Dear All At some time between 1878 and 1881, John Mullin, his wife, Margaret (Owens), and their four children moved from Foremass, Co Tyrone, to Consett, Co Durham, to work at the rapidly growing Iron works. One of their children, Margaret, was my great grandmother. There were strong links between Tyrone and Consett (see the anecdote below); the catholic influence became so strong that new churches were built in the area. In 1881, there are 676 people born in Tyrone living in Co Durham. Can anyone point me in the direction to find more definitive accounts for this link and why it became so strong? Many thanks Ian Moules
The Battle of the Blue Heaps In 1841, Consett in County Durham was about to become a boomtown. Below the ground was coking coal and blackband iron ore, nearby waslimestone - the three ingredients needed for blast furnaces to produce iron andsteel. If the steelworks figured large in Consett's history, theother key strand that has contributed to the town's personality is Irishimmigration. From the earliest days of the Consett Iron Company in the 1840s,it attracted itinerant workers from Ireland, many of whom settled in the town.Although people came from all over Ireland to settle in Consett, the majoritycame from the northern counties, particularly County Tyrone. Consett's Irish heritage is noted today in its high RomanCatholic population - St Patrick's RC church, for example, has the largestCatholic congregation in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. The steel industry in the Derwent Valley was initiated byimmigrant German cutlers and sword-makers from Solingen who settled in ShotleyBridge, the original home of Wilkinson Sword, during the 17th Century. In 1847, Irish immigrants seeking work at Consett Ironworksand at nearby collieries clashed with locals in a three-day confrontation thatbecame known as The Battle of the Blue Heaps, after the slag tips on which itwas chiefly fought. Order was only restored when the army was sent from ShotleyBridge. The Blue Heaps was the residue left from the ironstone workings in theimmediate area. The disturbances were between the Catholics and Protestantswho were from different areas and backgrounds and had divided into two groupsover religious intolerance and petty jealousies. The actual battle took place after a build-up of resentmentbetween Irish newcomers and those who were already settled in the area. But,once resolved, the community settled down to a more tolerant existence.
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