Armagh City

Armagh City

The story of Armagh is one worth learning. The Ecclesiastical capital of Ireland and previous seat of the High Kings of Ulster, the city of Armagh has, for many years, been an important European Heritage centre. It manages to maintain a blend of tradition and modernisation, as well as a position as a centre of business communications amongst the rural heartland of Northern Ireland .

The city's past is rich in spiritual and academic significance. The city is lauded as the site chosen by St. Patrick to become the Christian centre during his time. In approximately 444 AD, he built the first stone church on the hill where the Anglican Cathedral now stands. The Book of Armagh which was written in the city was also responsible for the spread of Christianity throughout Europe. The Public Library houses a copy of Gulliver's Travels actually corrected in Swift's own hand. Armagh is often termed a City of Saints and Scholars yet it has also produced notable representatives of other institutions. The 18th century architect Francis Johnston, who was responsible for much of Georgian Dublin, hailed from this city. His stamp on Armagh can be seen from the Georgian Mall, Courthouse and Observatory and various other elegant Johnston-designed buildings. As one may expect, Armagh's position as a renowned seat of learning and worship made it particularly vulnerable to attack. Despite this hostility, the city managed to retain its spiritual and academic position mainly due to the efforts of Archbishop Patrick O'Scannail. He rebuilt St Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral and also was able to introduce Franciscan Friars in 1263. The remains of their Friary is the only evidence of the Medieval existence of Armagh city.

A long period of further conflict ensued with the dissolution of the Monasteries during the Reformation as well as the post-Plantation troubles of the 17th century. However, when the city finally found its feet and peace by the turn of the 19th century, it ironically began to lose its status. Social circumstances had started to change by this time and the developing road and transport system led to the increasing focus on Belfast as the new commercial centre of Ulster.

Having gracefully surrendered its dominance of the region, the city remains an educational and administrative area of importance with a lively tourist scene. Armagh is popular among those on vacation in Ireland as well as Irish people touring the country.

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