Mass Grave In Dungannon

Chris Fogarty, a Chicago writer and activist, writes on mass graves in Ireland, and argues that "discovery" is an inappropriate term to describe unearthing of a mass grave in Dungannon last week.

Last Monday (4/24/17) work was stopped on Carland Road, Dungannon between Drumglass High School and South Tyrone Hospital. The stoppage was caused by the discovery of multiple human remains.

The “discovery” is not shocking; what is truly shocking is that the mass grave is referred to as “discovered.” What caused Dungannon people to forget the genocide inflicted upon their relatives and neighbors in 1845-1850? Though Ireland’s workhouse inmates were almost exclusively Catholic, some Northern workhouses were anomalies, e.g., Ballymena and Magherafelt had many Protestant inmates.  

Dungannon workhouse “footprint” totaled approximately 1.8 acres leaving approximately 4.2 acres of grounds on its six acre site. The practice of workhouses in Ireland was to pile their dead into pits dug within their grounds. Where the grounds became completely full of those pits, the Union Board of Guardians acquired an additional burial site nearby. The Carland Road reconstruction site is obviously within part of the workhouse’s 4.2-acre mass burial site – a desecration.  

To help eliminate genocide as governmental policy we must openly discuss why many hundreds of 1845-1850 mass graves dot Ireland. It took more than half of Britain’s army to starve Ireland; to remove, at gunpoint, Ireland’s abundant agricultural production; livestock, meats, dairy- and poultry-products, grain, oatmeal, flour, etc. Where the combined constabulary and landlords’ militia regiments met too much resistance from the people, the nearest British army regiment was summoned. The latter never failed to remove the food. The regiments available nearby to enforce the Dungannon area food removal were the 27th, 44th, and 74th of Foot. 


  1. I am from Dungannon, and no one seems to know anything about this mass grave, are there any named sources for this report?

  2. An earlier map with a modern overlay showing the current S. Tyrone Hospital.(which appears to be roughly the same footprint as the original Dungannon Union Workhouse building) and Drumglass High School. From old land records that townland of Drumcoo was owned by the Earl of Ranfurly, with tenants listed as "occupiers" however the parcels in that area were all noted to be "Land" (so no one was living on the parcels, because they would have been described as "House, office, land"). On the old ca. 1860 map the Workhouse is parcel #15 and the old lime quarry to the west was #12. If the Board of Guardians of the Dungannon Workhouse had to annex other fields as time went on, that would be noted in its records which are deposited at PRONI. PRONI Ref. BG/13. Records of deaths at the workhouse for years 1842-1905 are available in the following record set: BG/13/KA Return of Deaths. The years of relevance are in PRONI Ref. BG/13/KA/1 Return of Deaths, August 1842-August 1853. The records might also reference the location of the fields as the number of burials grew over time. A background article on the Dungannon Union Workhouse (with a map ca. 1910) can be found at and notes both a cemetery to the south of the Workhouse as well as a graveyard to the north.

  3. Chris Fogarty Writes

    And congratulations for your Pensive Quill site and the valuable contribution in
    it by Clare Lawler Kilgallen. She neatly begins to address part of my third
    paragraph below.

    Appendix 6i of The Workhouses of Ireland. A report of May 1, 1847 shows that the Dungannon Board of Guardians bought a house for a planned 200 inmates in addition to the 800 for which the workhouse was designed, and that there were plans to enlarge the workhouse.

    Appendix 6ii report of May 1, 1847 shows that a fever hospital for 40 has
    been built and is open.

    My informant lives in Dungannon and will decide whether to reveal himself/herself.

    Instead of waiting to be spoon-fed mass grave data, why don't Dungannon officials
    resolve the issue in straight-forward fashion? Why not lay out, visibly, on the ground, the perimeters of Dungannon's two or three known mass graves of 1845-1850?

    1) Its 6-acre workhouse site of which some 4.2 acres of grounds in which bodies
    were piled into deep pits.

    2) Per that May 1, 1847 report: "The additional land on which stood the house
    'hired' to accommodate 200 inmates additional to the 800 for which the workhouse
    was designed."

    3) The additional acquired land, if any, that Union Boards of Guardians would need
    for mass disposal of corpses when the workhouse grounds became full.

    These mapped data must be readily available from Tyrone County offices in Omagh.

    Pending layout of the perimeters of these mass graves of Dungannon's starvelings,
    the following related data in my possession and readily-available might be of interest:

    1) The names of the 344 Tyrone townlands that contained processors of non-potato
    food crops, e.g., grain-kilns and -mills including windmills, threshing mills, livestock pounds, flour mills, breweries and distilleries, etc. For example, Co. Tyrone Ordnance Survey Sheet 54 (Dungannon and area) shows a distillery and a livestock pound in Dungannon, a grain mill immediately SE of Dungannon, and a windmill for grain SW of Dungannon.

    2) The first line of armed food removers were the constabulary totaling 12,900
    islandwide. Their arms consisted of a short carbine with a short bayonet. The mounted constabulary also carried a brace of pistols in front of their saddles.

    3) When the constabulary met significant resistance from the people, the local militia was summoned to enforce the food removal.
    "Tyrone: During the 1st quarter of 1847 the 755-strong (650 pvts) Royal Tyrone militia was headquartered in Caledon. Its Commander, The Earl of Caledon, signed "Caledon," residing in Caledon, near the post town of Caledon, Co. Tyrone. Its adjutant, William Lundie." (WO records; National Archives, Kew, Surrey.)

    4) When combined constabulary/militia forces met significant resistance the nearest
    regular army regiment was summoned. For parts of this time (in rough sequence)
    the 44th of Foot was available from Newry; the 92nd from Belfast and Enniskillen,

    1st from Newry, 9th from Newry, 13th from Belfast, 35th from Enniskillen, 39th from
    Belfast and Newry. (WO Records, National Archives, Kew, Surrey.)

    Please Ms. Kilgallen: Continue your wonderful research! Why can't news reporters
    and politicians do likewise?

    My wife and I would be happy to install a reverent, truth-telling monument over
    one of Dungannon's Holocaust mass graves if their desecration ceases.