Plans are afoot to prevent one of Dungannon’s most historic treasures from falling into ruin after decades of neglect.
The future of the former Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks in Market Square had been looking as grim as some of the grisly tales associated with the iconic building, the unusual design of which has dominated the town skyline and puzzled visitors ever since it was erected in 1871.
Local historians Brendan Duffy and Aidan Fee had launched an appeal to the council and the private owners to do whatever they can to save the building.
“From an architectural and historical point of view, it just appears incredibly negligent to allow this listed building to slowly deteriorate, especially when it is face to face with such a shining new development as the Hill of the O’Neill and Ranfurly House”, said Mr Fee.
“After all, it is the most substantial part of the development on the hill, greater than the remnants of the towers.
“The building has a great deal of history”, added Brendan. “For instance, there is the story of the so-called Black Sergeant, who was stationed at the barracks and tried for a gruesome murder in the late 1800s. He was found guilty and hung here, and the legend goes that he now haunts the place.
However, the Tyrone Times understands that the owners have been offered grants from the former Department for Social Development - now the Department for Communities - and that one of the proposals involves converting the grade B1 listed building into a restaurant.
The Mid Ulster Council has examined ways of restoring the building to its former glory after splashing out millions of pounds in transforming the nearby Hill of the O’Neill into a major tourism centre.
A spokesperson for the council said the owners may have plans to develop the building.