Ireland day 0867. Monday 12 February 2024- Armagh *

Ireland day 0867. Monday 12 February 2024- Armagh
Today’s summary Drove up to Armagh city to have a look around and we came away impressed.   Two interesting cathedrals (both St Patrick’s), a nice café, a big observatory campus and lots of interesting architecture.   Felt like a civilised sort of place
Today’s weather Some sun in the morning but mostly overcast in the afternoon with a little rain.   Strong south westerly wind.   Appx 7c
Today’s overview location
(The green mark shows the location of our route)
Close-up location
(The orange line shows where we walked)
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):

(Summary blog only.   Last full blog was Day 0368).

We had a free day today and spent a few moments this morning pondering how best to use it.   Since the weather forecast was reasonable, we eventually settled upon the idea of driving up across the border to visit Armagh – a county town about 90 minutes up the M1.  We hadn’t been before, and thought it sounded like it would be worth paying a visit.

As I drove, Val did a bit of internet research to try and identify the must-see highlights.   It turned out that there were plenty, but almost all were closed – today being a Monday in deepest winter.   I have to say we almost gave up in disappointment and turned round there and then.   But I think it’s fair to say that we were both glad that we didn’t.

Once we had arrived in the city centre and found somewhere to park, we could quickly see that it was an interesting place.   Although it’s quite small, it has officially been a city since 1994 when the then Price of Wales conveyed the status to mark the 1550th anniversary of its founding by St Patrick in 444AD.   Our first priority was to find somewhere for lunch and eventually we settled on the Gathering Place – a rather nice café up behind one of the two St Patrick’s Cathedrals in the city.

After a tasty lunch, we had a walk around the nearby Church of Ireland variant of the cathedral, then walked about half a km to see its Catholic opposite number.   The Catholic building was open to the public (the Church of Ireland one wasn’t) and it was extremely impressive inside (as well as being a welcome shelter from the cold downpour which hit us just as we arrived).

After a good look round the interior, we walked down to the Mall – a large green in the centre of the city, surrounded by fine Georgian buildings – and then up the hill to have a look at the Observatory.

Sadly, being a winter Monday, the Observatory visitor centre was closed, though the extensive grounds were open, so we had a good wander through some of the fascinating outdoor exhibits.   From the outside, the visitor centre looked good so we will try and make time to come back in the warmer months, when there’s more daylight and when it might also be open.

By this stage, we both felt we had seen enough to get the essential feel of the place – and more to the point we were freezing cold.   So we made a bee-line for the car, and then a quick hop down the M1 saw us back in Malahide by six o’clock.   All in all, a thoroughly good day out which confounded our expectations.   Definitely it will merit a return visit.


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

Market Street square.  It’s actually on quite a steep slope just below the Church of Ireland cathedral, which you can’t really tell from the photo. St Patrick’s (Church of Ireland) cathedral
Inside The Gathering Rooms – a lovely café where we had lunch At the foot of the imposing steps leading up to the other St Patrick’s Cathedral (the Catholic one)
Inside the Catholic cathedral – it’s relatively modern (late 19th century) and very well presented.   And huge At the Armagh Observatory.   It’s the oldest continuously operating observatory in the UK and Ireland and also has a big visitor centre which is unfortunately closed on Mondays in winter.   We will have to pay a return visit but the grounds are quite extensive and were worth having a look around anyway.   It’s very similar in layout and design to Dunsink in Dublin
Stainless steel statue “For the love of Emer” on Scotch Street.   It was installed in April 2010 and made by sculptor Martin Heron.   The figure is about 3m high and is of the mythological hero Cuchulainn who had to balance on the top of a pole in order to win the affections of Emer, the daughter of a local chieftain
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 5901 m
Max elevation: 70 m
Min elevation: 37 m
Total climbing: 139 m
Total descent: -140 m
Total time: 03:00:51
Download file: Armagh-compressed-corrected.gpx

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