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Irish: Creag Abhann[1]
Craigavon Lakes Harbour Area - - 504852.jpg
Craigavon Civic Centre from Craigavon Lakes
Craigavon is located in Northern Ireland
 Craigavon shown within Northern Ireland
Population 16,000 (2011 estimate)
Irish grid reference J042562
   – Belfast  28 miles (33 km)[2] 
District Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon
County County Armagh
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district BT63
Dialling code 028 38, +44 28
Police Northern Ireland
Fire Northern Ireland
Ambulance Northern Ireland
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
NI Assembly Upper Bann
List of places
Northern Ireland

Coordinates: 54°26′50″N 6°23′18″W / 54.447222°N 6.388333°W / 54.447222; -6.388333

Craigavon is a settlement in north County Armagh, Northern Ireland. It is a planned settlement that began construction in 1965 and was named after Northern Ireland's first Prime Minister, James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon. It was intended to be the heart of a new linear city incorporating Lurgan and Portadown, but this plan mostly failed as few people wanted to move to the area. Among locals today, "Craigavon" refers to the area between the two towns.[3] It is built beside two artificial lakes and is made up of a large residential area (Brownlow), a second smaller one (Mandeville), plus a central area (Highfield) that includes Rushmere Shopping Centre, a Courthouse and the Craigavon Borough Council headquarters.

Craigavon sometimes refers to the much larger Craigavon Urban Area, which includes Craigavon, Lurgan, Portadown, Waringstown and Bleary and has a population of 65,000.[4]


Original plans[edit]

Viscount Craigavon

Craigavon was planned as a "New City" for Northern Ireland that would mirror cities such as Milton Keynes in Great Britain. It was conceived as a linear city that would link the towns of Lurgan and Portadown to create a single urban area and identity. The argument for a new town was based on projections indicating population increases over the following decades that would require large scale house building. Similar projects had been successfully completed in Great Britain so it was in some ways a symbol of Northern Ireland as both modern and a part of the British mainstream. Several reasons have been suggested for the suitability of the site including the existing population centres, industrial base, proximity to Belfast and the belief that Craigavon would help spread development away from Belfast. It was hoped that residents of Belfast would be attracted by the suburban nature of Craigavon's design and that business would see it as an interesting alternative. Cash incentives were offered to some families moving to Craigavon. The M1 motorway (Northern Ireland) was constructed to link the new city with Belfast and there were plans to replace the Lurgan and Portadown Railway Stations with a single high speed terminal in central Craigavon. The Craigavon Area Hospital was built to replace small hospitals in the local towns.

Critics have suggested that Derry/Londonderry would have been a better location and that North Armagh was chosen because of its Protestant majority (in common with most areas east of the River Bann).

Central Way
Drumgor Heights, showing the Modernist housing design once common in Craigavon
One of the many cycle paths in Craigavon

The design of Craigavon was imbued with the spirit of the age. The planners separated motor vehicles from pedestrians and cyclists wherever possible, creating a dedicated network of paths allowing residents to travel across Craigavon without encountering traffic. The road network for motor vehicles used roundabouts instead of traffic lights at junctions, giving the planners the ability to easily increase the number of lanes if it became necessary. Electricity and other cables were placed underground and street lighting was standard throughout. The planners clustered the housing developments around small 'village centres' with associated retail space, leisure facilities, post offices, primary schools, pharmacies, community centres and other civic amenities. There was a total separation of industrial land-use from all other uses. All estates were built with security concerns in mind, with one vehicle entry/exit point.

Craigavon was designed to be a very child-friendly environment with small playgrounds dotted throughout the residential areas. There was an emphasis on providing green space in the housing estates and safe paths to cycle on. The new town was also provided with many civic amenities including a leisure centre, libraries, shopping centre, civic centre, a large park with artificial lakes, playing fields, a petting zoo, public gardens and an artificial ski slope.


Problems began to come to light when it emerged that some large-scale housing areas had been built with materials and techniques that had not been fully tested, with the result that insulation, sound-proofing and durability were not adequate. The area's main employer, Goodyear, had a large fan-belt factory in the Silverwood industrial estate, and at the time it was Europe's largest factory. The plant failed to make money on a consistent basis, and had to close. It also emerged that the population projections for Northern Ireland upon which the project was based were wildly inaccurate, with the result that the planned development was redundant.[citation needed] This was compounded by the outbreak of The Troubles in the late 1960s, with the result that investment into Northern Ireland dried up and emigration increased.

Consequently around 50% of what was planned was never built, and of what was built, some of it had to be demolished after becoming empty and derelict. It was not uncommon to drive through Craigavon in the early 1980s and see entire housing estates and acres of housing abandoned. The area designated as Craigavon 'city centre', roughly midpoint between Lurgan and Portadown, for much of this time contained the municipal authority, the court buildings and a shopping mall surrounded by greenfield land. It became a source of much derision, although in recent years housing developments have been built up around the shopping centre whilst in the area to the East lie the "balancing lakes," an area of public parkland.

Critics of single use zoning would find much to criticise in Craigavon where this type of urban planning has been used extensively. Only in the older towns is traditional town planning more prevalent.

The identity of a new city never really caught on. The name 'Craigavon' is today used by locals to refer to the rump of the housing between Lurgan and Portadown, but the names of the old towns stubbornly live on and so do their identities. Many citizens of Lurgan and a few citizens of Portadown resent being identified with the new city of Craigavon.[citation needed] Lurgan has been adversely affected commercially by the Craigavon development although Portadown has prospered greatly as a result of its association with Craigavon.[citation needed]

However after many years of development, and increasing house prices closer to Belfast, Craigavon is now taking off. Many of the older housing estates have been demolished, improving the general tone of the area. The introduction of new estates have brought many new people into the area, and the expansion of the Craigavon Shopping Centre (now renamed the Rushmere Shopping Centre) has made it a major shopping destination.

The Troubles[edit]

The Craigavon urban area, especially Lurgan and Portadown, suffered from The Troubles like the rest of Northern Ireland even though there was very little violence in central Craigavon. The plan to build a city there was abandoned. For more information, see The Troubles in Craigavon, which includes a list of incidents in Craigavon during the Troubles resulting in two or more fatalities. On 10 March 2009 the CIRA claimed responsibility for the fatal shooting of a PSNI officer in Craigavon — the first police fatality in Northern Ireland since 1998. The officer was fatally shot by a sniper as he and a colleague investigated "suspicious activity" at a house nearby when a window was smashed by youths causing the occupant to phone the police. The PSNI officers responded to the emergency call, giving a CIRA sniper the chance to shoot and kill officer Stephen Carroll.[5][6]


The Belfast–Dublin railway line between Craigavon Lakes
Craigavon Lakes

Craigavon lies on an area of flat land near the southeastern shore of Lough Neagh. The surrounding settlements (listed clockwise) are Aghacommon (north), Lurgan (northeast), Corcreeny (east), Bleary (southeast) and Portadown (southwest). It is separated from these surrounding settlements mostly by fields. The narrow gap between Craigavon and Portadown is marked by the fields/playing fields in Lisnisky and Kernan. The gap between Craigavon and Lurgan is narrower, being marked by fields/playing fields in Ballynamony, Tullygally, Taghnevan and Monbrief.[7]

Between Craigavon and Aghacommon is the Portadown–Lurgan railway line and Craigavon Lakes. The railway line runs between the two lakes. Further north is the M1 motorway, which runs parallel with the railway line.[7]


Much of Craigavon is within the civil parish of Seagoe. The following is a list of townlands within Craigavon's urban area (excluding Lurgan, Portadown and Bleary), alongside their likely etymologies:[7][8][9][10]

  • Balteagh (from Bailte Fhiach)
  • Clanrolla (from Cluain Rothla or Cluain Ralach)
  • Crossmacahilly (from Cros Mhic Cathghaile or Cros Mhic Eachmhilidh)
  • Drumgask (from Druim Gasach or Druim Gasga)
  • Drumgor (from Druim gCor)
  • Drumnagoon (from Druim na nGamhan or Druim Uí Dhubháin)
  • Knockmenagh (from Cnoc Meánach)
  • Legaghory or Legahory (from Log a' Choire)
  • Monbrief (from Móin Bríghe or Magh an Bhritheamh or Magh an Breaghtha)
  • Moyraverty or Moyraferty (from Maigh Raifeartaigh)
  • Tamnafiglassan (from Tamhnach Feadha Glasáin or Tamhnach Fiodha Glasain)
  • Tannaghmore West (from Tamhnach Mór)
  • Tullygally (from Tulaigh Galla)


For census purposes, Craigavon is not treated as a separate entity by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). Instead, it is combined with Portadown, Lurgan and Bleary to form the "Craigavon Urban Area". This makes it difficult to glean an accurate demographic picture of the area that is generally regarded as Craigavon – the mainly residential area between Portadown and Lurgan.[3] This area roughly corresponds with the Drumgask,[11] Drumgor,[12] Kernan[13] and (part of) Taghnevan[14] electoral wards.

On the day of the last census (27 March 2011) the combined population of these wards was about 16,000.

Craigavon has an 800-strong Chinese community and a high level of racially motivated incidents.[15]

Craigavon has been a historically Protestant town; however, in recent times, the electorate has become gradually less so, with higher numbers of Catholics and people of other religions or people of no declared religion.[16]


Craigavon was provided with a number of schools, with capacity for a number of children which never materialised.

  • Brownlow Integrated College was one of the first integrated high schools in Northern Ireland
  • Drumgor Primary School, controlled (i.e. state) primary school
  • Lismore Comprehensive School, the largest school in Northern Ireland, run by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS)
  • Moyallon Primary School, controlled
  • St Anthony's Primary School, CCMS
  • St Brendan's Primary School, CCMS
  • Tullygally Primary School, controlled, a mixed religion school. It has about 100 pupils at any one time. It was built by the government with the original founding of Craigavon "city" and was part of the library board. The size of the primary school was reduced in recent years and half of it now accommodates an adult learning centre.


Knockmenagh Swifts F.C. is a new football team from Craigavon formed for the 2012/2013 season.

Twin towns[edit]

Craigavon is twinned with:


Central Craigavon, aerial view, 2012 
Craigavon Civic and Conference Centre, aerial view, 2012 
Craigavon Civic and Conference Centre 
Marlborough House 
Rushmere Shopping Centre 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Northern Ireland Placenames Project, Queens University Belfast – Postal Towns
  2. ^ Free Map Tools – "How Far Is It Between?"
  3. ^ a b "The 'lost' city of Craigavon to be unearthed in BBC documentary". Portadown Times. 30 November 2007. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Continuity IRA shot dead officer". London: BBC News. 10 March 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2009. 
  6. ^ "Continuity IRA claims PSNI murder". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. 10 March 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2009. [dead link]
  7. ^ a b c "OSI Map Viewer". Ordnance Survey Ireland. Retrieved 25 February 2010.  – Note: Select "historic" to view the townland boundaries
  8. ^ "Placenames Database of Ireland". Retrieved 25 February 2010. 
  9. ^ "Northern Ireland Placenames Project". Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  10. ^ "Townland Maps". Sinton Family Trees. Retrieved 25 February 2010. 
  11. ^ NISRA – Ward Information for Drumgask ward 95LL12
  12. ^ NISRA – Ward Information for Drumgor ward 95LL13
  13. ^ NISRA – Ward Information for Kernan ward 95LL16
  14. ^ NISRA – Ward Information for Taghnevan ward 95LL22
  15. ^ Irish Times 29 May 2008
  16. ^ "Craigavon Borough Council". Ulster's Doomed!. Blogger. 25 November 2008. 

External links[edit]