Rotary was brought to Cookstown in 1971 when a local club was chartered on the 10th June of that year. The late Captain Nelson Rowntree from the Omagh club was mainly responsible for the creation of the Cookstown Club. Nelson Rowntree was then the Northern Area Extension Officer of District 1160 (Ireland) and was an honorary member of the club until his death in 2000.
The first president of the club was the late Billy Steele, then manager of the local branch of the Ulster Bank. There were 32 founder members and membership has remained at around this level since. Originally, meetings were held each Tuesday at the Glenavon House Hotel (more recently meetings on the first Tuesday of each month are held at other venues in Cookstown), however, each Rotarian has the right to attend meetings at any club in the world. The club has an exemplary record of community involvement and care. It has organised many worthwhile projects and fund-raising events.
In 2001 a committee of the club, chaired by David Smyth, published a comprehensive history of the first 30 years of the activities of members of Cookstown Rotary Club with the publication of a history booklet, named "Thirty Years".
Thirty Years was the inspiration of then President Jimmy McCabe, the booklet was launched at the Club's Gala night on the 29 January, 2001. Past President Jimmy McCabe, Past District Governor (Ireland) Danny Fay and Cookstown District Council Chairman James McGarvey all contributed to the foreword.
The booklet detailed local meetings and consultations leading up the eventual chartering of the Cookstown Club in 1971, as well as comprehensive information on past membership and officers, in addition to its activities in raising charitable funds.
It is interesting to note that four Rotarians who joined the Club on its formation in 1971 were still members in 2001; namely Mervyn Glover, Billy Kee, Ian Thompson and Rowland Cummings (with a break period). One club member, Alastair Laird, had the honour and distinction of serving as District Governor in 1998/1999. Mervyn Glover is still an active member (January 2017).
A section of the booklet dealing with "Rotary Working and Caring in Cookstown" listed many of the achievements of club members, including over £125,000 raised for charity and the formation of Cookstown Citizensí Advice Bureau.