Armagh, City Of
ARMAGH, CITY OF, a city and market town, and the county town of Co. Armagh, Ireland, in the mid parliamentary division, 89 m. N.N.W. of Dublin by the Great Northern railway, at the junction of the Belfast-Clones line. Pop. (1901) 7588. It is said to derive its name of Ard-macha, the Hill of Macha, from Queen Macha of the Golden Hair, who flourished in the middle of the 4th century B.C. but earlier it was named from its situation on the sides of a steep hill called Drumsailech, or the Hill of Sallows, which rises in the midst of a fertile plain near the Callan stream. Of high antiquity, and, like many other Irish towns, claiming (with considerable probability) to have been founded by St Patrick in the 5th century, it long possessed the more important distinction of being the metropolis of Ireland; and, as the seat of a flourishing college, was greatly frequented by students from other lands, among whom the English and Scots were said to have been so numerous as to give the name of Trian-Sassanagh, or Saxon Street, to one of the quarters of the city. St Patrick's bell, long preserved at Armagh, the oldest Irish relic of its kind, is now, with its shrine of the year 1091, preserved in the museum of the Royal Irish Academy at Dublin. Of a synod that was held at Armagh as early as 448, there is an interesting memorial in the Book of Armagh, an Irish MS. dating about A.D. 800. Exposed to the successive calamities of the Danish incursions, the English conquest and the English wars, and at last deserted by its bishops, who retired to Drogheda, the venerable city sank into an insignificant collection of cabins, with a dilapidated cathedral. From this state of decay, however, it was raised, in the second half of the 18th century, by the unwearied exertions of Archbishop Richard Robinson, 1st Lord Rokeby (1709-1794), which, seconded by similar devotion on the part of succeeding archbishops of the Beresford family, notably Archbishop Lord John George Beresford (1773-1862), made of Armagh one of the best built and most respectable towns in the country. As the ecclesiastical metropolis and seat of an archbishop (Primate of all Ireland) in both the Protestant and Roman organizations, it possesses two cathedrals and two archiepiscopal palaces. As the county town Armagh has a court-house, a prison, a lunatic asylum and a county infirmary. Besides these there is a fever hospital, erected by Lord John George Beresford; a college, which Primate Robinson was anxious to raise to the rank of a university; a public library founded by him, an observatory, which has become famous from the efficiency of its astronomers; a number of churches and schools, and barracks. Almost all the buildings are built of the limestone of the district, but the Anglican cathedral is of red sandstone. It stands boldly on the top of the hill, a cruciform structure dating from the 13th, but practically rebuilt in the 18th century, in accordance with its original plan. The Roman Catholic cathedral is in the Decorated style, and was consecrated in 1873. Armagh was a parliamentary borough until 1885; and, having been incorporated in 1613, so remained until 1835. The administration is in the hands of an urban district council. Two miles W. of Armagh is Emain, Emania, or Navan Fort, with large entrenchments and mounds, the site of a royal palace of Ulster, founded by that Queen Macha who gave her name to the city. In A.D. 335 it was destroyed during the inroad on the defeat of the king of Ulster by the three brothers Colla, cousins of Muredach, king of Ireland. Armagh itself fell before the king Brian Boroime, who was buried here; and before Edward Bruce in 1315, while previous to the English war after the Reformation, it had witnessed the struggles of Shane O'Neill (1564).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)