Crossmaglen (from Irish: Crois Mhic Lionnáin, meaning "Mac Lionnáin's cross")[1][2] is a village and townland in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. It had a population of 1,592 in the 2011 Census and is the largest village in South Armagh. The village centre is the site of a large Police Service of Northern Ireland base and formerly of an observation tower (known locally as the "look-out post").

  • Irish: Crois Mhic Lionnáin
  • Cross/The Cross
Road leading into the village
Crossmaglen is located in Northern Ireland
Location within Northern Ireland
Population1,610 (2011 Census)
Irish grid referenceH910152
• Belfast52 mi (84 km)
CountryNorthern Ireland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townNEWRY
Postcode districtBT35
Dialling code028
UK Parliament
NI Assembly
List of places
Northern Ireland
54°04′38″N 6°36′32″W / 54.0773°N 6.6088°W / 54.0773; -6.6088Coordinates: 54°04′38″N 6°36′32″W / 54.0773°N 6.6088°W / 54.0773; -6.6088
Cardinal Ó Fiach Square, Crossmaglen

The square's name commemorates Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich, a local man who became Primate of All Ireland (head of the Catholic Church in Ireland), and who died in 1990. However, the Cardinal originated from Crossmaglen's close neighbour, Cullyhanna. Crossmaglen has its own GAA team, Crossmaglen Rangers GAC.

Travelling by road, Crossmaglen is 61.6 miles (99.1 km) to the north of Dublin, 15.8 miles (25.4 km) to the west of Newry, and 51.6 miles (83.0 km) to the south of Belfast.


On 13 January 1921, during the Irish War of Independence, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) shot dead an Ulster Special Constabulary (USC) constable in Crossmaglen. He was the first member of the USC to be killed whilst on duty.[3]

Crossmaglen, along with the rest of South Armagh, would have been transferred to the Irish Free State had the recommendations of the Irish Boundary Commission been enacted in 1925.[4]

The TroublesEdit

The British Army had a major presence in the area during "the Troubles". Crossmaglen and the wider South Armagh/South Down area was a republican stronghold and republican paramilitaries were very active. This earned it the nickname "Bandit Country".[5][6] Labour Party MP Clare Short said in 1983 "It is ridiculous that British troops are here in Crossmaglen. The claim is that they're in Ireland keeping the peace between the two communities. But there is only one community in South Armagh, so what the heck are they doing here?"[7] During the Troubles, at least 58 police officers and 124 soldiers were killed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in South Armagh, many in Crossmaglen itself.


  • Anamar Primary School
  • Clonalig Primary School
  • St Brigid's Primary School
  • St Patrick's Primary School
  • Gael Scoil Phadraig Naofa
  • St Joseph's High School


Crossmaglen forms the Newry & Armagh constituency for elections to the Westminster Parliament. The Member of Parliament is Mickey Brady of Sinn Féin. He won the seat at the 2015 United Kingdom general election, retaining it in 2017 and 2019.[8]

For Local Government purposes it belongs Newry, Mourne and Down (which was created on 1 April 2015 by merging Newry and Mourne District and Down District). The local authority is Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.


Crossmaglen is served by Ulsterbus, route no. 42.[9][10]

Gaelic gamesEdit

Crossmaglen in recent years has become known for its Gaelic football team, Crossmaglen Rangers, who won the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2007, 2011 and again in 2012. The manager and several players of Rangers went on to win the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship with their county team in 2002 and reached the final again in 2003, only to lose to neighbours Tyrone. One of Crossmaglen's most notable players is Oisín McConville, who is also Ulster's top scoring player. The county team were also in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final in 1953; local players Gene Morgan and Frank Kernan were on the team but they were defeated by Kerry. Armagh also made it to the 1977 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final, but were beaten by Dublin.

There was an ongoing dispute for years between Crossmaglen Rangers, the Morgan family of Crossmaglen, and the British Army over the positioning of the army base which was placed on the Rangers pitch and on the back garden of the Morgan family home on Cardinal Ó Fiaich Square. This was remedied, beginning in April 1999.[11]

Crossmaglen Rangers hold the national record of 39 county titles, including 13 in a row. They also hold the record of nine Ulster club titles.[citation needed]



2001 CensusEdit

Crossmaglen is classified as a village by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (i.e. with population between 1,000 and 2,250 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 1,459 people living in Crossmaglen. Of these:

  • 27.0% were aged under 16 and 14.8% were aged 60 and over
  • 48.6% of the population were male and 51.4% were female
  • 97.0% were from a Catholic background and 0.8% were from a Protestant background
  • 6.5% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.

For more details see: NI Neighbourhood Information Service

2011 CensusEdit

On Census Day (27 March 2011) the usually resident population of Crossmaglen Settlement was 1,610 accounting for 0.09% of the NI total.[12]

On Census Day 27 March 2011, in Crossmaglen Settlement, considering the resident population:

  • 99.88% were from the white (including Irish Traveller) ethnic group;
  • 96.27% belong to or were brought up in the Catholic religion and 3.17% belong to or were brought up in a 'Protestant and Other Christian (including Christian related)' religion; and
  • 4.66% indicated that they had a British national identity, 73.04% had an Irish national identity and 21.43% had a Northern Irish national identity.

Respondents could indicate more than one national identity

On Census Day 27 March 2011, in Crossmaglen Settlement, considering the population aged 3 years old and over:

  • 22.38% had some knowledge of Irish;
  • 1.42% had some knowledge of Ulster-Scots; and
  • 3.56% did not have English as their first language.


  1. ^ "Placenames NI". Placenames NI. 20 January 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
  2. ^ "Placenames Database of Ireland". 13 December 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
  3. ^ "January 1921". Archived from the original on 9 June 2012. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
  4. ^ "Irish Boundary Commission Report". National Archives. 1925. p. 130.
  5. ^ "Army stands down in Northern Ireland but scars deep". Reuters. 1 August 2007. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  6. ^ On the brink: rural post offices battle death by a thousand cuts Archived 2015-07-13 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Harnden, Toby (1999). Bandit Country. Hodder & Stoughton. p. 56. ISBN 034071736X.
  8. ^ "Newry and Armagh: Mickey Brady retains seat for Sinn Féin, but majority slips". Irish Times.
  9. ^ "42 Newry bus".
  10. ^ "transportation Crossmaglen Northern Ireland".
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Census 2011 Population Statistics for Crossmaglen Settlement". NINIS. Retrieved 21 December 2019.   This article contains quotations from this source, which is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0. © Crown copyright.

External linksEdit