Long Cookstown

John Johnson Marshall
Chapter VI (2) - Start of Chapter

Dungannon prides itself on being “the town of the Volunteers,” from the historic meeting of the Ulster Volunteers in the Presbyterian Meeting House of that town in 1782. Its neighbouring town is known all over Ulster as “long Cookstown.” This sobriquet received a rather sarcastic addition some forty or fifty years ago according to local tradition, when a character known as “Paddy Redcoat” flourished, who habitually carried a stick decorated with red rags, hence the nickname. One frosty day as he was going through Cookstown a dog attacked him, and caught him by the leg. On stooping to pick up a stone wherewith to defend himself he found it frozen to the ground and immoveable, upon which he exclaimed “Bad luck to you, long Cookstown, where the stones are chained and the dogs loose!” However, it seems that the incident happened at an earlier time, and was merely passed on to Paddy Redcoat, as an old friend informs me that he heard the story more then sixty years ago. It was then looked upon as an ancient story, and was told of a half witted mendicant named Raymond who passed through the town during a severe frost. Tormented by the small boys and attacked by the dogs, his passage through the long town took him three weeks. When at length he got clear of it he looked back, shook his stick at it and cursed it as described.