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The level-crossing at Poyntzpass.

Poyntzpass (Irish: Pas Phoyntz or Pas an Phointe) is a village on the border between County Armagh and County Down in Northern Ireland. It is within the Armagh City and District Council area. In the 2001 census it had a population of 1,987 people.

The village covers the townlands of Tullynacross, Brannock, Federnagh and Loughadian. It includes five places of Christian worship; a Roman Catholic Church, a Church of Ireland Church, a Presbyterian Church, a Baptist Church, and an Independent Church; 3 public houses; and 2 primary schools.


On Census Day 29 April 2001 the resident population of Poyntzpass ward was 2,197. Of this population:

  • 24.0% were under 16 years old and 19.5% were aged 60 and above;
  • 50.4% of the population were male and 49.6% were female; and
  • 26.6% were from a Catholic Community Background and 71.9% were from a 'Protestant and Other Christian (including Christian related)' Community Background.


Historically, it is one of a few crossing points across a marsh stretching 25 miles (40 km) from Lough Neagh to Carlingford Lough, following the course of a prehistoric glacial overflow channel from which it derives the second half of its name. The first half derives from Colonel Charles Poyntz.

The pass which gave name to the town is on a major route southwards and was named after Lieutenant Charles Poyntz from Gloucestershire who defended it against Hugh O'Neill, 3rd Earl of Tyrone in 1598.

From "Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" by Samuel Lewis, 1837:

"POYNTZPASS, or FENWICK'S PASS, a small town, partly in the parish of AGHADERG, barony of UPPER IVEAGH, county of DOWN, but chiefly in the parish of BALLYMORE barony of LOWER ORIOR, county of ARMAGH and province of ULSTER , 2¾ miles (S.W.) from Loughbrickland, to which it has a penny post; containing 660 inhabitants, of which number, 88 are in the county of Down. This place was formerly an encumbered pass through bogs and woods, from the county of Down into that of Armagh, and from the O'Hanlons' to the Magennises' country: it derives its present name from this important military position having been forced, after a desperate action, by Lieut. Poyntz, of the English army, with a few troops, against a numerous body of Tyrone's soldiers, for which service he was rewarded with a grant of 500 acres [2 km²] in this barony: there are some remains of the castle which formerly commanded the pass. At Drumbanagher are vestiges of the entrenchment surrounding the principal strong hold of the Earl of Tyrone, during his wars with Queen Elizabeth, called Tyrone's Ditches. Poyntz-Pass is now one of the most fertile and beautiful spots in this part of the country. To the south is Drumbanagher Castle, the handsome residence of Lieut.-Col. Maxwell Close, built in the Italian style, with a large portico in front; on an eminence above the town is Acton House, the elegant residence of C. R. Dobbs, Esq.; not far from which is Union Lodge, that of W. Fivey, Esq., in a beautiful demesne, bounded by the extensive waters of Lough Shark. That portion of the town which is in the county of Armagh was built about 1790, by Mr. Stewart, then proprietor, who procured for it a grant of a market and fairs; the former was never established, but the latter, held on the first Saturday in every month, are large and well attended, great numbers of cattle and sheep being sold. The town comprises 116 houses in one principal street, intersected by a shorter one. It contains the church for the district of Acton, a small neat edifice in the early English style, with a tower at the east front, built in 1789, and considerably enlarged and improved in 1829; a R. C. chapel, a school, and a constabulary police station."

A castle was once situated in Poyntzpass. Its remnants were visible until the middle of the 19th century, but there is now no trace of it other than in the name 'Castle Corner' by which a corner of William Street is sometimes known.

The Troubles

For more information see The Troubles in Poyntzpass, which includes a list of incidents in Poyntzpass during the Troubles resulting in two or more fatalities.


The 17th century rapparee Redmond O'Hanlon was a Poyntzpass native.

Charles Davis Lucas, first recipient of the Victoria Cross, was born and grew up nearby.

Irish international rugby players Simon and Rory Best are from the village.


The local Gaelic football club, named in honour of the rapparee, is Redmond O'Hanlon's (Cumann Réamainn Uí Anluain). Created around 1960, it was inactive from 1970 but was revived in 1977. It currently competes at Junior level in county competitions, and combines with Whitecross and Lissummon to field Minor teams as St Brigid's.[1]


Poyntzpass railway station is on the Dublin-Belfast railway line and is often passed at speed by the Enterprise. The Enterprise runs between Belfast Central, Portadown then fast to Newry and on via principal stations to Dublin Connolly. Northern Ireland Railways however operate a service from Newry to calling at local stations including Poynztpass and Scarva to Portadown and additional stations to Belfast Great Victoria Street.

Poyntzpass straddles the main Belfast-Dublin railway line, and has a Northern Ireland Railways railway station. Poyntzpass railway station was opened on 6 January 1862.[2]

The Newry Canal which flows through Poyntzpass follows the Armagh/Down border and was one of the first major canals to be constructed in Britain or Ireland. However, it never really fulfilled its promise to bring industry and prosperity and is long since derelict. Its summit level is one mile (1.6 km) from the village at Acton Lake (Lough Shark).



  1. ^ Armagh GAA website
  2. ^ "Poyntzpass station". Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  • NI Neighbourhood Information Service - Poyntzpass
  • Poyntzpass and District Local History Society
  • Culture Northern Ireland

External links

  • Poyntzpass Silver Band
  • 'From Ireland' © Jane Lyons, Dublin, Ireland
  • Landscapes Unlocked - Aerial footage from the BBC Sky High series explaining the physical, social and economic geography of Northern Ireland.
  • The Meeting Place - Poyntzpass Community Centre.
  • Poyntzpass Presbyterian Church

See also

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