County Armagh

County Armagh

Worth seeing on any Ireland tours.

County Armagh is an inland county in the province of Ulster , one of the six counties of Northern Ireland.

Armagh has an area of 480 square miles and a population of approx 150,000.

The county is highly fertile and agriculture is a staple of its economy.

Known in song as “the orchard of Ireland,” Armagh has a strong fruit-growing industry.

Its hilly southern portion includes some of the most beautiful scenery in Ireland , such as the spectacular mountain Slieve Gullion. In the north, where Armagh borders Lough Neagh , lies the Lurgan valley with its industrial towns.

Linen was once a major industry , and it is still manufactured today.

Throughout the county are remnants of some four hundred raths , or ring forts , including the magnificent Navan Fort (c.700 B.C.) which was once the capital of the pre-Christian kings of Ulster. Two miles west of the city of Armagh , this fort , known as Emhain Macha in Irish mythology , was where King Conor Mac Nessa held court with his Red Branch Knights , whose stories feature the great hero Cuchulainn and the tragic lover Deirdre.

From the 7th century , Armagh has been the ecclesiastical center of the Catholic Church in Ireland. This is attributed to Armagh’s close association with St. Patrick.

Written in the 9th century , the Book of Armagh , portions of which contain accounts of the life of Patrick , is one of Ireland’s most important early medieval monastic works.

Armagh was severely affected by the Nine Years War (1593 – 1603). The devastation of the conflict was compounded by the subsequent “Plantation of Ulster”  , in which Gaelic Catholic landowners had their lands confiscated and granted to English and Scottish “undertakers” , who in turn replaced much of the native population with Protestant settlers from Britain.

The transfer of land ownership from Catholic to Protestant in Armagh was completed with the Cromwellian Settlement.

By 1700, almost all the land in the county was held by Protestant landlords , with native Catholics confined to the boggy and mountainous south.

A truly historical hidden gem. Visit the sights on any tours of Ireland. Armagh is very easy to get to on our Belfast tours and beyond. If you are visiting on a cruise ship it should certainly be considered.