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Living in Omagh: The Local Area Guide

Omagh is a town in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It is the largest town in the county, and sits at the 'Strule' of the Camowen and Drumragh rivers, 70 miles from Belfast. To the north, 34 miles away is Derry and surrounding Omagh are miles of beautiful Irish woodland, farmland and wild places. Omagh has a population of over 21,000, nearly half the population of the whole county.

Omagh owes it name to old Irish, roughly translating as 'the virgin plain' and there has been a strong Christian presence there for over a thousand years. A monetary was established there in around 790 CE, and a friary was constructed in the 1460s. It has played its part in history, being a refuge for fugitives during the 1641 Rebellion and sadly being the site of a car bombing during the Irish Troubles which killed 29 people. Its size was small, almost insignificant for centuries, and it wasn't formally described as a town until the turn of the 17th century.

One of the best features of Omagh is the green spaces, both inside and outside the town. Nearby is the Gortin Glens Forest Park, a spectacular woodland retreat, and the Ulster American Folk Park is just down the road. The Folk Park is an open-air museum commemorating Irish migration to the USA and runs popular events at Easter, Christmas, Halloween and the American Independence Day.

Demographics

Omagh's population is currently a little under 21,300, having grown from 19,910 in the 2001 census. It has an unusually young demographic profile; a full quarter of residents are 15 or under, and less than 1 in five are of retirement age. The mean age is just 34. Famous people born or living in Omagh include international footballer Ivan Sproule, DJ Phil Taggart, director Aoife Mcardle and rugby player Willie Anderson.

Over 70% of houses in Omagh are owned, of which just over 40% are owned outright. A quarter of homes are rented. Education rates are slightly below average, with more than 40% of people having little to no formal qualifications, and unemployment sits at 4.8%.

Across the whole county, a third of people claim a British national identity and 31% say they are Northern Irish. Just under 40% have an Irish national identity.

Education

Families are attracted to Omagh for the large number of different schooling options it offers. There are 10 primary schools, and these feed into six secondary schools which have adopted different religious affiliations, curriculums and teaching styles. These schools are the Sacred Heart College, Loreto Grammar School, Omagh Academy, Omagh High School, Christian Brothers Grammar School and Drumragh Integrated College.

Also within the town is the Omagh College of Further Education, which provides a broad curriculum of courses. Omagh is also home to the headquarters of the Western Education and Library Board.

Transport

Omagh no longer has a functioning railway network since the widespread closures of the 1960s, ending a link which had offered services to residents since the Industrial Revolution. These days, there are serious attempts to re-open the railway and the NI Department for Regional Development has received proposals that are in consideration to be developed by 2050.

In place there are good bus links run by Ulsterbus, which offer very regular trips to all nearby towns and villages. Drivers will find Omagh well placed. Major trunk roads are close by and between the A4, A5, A32 and A505 there are not many places out of reach.

Amenities and shopping

Omagh is the county town for Tyrone and as such, is where residents go for their retail needs. Between 2000 and 2008 it received over £80 million in investment and it has paid off - today it has fantastic shopping streets.

There are an array of recognisable high street brands as well as quirky, interesting local stores offering local wares. There are also a good selection of pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact editor@primelocation.com

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.

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