Strabane is a town of 13,000 people (2011) in Northern Ireland. Over 90% of the population is Catholic. It lies on the east bank of the River Foyle, which forms the border with the Republic of Ireland. It is roughly equidistant from Omagh, Derry City and Letterkenny. The town has had a turbulent history and although there has been some recovery in the local economy, it once had the dubious distinction of having the highest unemployment rate in the EU.
Tourist information is available at the Alley Arts and Conference Centre on Railway Street.
The area was home to a group of northern Celts known as the Orighella as far back as the fourth century. With the arrival of Saint Patrick, a mission established a church in the area near Castlefin. In AD 586 St. Colgan established a monastery at Camus. Other monasteries and religious sites were established at this time in the area. Vikings arrived at Lifford in AD 832 and maintained a presence on the Foyle until AD 863 when they were expelled. The town was settled by Scottish families in the 1600s, an action that preceded the Plantation of Ulster.
In the late 20th century, during the height of the Troubles, Strabane garnered the dubious distinction of the highest unemployment rate in the industrial world. Strabane suffered extensive damage during the Troubles, from the early 1970s and continuing throughout much of the 1990s, with bombings and shootings commonplace; Irish Republican paramilitary groups regularly attacked the town's British Army and and police bases. Strabane was once the most bombed town in Europe in proportion to its size and was the most bombed town in Northern Ireland. Huge economic damage occurred when much of the town centre flooded in 1987.
It is one of the most economically deprived towns in the United Kingdom. In 2005, a Channel 4 television programme named Strabane the eighth-worst place to live in the UK, largely owing to unemployment. Strabane was moved out of the top 20 in the 2007 edition.
- The Tinneys. 20-ft steel sculptures of two dancers designed by Maurice Harron.
- 1 Gray's Printing Press, 49 Main Street, BT82 8AU, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The National Trust owns this shop in which John Dunlap learnt the printing trade. Dunlap went on to print the United States Declaration of Independence.
- Wilson House, Plumbridge Road. The ancestral homestead of James Wilson, grandfather of President Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States of America.
- 2 Alley Arts and Conference Centre, Railway Street, ☏ . Daily 10AM to 5PM. A 270-seat theatre, art gallery, tourist information centre and cafe-bar. The Alley was Northern Ireland Building of the Year in 2008. It is the current of the North West Music Festival, the Stage Write Schools Drama Festival, Sounds Like Summer Music Festival, Strabane Drama Festival, and the Johnny Crampsie Music Festival.
- In 2014, two Palestinian murals were painted in the town, one in the Ballycolman estate and one in the Head of the town. One mural, in particular, received international media attention, this was during the Israeli assault on Gaza. The murals were painted during a large pro-Palestinian campaign in which Strabane saw white line pickets, camps and protests.
- 1 Superior City (Superior City Strabane), Unit 2 Market Centre, Market Street, ☏ . 16:00-23:30. Chinese restaurant and take-away. Delivery service available. £€.