Saints and Stones: St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral (Armagh)
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The origins of Saint Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh are related to the construction in 445 A.D. of a stone church on the Druim Saileach (Sallow Ridge) hill by St. Patrick.

The Cathedral stands on the hill from which the City of Armagh derives its name - Ard Macha. The hill of Macha. Macha, a legendary pre-christian tribal princess - some say goddess - is also linked with the nearby Emain Macha, a major ritual site occupied from late Neolithic/early Bronze Age times that is regarded as having been an ancient Iron Age royal center.After the ritual destruction of the sanctuary at Emain, it is likely that the nearby hill of Ard Macha became the center of the Ulaid (the local tribal group that gave its name to Ulster). It is this hilltop enclosure that St. Patrick acquired and within which he built his first stone church.

From the 5th Century of the Christian era, the hill acquired a new significance with the arrival in Armagh of St. Patrick. In his travels throughout the country, Patrick eventually reached Armagh where, following some hard negotiating with a local Chieftain, Daire, he was given his desired site on the hill of Armagh. (St. Patrick's earliest church in Armagh was probably Templum na Ferta, the Church of the Relics, on a site close to Scotch Street, below the Hill of Armagh.) In what is believed to be the year 445 A.D., he built his church on the hill. Whether or not the building was of stone, as the Irish name Damhliag Mor implies, is uncertain, but there certainly was a great stone church at Armagh in the 9th Century according to the Annals of Ireland. This was the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop until the Reformation. It is on this same site that today's Church of Ireland Cathedral stands.

After the death of St. Patrick, St. Cormac, one of his successors as Bishop of Armagh, made the church the center of a monastic settlement and for many centuries Armagh was a celebrated seat of learning, attracting students from all over Europe. Indeed, by the 12th Century, only those who had studied at Armagh were permitted to teach theology.

The Book of Armagh was written here by a scribe named Ferdomnach of Armagh who wrote the first part of the book in 807 or 808 A.D. for Patrick's heir, Torbach. Two other scribes are known to have assisted Ferdomnach. (There is a stained-glass window of Torbach and Ferdomnach in the cathedral today.) Vikings from Norway raided the hill on at least ten occasions between 832 A.D. and 943 A.D. This danger was only finally removed in 1014 when the Irish High King, Brian Boru, defeated the Danes at the Battle of Clontarf. After his death in the field at Clontarf, his remains were brought to the hill of Armagh for internment in a spot indicated today by a stone inscription on the exterior west wall of the north transept.

Over the years, the Church itself has been destroyed and rebuilt 17 times.

Armagh is also the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh. Across the valley and on another hill sits the great French Gothic twin-spired cathedral completed in 1873, meaning that the building and site have little, if any, historical connection with St. Patrick.

About St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral (Armagh)

Saint Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh
Saint Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh History
Wikipedia: St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh (Church of Ireland)
Northern Ireland Tourist Board: St. Patrick's Country (pdf)
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Patrick
Wikipedia: Saint Patrick

Journey to St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral (Armagh)

St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral in located on Cathedral Close in the center of the city of Armagh, County Armagh, No. Ireland.

Ordnance Survey Map (H8745)

Visitors Information

Visitors information may be found at the Saint Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh and the geograph.ie websites. General tourist information may be found at the Discover Northern Ireland County Down Tourism website.

Additional Photos of St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral

Reader Board, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Close-Up, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Close-Up, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Close-Up, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Brian Boru's Grave, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Entrance, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Close-Up of Carving, Entrance, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
List of Abbots and Bishops of St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Interior, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Main Altar, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Side Altar, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Ceiling, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Close-Up, St. Patrick Stained-Glass Window, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Torbach and Ferdomnach Stained-Glass Window, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Floor Tiles, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Sections of 11th Century Celtic Cross, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
The Tanderagee Idol, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Sculptured Stone Idols, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Carvings Left Over from Renovation, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral
Spires of St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral Taken from St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral

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