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Welcome to Armagh

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Towns in Armagh
Crossmaglen Lurgan Richhill

Ulster's fairest county, Armagh is packed with a rich heritage, steeped in Irish mythology. With its many prehistoric sites and wealth of monuments to both Protestant and Catholic religions, Armagh is an ideal destination for ancient treasure hunters.

Harmoniously housing the seat of both Protestant and Catholic Archbishops, Armagh has been the spiritual capital of Ireland for 5000 years. St. Patrick, who after his arrival to Armagh, on converting the king, built a stone church on the hill where the Anglican Cathedral now stands, referred to Armagh as ' My sweet hill ', Home to Ireland's first diocese.

The city of Armagh is built on several hills and the Cathedral of St. Patrick built in the 13th Century stands on the highest of these. The site of a 5th Century edifice, St. Patrick's original church and alleged resting place of the high king of Ireland Brian Boru, after having been killed during the battle of Clontarf in 1014. The Cathedral library founded in 1771 by Archbishop Robinson contains some 20,000 valuable books and manuscripts, including a copy of Gulliver's Travels corrected in Swift's hand. Admission to the library is free and tours available during the summer months. On the cities north-west side standing on its own hill is the imposing Gothic Roman Catholic Cathedral with Italian interior decoration.

Largely Georgian in style, Armagh City is among Ireland's most beautiful. Armagh marble (warm colour local limestone) is everywhere to be seen. The Archbishop's Palace and the Courthouse are prime examples. Along the mall the Georgian town houses are largely the work of Francis Johnson. Still in the town centre, just behind the tourist office is the heritage centre, formally a Presbyterian Church, that focuses on St. Patrick and his exploits, 'St. Patrick's Train'. Here you will be treated to a series of audio-visual presentations in a look into Ulster's past and the 'Armagh Story', a history of the area. There's also a 'Land of Lilliput' exhibit, with a well-detailed model of Gulliver and the little Lilliputians. Greatly entertaining for the children in your company.

Just over a mile west of the town, is one of the most ancient of sites in Ireland, the Emain Macha, seat of the kings of Ulster. Home of King Conor, his wife Maeve, his Red Branch Knights, (the bravest of whom was Cuchulain), Deirdre and the sad sons of Uisneach. All featuring in one of the most evocative tales of Irish folklore that have come down from ancient times. The Eman Macha or Navan Fort is a 16-acre grassy mound, a principal archaeological site in Ulster, which even appears in a map of the world made in the 2nd Century by Ptolemy, the Egyptian geographer.

Parklands in the county, there are many, including Gosford Forest Park, 11km south east of Armagh. For those camping enthusiasts, the Deer Park, bird sanctuary, Gosford Castle and the walled garden is all at their disposal.

Armagh Observatory and Planetarium are two buildings set in a 25 acre Astropark. The Observatory still contributes to astronomical research and the planetarium even has a small chunk of Mars rock on display. Both buildings are open all year round.

The Ring of Gullion, South Armagh is ideal for the walking enthusiasts, with walking trails to the summit of Slieve Gullion. However, those of you who prefer to take it all in from the back seat can avail of the scenic drive around the mountain.

North East of Armagh City you will find the towns of Portadown and Lurgan, both of these towns are being gradually fused into a new city called Craigavon. Great shopping towns, with a great choice of night life to be enjoyed. The town of Portadown is Ulster's most prosperous. An industrial town of the 19th Century famed above all for its roses, namely by the best known of Ulster's rose growers, Sam McGredy.

4 miles west of here is a small village called 'The Diamond'. The Orange Order was founded here in 1795.

Not too far away, The Argory and Ardress House are worth a visit. The Argory, a 19th Century house contains an outstanding collection of modern art and an ingenious acetylene gas system used to light some of its rooms. This house is set in wooded countryside overlooking the Blackwater River. The Ardress is a 17th Century house with an 18th Century front, with its greatest feature the drawing room containing neoclassical plaster work. The National Trust owns both premises.

Armagh, 'The Orchid County' is the perfect place for a breakaway. Explore the Primatial City of Ireland. For you angling enthusiasts, the Keady Lakes, Seagahan Reservoir and Craigavon's Balancing Lakes are all on the offering. So whatever your tastes, Ulster's Fairest County is sure to please.

Neighbouring Counties
Antrim | Down | Louth | Monaghan | Tyrone
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