ANOTHER veteran of Dungannon’s secret tunnels was Kenny Stewart, who has sadly passed away.
Kenny, who recounted his memories to the Tyrone Times before he died, recalled when the original piping carrying water from the town reservoir was laid down in 1937 at Castle Hill.
He claimed the excavations revealed a brick-lined tunnel about seven feet high and five feet wide.
Kenny had spent his final years hoping that new excatations might offer a tantalising glimpse into the town’s medieval past.
“I remember as a boy climbing into the tunnel and being surprised by how dry it was. I’m keen to have another look more than seventy years later”, he said.
“The tunnel started at a location between the two towers and ran down Market Square. It branched in two under Scotch Street, with one arm going to Toby Caulfield’s castle in Castlecaulfield, the other to O’Neill’s castle in Benburb.
“I went down the right-hand tunnel several times.”
Kenny went on to claim that the town was built over a warren of tunnels dating from the time of the Plantation and earlier.
“There was another tunnel beside the old Viceroy dance-hall on Castle Hill. Anyone could walk down it. In fact it was a common courting area to bring girls after a dance before the British Army established a base on the hill.”
The tunnel is believed to run about fifty yards connecting the castle with O’Neill’s private church further to the north of the hill.
“I was in that tunnel many a time”, he added with a twinkle in his eye. “In fact the Orangemen used to store the tables for the dances there.”
He also claimed another tunnel runs from the site of the current Royal School to Tunnel Lodge on the Moy Road.
Mr Stewart acknowledged that the secret tunnels have their sceptics but that he hoped to challenge them to someday accompany him down the Market Square tunnel.
O’Neill’s castle has kept its secrets for more than four centuries. Dungannon might just have to wait a bit longer.