‘Visitors drive through Omagh’ – 1990
“THE Omagh district is green, clean and beautiful, and it is fast becoming a heritage centre of excellence. Yet, despite this, it is not a significant tourist destination and visitors drive on through, en-route to some other tourist spot.”
This is the punchline of a report which has taken an in-depth look into tourism in the area. The 50-page document, titled ‘Excellence and Opportunity, Omagh District Tourism in the 1990s,’ is packed full of ideas on how the district should be promoted as a tourist ‘hot-spot.’
However, it also contains criticism on how the powers-that-be are currently handling the task.
At the outset, the report states that Omagh is not seen as a holiday area. Visitors travel through, without stopping overnight or longer, on their way to other tourist destinations. And as a result, tourism spending and its knock-on side effects are well below potential.
The report singles out specific areas for improvement, including hotels and restaurants. It says the quality of hotel rooms would need to be upgraded for international travellers.
Restaurants suffer generally from noticeable deficiencies in quality, appeal and value for money. Most also do not open into the evenings, or on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Commenting on entertainment, the report adds, “There are not many things for a tourist to do.”
The report did highlight the many attractions which the Omagh district has to offer. However, it said the council must establish an effective organisation with the responsibility and clear accountability to get results and maximise Omagh’s tourism potential.
Family lose home in blaze – 1965
A MOTHER’S accidental discovery of a fire in the thatched roof of a dwelling saved the lives of a Dromore family.
A disastrous blaze sweeping through the farmhouse home of Francis McDonnell of Lettergesh, Dromore, gutted the dwelling and rendered the parents and their family of six homeless.
The fire was discovered by Mrs McDonnell around 1am in the morning when she went to an outhouse to inspect a sow that was due to farrow. She heard crackling and saw that the roof was on fire and that the outbreak had got a firm grasp.
She immediately roused her husband and family. A son, Jim, dashed to Stralongford Post Office and alerted Enniskillen Fire Brigade which made the journey in record time. But the flame had a firm hold and by the time they arrived the building was a mass of flames.
One member of the family, 17-year-old Bernie, was rescued through a rear window in the blazing dwelling. Ultimately, the fire was brought under control by the brigade.
CHANGING TYRONE ROAD SIGNS
“AN immense and costly programme” was how C Neely, Tyrone County Surveyor, described the plan by which all road signs in the county are to be changed to make them uniform to other counties and to signs used in England. He said the first phase would be to change ‘Halt’ signs to ‘Stop,’ and ‘Slow’ signs to ‘Yield.’ So as to cause as little confusion as possible to motorists, it would be necessary to have all the new signs in stock and make the change throughout the county within a period of two weeks.
Distressing drowning fatality in Omagh – 1940
A DISTRESSING drowning fatality occurred at Omagh in which Desmond Collins, aged seven, youngest child of Mrs Collins, Abbey Street, and the late Robert Collins, lost his life.
The boy was playing with two other children on the banks of the River Strule, near the Abbey Bridge, when in an attempt to wade he fell in the water. The river was in flood at the time and he was quickly carried off in the strong current.
His companions raised the alarm and when a number of people arrived on the scene the child had disappeared. Police, military and a large number of civilians joined in the search for the body; vigilant watch was kept along the river which was bank high until late at night without result.
There is still no sign of the body and the sad affair has caused a painful sensation in the town. The deepest sympathy is felt for Mrs Collins who, only a few months ago, suffered a sad bereavement by the death of her husband.
BRITAIN’S NEW WAR ACT
IN connection with the war, the British Government has adopted drastic legislation.
All persons and all property – factories, land, banks – in Britain and the Six Counties are now subject to complete government control over every aspect of industrial life.
Introducing the Emergency Powers Defence Bill, Mr Attlee, Deputy Leader of the House, asked for high speed procedure “in view of the grave peril in which the nation stands today”.
The London correspondent of the Irish Independent describes the bill as the most revolutionary, comprehensive and drastic measure of dictatorship ever submitted to British legislation.
Omagh soldier’s letter home – 1915
THE following is an extract from a letter written by Private Fred Sharkie, with the 1st Royal Montreal Regiment (Canadian contingent) to his parents, who reside at Park Avenue, Omagh.
“It is a shame that I cannot tell you exactly where I am, much as I would like to, but it’s part of the game of war, so for the present you will have to be satisfied with the delightfully vague phrase ‘Somewhere in France.’
“I have had a very Bohemian existence since landing on French soil, one night sleeping in a barn, then the ‘close confinement ward’ of a lunatic asylum. At present I am quartered in the office of a once prosperous linen mill.
“In only one place, so far, have we been shelled, and then not too badly, although they nearly did succeed in spoiling our dinner, which is a thing of very serious consequence to the Canadian troops.
“All around us here are placed heavy batteries of artillery, and as I write they are booming away. You forget the risk, but as I said before, it’s ‘all in the game.’
“You should see the scenes of destruction all around here, village after village in ruins. One thing that strikes me in particular is the dignity of the peasantry; they go on, day and daily, tilling their fields and working away, just as if there never was, or never would be, a war. All the time they are actually within rifle shot of ‘our friends, the enemy.’ And haven’t they suffered!
“It is simply appalling to see the signs and hear the stories of German cruelty, when they held this town and others around. But the day of reckoning is fast approaching for the Huns.”