Armagh is thecounty town of County Armagh in Northern Ireland, as well as a civil parish. It is the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland – the seat of the Archbishops of Armagh, the Primates of All Ireland for both theRoman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland. In ancient times, it and nearby Navan Fort(Eamhain Mhacha) was one of the great royal capitals of pagan Gaelic Ireland. Today it is home to two cathedrals and the Armagh Observatory.
Although classed as a medium-sized town, Armagh was given city status in 1994 and Lord Mayoralty status in 2012, both by Queen Elizabeth II. Its population of 14,590 (2001 Census) makes it the least-populated city in both Northern Ireland and on the island of Ireland and the fourth smallest in the United Kingdom.
|Scots: Airmagh or Armagh|
|Irish: Ard Mhacha|
Armagh is the site of two cathedrals, both on hills and both named after Saint Patrick. The Church of Ireland cathedral dates back to around 445. The present-day, post-Reformation, Roman Catholic cathedral was constructed during the latter half of the 1800s and features twin 64m spires, making it the tallest such structure in the county. Armagh is one of the few cities in the world which is home to two cathedrals of the same name.
Armagh has a Georgian area of heritage importance. Perhaps one of the more well known of the buildings is the former women's prison. The construction of Armagh Gaol began in 1780 and was extended in the 1840s and 1850s. The front façade of the prison was built in the Georgian style, while the later development, based on the design of Pentonville (HM Prison), is Victorian. For most of its working life it was a women's prison although not exclusively so. Armagh Gaol was the primary women's prison in Northern Ireland. In 1986 the prison closed and its prisoners were transferred to the new prison at Maghaberry.
The city is home to the Armagh Observatory, founded in 1790, and to the Armagh Planetarium, established in 1968 to complement the research work of the Observatory. The palace of the Archbishop of Armagh is now the local council offices and, along with the archbishop's private chapel, is open to the public. The Palace Stables heritage centre is a reconstructed stable block dating from the 1700s, which was once part of the Archbishop's estate.
Among the city's chief glories is the public library on Abbey Street. Founded in 1771 by Archbishop Richard Robinson (later Lord Rokeby), using his own library as its nucleus. It is especially rich in 17th- and 18th-century English books, including Dean Jonathan Swift's own copy of the first edition of his Gulliver's Travels with his manuscript corrections.
Armagh Market House was built in 1815 as a two-storey five-bay building, and is currently used as a library.
To combat the problem of a diminishing city centre and to address the concerns of local people,Armagh City and District Council decided to upgrade the surfaces and general appearance of the main shopping areas.
The scheme aims to deal with the many issues raised by the public and businesses over recent years. It will regenerate the centre of Armagh, transforming it into a high-quality pedestrian-friendly environment. The ineffective pedestrian area in Market Street will be opened officially to vehicles. The scheme will provide wider footpaths, pedestrian crossings and disabled parking throughout the city centre to improve safety and accessibility.
As well as these new street layouts the appearance of the city centre will be enhanced by new lighting, paving, seating, bins and greenery. The use of quality stone materials, public art projects and feature lighting will contribute to the overall effect and present the city's famous architecture at its best. A shop frontage scheme will be launched toward the end of the street development project.
The scheme includes eleven streets: Market St, Thomas St, Ogle Street, Scotch Street, Dobbin Street, Dobbin Street Lane, Barrack Street, McCrum's Court, Upper English Street, Russell Street, Ogle Street and Linenhall Street.