In his Foreword to the new edition of Strabane Barony during the Ulster Plantation, the Duke of Abercorn commended ‘this book as an excellent example of the way in which a professional historian and his students can successfully work together to produce a high-quality publication’. Similarly the reviewer of the volume in Irish Economic and Social History in 1983 called it an ‘admirable model’, adding, ‘As a local study produced by combining the work of adult students with that of professional academic staff it is a remarkable achievement for a single plantation barony.’
R.J. Hunter sets out the background to the book in his original preface of December 1981:
This project developed out of an evening course conducted by me in Strabane under the auspices of the extra-mural department of Magee University College on the Plantation in Ulster as a whole. Afterwards, in the winters 1969–70 to 1971–2, a small group was assembled, meeting in the Abercorn Arms hotel, to make a study of the plantation in the Strabane area which we hoped would be adequate for reproduction and local sale. Since the plantation was organised on a regional basis, the barony of Strabane – allocated to Scots – formed a coherent unit of investigation. It was my function (however casually fulfilled) to attempt to provide some guidance in the use of source materials and to get together by transcript and photocopy relevant extracts from unpublished sources.
We were fortunate to secure the co-operation of Mr K.W. Nicholls of University College, Cork who provided us at a very early stage with a most valuable section on the Gaelic back ground of the Strabane region. Equally, Professor M. Perceval-Maxwell of McGill University, Montreal generously provided material on the Scottish background to plantation and on the Scottish ‘undertakers’ who received grants of estates in Strabane barony, prior to the publication of his own book in 1973.
Apart from their contributions and my own chapter on the town of Strabane and some additional material, the finished production is essentially the work of the Strabane Local History Group. The contributions were written mainly during the period 1970–74. The group became disrupted in the mid 1970s and credit for much of the editorial work and the drive towards completion must go to Mr Michael Cox whose very fine maps, finished in 1978, deserve particular scrutiny.