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Touring Armagh

Lough Neagh at Kinturk courtesy Kenny Allen Lough Neagh from St Colmans abbey courtesy Henry Clark Armagh is a county of hills and orchards The orchards, in the north of the county, were planted in the 17th century by English settlers. May and June are the months to catch the orchards in bloom. Ireland’s largest lake, Lough Neagh, backs onto the county. It’s a popular lake for wildfowl, especially whooper swans.

Lough Neagh Discovery Centre courtesy Brian Shaw Oxford Island (really a peninsula) National Nature Reserve is the site of the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre that tells the story of the history and wildlife of the area with interactive displays. Footpaths, bird hides, woodlands, and meadows add to the outdoor activities.


Lurgan cast iron fountain courtesy Aubrey Dale Lurgan and Craigavon are twin cities sitting on the border with county Down near the lake. The Tannaghmore Gardens Farm and Museum at Craigavon is a Georgian farmhouse with rare breeds of cattle, pigs, and sheep. A barn museum houses agricultural artefacts. Special events are held for families.

Maghery Country Park courtesy Stephen McKay Maghery Country Park Blackwater River courtesy Phyllis Flannagan Also on Lough Neagh is the town of Maghery. A country park offers bird watching and nature walks. There’s fishing along the canal and weekend boat trips to Coney Island, owned by the National Trust. The island, in Lough Neagh’s south-west corner, was occupied as long ago as BC 8000. On the island are a 13th century Anglo-Norman motte, a 16th century stone tower, and a Victorian summer cottage. South of Maghery near Moy is The Argory, an Irish gentry house of the 1820s. Owned by the National Trust, it is unchanged since 1900. A barrel organ is played once a month on special tours. In the stable yard are a laundry and horse carriages. Garden, woodland, and riverside walks are on offer.

Coney Island courtesy Richard Webb Portadown town by Bann Bridge courtesy Phyllis Flannagan Portadown lies just south of Lurgan and Craigavon. Blackers Mill is an original Irish linen mill operating for over 100 years with the weavers cottages turned into gift shops. Seven miles west of Portadown is Ardress House, a National Trust property. The 17th century manor house was remodelled in Georgian times and has an Adam style drawing room with plasterwork ceiling and walls, furniture, and paintings. There is a collection of Irish glass and furniture, a farmyard, garden, and woodland and riverside walks.

Moneypenny Lock House courtesy Aubrey Dale Also near Portadown are the Newry Canal’s first lock, Moneypenny Lock, and the Lock House. A museum and exhibition on the canal are in the house and stables. The town of Newry is partly in county Armagh and partly in county Down. Its cathedral was built 1825-88. A museum is located in the arts centre by the town hall and tells the history of the area.

The town of Gilford is home to Mount Pleasant, an 18th century listed building with a battlemented parapet. Living history presentations are given at the house. Benburb sits in the west on the border with Tyrone county. The Benburb Valley Park occupies three miles along the Blackwater River. Its wooded 90 acres house a 19th century weaving and linen factory beside what was once the Ulster canal. The factory is now the Valley Heritage Centre. Benburb castle, built in 1611 and now in ruins, is a 17th century plantation castle sited on a rocky ledge above the river Blackwater. A battle took place here between the Scots and English.

Armagh city view courtesy Rosemary Nelson Armagh St Patricks cathedral courtesy Brian Shaw Armagh, the county town, lies in the middle of the county. It’s named the cathedral city due to its protestant and Catholic cathedrals and its past history of 1500 years as an ecclesiastical capital of Ireland. St Patrick made it the centre of Christianity when he arrived c445. St Patrick’s Anglican cathedral houses the grave of Brian Boru, once high king of Ireland. The building dates mainly from the 17th and 18th century restorations. Medieval stone heads survive on the exterior. St Patrick’s Catholic cathedral has two spires and was built in the Perpendicular gothic style. It dates from the mid 1800s. Inside it is much decorated with a painted roof, mosaics, and stained glass windows.

Armagh Courthouse courtesy Phyllis Flannagan Armagh Franciscan Friary courtesy Tourism Ireland The city has many limestone buildings dating to Georgian times, and townhouses along the Mall reflect this. The courthouse (1809), observatory, royal school, and archbishop’s palace and chapel are buildings of note. Attractions in the city include the Armagh county museum where the political and social history is on display along with costumes and uniforms, clocks, local crafts, and paintings. There’s a regimental museum of the Royal Irish Fusiliers and a planetarium. The Armagh friary remains include only a bit of the church. In the old Archbishop’s stables is a heritage centre with an AV presentation and exhibitions. The former archbishop’s palace is now district council offices. A cathedral library has old books and manuscripts.

Navan Fort courtesy Patrick Brown Tynan High Cross courtesy Irish Antiquities Just south of Armagh along the A28 is Markethill and Gosford Forest Park. The forest park is home to rare breeds, a heritage poultry collection, a bee house, and an exhibition. There are nature trails, walled gardens, and an arboretum. It was once the estate of the earl of Gosford. Navan Fort, west of the city, is an earthwork that was once the capital of Ulster and a religious center. It dates back as far as BC2000. Continuing west of Armagh leads to the Tynan High Cross byTynan village’s churchyard. It dates from 700-900.

Killevy Church Ruin courtesy RMcDonald In the southern part of the county, Bessbrook is the site of Derrymore House, an informal gentry thatched retreat owned by the National Trust. Bessbrook was an industrial village founded in 1845 by a linen manufacturer, complete with flax mill. Its granite cottages range around three sides of two squares. Two church ruins sitting back to back are at Killevy: the eastern one is medieval with a 15th century window and a 10-11th century doorway.

Slieve Gullion south-west slope courtesy Ron Murray Slieve Gullion Forest Park Centre courtesy Kay Atherton An outdoor attraction in the area is the Slieve Gullion Forest Park, topped by its mountain at 1893 feet—a trail leads to the summit. The scenic drive has difficult bends and steep gradients. There’s a visitor centre with an exhibition. Near Crossmaglen, off the B30, is the Ti Chulainn Centre, a cultural mecca of the south county’s heritage. Irish language, tradition, music, dance, folklore, and storytelling are shared in courses, exhibitions, and performances.

Armagh Attractions

For opening times and full details of attractions see the Attractions section of our website.

Ardress House and Farmyard
64 Ardress Road, seven miles west of Portadown
Tel. 028 8778 4753

Armagh County Museum
The Mall East, Armagh
Tel. 028 3752 3070

Armagh Planetarium
College Hill, Armagh
Tel. 028 3752 3689

Benburb Castle
Main Street, Benburb
Tel. 028 3754 8241

Benburb Valley Heritage Centre
Milltown Rd, Benburb
Tel. 028 3754 9885

Blackers Mill
10 Bleary Road, Portadown
Tel. 028 3835 2081

Derrymore House
Bessbrook, Newry
Tel. 028 3083 8361

Gosford Forest Park
7 Gosford Demesne
Markethill
Tel. 028 3755 1277

Lough Neagh Discovery Centre
Oxford Island National Nature Reserve
Lurgan, Craigavon
Tel. 028 3832 2205
Web: Oxford Island

Maghery Country Park
Maghery, by Lough Neagh
Tel. 028 3832 2205

Moneypenny’s Lock and Lockhouse
Horseshoe Lane, Knock Bridge, four miles from Portadown
Tel. 028 3832 2205

Mount Pleasant
38 Banbridge Road, Gilford

Navan Centre and Fort
81 Killylea Road
Armagh BT60 4LD
Tel. 028 3752 9644

Palace Stables Heritage Centre
Palace Demesne, Armagh
Tel. 028 37 529 629

St Patrick’s Anglican Cathedral
Cathedral Close, Armagh
Tel. 028 37 523 142
Web: St Patrick’s Cathedral

St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral
Cathedral Road, Armagh
Tel. 028 37 522802

St Patrick’s Trian
40 English Street, Armagh
Tel. 028 3752 1801

Tannaghmore Gardens Farm and Museum
Craigavon, near Lurgan
Tel. 028 3834 3244

The Argory
144 Derrycaw Rd, Moy, Dungannon
Tel. 028 8778 4753

Ti Chulainn Centre
Mullaghbawn, Newry
Tel. 028 3088 8828

County Armagh Tourist Information Centres

Armagh TIC
Old Bank Building, 40 English St.
Tel. 028 3752 1800

Lough Neagh Discovery Centre
Oxford Island, Craigavon
Tel. 028 3832 2205

Photo of Tynan High Cross courtesy Irish Antiquities
Photo of Armagh Franciscan Friary courtesy Tourism Ireland

Other photos courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Lough Neagh at Kinturk by Kenny Allen; Lough Neagh at St Colman’s Abbey by Henry Clark; Lough Neagh Discovery Centre, St Patrick’s cathedral in Armagh by Brian Shaw; Lurgan fountain, Moneypenny Lock House by Aubrey Dale; Maghery Country Park by Stephen McKay; Maghery Country Park Blackwater River, Bann Bridge in Portadown town, Armagh courthouse by Phyllis Flannagan; Coney Island by Richard Webb; Armagh city view by Rosemary Nelson; Navan Fort by Patrick Brown; Killevey ruins by RmcDonald; Slieve Guillion’s south-west slope by Ron Murray; Slieve Gullion Forest Park Centre by Kay Atherton

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