Situated at the heart of Northern Ireland, Mid-Ulster is a vibrant constituency with much to offer families and businesses. The constituency nestles between the shores of Lough Neagh, the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles, towards the east and the rugged Sperrin Mountains to the west. Meaning the geographical centre of Northern Ireland is located in the townland of Annaghone, not far from Stewartstown, at the southern end of the constituency.
Farming is the main industry in Mid Ulster, although the larger towns have very distinct commercial and industrial zones. Mid Ulster is rich in history, heritage and culture. It has many roots relating to significant events of Irish History. These include the Plantation of Ulster and the Linen Industry.
Mid Ulster consists of the whole of Magherafelt District, the whole of Cookstown District and the Torrent wards of Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough (the area around Newmills, Coalisland and Donaghmore), it, therefore, incorporates much of South Londonderry and all of East Tyrone. The main towns in the constituency are Cookstown, Magherafelt, Coalisland and Maghera. Other smaller population centres include: Castledawson, Bellaghy, Swatragh, Moneymore, Coagh, Stewartstown, Donaghmore, Tobermore, Pomeroy, Draperstown, Upperlands, Knockloughrim, Tamlaght O’Crilly, Desertmartin, The Loup and Ballyronan, which is also County Londonderry’s only port on Lough Neagh.
Cookstown was established in approximately 1620. This occurred when the townlands in the area were leased from the Archbishop of Armagh, who had been granted the lands after the Flight of the Earls, to an English ecclesiastical lawyer, Dr. Alan Cooke.
According to some reports, the name Magherafelt means “the Plain of Fegads” However, there have been other indications that it is translated as “the Plain of Felta” It was anciently known as Tafelta or Teoffigalta. Very little is known about Magherafelt prior to the Plantation, but, the existence of the Old Church can be traced back to 1425.
Moneymore is situated within a glen. The Ballymully River flows through the southern part of the village. Originally built by the Worshipful Company of Drapers, the village was held in such esteem that they invested in a large scale reconstruction during 1817. The most notable building in the town is the 17th century Plantation house, Springhill. Built and owned by the Conyngham, later the Lenox-Conyngham family but since 1957 it has been held in the ownership of the National Trust.
Well known faces of Mid Ulster include Beijing Olympic Silver Medal Cyclist Wendy Houvenaghel, Northern Ireland International football player Aaron Hughes, Poet Nick Laird, Comedian Jimmy Cricket, Charles Thomson, who emigrated to the United Stateswhere he became secretary of the Continental Congress. Thomson designed the Great Seal of the United States and Robert Hawthorne who won a Victoria Cross during theIndian Mutiny.
Some Key Statistics:
- As at June 2009, there were an estimated 96,608 persons living in Mid Ulster representing 5.4% of the Northern Ireland population. Mid Ulster is the Constituency with the 7th lowest estimated population.
- 66,602 people were eligible to vote. Turnout in Mid Ulster was higher than the Northern Ireland average (64.2% compared to 54.7%).
- The life expectancy of males living in Mid Ulster (2007-2009) was estimated to be 76.9 years.
- The life expectancy of females living in Mid Ulster (2007-2009) was estimated to be 82.3 years.
- In 2009/10, 75.4% of Mid Ulster school leavers achieved at least five GCSEs at grades A*-C.
- The crime rate for Mid Ulster was lower than the overall Northern Ireland rate of 5,872 per 100,000 persons.