Links with the Stage Coach

by Anon *

From Bulletin No. 1 - Issued by Craigavon Historical Society in April 1968

Some of the members of the Society who have been engaged in the project in the area between Lurgan and Portadown have been interested in the old Stage Coach route between the two towns.

This is the road we know as the old Lurgan-Portadown Road, and meanders and twists through the townlands of Legahory, Drumgor, Moyraverty, Crossmachilly, Lisnamintry, Lylo, and Ballyhannon. Much research has still to be carried out, but the members of the teams engaged in this area are convinced that this old road has revealed much character in some of the older buildings along the route. A considerable amount of historical data has and still is coming to light.

The present main thoroughfare between Lurgan and Portadown was constructed in 1835 so previous to that date all traffic, the coaches and horses, private vehicles and possibly highway robbers, passed along the old road.

In 1812 a James Johnston had a coach which ran from Belfast to Armagh. His coachman was John Byers, one of the finest drivers of his time. We are told that he never required to use the whip.

Leaving Armagh at six o'clock, three mornings each week, the coach and passengers stopped at Lurgan for breakfast, and arrived in Belfast at two o'clock the same afternoon. By 1824, the service was daily.

Another, and more important, service was provided by the Belfast/Enniskillen coach which left Belfast 5.20 p.m. and after passing through Lurgan, stopped at the Old Rose and Crown Inn in Legahory. This Inn is thought to be the existing farmhouse at the foot of Tullygally Lane.

Farther along this old coach road in the townland of Moyraverty is another Stage Coach Inn. This is the old Red Cow Inn, and is existing to-day as it must have appeared when the stage coaches in the last century stopped, and passengers alighted for refreshment.

The present occupiers of this historic building remember the old inn sign which was at one time suspended on the front of the Inn. Unfortunately this sign has disappeared.

The building itself is approximately 48 feet long, 21 feet in width, and has a height of 22 feet.

It is thatched through, and is in a very good state of preservation. An unusual feature is the height in comparison with the ordinary thatched house in the locality. The first floor has three compartments. It may have been the sleeping quarters for passengers on the stage coaches passing close by the doorway.

* Contributors to this issue included:
D. M. Holt, K. Clendinning, T. Hutton, K.N. McClelland, J.F. McShane and S.J.W. Cooper.

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