County Armagh (Contae Ard Mhacha in Irish) is a county in Ulster. It is the smallest of the six counties that form Northern Ireland. County Armagh is known as the Orchard County because the land is so fertile for apple-growing. Its main town is Armagh, in the middle of the county, although Lurgan and Portadown, in the north of the county, each have larger populations.
The county borders Lough Neagh to the north, County Down to the east, County Tyrone to the north-west, and counties Louth and Monaghan, both in the Republic of Ireland, to the south and south-west respectively.
The River Blackwater runs along the border with County Tyrone. The River Bann enters Lough Neagh in the north, flowing though the north-east of the county. Mountains in Armagh include Slieve Gullion, Carrigatuke and Camlough Mountain.
There are also a number of islands in the county's section of Lough Neagh: Coney Island, Coney Island Flat, Croaghan Flat, Derrywarragh Island, Padian, Phil Roe's Flat and the Shallow Flat.
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 septs of the county were descendants of the Collas, the O'Hanlons and MacCanns, and the Ui Neill, 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.
Armagh was the seat of St. Patrick, and in Roman Catholic tradition, continues to be his see. County Armagh is one of four historic counties of Northern Ireland to presently have a majority of the population from a Catholic community background, according to the 2001 census.
The city of Armagh, known as the "ecclesiastical capital" of ireland it is the centre of Christianity in Ireland. There are two cathedrals in the city, both dedicated to St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. One is the Church of Ireland Cathedral, the seat of the Anglican archbishop, the primate of the Church of Ireland. St. Patrick is believed to have founded a church on this site in the fifth century AD, but the present building is mainly a result of thirteenth and nineteenth century re-building, as the church has frequently been destroyed or fallen into decay during the turbulent history of the region. The Roman Catholic Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Primate of All Ireland and was constructed in the Victorian-era.
Craigavon, Portadown, Lurgan, Tandragee and Loughall are also significant towns in County Armagh.
Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/
If you have photographs or knowledge of the area and would like to contribute we would love to hear from you. Original work only please - you must own the copyright.