street, Edenderry, adjacent to the Victorian Railway Station which was closed in the 1970s.
  • Ulster Carpets Ltd[41] were established in the town in 1938 and was the major employer through most of the 1950s to the 1980s producing woolen Axminster.
  • Henry Denny & Sons (NI) Ltd. meat processors were originally established in Obins Street, but moved to Corcrain after being acquired by the Kerry Group[42] in 1982.

Other industries have vanished from the town such as; whisky distilling and brewing, cider making by Grews in Portmore Street, milling of animal feed by Clows and Calvins in Castle Street, iron and brass manufacturing from Portadown Foundry and other smaller firms, ham/bacon curing by McCammons and Sprotts. Several nurseries were established in the town, most notably Samuel McGredy & Son Ltd., and James Walsh Ltd., these too have gone. There were also a number of small industries related to farming and agriculture, like packing and distribution of eggs, butter, poultry and apples. But these firms have been replaced by large scale employers like Moypark, who process chickens on a modern industrial scale and employ around 600 in the town, as well as Almac, a pharmaceutical firm that employs around 1,000.

Linen manufacturing[edit]

Much of the town's industry in the 19th and 20th century was centred around the linen trade. The 1881 edition of Slater's Directory (a comprehensive listing of Irish towns) gives the following as manufacturing employers in Portadown at that time:[43]

  • Acheson J. & J. & Co. Bannview Weaving Factory
  • Bessbrook Spinning Co. Limited, Bridge Street & at Bessbrook
  • Castle Island Linen Co. Castle Island Factory; & at Belfast
  • Cowdy Anthony & Sons, Thomas Street
  • Gribbin Edward & Sons, Market Street & at Belfast
  • Harden Acheson, Limited, Meadow Lane & at Belfast
  • Lutton A. J. & Son, Edenderry & at Belfast
  • Moneypenny & Watson, Cornascrebe
  • Montgomery John, Derryvore
  • Reid Robert & Son, Tarson Hall
  • Robb Hamilton, Edenderry
  • Sefton J. R. & Co. Edenderry and at Belfast
  • Sinton Thomas, Thomas Street and at Laurelvale and Tanderagee
  • Turtle W. J. Bridge Street
  • Watson, Armstrong & Co. Edenderry Factory and at Belfast

Some of these linen mills survived as manufacturers and major employers into the 1960s, such as Robbs and Achesons but all eventually closed as the demand for Irish Linen fell due to the manufacture of cheaper, man made, fabrics.

Culture and community[edit]

Street nicknames[edit]

Many of Portadown's streets have widely used but unofficial nicknames, some of which date back from the town's early days. These are:

Official name Nickname Etymology
Watson Street Was known as Railway St. As the main station was at the bottom of the street.
Annagh Hill Bucket Row Water had to be drawn from a pump well into the 1960s.
Bridge Street Guinea Row The weekly rent was twenty one shillings.
Armagh Road Rheumatism Row The houses were always said to be damp due to flooding from a nearby river
Obin Street The Tunnel The pedestrian underpass leading to it and the fact that the road was excavated underneath a railway bridge.
Fowlers Entry The Orange Cage Strong association with Orangemen.
William Street Chapel Street Site of a Roman Catholic church
Charles Street Charlie's Walls Site of a boundary wall built by Charles Wakefield around his 'Corcrain Villa'.
Woodhouse Street Dungannon Street It led to Dungannon.
Parkmount The Walk Formed part of the route Orangemen took on their annual "walk" from Drumcree Church.

Events[edit]

Country Comes to Town[44] is a flagship festival held on the third week of September since 1998. Its future is uncertain due to funding difficulties.[45]

Landmarks[edit]

The town's War Memorial
Portadown Town Hall on Edward Street, 2007

Portadown Town Hall, in Edward Street, was once the seat of the town's local government until reform of local government in 1972. It is an 1890 Victorian building that has been extensively refurbished and offers an in-house theatre and conference facilities.[46]

Millennium Court Arts Centre[47] contains two galleries allowing local artists to exhibit their work.

Ardress House is a 17th-century farmhouse that was remodelled in Georgian times and is today owned by the National Trust. It is open to the public offering guided tours, local walks, and recreations of farmyard life.[48][49]

The Newry Canal Way is a fully accessible restored canal towpath now usable as a bicycle route between Newry Town Hall and the Bann Bridge in Portadown. The Canal was the first summit level canal in Britain and Ireland and has 14 locks between its entrance at Carlingford Lough and Lough Neagh.[50] One of the attractions on the Newry Canal Way is Moneypenny's Lock, a site that includes an 18th-century lock-keeper's house, stables and bothy. This provided accommodation for workers on the canal and their horses in the days when the canal was part of the industrial transport network. Today it is administered jointly by the Museum Services and the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre at Oxford Island.[51][52][53]

McConville's Hotel/Public House on Mandeville/West Street dates back to 1865 but moved in 1900 to its current corner location. The pub is fully preserved with original wooden snugs inside, etched glass windows at ground floor level, original gas light fittings which now run on bottled gas and an iron door canopy and lantern. Local legend has it that some of the Russian Oak fittings in the bar were made to the same design as those used on the Titanic.

Located just outside the town off the Dungannon Road is the only fully restored Royal Observer Corps Cold War Nuclear Monitoring Bunker in Northern Ireland. Opened in 1958 it, plus a further 57 other bunkers spread throughout Northern Ireland, would have been used to monitor and report the effects of a Nuclear Attack. The bunker was restored and opened as a museum in 2010 by members of the Royal Observer Corps Association.[54][55]

Notable people[edit]

Deceased people[edit]

Living people[edit]

  • Gloria Hunniford (born 1940) is a TV and radio presenter and formerly a singer. She is the mother of Caron Keating, who died of breast cancer in 2004.
  • Victor Sloan MBE (born 1945) is a photographer and artist who lives and works in Portadown. Employing primarily the medium of photography, he manipulates his negatives and reworks his prints with paints, inks, toners and dyes. In addition to photography, he also uses video, and printmaking techniques.
  • David Simpson (born 1959) is the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Member of Parliament for Upper Bann.
  • Brendan McKenna is an Irish republican politician and spokesman of the Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition. He was a Sinn Féin political advisor until 2007 and became General Secretary of éirígí in 2009.
  • Les Binks is a drummer who is best known for having been the drummer of Judas Priest between March 1977 and July 1979.
  • Aaron McCusker (born 1978) is an actor most famous for playing Jamie Maguire in Channel 4's comedic drama series Shameless.
  • Paddy Johns (born 1968) was an Irish rugby union player from 1990 until 2000 who represented Ulster and Ireland. He played at the 1995 Rugby World Cup finals and the 1999 Rugby World Cup finals. Ryan Harpur is a young professional footballer currently with Glenavon F.C..[60]
  • Colin Turkington (born 1982) is an auto racing driver and is the reigning British Touring Car Champion.
  • Adam Carroll (born 1982) is also an auto racing driver[61] who is currently signed to race for A1 Team Ireland in the A1 Grand Prix series. Carroll has also raced for FMS International in the GP2 Series.
  • Leigh Alderson (born 1986) is an award-winning male ballet dancer, model, actor and choreographer. Alderson was nominated for The Arts Personality of the Year Award in the Ulster Tatler Awards in two consecutive years, 2009 and 2010
  • Newton Emerson is a journalist and founder of the satirical online newspaper Portadown News.
  • Ashley Wood is an internationally famed Make Up Artist, Beauty Specialist and Male Grooming Specialist, having his work featured in Go Belfast and Ulster Tatler on a number of occasions. Also, having completed work for Irish TV station TV3 in addition to working for a number of celebrities from Ireland and America. Now working from his own Salon in Lurgan, Ashley is continually involved in high profile grooming and makeup artistry.
  • Doug Beattie is an author of 'An ordinary soldier' and winner of the MC, recently elected Ulster Unionist councillor
  • Chris Pennell an English rugby union player, who was raised in the town

Education[edit]

Portadown Library (2009)

Portadown boasts a large selection of academic institutions, past and present. Today, schools in Portadown operate under the Dickson Plan, a transfer system in north Armagh that allows pupils at age 11 the option of taking the Eleven Plus exam to enter grammar schools, with pupils in comprehensive junior high schools being sorted into grammar and non-grammar streams. Pupils can get promoted to or demoted from the grammar stream during their time in those schools depending on the development of their academic performance, and at age 14 can take subject-based exams across the syllabus to qualify for entry into a dedicated grammar school to pursue GCSEs and A-levels.[62]

Primary education[edit]

The state-run Thomas Street Primary School, and Church Street Primary School, formerly the "Duke's School", were both incorporated into Millington Primary School 1970.[63] Other state primary schools include Ballyoran Primary School, Bocombra Primary School,[64] Edenderry Primary School, Hart Memorial Primary School,[65] Moyallan Primary School,[66] Portadown Primary School,[67] Richmount Primary School,[68] and Seagoe Primary School.[69]

Derrycarne Primary School is now used as an Orange Hall by the Orange Order.[70]

Primary schools managed by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools are Presentation Convent Primary School,[71] St. John the Baptist Primary School (Irish: Bunscoil Eoin Baiste),[72] which has both English-medium and Irish-medium units within it,[73] and St. John's Primary School.[74] St Columba's Primary School in Carleton Street is now closed.

There is a multi-denominational or integrated primary school in the town, Portadown Integrated Primary School, which opened in 1990.

Post primary education[edit]

The town is home to Portadown College, a grammar school which was opened in 1924. Other state-run secondary schools in the town are Clounagh Junior High School, Craigavon Senior High School,[75] Drumcree College, Killicomaine Junior High School,[76] and Portadown Independent Christian School.

Secondary schools in the Catholic maintained sector are St Bridgit's Secondary School for girls and St Malachy's Secondary School for boys.

Portadown Technical College, later Portadown College of Further Education, was merged with Lurgan CFE and Banbridge CFE to form the Upper Bann Institute of Further Education. Further Education in the region was consolidated again when the institute was merged with other FE colleges in Armagh, Newry and Kilkeel to form the Southern Regional College.[77]

Healthcare[edit]

Portadown Health Centre

Access to a GP is provided at Portadown Health Centre.[78] Hospital care and Accident and Emergency services are available at Craigavon Area Hospital, built 1972 on the outskirts of town as part of the Craigavon development. This replaced Lurgan Hospital and the Carleton Maternity Hospital in Church Street as the primary source of care for the town. It serves approximately 241,000 people from Mid Ulster and is one of the main cancer treatment centres outside Belfast.

Sport[edit]

Shamrock Park, home of Portadown FC

Media[edit]

Portadown's main local newspaper is the Portadown Times, which is published by Johnston Publishing (NI). Although the newspaper focuses on the Portadown area, it also serves towns and villages across north Armagh. It was founded in 1924 and is issued weekly. Until recently it was situated in the town centre at Church Street, but has moved three miles out of town to Carn Industrial Estate.

Between 2001 and 2005, Portadown resident Newton Emerson ran a controversial satirical online newspaper called the Portadown News. The website, which was updated biweekly, attracted media attention by poking fun at Northern Ireland politics and culture.[81]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Bibliography[edit]