Book on Tyrone holds something for every reader

A picture of Beaghmore Stone Circles that features in Little Book of Tyrone, and was taken by the author's cousin, Connor Keightley who was killed in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami
A picture of Beaghmore Stone Circles that features in Little Book of Tyrone, and was taken by the author's cousin, Connor Keightley who was killed in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami

A Tyrone author who had his first book published just before Christmas, said he was first inspired to write by his mother, as it was something she dreamed of doing before she sadly passed away.

Cathal Coyle, writer of the Little Book of Tyrone, explained how the book came about partly as a tribute to her - but also because he too carried the same dream.

Eugene and Jasmine Hamill at the launch of Little Book of Tyrone

Eugene and Jasmine Hamill at the launch of Little Book of Tyrone

The book, which contains snippets of information, history and culture derived from Tyrone’s rich tapestry of towns and villages, took him just a year to put together.

But the English and History graduate said that was because, much like a magpie, he had already gathered most of the fascinating facts he went on to feature in its pages.

“It’s part of the Little Book series by the history press,” the Stewartstown native said, “and they are based in Dublin.

“It’s really just a collection of areas around towns, villages, town-lands and it actually goes into detail with the town-land - how it originated and the importance of it in Tyrone.

“Then it looks at the four main towns, going district-by-district - but obviously that’s changing now,” he added.

“In terms of Cookstown there’s facts about the town itself, and then it sort of looks at people who have left, like Typhoid Mary Mallon.

“She ended up in New York as a cook and she had unwittingly spread typhoid fever,” he explained.

“There’s nine chapters in the book, the first chapter looks at the potted history of Tyrone from neolithic times right through.

“It looks at the O’Neills and the impact they had on Tyrone.

“The flight of the Earls was of major significance and Stewartstown was part of that because that’s where they spent their last night before fleeing.

“I’ve got wee nuggets of information about the villages and towns, and obviously people can relate to that.”

When asked about how the book had been received so far, Cathal said he was over the moon with people’s reaction to it at the launch in Ranfurly House in Dungannon.

“There’s something in it for everybody,” he said.

“It’s the sort of book that you mightn’t read from cover-to-cover but you will dip in and out, and I think that’s why people have bought it in the run up to Christmas.”

At the December 12 event, speaker Mark Conway gave a talk on the significance of place and identity, whilst the author spoke about the shared traditions throughout Tyrone, as well as notable Tyrone people and the impact they have had on the world.

Mr Coyle can be contacted on Twitter @cathalcoyle.