Portadown, Ireland, Portadown, Co. Armagh


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Portadown is approx 8 miles north of Armagh City. It is in the Baronies of ONeilland West and East. Portadown has 2 parishes in it's boundaries. They are, Drumcree and Seagoe.

Brief History.

The name Portadown derives from the Irish name "Port an Dunain", which means "Landing place (port) of the little fort". This name was taken from the ancient castle that was in that area and belonged to the Clan of McCann or McCane. This castle was strategically important as it commanded the pass of the river Bann.  The McCann's were a branch of the O'Neill family.

The adjoining lands were under the name of the manor of Ballyoran and during the Irish Plantation these land's were granted to William Powell, and later to Prudence Obins and Michael Obins. On this land the Obins' built a large Elizabethan style manor house as well as 14 houses which 14 English families settled.

In 1629 Michael Obins died and during an inquisition that year, he was described as living at Ballywarren (Ballyoran) alias Portadown. This was the first record of the name 'Portadown'. John Obins (Michael's son) secured a patent for fairs and markets at Portadown in 1631.

During the Irish Rebellion of 1641-42, it is said that between 100 to 200 protestants from Armagh, Kilmore and Loughgall were marched to Portadown by Manus O'Kane. On arriving O'Kane handed the prisoners to  captain Toole McCann, who was the Irish leader and who controlled the town.. The prisoners were then forced into the river Bann and shot or stabbed or stoned. In 1646 around 600 Irish troops, on instruction of Owen Roe O'Neill, descended into the town. The troops burnt Obins castle to the ground as well as other houses.

By  1657 it seems the the town was back in control of the Obins'. In Cromwell's Inquisition the town was described as been fit for a school. In the early 18th century Portadown was described as being a " pretty village". It was also noted at this time that Portadown was unbridged and anyone arriving from Belfast or Lurgan and traveling to Armagh had to cross the river Bann by ferry. 

In 1762 Michael Obins was given permission from the Irish House of Commons  to set up a linen market in Portadown. This linen market was in fact the foundation for the area's major industry. Obins and George Woodhouse established a general market in 1780. By the middle of the 19th century Portadown was exporting major quantities of grain, hay and straw to the other counties in Ulster as well as Scotland and England. 

The Methodists were the first people to build a church in Portadown in 1803. The next church built was by the Presbyterians in 1822, followed by the Church of Ireland in 1826 and the Roman Catholics in 1835.

During the Great Famine of 1845-51, Portadown was affected as much as any other Ulster town. Many folk who were left destitute by the famine went to Lurgan Workhouse, which was 6 miles away. In the minute book of Portadown Market Company, the local inspector reported to the committee that sheds were occupied for making soup. The yard was filled with people and these people at the soup kitchen were a very great annoyance to the market.

Newry canal was constructed in 13 years from 1729 to 1742. The canal was 18 miles long and consisted of 13 locks. This canal had helped Portadown to become a center of business and communication. Along with Lurgan, Portadown had a monopoly of the manufacture of the fine linen known as the  'Cambric Trade' By the end of the 19th century Portadown had at 7 large weaving factories. These were Watson Armstrong of Watson Street; Tavanagh Weaving Co and Portadown Weaving Co were situated on the Armagh Road. Hamilton Robb of Goban Street. There was also Spence Bryson & Co ltd of Portmore Street and Meadow Lane; Castleisland Linen Co. And finally Achesons Ltd of Garvaghy Road. All well as these 7 factories there were another 4 situated outside the town. Portadown also became  a very important railway junction for the entire North. The first railway line reached Portadown in September 1842. Within a short time after that Portadown was the main junction that linked the Great Northern Railway to Dublin, Belfast, Derry and Armagh                         

                 Click the Thumbnails below for full sized maps and photos (more photos to come!!)


Portadown.Map1999.jpg (284478 bytes)  Street Map of Portadown.

 DrmceechrchPdown.jpg (69563 bytes) Drumcree Church of Ireland Church, Portadown. (Photo taken on May 7th, 2000)

ObinsST.jpg (53095 bytes) Obins Street, Portadown (May 2000).


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