Originally known as Newtown, this was the location of an O’Neill castle in the pre-Plantation period. In 1610 James Haig from Berwickshire in Scotland was granted Newtown, but did not retain possession of it for long.
He afterwards sold out and the property came into the possession of an Englishman named Sir Robert Newcomen. Fourteen houses had been built there by 1618-9. Newcomen also began work on a new castle. This castle, standing at the foot of Main Street in Newtownstewart, displays both English and Scottish architectural influences. In 1622 the castle was described as being of ‘good strength’ and here Newcomen lived with his family.
Some time after this the estate and castle were transferred to Newcomen’s son-in-law, Sir William Stewart who gave his name to the town. The most visible part of the castle is the west wall with its three crow-stepped gables, the central one of which is topped by a star-shaped brick chimney.
Newtownstewart castle was burnt during the 1641 Rebellion. It was repaired around 1670 and was the residence of Sir William Stewart, the fourth baronet and first Viscount Mountjoy. The castle was again burnt in 1689. Whether it was repaired for a second time is doubtful. When passing through Newtownstewart in June 1718 on his way to take up his appointment as bishop of Derry, William Nicolson commented on Lord Mountjoy’s ‘demolished house’.
Newtownstewart Castle, Townhall Street, Newtownstewart, County Tyrone, BT78 4AX
Northern Ireland Environment Agency www.doeni.gov.uk/niea
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Only open by special arrangement, but exterior can be viewed from the street.