Altmore Military Barracks

 





Altmore Barracks was established prior to 1703. In that year it appears on a list of barracks of which Thomas Bolton was Barrack-Master. The others were Dungannon, Charlemont, Blackbank and Drumot(7). (Southwell M.S., Vol. I. No.1179. T.C.D.)

1714-1727. George Baker to be Barrack-Master of Charlemont, Dungannon, Blackbank, Drumboe and Altmore, in place of William Baker, 19 July, 1716. (Chas. Dalton, Army List, George I. 1714-1727.)

In 1739, James Cust was Barrack-Master of Charlemont, Dungannon, Altmore, Dawson's Bridge, Hamilton's Bawn and occupied the same position in 1741. (Watson's Almanac.)

Among troops in Ulster in 1740 we find one Company of Foot at Altmore, and one Troop of Horse at Dungannon. (The Gazetteer or Newman Interpreter, 1740.)

The Appendix to the 15th Report of the Public Record Office (Dublin 1879-'80) gives us some information concerning the Altmore Barracks but unfortunately the original documents dealt with in the Report have since been destroyed. The first item of interest in the Report is " an examination as to Hugh Roe O’Neill, a proclaimed Tory, shot by James MuIholland in the AItmore mountains and his head cut off." This document is dated 14th August, 1715, and the incident here described, must have had something to do with the garrison there and with Irish devotion to the ungrateful Stuarts. There is no means of knowing who Hugh Roe O Neill was, who was thus brutally done to death, but most probably he was of Sliocht Airt Oig.

In 1724 we find a quarter of a Regiment stationed at Altmore and it was part of Colonel Molesworth's Regiment of Foot. In 1726 the Barracks was occupied by the Earl of Orkney's Second Battalion and in 1733 by the Honorable Major General Bissett's Foot. In 1749 it is described as being occupied by British Troops and shortly afterwards was dismantled. (Appendix 15th Report, P.R.O. Dublin.)

A final reference to Altmore Barracks has been preserved by Tennison Groves in an Extract from " County Letters " (IE-8-16 pp. 43, 56, 61). It is in the possession of Mr. G. Patterson, curator of the Museum of Armagh. It is as follows :

"About Altmore Barracks. No soldiers stationed there since 1749. Dr. Galbraith Richardson of Richmount, near Tynan (Tyhan ?) who rents the lands on which the Barracks stands, in the summer. Of  1758 took away all the timber: barrack unroofed for seven years so timber stolen. Letters from Richardson and Thomas Knox of Dungannon, and Patrick Shield of Cappoh, Keeper of Altmore Barrack to which he was appointed by James Cust, the Barrack Master."

Dr. Galbraith Richardson of this extract, was Curate of Termonmagurk 1735-1738, and Rector of Errigalkeeroge 1743-1780. Thomas Knox was M.P. for Dungannon. But the most interesting name here is Patrick Shiels of Cappagh. He was clearly the first of his name to be associated with Altmore Barracks and the progenitor of the well-known Shields family of AItmore. We do not know the exact date of the appointment of Patrick Shields as Keeper, but it was about the year 1740, when James Cust was Barrack-Master. Cust was an Armagh man who was related to the Burges family who later secured n estate at Parkanaur. It is a pity Tennison Groves did not give the correspondence in full as it would probably have revealed something of Patrick Shield's background. The early pages of the Life of General James Shields, the American Soldier and Senator (Williarn H. Condon) were culled from family tradition. Here we learn that the first Shields of Altmore had returned from France and had married a daughter of Thomas Morris, the Sherrif of Tyrone. Morris, it should be noted, was landlord of Altmore, having taken over that town land from the Hovendons at the Williamite Confiscation. This information, though suggestive, does not enable us to fit Patrick Shields into the Donaghmore family of O Siadhail,  but it does explain why Patrick Shields, an Irish Papist, could have been appointed Keeper of Altmore Barracks at a very difficult period for Irish Catholic.                                               (information from ‘Domnach Mor’ by Fr. Eamon Devlin)

    Altmore Military Barracks

View from Altmore Barracks of

Shane Bearnard’s Sentry Box.

The ruin of Altmore Military Barracks in 1983


The ruin of Altmore Military Barracks with new studio block in progress in 2008

Two military barracks were built in the locality, one in the townland of Cormullagh, within a short distance of Dungannon, Co Tyrone.  From the lintel stone over the main door of this barracks we learn from a carved inscription in bold relief the year the building was erected, 1707, together with the letters R. T. R, which might mean Royal Tyrone Regiment. Why establishments of this kind should have been erected within a few miles of Dungannon around 1700 can only be surmised.