A walk in Armagh, the city of two cathedrals

Last summer, around the end of my northern irish month, I had the pleasure to pass some days in the beautiful Armagh, main city of Armagh County and, as often it’s defined, ecclesiastical capital of Ireland.

County_Armagh
Position of Co. Armagh in Northern Ireland

This city is called like this because its bishopric was founded no less than from Saint Patrick, and also it has two cathedrals, both dedicated to the saint: the ancient Church of Ireland Cathedral and the Roman Catholic Cathedral. Armagh is also home to the Archbishops for both Catholic and Protestant Church. Going back in time and widening the religious topic (and not only that), just only 3 km from Armagh there’s also Emain Macha, ancient political and religious royal capital of pagan Ireland, of which I’ll talk for sure in another article.

Even the name of the city, from gaelic “Ard Macha“, is a proof of its antiquity: it is dedicated to Macha, celtic goddess, that in these places lived part of her legendary adventures.

The guide in the bag and the reflex at the neck, me and Stevie set off for a walk around the town:

Caricamento in corso

Ready to wander around: today the beautiful #Armagh #northernireland #irlandadelnord

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We started from a central zone, the one around Thomas Street, to go then to visit the main monuments of the city: the two cathedrals.

Here we found even a shop selling only things linked to Italy, with signs to Rome and Naples: fun 😀

DSC_0278klFrom Thomas Street we walked to Market Street, where you can find the Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre, important artistic centre of the city. I love this steep square enclosed by buildings with colourful doors, with a panoramic view…

DSC_0282kl

…and at the back the first cathedral we meet in our walk: the St Patrick’s Cathedral Church of Ireland.

DSC_0288klThis cathedral is very old: in 445 Saint Patrick built a stone church, and around it grew a monastic community. This church was the first phase of the building, later destroied and rebuilt 17 times. From the age of Elizabeth I the cathedral became protestant, as it is today.

Other than the gothic architecture, the cathedral has some middle age gargoyles: I assure they are good guardians to the building 😉

Fact: here is buired a great king, Brian Boru (or Brian Boroimhe), High King of Ireland from 1002 to 1014, that on the basis of the story (untrue) expelled Vikings from the island. Even if this isn’t true, we are anyway in front of a great personality. In the image above you can see the commemorative stone dedicated to his memory, set in the cathedral’s walls:

DSC_0318lInside the area of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral – COI, a bit hidden at the side of the back part of the building, you can visit the gardens: a series of little green ares, every of them with a different theme. In the sequence: :

  1. Herb Garden
  2. Orchard Garden
  3. Parterre Garden
  4. Contemplative Garden

We had the luck of being the only visitors and we could feel a sense of calm and quiet we would of remain there longer if it wasn’t for the closing time.

After the visit to the cathedral’s gardens, we wanted of course to reach the other religious building of the city, but before I wanted to take a picture of a wall painting I live very much: near Armagh Hostel, on the side of a house, this painting goves the welcome to visitors in all languages (but italian :P).

DSC_0327klAt this point, finally we walk to reach Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, which already we can see in the distance, passing through Shambles Market Yard:

DSC_0328klDSC_0329klSaint Patrick’s Cathedral (catholic) was built at the end of ‘800 and consecreted in 1904. As the other Armagh’s cathedral, it’s on a hill, and both are visible one from another. This cathedral is the seat of the catholic Bishop of Armagh, Primate of Ireland.

DSC_0355klIt ends here the story of our walk in Armagh, one of the most ancient cities in Ireland. Even if this city is not so big, there are many places I didn’t talk about this time. Don’t worry, we’ll fix this soon 😉

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