Dungannon is a town in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It is the third-largest town in the county (after Omagh and Strabane) and had a population of 15,889 at the 2011 Census. The Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council has its headquarters in the town.
For centuries, it was the 'capital' of the O'Neill dynasty, who dominated most of Ulster and built a castle on the hill. After the O'Neills defeat in the Nine Years' War, the English founded a Plantation town on the site, which grew into what is now Dungannon.
Dungannon has won Ulster in Bloom's Best Kept Town Award five times. Today, it has the highest percentage of immigrants of any town in Northern Ireland.
Dungannon's fortunes have been closely tied to that of the O'Neill dynasty which ruled a large part of Ulster until the seventeenth century. Dungannon was the clan's main stronghold. The traditional site of inauguration for 'The O'Neill', was Tullyhogue Fort, an Iron Age mound some four miles northeast of Dungannon. The clan O'Hagan were the stewards of this site for the O'Neills. In the 1300s the O'Neills built a castle on what is today known as Castle Hill; the location was ideal for a fort as it was one of the highest points in the area, and dominated the surrounding countryside with the ability to see seven counties depending on the weather. Its location ultimately led to the British Army taking over the site for a security installation during The Troubles, only being returned to the local council in August 2007.
This castle was burned in 1602 by Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone as the English forces closed in on the Gaelic lords towards the end of the Nine Years' War. In 1607, ninety-nine Irish chieftains and their followers, including Hugh O'Neill, set sail from Rathmullan, bound for the continent. What followed became known as the Plantation of Ulster and the town and its castle were granted to Sir Arthur Chichester, the architect of the Plantation.
Dungannon remained the county seat of County Tyrone after the Plantation, but High Court judges who travelled to Dungannon to the courthouse were attacked in the village of Cappagh and the county town was then moved to Omagh. In 1973, the town became the seat of the new district of Dungannon. In 1782, the town was the location where the independence of the Irish Parliament was declared by members of the Protestant Ascendancy who controlled the parliament at the time.
In the late 1960s, Northern Ireland was plunged into an ethno-political conflict known as the Troubles. During the conflict almost 50 people were killed in and around Dungannon, and there were many bombings in the town. The deadliest attack in the town was on 17 March 1976, when a loyalist car bomb attack on the Hillcrest Bar killed four Catholic civilians.
On 24 August 1968, the Campaign for Social Justice (CSJ), the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), and other groups, held Northern Ireland's first civil rights march from Coalisland to Dungannon. The rally was officially banned, but took place and passed off without incident. The publicity surrounding the march encouraged other groups to form branches of NICRA.