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Castledawson Main Street
Castledawson is located in Northern Ireland
Castledawson shown within Northern Ireland
Population 3,293 (2001 Census)
• Belfast 35 mi (56 km)
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district BT45
Dialling code 028
Police Northern Ireland
Fire Northern Ireland
Ambulance Northern Ireland
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
UK Parliament
NI Assembly
List of places
Northern Ireland
County LondonderryCoordinates: 54°46′41″N 6°33′22″W / 54.778°N 6.556°W / 54.778; -6.556

Castledawson is a village in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It is mostly within the townland of Shanemullagh (from Irish an Seanmhullach, meaning "the old hilltop"),[1] about four miles from the north-western shore of Lough Neagh, and near the market town of Magherafelt. At the 2011 Census it had a population of 3,293.

The old water pump at "the gravel", Main Street


The village sits on the River Moyola and was originally called "Dawson's Bridge". The bridge that crossed the river here was once the largest single span stone bridge in Ireland. The village was named after its 'castle' (actually a large manor house) built by Joshua Dawson in 1713. He was Chief Secretary for Ireland and founded the village in 1710. The Dawson estate, Shanemullagh, shares its name with the original townland name. The Dawson family also founded Christ Church, on the edge of that estate, in the early 18th century.

On 12 July 1830, Orange Institution parades led to confrontations between Orangemen and Ribbonmen in Maghera and Castledawson. Several Catholic homes were then burnt by Protestants following these clashes.[2]

Castledawson was the hub of the mid Ulster shirt-making industry, with its location midway between Belfast and Derry being crucial. In 1943, Nestlé built and opened a factory that made sweetened condensed milk. However, it was closed in the 1970s. Today it is the home of the award-winning Ditty's Bakery and Moyola Precision Engineering, a noted innovator of aerospace components.

The River Moyola, which dissects the village, is popular with anglers and has managed stocks of salmon (but also has perch, eel, trout and bream). Dominating the horizon to the south-west of the village is a dramatic ráth.

Stone bridge at Bridge Street


An ancient ráth at the southern edge of Castledawson

Famous natives have included:


Castledawson railway station opened on 10 November 1856, closed for passenger traffic on 28 August 1950, and finally closed altogether on 1 October 1959.[3]

The main A6 Belfast to Derry road passed through Castledawson until 1992, when it was bypassed.


  • Castledawson Primary School
  • New Row Primary School


Castledawson is home to the association football club Moyola Park, the Gaelic Athletic Association club St Malachys G.A.C. Castledawson and the eighteen hole Moyola golf club.

2011 Census[edit]

According to the 2011 Census, Castledawson has 3,329 residents. 53.44% of the Castledawson ward were Catholic, while 43.47% were Protestant.[4]

In terms of National Identity, 8 choices were provided and the breakdown is as follows[5]

Northern Ireland Census 2011
National Identity  %
British only 38.45%
Irish only 27.04%
Northern Irish only 24.48%
British and Irish only 0.27%
British and Northern Irish only 4.18%
Irish and Northern Irish only 2.01%
British, Irish and Northern Irish only 0.39%
Other 3.18%


  1. ^ Placenames NI
  2. ^ "Parades and Marches - Chronology 2: Historical Dates and Events". Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN). Retrieved 28 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "Castledawson station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 2007-09-15. 
  4. ^ 2011 Census for Northern Ireland
  5. ^ Culture Northern Ireland