County Armagh Information
Armagh is one of the six counties of Northern Ireland, and is part of the province of Ulster. It may be the smallest county of the six but in terms of history, culture & city living, Armagh stands proudly alongside its larger neighbours.
Bordered by Louth, Monagahan, Tyrone, Antrim & Down, Armagh is known as the Orchard County due to its apple growing prowess. The northern part of the county around Loughgall is its epicentre, celebrated in the annual Blossom festival which takes place in May. The name Armagh is derived from the Irish 'Ard Mhacha' and refers to the ancient Queen Macha. She is believed to have built her palace at Navan Fort, (located in the west of the county), the seat of the high kings of Ulster, and a place of great mythical and historic importance. The Navan Centre, beside the site, describes its history & significance.
The region around the extinct volcano of Slieve Gullion, in the south of the county is known as the Ring of Gullion and designated an ‘area of outstanding natural beauty’. It has wonderful views over Antrim, the Mourne Mountains & Cooley Mountains, & there are lovely scenic drives, walking and mountain trails in the region. The mountains top trail leads to a lake and two megalithic tombs, one of which is known as the Calliagh Berras House, the highest passage tomb in Ireland. The area is also the birthplace of a number of famous Irish myths revolving around the ancient hero Cuchulainn, Queen Meabh of Connacht and Fionn MacCumhaill.
Armagh City, on first inspection, is a verdant, elegant Georgian-style city, but is in reality steeped in ancient culture and history. It is known as the birthplace of Irish Christianity, and Saint Patrick built his first church there in the 5th Century. The perfect place in which to explore this historical story, is Saint Patrick's Trian, a visitor centre located in the heart of Armagh, which traces the city’s history from prehistoric times to present day, via three interactive exhibitions. Included in these is the story of Gulliver’s Travels (whose author the great Jonathon Swift had close associations with the county), which is particularly popular with children.
The Armagh Observatory, (which dates from the 18th Century) the Armagh Planetarium and accompanying grounds contain scale models of the solar system & universe, a collection of telescopes, exhibits & run excellent interactive shows. The Armagh county museum is Ireland’s oldest county museum.
The Argory in the north of the county, close to the Tyrone border, is a country estate built in the early 19th Century, and is situated on 350 acres of grounds by the River Blackwater. The house contains a selection of period furniture, has a wonderful tea-room & the estate offers guided tours of the house and grounds.
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"The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time" - Bill Bryson