Irish Translation – “Coillidh Léith” – “The Grey Wood”
Council Area – Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council
Killylea is a small village and townland in County Armagh. The Irish translation of its name would suggest that the surrounding area was once heavily wooded. Following the 1641 rebellion some of this land became part of an endowment to Trinity College Dublin.
Killylea has always had close associations with the Maxwell family since Reverend Robert Maxwell first arrived there following his appointment as the Dean of Armagh in 1610.
The village is set on a hill, with St Mark’s Church of Ireland, built in 1832, at its summit and at the bottom of the hill is Killylea Methodist Church. The village lies to the west of County Armagh, and is close to the neighboring counties of Tyrone and Monaghan.
In 1858, Killylea Railway Station opened on the Elm Park Road. It was started by the Ulster Railway and became part of the Great Northern Railway in 1876, offering people the chance to travel to Belfast and Dublin. Like most rural railways in Northern Ireland, it was not to last and eventually closed in 1957. The station platforms can still be seen today from the railway bridge on the Elm Park Road.
As is illustrated by the name of the pub at the top of Main Street, Killylea has always been closely associated with hunting, with the traditional Boxing Day hunt taking place in December each year. This tradition stretches back to 1838, when the Tynan and Armagh Harriers were established by Sir James Stronge.
Although born in Belfast, one of Killylea’s most famous residents was John Luke. Luke is, perhaps, most famous for painting the dome of Belfast City Hall. He moved to Killylea in 1941 in order to escape the dangers of living in Belfast during World War II and lived there until his death in 1975.