"City of great history on the hills." Armagh by planxty
Armagh Travel Guide: 35 reviews and 129 photos
Armagh, county town (city now) of the Orchard County of the same name, has a long and fascinating history. It is famously associated with St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland (and Montserrat would you believe!) but there is a much earlier history of pagan worship here. Indeed the very name Armagh derives from the Gaelic and means the Heights of Macha, with Macha being a pagan deity and was once the capital of Ulster, one of the four Provinces of Ireland.
Christianity spread to Ireland in the mid 5th century and the town of Armagh was established as an ecclesiastical centre on the order of Patrick. Despite the depradations of marauding Vikings and much later Normans, the city as it has been designated since 1994, remains a place of learning and worship to this day.
The Ryal School, attended by my nephew, was founded in 1608 and the world famous observatory came in 1790. The planetarium associated with the observatory, was once home to the famous astronomer Sir Patrick Moore.
The abandoned Armagh jail, once the women's prison for Northern Ireland, stands opposite the Mall, a pleasant open space, and there are two fine Cathedrals (Anglican and Roman Catholic) here. There is also a library which contains, inter alia, Swift's own first edition copy of Gulliver's Travels.
The city centre boasts many fine Georgian buildings and the whole place retains a feel not dissimilar to some of the older University towns in England.
I lived here for a while in the early 1980's when things were not at their happiest so I was gladdened to see how the place looked on my recent return.
Readers of my other pages will know that I am a musician of sorts, specialising in Irish Folk music. for a little something different I have included here the lyrics of a traditional song I still perform occasionally, written in praise of the city and County.
There's one fair county in Ireland
with memories so glorious and grand
where nature has lavished its bounty
it's the orchard of Erin's green land
I love her cathedral and city
once founded by Patrick so true
and it bears in the heart of it's bosom
the ashes of Brian Boru
It's my own Irish home
far across the foam
although I've often left it
in foreign lands to roam
no matter where I wander
through cities near or far
sure, my heart's at home in old Ireland
in the County of Armagh
I've traveled that part of the county
through New Town, Fork Hill, Crossmaglen
Around by the gap of MountNorris
and home by Blackwater again
Where the girls are so gay and so hearty
None fairer in Erin Go Bragh
But where are the boys that can court them
Like the boys from the county Armagh?
The Brian Boru mentioned was King of Ireland who was killed at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 and was buried in the grounds of the Anglican cathedral. The photo is of the memorial plaque on the wall of the Cathedral.
- In a nutshell:Come to the City of saints and scholars.
I lived in Northern Ireland for the first 28 years of my life and, I must admit, whenever I saw a sign for St. Patrick's... more travel advice
As I have mentioned in other tips, Armagh is a very important ecclesiastical centre, and the Archbishops of Armagh in... more travel advice
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- "ECCLESIASTICAL CAPITAL OF IRELAND"
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