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The town of Omagh
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Omagh from space [32kB]Omagh is seen surrounded by the Tyrone countryside in this satellite image (left). A town of three rivers, the Camowen and Drumragh flow into Omagh from the south-east, merging around 50 metres from the bomb site and flowing north-west as the Strule. The Strule eventually flows through Derry city as part of the Foyle river. With the Sperrin mountains within sight to the north and high lands in the other three directions, Omagh nestles in an agricultural hollow at the centre of county Tyrone. With 17,300 people at the last census, Omagh is the largest town in the county and has been county town for many years. It is 70 miles west of Belfast and 40 miles south of Derry city.

The town has been relatively sheltered from the Troubles. A number of IRA bombs devastated the town centre in the 1970s and 1980s, but the town has seen little trouble. The only major incident was 17 May 1973, when five off-duty soldiers were killed by an IRA bomb under their car at the Knock-na-Moe Castle Hotel. The hotel was to burn down in an accidental fire twenty years later.

In recent years, Omagh has thrived. Construction of a new throughpass was completed in the mid 1990s to carry ever-increasing traffic flow through the town. A series of construction projects have taken place: large extensions to several schools, a modern library, a new bus station, two new major supermarkets and several office complexes have been built. Dozens of modern houses have been constructed. Grants to shopkeepers have given many shops in the town centre a nostalgic, turn-of-the-century look. Even the 1998 bomb itself has prompted a major new building project in the area affected. The surrounding area includes popular tourist attractions such as the Ulster-American Folk Park (which traces the story of Irsh emigration to America through genuine and reconstructed buildings) and the Ulster History Park (which contains re-constructed dwellings and villages from prehistoric and medieval Ireland).

The map below shows a detail of the town centre of Omagh. The town itself extends well beyond this detail. It shows the main street of the town. Originally, Dublin Road joined Market Street at a T-junction. However, Drumragh Avenue was built in the 1960s or 1970s and the area is now a cross-roads. However, Market Street still nominally extends across the cross-roads to the bridge over the Drumragh where it becomes Campsie Road. The other end of Market Street becomes High Street, which is a suitable name. The Courthouse (1) is on top of a hill, and High Street slopes down from it, reaching its lowest point at Bridge Street. It then climbs slightly to a rise near Scarffe's Entry. It then slopes down again towards the river. The vista from the Courthouse is beautiful. From the other end of town, the courthouse can be seen at the top of the hill with the three church spires of the town behind.

Map of Omagh town centre [11kB]

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