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The Orchard County
|• Total||512 sq mi (1,327 km2)|
|Highest elevation||1,880 ft (573 m)|
|Time zone||UTC±0 (GMT)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+1 (BST)|
|Contae Ard Mhacha is the Irish name; Coontie Armagh and Coontie Airmagh are Ulster Scots spellings.|
County Armagh (Irish: Contae Ard Mhacha, named after its county town, Armagh) is one of the six counties of Northern Ireland and one of the traditional thirty-two counties of Ireland. Adjoined to the southern shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 1,327 km2 (512 sq mi) and has a population of 194,394 as of the 2021 census. County Armagh is known as the "Orchard County" because of its many apple orchards. The county is part of the historic province of Ulster.
The name Armagh derives from the Irish Ard Macha, meaning Macha's height/Macha's high place. Macha is a mythological figure who is mentioned in The Book of the Taking of Ireland. Macha is also said to have been responsible for the construction of the hill site of Emain Macha (now Navan Fort near Armagh City) to serve as the capital of the Ulaid kings (who give their name to Ulster), and is believed to be the high place from which the county takes its name.
Geography and features
From its highest point at Slieve Gullion, in the south of the county, Armagh's land falls away from its rugged south with Carrigatuke, Lislea and Camlough mountains, to rolling drumlin country in the middle and west of the county and finally flatlands in the north where rolling flats and small hills reach sea level at Lough Neagh.
County Armagh's boundary with Louth is marked by the rugged Ring of Gullion rising in the south of the county whilst much of its boundary with counties Monaghan and Down goes unnoticed with seamless continuance of drumlins and small lakes. The River Blackwater marks the border with County Tyrone and Lough Neagh otherwise marks out the county's northern boundary.
There are also a number of uninhabited islands in the county's section of Lough Neagh: Coney Island Flat, Croaghan Flat, Padian, Phil Roe's Flat and the Shallow Flat.
Despite lying in the east of Ireland, Armagh enjoys an oceanic climate strongly influenced by the Gulf Stream with damp mild winters, and temperate, wet summers. Overall temperatures rarely drop below freezing during daylight hours, though frost is not infrequent in the months November to February. Snow rarely lies for longer than a few hours even in the elevated south-east of the county. Summers are mild and wet and although with sunshine often interspersed with showers, daylight lasts for almost 18 hours during high-summer.
On 22 July 2021 the record for highest outside air temperature ever measured in Northern Ireland was set in Armagh City when a reading of 31.4°C was registered at Armagh Observatory's weather station.
|Climate data for County Armagh|
|Average high °C||7||7.6||9.7||12.2||15.2||17.7||19.6||19.2||16.6||13||9.5||7.6||12.9|
|Average low °C||1.7||1.7||2.9||4||6.3||9.1||11.4||11||9||6.7||3.5||2.4||5.8|
|Average precipitation mm||79.8||57.5||64.9||55.4||54.4||55.7||52.3||71.9||67.1||81.1||72.1||83.4||759.4|
|Average high °F||45||45.7||49.5||54.0||59.4||63.9||67.3||66.6||61.9||55||49.1||45.7||55.2|
|Average low °F||35.1||35.1||37.2||39||43.3||48.4||52.5||52||48||44.1||38.3||36.3||42.4|
|Average precipitation inches||3.14||2.26||2.56||2.18||2.14||2.19||2.06||2.83||2.64||3.19||2.84||3.28||29.90|
Ancient Armagh was the territory of the Ulaid (also known as Voluntii, Ultonians, Ulidians, Ulstermen) before the fourth century AD. It was ruled by the Red Branch, whose capital was Emain Macha (or Navan Fort) near Armagh. The site, and subsequently the city, were named after the goddess Macha. The Red Branch play an important role in the Ulster Cycle, as well as the Cattle Raid of Cooley. However, they were eventually driven out of the area by the Three Collas, who invaded in the 4th century and held power until the 12th. The Clan Colla ruled the area known as Airghialla or Oriel for these 800 years.
The chief Irish clans of the county were descendants of the Collas, the O'Hanlons and Mac Cana, and the Uí Néill, the O'Neills of Fews. Armagh was divided into several baronies: Armagh was held by the O'Rogans, Lower Fews was held by O'Neill of the Fews, and Upper Fews were under governance of the O'Larkins, who were later displaced by the MacCanns. Oneilland East was the territory of the O'Garveys, who were also displaced by the MacCanns. Oneilland West, like Oneilland East, was once O'Neill territory, until it was then held by the MacCanns, who were Lords of Clanbrassil. Upper and Lower Orior were O'Hanlon territory. Tiranny was ruled by Ronaghan. Miscellaneous tracts of land were ruled by O'Kelaghan. The area around the base of Slieve Gullion near Newry also became home to a large number of the Clan McGuinness as they were dispossessed of hereditary lands held in the County Down.
Armagh was the seat of St. Patrick, and the Catholic Church continues to be his see. County Armagh is presently one of four counties of Northern Ireland to have a majority of the population from a Catholic background, according to the 2011 census.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, County Armagh was a major center of guerrilla warfare, cattle raiding, and brigandage by local Rapparees; including Count Redmond O'Hanlon, Cormacke Raver O'Murphy, and Séamus Mór Mac Murchaidh.
The southern part of the county has been a stronghold of support for the IRA, earning it the nickname "Bandit Country". South Armagh is predominantly nationalist, with much of the population being opposed to any form of British presence, especially that of a military nature. The most prominent opposition to British rule was the Provisional IRA South Armagh Brigade.
On 10 March 2009, the CIRA claimed responsibility for the fatal shooting of a PSNI officer in Craigavon, County Armagh—the first police fatality in Northern Ireland since 1998. The officer was fatally shot by a sniper as he and a colleague investigated "suspicious activity" at a house nearby when a window was smashed by youths causing the occupant to phone the police. The PSNI officers responded to the emergency call, giving a CIRA sniper the chance to shoot and kill officer Stephen Carroll.
Currently the county is covered for local government purposes by four district councils, namely Armagh City and District Council, most of Craigavon Borough Council, approximately the western third of Newry and Mourne District Council and a part of Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council, centred around Peatlands Park.
Armagh ceased to serve as an electoral constituency in 1983, but remains the core of the Newry and Armagh constituency represented at Westminster and the Newry and Armagh constituency represented in the Northern Ireland Assembly. County Armagh also remains as a district for legal and property purposes; however, its baronies no longer have any administrative use.
The -XZ suffix is currently used on vehicle registration plates for vehicles registered in County Armagh. Other suffixes have been -IB and -LZ. These marks are followed by up to four numbers, e.g., JLZ 6789
As of the 2021 Census, County Armagh recorded a population of 194,394. It is one of four counties in Northern Ireland with a Catholic majority, with 58% of the population coming from a Catholic community background. Around 10% of the population was born outside the United Kingdom and Ireland, mainly immigrants from the European Union and concentrated in the Craigavon urban area (Lurgan, Portadown and Craigavon).
Community background and religion
|Religion or religion brought up in||Number||(%)|
|Protestant and Other Christian||66,021||34.0|
|None (no religion)||13,018||6.7|
|Church of Ireland||24,437||12.6|
|Other Christian (including Christian related)||13,290||6.8|
|Protestant and Other Christian: Total||59,481||30.6|
|Religion not stated||2,876||1.5|
|White: British/Irish/Northern Irish/English/Scottish/Welsh
(with or without non-UK or Irish national identities)
|White: Irish Traveller||675||0.3|
|Asian or Asian British: Total||2,445||1.3|
|Asian/Asian British: Indian||615||0.3|
|Asian/Asian British: Chinese||589||0.3|
|Asian/Asian British: Filipino||405||0.2|
|Asian/Asian British: Pakistani||192||0.01|
|Asian/Asian British: Arab||107||0.055|
|Asian/Asian British: Other Asian||537||0.3|
|Black or Black British: Total||1,597||0.8|
|Black/Black British: Black African||1,086||0.6|
|Black/Black British: Black Other||511||0.2|
|Other: Any other ethnic group: Total||522||0.3|
Country of birth
|Country of birth||Number||(%)|
|United Kingdom and Ireland||175,548||90.3|
|Republic of Ireland||6,099||3.1|
|Other non-EU countries||494||0.2|
|Rest of World||4,406||2.3|
|Middle East and Asia||2,356||1.2|
|North America, Central America and Caribbean||649||0.3|
|Antarctica, Oceania and Other||250||0.1|
|Main language||Usual residents aged 3+||(%)|
|All other languages||3,677||2.0|
|Total (usual residents aged 3+)||186,677||100.0|
Knowledge of Irish
|Ability in Irish||Number||(%)|
|Speaks, reads, writes and understands Irish||9,803||5.3|
|Speaks and reads but does not write Irish||1,206||0.6|
|Speaks but does not read or write Irish||4,952||2.7|
|Understands but does not read, write or speak Irish||13,150||7.0|
|Other combination of skills||2,553||1.4|
|Has some knowledge of Irish: Total||31,665||17.0|
|No ability in Irish||155,012||83.0|
|Total (usual residents aged 3+)||186,677||100.0|
Knowledge of Ulster Scots
|Ability in Ulster Scots||Number||(%)|
|Speaks, reads, writes and understands Ulster Scots||1,653||0.9|
|Speaks and reads but does not write Ulster Scots||723||0.4|
|Speaks but does not read or write Ulster Scots||1,795||1.0|
|Understands but does not read, write or speak Ulster Scots||8,813||4.7|
|Other combination of skills||1,310||0.7|
|Has some knowledge of Ulster Scots: Total||14,294||7.7|
|No ability in Ulster Scots||172,383||92.3|
|Total (usual residents aged 3+)||186,677||100.0|
|Northern Irish only||32,569||16.8%|
|British and Northern Irish only||11,039||5.7%|
|Irish and Northern Irish only||3,327||1.7%|
|British, Irish and Northern Irish only||1,521||0.8%|
|British and Irish only||773||0.4%|
|All Irish identities||82,057||42.2%|
|All British identities||62,771||32.3%|
|All Northern Irish identities||49,424||25.4%|
County Armagh is traversed by two major highways – the M1 linking Belfast to Dungannon crosses the north of the county whilst the A1/N1 from Belfast to Dublin runs in the far south east. Other major roads in the county include the A3 and A29.
Armagh once had a well-developed railway network with connections to, among others, Armagh City, Culloville, Goraghwood, Markethill, Vernersbridge, Tynan (see History of rail transport in Ireland ) but today only Newry (Bessbrook), Portadown, Poyntzpass, Scarva, and Lurgan are served by rail.
There is a possible railway re-opening from Portadown railway station to Armagh railway station in the future. Government Minister for the Department for Regional Development, Danny Kennedy MLA indicates railway restoration plans of the line from Portadown to Armagh.
Ulsterbus provides the most extensive public transport system within the county, including frequent bus transfers daily from most towns to Belfast. Northern Ireland Railways / Iarnród Éireann's Enterprise service provides connections to Dublin in little over an hour and Belfast in little over forty minutes, several times daily.
In association football, the NIFL Premiership, which operates as the top division, has one team in the county: Glenavon, with Portadown, Annagh United, Armagh City, Dollingstown, Loughgall and Lurgan Celtic competing in the NIFL Championship, which operates as levels two and three.
People associated with County Armagh
- Frank Aiken (1898–1983), born in County Armagh, Irish Republican, Irish Minister for External Affairs, Tánaiste
- Saint Benignus of Armagh, (died 467), first rector of the Cathedral School of Armagh and Bishop of Armagh
- Brian Boru (941–1014), buried in Armagh City, victor of Clontarf, High King of Ireland
- George Buchanan Armstrong (1822–1871), born in County Armagh, developed new system of sorting mail on trains in the United States
- Sir Robert Hart (1835–1911), born in County Armagh, second Inspector-General of China's Imperial Maritime Customs Service (IMCS) from 1863 to 1911
- Arthur Hunter Palmer (1819–1898), born in County Armagh, 5th Premier of Queensland
- Samuel Knox (1756–1832), born in County Armagh, Presbyterian clergyman, school principal, and author.
- Tommy Makem (1932–2007), born in County Armagh, singer, musician, and songwriter, often called "The Bard of Armagh".
- Seamus Mallon (1936–2020), born in County Armagh, first deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland
- John McCreesh, American politician who served in the Pennsylvania State Senate from 1935 to 1958 was born in Armagh County in 1881.
- Colin Morgan (1986– ), born in County Armagh, actor
- Paul Muldoon (1951– ), born in County Armagh, poet, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the T. S. Eliot Prize
- Tomás Ó Fiaich (1923–1990), born in County Armagh, Cardinal (Catholicism), Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland 1977–90
- Eunan O'Neill (1982), born in County Armagh, journalist, Russia Today
- Sir William Olpherts (1822–1902), born in County Armagh, soldier and recipient of the Victoria Cross
- Ian Paisley (1926– 2014), born in County Armagh, clergyman, politician, second First Minister of Northern Ireland
- Saint Patrick (fifth century), first Bishop of Armagh
- George William Russell 'Æ' (1867–1919), born in County Armagh, author, critic and painter
- Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh (1759–1822), educated in The Royal School, Armagh. British Foreign Secretary, Secretary for War, Leader of the United Kingdom House of Commons and Chief Secretary for Ireland
- Colin Turkington (1982), born in Portadown, County Armagh, professional racing driver and 2009 British Touring Car champion.
- James Ussher (1581–1656), Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland 1625–1656
- Jim McAllister (1943–2013), Born in Crossmaglen, County Armagh, politician and author.
- Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley (1760–1842), educated in The Royal School, Armagh. Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and Governor General of India
- Andrew Nesbitt (1960), raised in Aughnagurgan, County Armagh, professional rally driver and winner of the 2000 and 2002 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. Considered one of Irelands top 5 ever drivers.
Places of interest
- Armagh Observatory, founded in 1790 & Armagh Planetarium, a modern working astronomical research institute with a rich heritage
- Armagh Public Library on Abbey Street in Armagh City, especially rich in 17th and 18th century English books, including Dean Jonathan Swift's own copy of the first edition of his Gulliver's Travels with his manuscript corrections
- Navan Fort, now a tree ring mound which once housed the rulers of Ulster with a modern interactive visitor centre
- Saint Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral, founded 445, seat of the Church of Ireland's Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, containing the grave of Brian Boru
- Saint Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral, commenced in 1838, seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, stands on a hill and dominates the local countryside
- Gosford Castle, mock medieval 19th-century castle with substantial grounds
- Slieve Gullion, extinct volcano with crater lake, highest burial cairn in Ireland, views of 9 counties, a Mass rock, and a visitor centre at its foot
View of Slieve Gullion
South Armagh Countryside
Killnasaggart Stone, 700 A.D.
St. Patrick's Anglican Cathedral, est. 445
The small town of Markethill
Clare Glen Forest, Tandragee
Approach to Crossmaglen
- Abbeys and priories in Northern Ireland (County Armagh)
- List of Irish counties by area
- List of Irish counties by population
- Lord Lieutenant of Armagh
- High Sheriff of Armagh
- Northern Ireland General Register Office (1975). "Table 1: Area, Buildings for Habitation and Population, 1971". Census of Population 1971; Summary Tables (PDF). Belfast: HMSO. p. 1. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 July 2019. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
- Census figures are no longer released detailing returns for Counties but rather Parliamentary Constituency, Local Government District, Electoral Ward and Output Area. This figure is based on a tally of all persons resident in the wards comprising County Armagh on 29 April 2001, i.e. all electoral wards of the Newry & Armagh Parliamentary Constituency (minus St. Mary's, St. Patrick's and Windsor Hill from County Down) combined with the 17 wards in the Upper Bann Parliamentary Constituency from County Armagh (i.e. Derrytrasna, Birches, Bleary, Drumgask, Taghnevan, Court, Annagh, Brownstown, Ballybay, Ballyoran, Corcrain, Edenderry, Killycomain, Kernan, Drumgor, Mourneview, Church, Knocknashane, Parklane, Woodville, Drumnamoe, and Tavanagh). "Area Profiles". Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service. Archived from the original on 7 January 2019. Retrieved 8 August 2008.
- Tourism Ireland: 2007 Yearly Report in Ulster Scots Archived 17 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- North-South Ministerial Council: 2006 Annual Report in Ulster Scots Archived 27 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine
- "Build or find Census 2021 tables | NISRA Flexible Table Builder". build.nisra.gov.uk. Retrieved 18 July 2023.
- "Your Place And Mine – Armagh -". www.bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
- "NI temperature record broken for third time in a week". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 22 July 2021. Archived from the original on 22 July 2021. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
- "Met Office". Retrieved 4 October 2008.[dead link]
- For 1653 and 1659 figures from Civil Survey Census of those years, Paper of Mr Hardinge to Royal Irish Academy 14 March 1865.
- Census for post 1821 figures. Archived 9 March 2005 at the Wayback Machine
- "Histpop – The Online Historical Population Reports Website". www.histpop.org. Archived from the original on 7 May 2016.
- NISRA – Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (c) 2013 Archived 17 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Nisranew.nisra.gov.uk (27 September 2010). Retrieved on 23 July 2013.
- Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. (eds.). Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
- Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700–1850". The Economic History Review. 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x. hdl:10197/1406. Archived from the original on 4 December 2012.
- Tony Nugent (2013), Were You at the Rock? The History of Mass Rocks in Ireland, Liffey Press, Dublin. Pages 32–39.
- "Myth of Bandit Country". Armagh: Iarchimi Ard Mhacha Theas. 16 May 2014. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
- Norwitz, Jeffrey, ed. (2009). Pirates, Terrorists, and Warlords: The History, Influence, and Future of Armed Groups Around the World. Skyhorse Publishing. p. 107. ISBN 978-1-626-36987-0.
- "Continuity IRA shot dead officer". BBC News. London. 10 March 2009. Archived from the original on 13 April 2021. Retrieved 10 March 2009.
- "Continuity IRA claims PSNI murder". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. 10 March 2009. Archived from the original on 11 March 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2009.
- "Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972". Legislation.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 30 October 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
- See the Northern Ireland (Lieutenancy) Order 1975 (SI 1975 No. 156)
- "National identity (person based) - basic detail (classification 1)". NISRA. Retrieved 18 August 2023.
- "National Identity (Irish)". NISRA. Retrieved 18 August 2023.
- "National Identity (British)". NISRA. Retrieved 18 August 2023.
- "National Identity (Northern Irish)". NISRA. Retrieved 18 August 2023.
- "Statistical classification of settlements". NI Neighbourhood Information Service. Archived from the original on 17 February 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2009.
- The Ulster Gazette. 16 May 2013
- "Kennedy has hopes for Armagh line restoration – Portadown Times". Archived from the original on 21 August 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
- Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607–1896. Marquis Who's Who. 1963.
- "Pennsylvania State Senate – John J McCreesh Biography". www.legis.state.pa.us. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
- County Armagh at Curlie
- County Armagh on the interactive map of the counties of Great Britain and Ireland – Wikishire
- Armagh and Down tourism
- Armagh history
- Notes on County Armagh
- Selected Monuments in County Armagh
- South Armagh – The Myth of Bandit Country