Armagh — the Town

Morning sunshine and blue skies brought happy smiles to our faces as we danced from window to window in our second story room. Giddy with the prospect of a rain-free day, the four of us met downstairs in the dining room. Sylvia herself made us a lovely breakfast with all the fixings: eggs, bacon, breads, jams. Fortified, the four of us took off for downtown.

Things would be open today. I was anxious to visit both St. Patrick churches (one a Roman Catholic cathedral and the other a Church of Ireland cathedral). Sylvia had pointed them out to us the day before from each of the two windows of our room.

St. Patrick's cathedral (the Catholic one) from our bedroom window

Easily finding the tourist office, we entered with the hope of first locating the genealogy expert of the town who could maybe help Mom. The expert was indeed in and could meet with Mom within the hour. While Mom and Dad waited at the T.I., Gino and I decided to explore the town.

The Northern Irish version of a Dollar Store

Centuries ago, Armagh was the center of a monastic settlement and celebrated as a seat of learning, attracting students from all over Europe. Today the town was teeming with modern day shoppers. The stores were open and people filled the streets. Consulting our guidebook, we found an area lined with buildings of Georgian architecture to admire. We passed red brick churches with spires and towers and graceful decorated arches.

Originally built as a Masonic Hall in 1884, this brick creation is now a Gospel Hall. Note the gray spire of the First Presbyterian Church in the far right background -- established in 1673.

The Gospel Hall belfry

As we wound our way back to the T.I., a loud clattering noise drew our attention. Huge silver beer kegs were rolling one by one down the sidewalk. A man stood at one end of the sidewalk, shoving the kegs off, one at a time, as another guy waited at the end of the block to catch them and hoist them into a waiting truck. Much more efficient than carrying them. They flashed smiles for our video camera.

We returned to the tourist office to check on Mom’s progress. She had just completed her visit with the expert — disappointment yet again as no information was to be found. It was simply too long ago and records had not been kept.


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