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About Armagh

Armagh is located in the geographical heartland of Northern Ireland. A compact little city, it lays claim to being one of Ireland's oldest settlements. The hill that is now home to the Church of Ireland cathedral was once believed to have been the seat of power of Queen Macha, who gave the name 'Ard Macha' to the city, meaning Macha's height. It was also at the base of this hill that Saint Patrick set up his first Christian church. Colleges, schools and other churches grew around this church and by the eighth century the ancient settlement had been transformed into a major centre of learning. Ireland's status throughout Europe as the 'Isle of saints and scholars' was at this point well established.

However, such fame came with a price and soon the land starved Vikings were arriving on Armagh's doorstep. Between 831 and 1013, the settlement was raided at least ten times with many clergy, teachers and scholars being either killed or taken into slavery. The power of the Vikings diminished around the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, yet despite this the feuds in Armagh continued. This time the Irish themselves fought for control of the city.

Armagh's architecture is mostly Georgian and exists largely due to the vision of Richard Robinson, a Church of Ireland Primate. Archbishop Robinson, set out to make Armagh a more worthy Christian capital and employed some of the finest possible architects to achieve this. At around the same time, slightly more peaceful conditions had encouraged an economic revival and flourishing linen industry in Armagh. At the turn of the century circumstances changed and Armagh's former prosperity waned somewhat.

Today, a much brighter outlook abounds in Armagh. The city is a major educational and administrative centre, with a number of light industries to its name. The county also boasts an abundance of vibrant visitor attractions which explore the region's intriguing past and offer endless possibilities.

Some of the attractions to look out for in Armagh include:

The Armagh Observatory and Planetarium
This observatory has achieved international recognition for its pioneering work and a contribution to science out of all proportion with the size of the establishment. In recent years the Observatory has been enhanced by the addition of the Armagh Planetarium on the same site, where visitors can enjoy a modern look at and journey to outer space.

Armagh Public Library
Archbishop Robinson established the Library in 1773. It was extended in 1845 by the addition of a bay to each end. It is currently a listed building.

Armagh County Museum
The history of County Armagh is told here through archaeological and local historical collections.

Palace Stables HeritageCentre
Looking for somewhere different to go for the day ... how about the past? The Palace Stables Heritage Centre, set in the beautiful estate of an eighteenth century palace, provides a unique insight into the history of Georgian Armagh.

Siant Patrick's Trian
This is an exciting visual presentation on the history of Armagh, the ancient capital of Ulster and ecclesiastical capital of Ireland since the fifth century. The dramatic exhibitions here are designed to educate and entertain. It is ideally suited for those interested in history, culture, genealogy and arts and crafts.

Gosford Forest Park
Gosford Castle is an example of mock-Norman architecture. Traditional breeds of poultry are kept in open paddocks, there's also a deer park, walled garden and walking trails.

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