One Day in: Armagh, N. Ireland

Penny W-TStarred Page By Penny W-T, 3rd Jun 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3vnkyoig/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Europe>Ireland>Down & Armagh

Living in the shadow of a Cathedral can be awesome. Living in sight of two magnificent examples of man’s handiwork in praise of the Almighty is even more breathtaking. This was my life for a couple of years when I was living in Armagh. My flat was in a building on the hill below one Cathedral, that towered above me, and my front window looked across to the twin spired one on the opposite hillside. So let me take you on a whirlwind day around this fascinating city . . . . .

What to see, where to go . . . .

There is so much for the tourist to do and see in Armagh, that to be honest one day will never be enough to see everything there is. So I will whet your appetite for touring a city of many contrasts. This is a city that basks in the title of ecclesiastical capital of all Ireland – a title held for many centuries and one which is reflected in these two cathedrals - monuments to the same man, Saint Patrick, and his simple message of ‘love each other’. Both buildings are magnificent, standing on two hill tops each overlooking the other, and between them protecting the spiritual needs of the people of this progressive city. So a visit to each of these should be part of your schedule. The architecture is different, but the feeling of peace and tranquillity is the same. Armagh is a city built on hills, so your day is going to need wheels if you are to see everything there is to see. Even then, once the vehicle is parked, there will be exercise for the legs at each venue.

Exploring the city

After visits to the cathedrals, there are four major tourist attractions within the city, each of which casts a different light on this place. Within the main part of the town, and not far from the Protestant cathedral, you will find St Patrick’s Trian, a curious visitor venue that offers a lot of information on the city development over time and the influence that St Patrick had upon the place.
However, currently the Trian is closed to visitors as the site is being renovated.
However, if you are interested in geneology, the Armagh centre for geneology is close to the Trian, and could be the place to call in if you are developing your family tree.

Georgian History - step back in time

So let us move to the edge of the town centre and wander into the Palace Stables Heritage centre. Here you suddenly step back 200 years into a world of very definite two-tier social class structure. The main building you can explore at leisure. In the coachman’s kitchen you could encounter Bridie McCluskey, Head Cook to Archbishop Robinson in 1786, and she will eagerly tell you a tale or two. Or you could bump into Mr Kennedy, the Apprentice Surgeon. He has a lot of interesting and gory tales to tell the visitors, which give an amazing insight into the 18th Century life style. Apart from his skills in blood letting and amputation, he has a steady trade in the sale of white teeth, which he extracts from the servants and sells to the gentry to replace their blackened teeth. He also has a good trade in tobacco and his explanation of why tobacco is good for you is almost plausible - until he graphically explains how it removes the “badness” from your internal organs!
Exploring the Chapel in the grounds you may bump into one of the Archbishop’s chaplains. As a resident within the Palace he has to attend to the spiritual guidance of the servants living on the estate.
At times of important religious observances there will often be other gentry on site, guests of the Archbishop, staying at the palace and who will give other insights into life in 18th Century Georgian Irelend. One thing you will know as you complete your visit is that “History is alive and well” – and walking around the Palace Stables Heritage Centre in Armagh
Following the guided tour at the Heritage centre will necessitate refreshment and there is a good cafeteria there.

Star Gaze in the Planetarium

Duly refreshed, you can move on to the next location and visit the renowned Planetarium. Situated in the grounds of Armagh Observatory, the Planetarium offers the general public a wonderful insight into what there is ‘out there’. Of course there is an enormous amount of things to see and do here, so try and ensure a seat at the star show, where different shows will bring the constellations and planets right into your vision. There are lots of ‘hands-on’ interactive things to investigate and staff available to intrigue you with the magnitude of space. In the grounds there is an Astro Park. This contains a scale model of the Solar system, the Hyper Cube, the size of each cube increasing geometrically, to illustrate the type of scale needed to fit the entire universe into a small patch of Armagh. Then you find the Hill of Infinity where regularly spaced lines of paving stones show movement through space to the edge of the universe. Each line shows a movement measured on a scale x10 and the top of the hill represents the edge of the universe. There is a lot to see and explore here, so stretch your day as much as you can.

Navan Centre and Fort

Just outside Armagh, along the Killylea Road, you will discover the Navan Centre and Fort, a natural environment consisting of a large circular earthwork on the summit of a drumlin that is thought to be the site of a pagan sanctuary. The earthwork also encloses a Ring Barrow, which is an Iron Age burial site, so there is a lot of history here. It is part of the Irish mythology that surrounds this area, so be warned, again there is a lot to see. The centre is an amazing construction, circular in shape and seemingly built into the hillside, with the roof grassed over, so that ir remains invisible until you are right on top of it – almost literally. The audio visual show explains the history of the area and the purpose of the centre. Again, there is a lot to see and do, but an excellent cafeteria where you can rest your feet and refresh yourself. If you have time, and the energy you can walk from the centre and climb to the top of the earthworks, which allows you to admire the views over the city from this vantage point.
Then of course there is a park, an oasis surrounded by roads, and there are shops – a whole range of shops, and cafes, and bars . . . .

Peace and Solitude

For those in need of sanctuary this is the place to be. You will feel it drawing you towards it as you approach the city boundary – and it will hold you there by some unseen force, as if its spiritual heart is saying – ‘you will find peace here, stay a while’. I stayed for two years.

Tags

Astronomy, Georgian History, Ireland, Prehistoric History, Religious Locations, Travel

Meet the author

author avatar Penny W-T
Published articles on education themes, travel, history and writing techniques. Written a book on WW1 - Gallipoli, and travel books. Run a marketing network for small businesses.

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Comments

author avatar Eileen Ward Birch
3rd Jun 2013 (#)

I would possibly enjoy the planetarium

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author avatar Penny W-T
3rd Jun 2013 (#)

You would

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
4th Jun 2013 (#)

this is another of your great travelogues...merci sweet Penny...

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author avatar Penny W-T
4th Jun 2013 (#)

Thank you cnw. I am happy that people seem to enjoy these 'virtual' visits to places that I love.

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author avatar Mariah
4th Jun 2013 (#)

This is a lovely page penny
so pleasant to read.
Mariah

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author avatar Penny W-T
4th Jun 2013 (#)

Thank you. I am glad you enjoyed it.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
5th Jun 2013 (#)

Very lovely thank you Penny...

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author avatar Penny W-T
5th Jun 2013 (#)

Thank you. I am taking a 'virtual' holiday this week with my One Day In pieces

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