Charles D. Trimble
Published in ‘Ulster’ the official publication of the Ulster Development Association Ltd., 1939.
When first the mists of time parted, and the story of Ireland began to take shape in the tales of the tribal seanacaides, it was of the deeds of the heroes in and around Armagh they told.
Ireland’s history was largely writ in Armagh, and the destiny of many nations was altered by the men who through the ages left the varied hills and plains of the County and City to carry their messages abroad.
To-day, there is not a parish, scarce a townland, in the county which does not bear some sign of days gone by. Flint man, bronze man, iron man, and steel man, each has left his trade mark, and those who would peer into the history of Ulster or of Ireland must come to Armagh.
The City to-day has an atmosphere all its own. Fine modern shops line the main streets, which bear names dating back fifteen hundred years, while side streets twist and curve up the steep hill to where the Cathedral of St. Patrick has stood since the day when the Saint made the City the Capital of his Church. For untold centuries before that, the ground was revered as holy by the pagan Irish. Armagh is the most beautiful inland town in Ireland; there is history in its every stone, but those who would go there should have some kindred spirit to accompany them, with whom to share the charm of the Ancient Citie.
“I found in Armagh the splendid
Meekness, wisdom and prudence blended
Fasting as Christ hath recommended
And noble councillors untranscended.”
(Prince Aldfrid’s Itinerary through Ireland, written circa 684. He was afterwards King of the Northumbrian Saxons and one of the many Englishmen who studied at the ancient School of Armagh).
The City of Armagh
Just how old is the City of Armagh even archaeologists do not know. It is named after Queen Maha, but there were three Mahas, and whether Ard Maha – the Hill of Maha – is called for that famous Maha who built the great Navan Fort outside the present city, or whether her earlier namesake named the hill itself 3,000 years B.C., legend does not say with certainty. One thing is certain, there was bound to be a city on Armagh’s hills, for it is situate where the two great roads into the Ulster Basin meet. One, the famous Moyry Pass, is probably the route by which the men of the Iron Age entered to drive the earlier settlers of the Bronze Age into Counties Down and Antrim, as later it was the way by which the great road from Tara passed through the Southern Ulster Mountains from the central plain of Ireland. The other road is the Monaghan corridor between the Armagh mountains and the water-logged country about Lough Oughter and Lough Erne. One of the most beautiful of Irish cities, Armagh was about 300 B.C. the seat of the Warrior Queen Maha, who compelled her captives taken in battle to build the great palace at Emhain Maha, of which the mounds and deep ditches can still be seen to-day, girdling the high hill which became for hundreds of years the centre of government for Ulster, and gave the city that importance which probably influenced St. Patrick later to make it the ecclesiastical centre of Ireland, which it has remained ever since.
Old as Armagh is, its history is packed with legend and story, from the time when Maha first traced Emhain Maha with her brooch, until in later times the O’Neills and O’Donnells under the Red Hand Banner drove English troops in route from the Blackwater, slaying their General, Marshall Bagenal, or later still Primates expended their fortunes on the wonderful library or the Observatory or on restoring the Cathedral.
Emhain Maha became the home of the Red Branch Knights, who for hundreds of years were to Ireland what Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table were to England. Under Conor, King of Ulster, there arose heroes whose deeds vie with those of the Odyssey and whose fights were sung by the harpists.
Probably the oldest church in Ulster still in use, the old Episcopal Cathedral of Armagh stands on the site where in 445 St. Patrick built his first cathedral. Part of the present building is said by some to date from the eighth century, and the present building was commenced in the thirteenth, being restored in the eighteenth century. In the grounds beside it are buried many celebrated clerics, warriors and kings, including Benen (successor to St. Patrick) and King Brian Boru and his son Morrough O’Brian, who in 1014 were killed after defeating, at Clontarf in County Dublin, the Danes and Northmen who had ruled Armagh, sacked and burned the Cathedral, and maintained a fleet on Lough Neagh. Not half a mile from the city, on the banks of the Callan River, lies the cenotaph of King Niall Caille, drowned there in 846 when warring with those same invaders.
Grouped round the old Cathedral are many noble buildings, including the Library which Primate Robinson endowed in 1781, and which ranks amongst the first three in Ireland. Over its porch an inscription in Greek characters is typical of the spirit of the place – “Pseuches Iatreion,” the “Medicine Shop of the Soul.” From the tower of the Old Cathedral the city may be seen at its best. Close by is The Primate Alexander Memorial Hall, erected in the present century in honour of the Poet-Primate. His wife, too, is well-known as the author of the hymns, “There is a Green Hill,” and “Once in Royal David’s City.”
In the old Cathedral are monuments by famous sculptors, such as Rysbraeck, Nollekens, Chantry, Roubiliac, etc., and many old Regimental and Volunteer colours, including a French colour, the only enemy colour ever captured with-in the British Islands, and the only colour ever taken in battle by a British Regiment of Militia. It was taken from the French at Ballinamuck in 1798 by the Armagh Light Infantry, when General Humbert invaded Ireland.
Across the valley on the opposite hill are lifted high to heaven the twin spires of the National Cathedral of St. Patrick, erected by the Roman Catholic Church by National subscription “cum Gloire De agus Onorana h’Eireann” (“To the Glory of God and the Honour of Ireland”) , and as a memorial to the National Apostle.
The Observatory was founded in the year 1790 by Primate Robinson, Baron Rokeby, on Knockamel (The Hill of Honey) , from which was issued in 1859 “The Armagh Star Catalogue” still a standard reference amongst astronomers. Here is to be seen the largest telescope in Ireland, with some unique clocks and instruments. The Director welcomes visitors if he receives notice of their coming. The building itself is a remarkably fine specimen of a small Georgian house.
The Primate’s Palace, a fine old Georgian Mansion, was built by Primate Robinson. It stands in the Palace Demesne and contains many fine paintings, including portraits of all the Primates since Adam Loftus, who came to the Archiepiscopal Chair in 1562, besides a number of royal portraits.
St. Malachi was born in Armagh, and a tablet on a house in Ogle Street records that this is the traditional site of his birthplace.
On the Benburb Road, some two miles from the city, and a half mile across country from the Navan Ring, is a circle of large stones known locally as “The Druid’s Ring.” It is actually the remains of an old burial cairn, and legend has it that close by in Terreskane, Conor MacNessa, a famous king under whom the Red Branch Knights reached their greatest fame, was buried.
Beside the city at Deans Hill is a square Georgian house built in 1765. Once the residence of the Deans of Armagh, it is now occupied by Senator The Rt. Hon. H. B. Armstrong, H.M.L., whose record of public service, extending over sixty years, is equalled by few in the country.
The “Book of Armagh,” now in Trinity College Library in Dublin, is one of the few books which have come down from the early days of history. It contains a life of St. Patrick, one of the chief relics of the See of Armagh, and a copy of the New Testament; written in 807, it is a copy of a much older manuscript. The “Bell of St. Patrick” is now in the National Museum, Dublin, and was used at the recent Eucharistic Congress in Dublin. It is probably a bell of St. Patrick’s time. Its Shrine is the most interesting specimen of the kind now existing, and is of a much later date, being executed between the years 1091 and 1105.
St. Patrick founded at Armagh a School which became famous throughout Europe. To-day the Royal School, founded in 1608, carries on the work begun many years before. The great Lord Castlereagh and the historian Lecky were amongst famous pupils of the past. The first Marquis of Wellesley, Governor General of India, who triumphed over Tippoo Sahib and destroyed the Empire of Mysore, was an old boy of the School, as was Leonard Gillespie, Surgeon of the Fleet to Admiral Lord Nelson, who has left the only known account of life on Nelso’ns Flagship ‘Victory’ Of later fame is C. S. Marriott, the English cricketer, and Admiral Sir Frederick Dreyer, who is not only one of the greatest living experts on gunnery, but is also, possibly, the tallest man in the British Navy.
Beside St. Patrick’s (Roman Catholic) Cathedral is the Diocesan CoIlege, carried on by the Vincentian Fathers.
In Armagh the Golf Club welcomes visitors, and there is good trout fishing in the CaIlan and Blackwater Rivers.
Holiday makers who seek a quiet inland resort, students of history, lovers of nature and the touring motorist will be delighted with a stay at this old city. The Great Northern Railway connects the city with Belfast and Dublin via Portadown, and there are good bus services, by which it is possible to reach all parts of Ulster. Two Swimming Pools, one large and one small, have been provided by the Local Authority, and add to the holiday amenities.
On The Mall, a pretty park which contains the playing fields of the cricket and rugby football clubs, is the County Museum, in which are housed many articles illustrating various phases of the past history of the County and City, as well as articles of more general interest. Attached to it is the Regimental Museum of the Royal Ulster Rifles, in which are many and varied exhibits dealing with the Regiment and its Special Reserve Battalions, which in former days were Militia Regiments, and included the South Down Militia, heroes of the famous ballad. Armagh County Council is the first in Ireland to have a Museum of its own.
Midway between Armagh and the Navan Fort, on the old coach road, will be found St. Patrick’s Well, which is said to overflow once a year. On the eve of the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, when this miraculous event takes place, there is an immense pilgrimage to the hill side where the little pool lies at the roots of a fairy thorn, always hung with many wisps of cloth tied there by worshippers. After the pilgrimage these are more numerous than ever.
In the Palace Demesne there are the ruins of an old Franciscan Friary, founded in 1266 by Primate O’Scanlan, of which now only the western archway and some fragments of high walls remain. The Friary was amongst those suppressed by Henry VIII. in 1542, and in 1561 it was burned by Shane O’NeiIl, who at the same time destroyed the Cathedral and the houses of the City, his excuse being – he would not have the English therein. In 1596 the ground Was the scene of a struggle between the troops of Hugh O’Neill and General Norris. The interior was used as a burying ground until about 1740; Gormlaith, wife of Domhnall O’Neill, King of Ulster, Was buried in the Friary precincts on the 14th April, 1353. Tickets for admission to the Friary can be had at the County Museum.
From the Friary, a pleasant woodland path leads towards St. Brigid’s Well; it is known as Lady Anne’s Walk (Lady Anne being the sister of Primate J. G. Beresford) and gives its name to the book written by the gifted daughter of the late Primate Alexander. Past Lady Anne’s garden, now a tennis court, the path comes to a little stream and turns right to the Palace, but to reach the well the path has to be abandoned, and the route strikes out across the meadow to the clump of trees where is the well, once a place which drew considerable pilgrimages; the waters were generally used for eye troubles, though they Were considered good for all ills. The Well was formerly overhung by “gentry” bushes on which rags of all colours could be seen fluttering in the breeze. It is said that Lady Anne brought some of the waters of the well to Queen Victoria when her brother, the Primate, went to pay his respects to the Queen on her accession.
Amongst the men who left County Armagh and made their mark on history was the Rev. Wm. Tennant, founder of the Log College, one of the first Colleges in the United States; it afterwards became the College of New Jersey, and is to-day known as Princetown University. Alexander J. Porter, the American Patriot; Sir Frank Smith, the Canadian statesman; William C. Wentworth, the greatest of Australian statesmen; Martha Maria Magee, who founded Magee College in Londonderry, all came from Armagh County, whilst among famous writers there were Rev. James Seaton Reid, Colonel Valentine Blacker, the military writer, and Stuart, historian of Armagh and a son of the Primatial City. Medicine received Dr. Henry MacCormac, father of Sir William MacCormac, Bart., James Macartney, the great anatomist, while Professor Francis Hutcheson, Glasgow University, well known for his writings and teachings on moral philosophy, Joseph B. Pentland, traveller and explorer, and James Bell, F.R.S., were others who left the Orchard County to win renown, and many more are recorded in the following pages, under the places which gave them birth.
Half a dozen miles north of Armagh, close to the Portadown Road, is Kilmore – The Great Church. Kilmore Parish Church in antiquity yields only to the Cathedrals of Armagh and Derry, and possibly is older than either, as it is reputed to date from 422 A.D. The Square Tower has walls of immense thickness, and these are the more extraordinary in that they enclose the almost perfect round tower of the Monastery of Cill Mho’r. Little is known of the Monastery, but it is reported to have been founded by St. Mochto in the fifth century.
A dozen miles north on the shores of Lough Neagh is Maghery, a hamlet which lies close to the fruit district. The hotel here has become in recent years the headquarters of a popular tour. Nearby is Coney Island, and old Ordnance Survey maps show “St. Patrick’s road said to run through the Lake” to the island. It was from Coney Island that Coney Island in New York Harbour gained its name, Maghery emigrants being responsible for the designation. In the graveyard attached to Maghery Chapel there are the remains of one of the old granges of the Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul at Armagh.
At the Birches, in this vicinity, Thomas Jackson, father of the famous American General Stonewall Jackson, was born and lived until he emigrated to the United States.
Once Port-ne-dun, the Port of the Fort, situated some 10 miles north-east of Armagh, on the main road to Belfast, is one of the most thriving industrial and market towns in Ulster, although in the heart of the fruit-growing country which has earned for County Armagh the title of “The garden of Ulster.” It is a great linen centre, and, by reason of its bridge over the River Bann, is the gateway through which traffic for western and south-western Ireland must pass. It is the railway junction for the main railway lines
from Belfast, Dublin, Derry, Armagh, and the Midlands. Industrially, Portadown has many linen weaving and handkerchief factories, foundries, flour mills, and a cider factory, while its roses have a world-wide reputation.
The Bann Basin with its bogs offers the sportsman fishing and shooting, while the 30 acre public park, with its pleasant river, is yearly growing in beauty as the gardener’s work develops the shrubberies and coppices through which its pleasant walks meander. A new bowling green and a pleasure garden have recently been laid out beside the centre of the town on the banks of the Bann while other amusements include football, fishing, golf and tennis, with numerous reading and recreation rooms.
Close by was born “AE” – G. W. Russell – poet, painter, economist and a remarkable journalist.
Another distinguished Portadown man was Sir Robert Hart, first Inspector General of the Imperial Customs in China, who has been described as “The most influential and most upright European the East has ever known.” By his straightforwardness he made British integrity respected in the Far East. A tablet has been erected by the Ulster Tourist Development Association, Ltd. , in Woodhouse Street to commemorate this famous Ulsterman’s birthplace. Portadown is also the native place of Sir Robert Bredon, who succeeded his fellow-townsman and is almost equally famous. A fine new school erected by the Armagh Education Authority in Portadown is named the Sir Robert Hart Memorial P .E. School.
From Portadown to Richhill, Kilmore, and Loughgall a network of roads runs through a district covered with fruit trees and bushes. You may drive through this garden by narrow lanes and broad roads, coloured and scented by the pink and white bloom of fruit trees, by schools and villages which are gardens in themselves. The centre of the district is Loughgall, a quaint old place more English than Irish in atmosphere. Its one long street runs into, a little valley and rises again, and, unlike the customary white of Ireland, most of its thatched cottages are coloured the pink of apple blossom.
At Loughgall there are two planters’ bawns, and in the very pretty lake in the manor grounds is a crannoge, or island refuge. Permission can be obtained to go through the grounds.
Between Portadown and Loughgall was fought the Battle of the Diamond, which resulted in the formation of the Orange Institution. The first meeting was held in Jackson’s house in Loughgall and the table at which the Constitution was drawn up can still be seen there.
Five miles from Portadown on the Belfast Road is Lurgan – The Long Ridge – one of the chief centres of the linen industry, and the home of handkerchief making and embroidery.
Once in O’Neill’s land, Lurgan, or the parish of Shankill, was forfeited to the Crown after the flight of the Earls, and in 1609 Sir William Brownlow was given 2,500 acres which included the parish to “plant” With English families he founded the town, but in the Rebellion of 1641 Sir Phelim O’Neill destroyed it, and until the reign of King Charles II. no real effort was made to rebuild. Then the War of the Revolution broke out, Mr. Brownlow opposed James II., the town being again destroyed.
After the Battle of the Boyne, King William III. granted a patent for fairs and markets, and the industry of the people in the land made these valuable. When Queen Anne was on the throne William Waring, M.P., introduced diaper manufacture, and from that time Lurgan has never looked back.
Lurgan is not a mile from Lough Neagh, so that there is good shooting and fishing, and other sports include tennis, golf, cricket, football-both Association and Rugby and hockey, and there are good bowling greens. Visitors are welcomed.
There is a splendid public park beside the town, in what was the demesne of Lord Lurgan, descendant of William Brownlow, who founded the town. The park contains a beautiful lake of 53 acres.
In Lurgan was born on 20th October, 1674, James Logan, statesman and scientist, secretary to William Penn. He afterwards became Chief Secretary of the State, Provincial Secretary and President of the Council.
Five miles south-east of Portadown, and ten miles east of Armagh, is of considerable antiquity. It was founded by the O’Hanlons who helped to drive the Iberian princes from the Navan Fort and from County Armagh in 332; by building their castle at Tandragee, the O’Hanlons became guards whose duty was to keep the dispossessed Iberians in Counties Down and Antrim.
The O’Hanlons lost their heritage When O’Neill and O’Donnell had to fly in the first years of the 17th century and Tandragee was given to Sir Oliver St. John, who rebuilt the town. In the Rebellion of 1641 the O’Hanlons recaptured and destroyed the castle, about which time Capt. Henry St. John was shot through the head and killed by followers of Redmond O’Hanlon, the highway-man. The present castle, now the property of the Duke of Manchester, was built a century ago to replace the old mansion of the St. John’s and their successors.
When the Parish Church, also built by Sir Oliver, was being restored in 1812, the skull of Captain St. John was found. In 1849 transepts were added to the church, and on that occasion the skull was again exposed to view, and it was stolen, but four days later was found in the church-yard wrapped in brown paper.
There is excellent fishing near the town in the Cusher River. The industries are agriculture and linen weaving.
Tandragee was the birth place of George Benn, the historian, of Belfast.
At Relicarn, an ancient graveyard on the road from Tandragee to Scarva, may be seen the burial place of O’Hanlon, one of the most romantic of the 17th century highwaymen. This burial ground is notable also because of an ecclesiastical bell found here, the earliest datable example of its kind yet discovered in Ireland.
A beautifully situated village on the Cusher, a fine trout river, and not far from Tandragee, is chiefly notable for being the site of the Earl of Bath’s mill, which in 1641 was used as a prison by Sir Phelim O’Neill, the rebel leader. The glen here is one of the prettiest in the county.
Blackwatertown and Charlemont
To the west of Armagh lie the little villages of Blackwatertown and Charlemont, now of small importance, but in the time when The Earls of Tyrone disputed ownership of Armagh with the English, very important places indeed.
At Blackwatertown there are still to be seen the ramparts of the fort built in the sixteenth century to keep Hugh, Earl of Tyrone, in his own county, on the west bank of the Blackwater River. In 1602 this fort was replaced by one at Charlemont, from whose first commander, Capt. Toby Caulfield, the Viscounts of Charlemont of to-day are descended. Some years ago this fort was destroyed by fire, but the fine entrance gate, the old clock tower, and the outer walls still remain.
At Dartrey Lodge, not far from Charlemont, was born General Sir William Olpherts, V.C., whose fiery courage during the Indian Mutiny, where he won his Cross, earned him the soubriquet of “Hellfire Jack.”
In Plantation days Richhill district. midway between Armagh and Portadown, was granted to the Sacheverell family, who built a castle in Mulladry, destroyed in 1641 , and of which nothing now remains except an armorial stone brought to Richhill and placed in a house in the town.
The present mansion in Richhill demesne was built following the Restoration by Major Edward Richardson, who married the Sacheverell heiress. Here the Richardson family resided for many generations. The house was for a time the residence of the famous Dolly Munro, wife of William Richardson, M.P. for Armagh, whose coach, drawn by six grey horses, with outriders, was often to be seen in the City of Armagh in the latter days of the eighteenth century. The fine old gates, beautiful examples of mid-eighteenth century ironwork were taken in 1936 to the Governor’s residence at Hillsborough.
From Ahorey, close to Richhill, there went forth in 1807 Alexander Campbell and his father, Thomas Campbell, a former minister of Ahorey, to be the founders of the Baptist Church of America.
A thriving little town, some seven miles from Armagh, has a fine linen weaving factory and a good weekly market. Here is Gosford Demesne, where there is the castle which is said to be the largest house in Ireland; built in the nineteenth century, it cost some Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£250,000.
Previous to that the Acheson family (now Earls of Gosford) owners of the estate, had another residence, the remains of which can still be seen. Here Dean Swift was the guest of Sir Arthur and Lady Acheson in 1728-29.
Near by is Mullabrack Church, where some fine old monuments can be seen, including one to George Lambert, V.C., of the 84th Regiment, Adjutant to his Regiment.
This officer was born in the village of Hamiltonsbawn, a mile away, and won the Cross in the Indian Mutiny. At Mullabrack, too, Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, V.C., spent many of his boyhood days, his father being Rector.
Gets its name from the bawn or castle of John Hamilton, who was granted lands here in Plantation days and who died in 1633; he was buried in Mullabrack Church where his monument can still be seen, partly destroyed by ill treatment during the rebellion of 1641 .Lord Holmpatrick is the present representative of this old family.
Eight miles from Armagh, is a village in the heart of a delightful countryside. There is a fine Celtic Cross in the village and a very fine treble ringed fort at Lislooney.
Between Aughnagurgall and Armagh, is a little hamlet in a very beautiful valley, and is called after St. Tassach. Here there is an ancient Culdee burial ground and a unique group of three double ringed forts.
Is a thriving market town which was once a linen centre, but now the linen business is concentrated in the village of Darkley, a couple of miles away. It is about eight miles south of Armagh, and at Listrakelt, not far away, there is the ruined church of Derrynoose, an ancient foundation mentioned in the taxation lists of 1302 and 1306. In this district there are souterrains and earthen ringed forts, whileon the Mullyard hill are the remains of a megalithic monument.
A village to the north of Newry, in one of the three ancient passes into the county, was given its name in recognition of the feat of arms of Lieutenant Charles Poyntz of the English Army, who at the head of a comparatively small force, defeated a large body of O’Neill’s men in a hand-to-hand struggle. Formerly this ancient pass, like its neighbours at Scarva and Jerretzpass, was defended by a castle, the three being built by The Duke of Albemarle.
Sir Charles’ son, Sir Toby Poyntz, in 1684 built a Church at Acton nearby, and was buried in the chancel. This church is now in ruins. In this district are Tyrone’s Ditches, the remains of an earthwork thrown up by Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, in his wars with Queen Elizabeth between 1594 and 1603.
At Poyntzpass, too, there are the remains of the Black Pig’s Dyke, a great travelling earthwork, linking up the portions in Scarva and Goraghwood, with the sections in Seafin and Aghayollogue. This was built after the defeat of the Ultonians by the Three Collas in 332 A.D. as a boundary to divide the conquerors from the vanquished. It was a great trench averaging about thirty feet wide and is still some fifteen feet deep in places. The most perfect section now remaining is in Scarva Demesne close by.
Admiral David Lucas, V.C., the first Ulsterman to win the Cross, was born at Drominargle, near this village.
Is one of the prettiest villages in the county and takes its name from the fort erected here by John Norris in early Plantation times to link up the Moyry Castle with Blackwatertown and Charlemont Forts.
An isolated village in the Fews, takes its name from the Hamilton family, who founded it in 1770, but so long as the story of Lir is remembered, Newtownhamilton will not be forgotten, as it was at Shee Fina, outside the village, that King Lir had his palace. The old coach road from Dublin came down that way and it was a great haunt of Tories in the old days. The Fews and the Black Bank Barracks were built early in the eighteenth century, one on each side of the village, to protect travellers, and from that time the trade of highwayman became too dangerous. At Harrymount in Tullyvallen and at Dorsey there are burial mounds from which bronze age burial urns have been obtained. Here is the Dorsey, an earthwork enclosing 2,678 acres, the largest entrenched enclosure of its kind in Ireland. It was probably built to guard the approaches of Emhain Maha.
At Aughnagurgan, some miles to the. west, there is a dolmen and a passage grave-and a lake full of little fighting trout; in fact this is a miniature .’lake district.”
At Ballymoyre, which is not far from Newtownhamilton, there will be found the ruins of an old church; there are two beautiful glens, the Upper and Lower, in one of which lived Florence MacMoyre, the last Keeper of the Book of Armagh. It was through this office that the family obtained the surname of MacMoyre, “Sons of the Keeper,” and they held eight townlands by virtue of this trust. These townlands comprise the parish of that name.
And now for South Armagh, where the traveller finds the character of the country completely changed. Instead of the rather flat land of the north of the county, or the rolling hills surrounding Armagh City, the slopes become steeper and steeper, until they culminate in the massive peaks of Slieve Gullion and his lesser brethren, which for thousands of years have guarded the borders of the men of Ulster.
The scenery is magnificent. From Newry a road can be taken which climbs steadily until it hangs on the steep hillside a thousand feet over the silvery waters of Carlingford Lough, with beyond it the blue slopes of the Kingdom of Mourne. At the Flagstaff, even higher up, there can be obtained one of the finest views in Ulster. On a clear day county after county is spread out like a coloured map, until the eye catches far away the hills beyond Belfast, the gleam of Lough Neagh, and the blue of the hills of Tyrone.
A prosperous village, near Newry, set amid enchanting scenery, is an ideal centre from which to explore the South Armagh mountains. Bessbrook itself has earned the distinction of being looked upon as a model village. Close by is Deramore House, a picturesque thatched residence, where the Act of Union was drawn up in 1800. It was built by Isaac Corry, last Lord Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, and it was here that he and Lord Castlereagh held the famous consultation. Close to Bessbrook, in Ballybot (now Queen Street, Newry ) , was born Lord Russell of Killowen, a famous Lord Chief Justice of England.
A short distance away, nestling in the mountains, is Camlough Lake, providing Newry town with its water supply. The surroundings are almost alpine in their picturesqueness, and a scheme of re-afforestation when completed will add still further to the beauty of this district.
In the vicinity of Camlough is Slieve Gullion, dominating the scenery for miles round, and one of the most interesting and most romantic mountains in the whole of Ireland. It is for ever linked up with Cuchullain, one of the greatest of the heroes of the Red Branch Knights.
On the south-eastern slopes of the mountain is the ancient church of Killevy, founded by St. Moninna, who was born in the year 409. In 450 she erected a wooden church here, which is said to have been replaced in 518 by a stone building, here are the ruins of a thirteenth century building and of another many centuries earlier, with a magnificent square-headed doorway. Like Armagh, it suffered from the raids of the Norsemen who pillaged it from Carlingford Lough. There was a round tower here and there is a holy well to which there are still very large pilgrimages.
Nearby in Clonlum townland there are two important cairns, both under the protection of the Armagh County Council, and on Ballymacdermott mountain not far away there is a very perfect three chambered horned cairn.
Annaghcloughmullen, near by, is the site of the first recorded cairn of this type in Ireland.
Moyry Castle was built in 1601 by Lord Mountjoy to secure the pass to the English, who had always great difficulty in forcing it. The place was a danger spot, as the surrounding hills were thickly wooded and were easily defended by a small body of men against even a very large force. It was here that in 1600 Lord Mountjoy defeated O’Neill in two battles. Immediately afterwards he cleared away some of the timber and set about building a fort and castle, and thereby made possible the Plantation of Ulster. The keep or tower remains and is a very picturesque feature in the scenery.
In the adjoining townland of Edenknappa is one of the earliest datable Christian monuments in Ireland, erected before the year 716. Locally, it is, known as Kilnasaggart Pillar Stone (The Church of the Priest) .
Towards Forkhill, the scene is ever changing. At one time the road runs, as it were, along the top of a vast basin, the bottom of which is a chess board, with vari-coloured fields, green and brown and yellow, for squares, and cattle and cottages and perhaps a little grey church for pieces. Round the board stand sentinel the mountains, with Slieve Gullion looming dark in the background. And everywhere there are the stones, the burial cairns, cashels and raths of prehistoric man. This was the country where the men of Ulster stood on guard. It was here that they turned and fought back at the later invaders from Southern seas, who had gradually driven them northward ; it was here that those same invaders, in their turn, coming north, turned and fought with the English who sought to extend their pale to St. Patrick’s City and the bushes of Tyrone. Here they made their stand, and from here right to Armagh, the country is dotted with relics of their occupation, set amidst a wild beauty of scenery.
The best way to reach Fathom is to turn in at Cloghoge Chapel, and continue up past the Flagstaff, taking great care not to cross the Border, but turn right to the Dublin-Dundalk road. There is much to interest the antiquarian here. At Clontygora is a magnificent horned cairn and there are cashels at Lisdhu and Lisbanmore,
Is a beautifully situated village, with a good trout stream running through it. The village is in the midst of delightful mountain scenery, and near by is Glendhu, one of the prettiest views in the North, with Slieve Gullion in the foreground, flanked by Carrickasticken Mountain and cairn crowned Carrickbroad.
Is another delightfully situated place in the valley of that name. It contains many places of interest, one being an old burial ground connected with St. Patrick. There are burial cairns at Lathbirget and Ballykeel.
Is a market town with a square, which is locally believed to be the largest in Europe. This is a most interesting district, and contains the parish Church of Creggan, a very ancient foundation, beautifully situated. There is good fishing in the Fane River, which here forms the Border between Northern and Southern Ireland, and near by is the ruined Glassdrurn.mond Castle, the home of the O’Neills of the Fews. It is a splendid country for earthen forts, the treble ringed example at Lisleitrim being one of the finest in the county. There are the remains of a burial cairn at Corran and a horned cairn at Annamar. On the crannoge in Lough Ross the plot for the Rebellion of 1641 was decided upon.