Armagh

Overview

Introduction

Armagh, Northern Ireland, 35 mi/55 km southwest of Belfast, boasts a surprisingly large number of attractions for a town of its size. The tomb of Brian Boru, first king of Ireland, is there, and nearby is Navan Fort, home to the Celtic kings of Ulster and the oldest settlement in Northern Ireland (all that remains is a small ruined fort). Literary royalty is honored in Armagh, as well—the town owns a manuscript of Gulliver's Travels, corrected in Jonathan Swift's handwriting.

And since Armagh is the center of both the Protestant Church of Ireland and the Catholic Church in Northern Ireland (it is where St. Patrick established Christianity in Ireland), it contains two cathedrals worth exploring (one Protestant and one Catholic). The archbishop's former palace houses a Heritage Centre with carriage rides, crafts and working stables.

In addition to sharing the history of Keady town, the Keady Heritage Centre also has an exhibition dedicated to one of its most famous sons, Tommy Makem, who became famous in the U.S. singing with the Clancy Brothers.

The rest of Armagh's attractions will appeal only to certain tastes: Stargazers may want to visit the observatory, planetarium and hall of astronomy on College Hill, and gun enthusiasts should plan a visit to the Royal Irish Fusiliers' Regimental Museum. The excellent Armagh County Museum and the Dan Winters Cottage and Ancestral Home will appeal to those interested in local history. Plan to stay at least a day in the Armagh area. http://www.visitarmagh.com.

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