A replica of the T. Mellon & Sons Bank in the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh.

Omazing Omagh

Here are 15 reasons why Omagh and it’s nearby towns and villages are awesome:

1. The world’s largest deposit bank has its roots in Omagh.

The BNY Mellon Bank, 1 Wall Street, New York City, NY.

The BNY Mellon Bank, 1 Wall Street, New York City, NY.

The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation or BNY Mellon (with headquarters at 1 Wall Street, New York, NY) has US$1.6 trillion in assets under management and US$27.9 trillion in assets under custody and/or administration thereby being the largest deposit bank in the world. The bank formed as a result of the merger of The Bank of New York and Mellon Financial Corporation. Mellon was founded in 1869 by Thomas Mellon and his sons Andrew W. Mellon and Richard B. Mellon, as T. Mellon & Sons’ Bank. Thomas Mellon was born in 1813 at a farmhouse in Castletown, Omagh and the original family home now forms the centrepiece of the Ulster American Folk Park.

A replica of the T. Mellon & Sons Bank in the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh.

A replica of the T. Mellon & Sons Bank in the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh.

BNY Mellon at 1 Wall Street, Manhatten, NYC.

BNY Mellon at 1 Wall Street, Manhatten, NYC.

The Mellon family became principal investors and majority owners of Gulf Oil (founded 1901 becoming Chevron-Texaco in 1985), Alcoa (since 1886), The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (since 1970), Koppers (since 1912), New York Shipbuilding (1899-1968) and Carborundum Corporation, as well as their major financial and ownership influence on Westinghouse, H.J. Heinz, Newsweek, U.S. Steel, Credit Suisse First Boston and General Motors.

The family also founded the National Gallery in both art works and funds, claims one of the longest serving U.S. Treasury Secretaries, and is a patron to the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Yale University, the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer in Haiti, and with art the University of Virginia. Carnegie Mellon University, and its Mellon College of Science, is named in honor of the family, as well as for its founder, Andrew Carnegie, who was a close associate of the Mellons.

2. Omagh man survives T-Rex attack

Sam Neill born in Mullaghmore House, Omagh to New Zealand parents played Dr Alan Grant in the original Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III. Sam Neill also appeared in ‘The Hunt For Red October’ and ‘The Tudors’.

Sam Neill stands out in the rain in a scene from the film 'Jurassic Park', 1993.

Sam Neill stands out in the rain in a scene from the film ‘Jurassic Park’, 1993.

3. If you go down to the woods today…

The lyrics for The Teddy Bears’ Picnic were written by Jimmy Kennedy OBE born on the Brookmount Road in Omagh.

4. The D-Day Landings

Soldiers approaching Omaha beach during the D-Day Landings

Soldiers approaching Omaha beach during the D-Day Landings


Field Marshall Montgomery and General Dwight D. Eisenhower are said to have met in Omagh at Knocknamoe Castle on at least three occasions to plan the D-Day Landings. Legend has it that there was a military conference held there about one week or so before the D-Day Landings took place. When the castle was converted to a hotel in the 1960s two rooms were named ‘Eisenhower’ and ‘Montgomery’ to commemorate the meetings. Knocknamore was a centre of intelligence gathering and the US Army Headquarters for the area. Winston Churchill is also thought to have visited.
References:
1 – BBC Your Place And Mine – GI’s in Omagh
2 – Ulster Herald – From Omaha to Omagh
3 – BBC Your place and mine – American Soldiers in Omagh during WW2
4 – BBC Your place and mine – Fecarry Range
5 – Haunted Tyrone

5. The shortest street

Omagh claims to have the shortest street on the island of Ireland, Michael Street – it can be found along the Brookmount Road – it’s just one house long, number 10.

6. European Song Contest Winner


Linda Martin was born in Omagh and started her career with an Omagh band called ‘Chips’. She went on to win the Eurovision Song Contest in 1992 with the song ‘Why me?’.

7. First Official Usain Bolt Website

Widely regarded as the fastest person ever, Six Olympic Gold Medallist and Eight times World Champion, Usain Bolt had his first official website developed in Omagh by Jason Devine at Blackthorn Design.

The first official Usain Bolt website was developed in Omagh.

The first official Usain Bolt website was developed in Omagh.

8. Father Todd Unctuous

Gerard McSorley is another famous local actor from Omagh who has appeared in Braveheart, Angela’s Ashes, Omagh, The Constant Gardener, War Horse and Father Ted. He is also a descendant of John McSorley, who opened McSorley’s Old Ale House, the oldest operating pub in New York.

Father Todd Unctuous played by Gerard McSorley from Omagh

Father Todd Unctuous played by Gerard McSorley from Omagh


Gerard McSorley in Braveheart

Gerard McSorley in Braveheart as Cheltham

9. Radio 1 DJ

Phil Taggart a BBC Radio 1 DJ was also born in Omagh.

BBC Radio 1's Phil Taggart was also born in Omagh

BBC Radio 1’s Phil Taggart was also born in Omagh

10. Philadelphia Here I Come…

Brian Friel was born in the village of Killyclogher, 2 miles west of Omagh. Friel is considered to be one of the greatest living English-language dramatists. He is best known for plays such as Philadelphia, Here I Come! and Dancing at Lughnasa but has written more than thirty plays in a six-decade spanning career. His plays have been a regular feature on Broadway throughout this time.

Set in the fictional town of Ballybeg, County Donegal, the play launched Friel (from Killclogher, Omagh) onto the international stage

Set in the fictional town of Ballybeg, County Donegal, the play launched Friel (from Killclogher, Omagh) onto the international stage

 Dancing at Lughnasa (1990) brought Friel great acclaim internationally,[1] winning him several Tony Awards, including Best Play, the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Play and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. It was also turned into a film in 1998, starring Meryl Streep.

Dancing at Lughnasa (1990) brought Friel great acclaim internationally, winning him several Tony Awards, including Best Play, the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Play and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. It was also turned into a film in 1998 starring Meryl Streep.

11. Benedict Kiely

Benedict Kiely, renowned novelist, short story writer and broadcaster spent his formative years in Omagh at St.Patrick’s Terrace after moving from the nearby village of Dromore (9 miles south west of Omagh) where he was born.

Benedict Kiely spent his formative years in Omagh.

Benedict Kiely spent his formative years in Omagh.

Not far from Omagh…

12. Our Willie

Willie Anderson was born in Sixmilecross (10 miles South East of Omagh). He made his international rugby debut for Ireland on the 10th November 1984. Between 1984-1990, Willie had a total of 27 Caps and scored 4 Test points & 1 Try.

Willie Anderson, former Ireland International.

Willie Anderson, former Ireland International.


Here’s an amusing snippet courtesy of Wikipedia:

In one of the most memorable moments in sporting history, Anderson along with his French Rugby counterpart Jean Condom, unwittingly became the subject of a very amusing banner spotted by TV cameras in the crowd during a 5 Nations rugby match at Landsdowne Road in Irelands championship campaign of 1985. The banner proudly read ‘Our Willies bigger than your Condom!’ Incidentally the match ended 15-15.

13. St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York

John Joseph Hughes was born near Aughnacloy, County Tyrone – about 19 miles south of Omagh. John emigrated to America in 1817 where he eventually became the first Catholic Archbishop of New York. He laid the cornerstone of the famous Saint Patrick’s Cathedral located on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The Rose Window in the Sacred Heart Church, Omagh is a memorial to John Hughes and was provided by parishioners who had emigrated to New York.

The cornerstone of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Manhattan was laid by John Joesph Hughes from near Aughnacloy.

The cornerstone of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Manhattan was laid by John Joesph Hughes from near Aughnacloy.

14. Declaration of Independence

John Dunlap from Strabane, County Tyrone (about 20 miles north of Omagh) was the printer of the first copies of the Declaration of Independence (called the Dunlap Broadsides) and one of the most successful American printers of his era.

Declaration of Independence printed by John Dunlap from Strabane, County Tyrone.

Declaration of Independence printed by John Dunlap from Strabane, County Tyrone.


The site where the Declaration of Independence was printed by John Dunlap from Strabane.

The site where the Declaration of Independence was printed by John Dunlap from Strabane.

    A plaque marks the site where the Declaration of Independence was printed by John Dunlap from Strabane.

    A plaque marks the site where the Declaration of Independence was printed by John Dunlap from Strabane.

    15. President Ulysses S. Grant

    Ulysses Simpson Grant was the 18th President of the United States from 1869-77. Grant’s great-grandfather, John Simpson, was born between Ballygawley and Aughnacloy in 1738 – approximately 20 miles south of Omagh. Grant was the Commander of the victorious Union troops in the American Civil War. U.S. Grant served two terms as U.S. President. Grant’s Restaurant in Omagh is named after the Presidential connection.

    Grant’s great-grandfather, John Simpson, was born here in 1738.

    Grant’s great-grandfather, John Simpson, was born between Ballygawley and Aughnacloy in 1738.


    Ulysses S Grant, the 18th President of the United States has connections to Tyrone.

    Ulysses S Grant, the 18th President of the United States has connections to Tyrone.

Stare at the stars

“We should run through the forest
We should swim in the streams
We should laugh, we should cry,
We should love, we should dream
We should stare at the stars and not just the screens
You should hear what I’m saying and know what it means

To sing, sing at the top of your voice,
Love without fear in your heart.
Feel, feel like you still have a choice
If we all light up we can scare away the dark.”

Passenger

My 'Unlimited' Data Allowance

Limited Vs Unlimited – a lesson for O2

Google defines unlimited as “not limited or restricted in terms of number, quantity, or extent”:

Google's definition of unlimited

Google’s definition of unlimited

The Collins English Dictionary defines unlimited as “without limits or bounds” or “not restricted, limited, or qualified”.

The Collins English Dictionary definition of 'unlimited'

The Collins English Dictionary definition of ‘unlimited’

O2, however define unlimited differently, they define it as having limits, bounds and being very restricted as I found out to my disappointment two weeks ago.

A loyal customer

I switched to O2 back in November 2008 in order to get an iPhone as O2 had exclusivity at the time. After my initial contract expired I switched in June 2010 to an O2 Simplicity SIM only plan with 300 minutes, unlimited texts for £10 per month with an “Unlimited data + WiFi” bolt on for an extra £5 per month making a grand total of £15 per month.

My O2 Bolt-ons

My O2 Bolt-ons

In November 2010 I left the UK and lived in the USA until January 2012, I continued paying the £15 per month as I wanted to keep my number active and not lose out on what I thought was a great deal at the time.

Sometime in early 2011, the tariff increase by 32 pence and then again in December 2012, eight days before Christmas they e-mailed to advise that the price of my Tariff would increase by a further 33 pence in February 2013.

Despite the tariff increases and several significant service outages over the last couple of years I stuck with O2 believing that I was getting a good deal.

Changing circumstances

In January this year I moved to Belfast and whilst waiting for my internet to be installed at my house (which was going to take around 3 weeks) I relied heavily on my ‘unlimited’ data plan for all my data needs i.e. e-mail, googling, YouTube, Netflix etc. It was not used for P2P file sharing or anything illegal, I felt I was using the service I was paying for fairly until I received the following text message:

SMS from O2 - 15th January

SMS from O2 – 15th January

 To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to this text message as I knew I was on an ‘unlimited’ data plan and I knew the definition of ‘unlimited’ so I assumed this was a generic message they sent to customers who were using a lot of data.

Three days later, in the middle of enjoying watching an episode of ‘House of Cards’ on Netflix the connection dropped and I was left with nothing but another text message from O2:

SMS from O2 - 18th January

SMS from O2 – 18th January

My blood boiled, I was furious. My internet wasn’t being installed until 23rd January so it was going to be 5 days with no data. I checked my allowance:

Account Status on 18th January - My O2 App

Account Status on 18th January

Then double checked by data allowance:

My 'Unlimited' Data Allowance

My ‘Unlimited’ Data Allowance

Then checked the usage on my device which reported I had only used 6GB of data:

My Data Usage

My Data Usage

I was very annoyed and wanted to contact O2 customer services but I couldn’t even Google to find out the number to ring so had to ring and ask someone if they could Google the number for me.

Unfair ‘Fair Use’

I eventually got the number for customer services and was told that I had exceeded the ‘fair use’ policy for my plan. I argued that I had been using my phone fairly, doing relatively normal things expected of smart phones in the year 2014 and that their ‘fair use’ policy was not very fair. The Six Gigabyte limit equated to about 200 Megabyte per day on average over the entire billing cycle and I had used 333 Megabyte per day on average over the previous 18 days.

They told me that I was on an old data plan that had been designed for smartphone devices and had an original ‘fair use’ policy of 250 Megabyte for the month. I don’t believe I was ever advised of this fair usage policy when I got this bolt-on in 2010. The customer services agent said there was nothing they could do for me and I would have to wait two weeks for my allowance to reset. Feeling betrayed and realising I had been duped for the past three and a half years I asked for my PAC code to disconnect my service. They connected me through the the disconnections agent and I had to explain the entire issue again to which he too said there was nothing he could do. I felt my loyalty and custom had meant nothing and I received my PAC code by SMS a few minutes later.

Soaked, lost and out of pocket

I felt somewhat lost without my internet connection, I couldn’t check if the phone shops in Belfast were still open and I couldn’t check the bus times. I decided to hop on the next bus and go into the city centre anyway. I arrived just after 6pm to find all the stores closed – thanks to O2 I got soaked and wasted a return bus journey and over an hour of my time. It did give me the opportunity though to visit the nearest McDonalds and use O2’s Free WiFi to find out when their competitors opened the next day.

Goodbye O2

I ended up switching to the ‘One Plan’ with Three which has All-You-Can-Eat data (with no fair use policy), 5000 text messages and 2000 minutes plus you can use up to 25 Gigabyte of data (and some of your voice and text message allowance) in ‘Feel at Home’ countries including the Republic of Ireland and the USA. All in, I’m only paying £15 per month which is less than what I paid O2.

Five days after leaving O2 I received an e-mail advising that the tariff would increase yet again by a further 2.7% adding an extra 28 pence to the monthly bill. Yet another great reason to leave them…

My advice to O2 and all businesses is don’t deceive your customers – 6 GB of data doesn’t mean unlimited, there is no way you can call it unlimited if there is a fair usage policy that in some way limits it or restricts it. Please rename your bolt-on and call it ‘Limited Data + WiFi’ to prevent further confusion with other customers. Honesty is the best policy period.

On a separate but related topic regarding this previous post on Unauthorised Roaming Charges, I’ve also discovered that O2 have continued to charge me the following amounts which I have had no control over (the Data Roaming option is disabled on my device).

Month Roaming Charge
November 2013 £0.13
October 2013 £0.01
September 2013 £0.11
August 2013 £0.01