"ARMAGH, an inland county in the province of Ulster, Ireland; bounded on the N. by Lough Neagh, on the E. by the county of Down, on the S. by the county of Louth, and on the W. by the counties of Tyrone and Monaghan, from the former of which it is separated by the river Blackwater. It lies between 54° 3' and 54° 31' north latitude, and between 6° 14' and 6° 50' west longitude. It extends in length from N. to S. 32 miles, and its greatest breadth is 22 miles, comprising an area of 328,076 acres, of which 310,134 are land, and 17,941 water. On the north, it has a coast-line of 16 miles on the lough. It was constituted a county in 1586 by Sir John Perrott, then Lord Deputy of Ireland. Under his arrangement, the greater part of the province of Ulster was distributed into seven counties, of which this was one. The district had formerly belonged to the several families of Clantrassil, O'Nial, M'Cahan, and O'Hanlon. The county is subdivided into the following eight baronies:- Armagh, Tiranny, East O'Neilland, West O'Neilland, Upper Fews, Lower Fews, Upper Orior, and Lower Orior. It contains 22 parishes, with portions of several others, comprising within its limits 41,297 inhabited houses, with a population in 1861 of 189,382. Besides the city and borough of Armagh, which is the county town, and seat of the primacy of Ireland, it has eight market towns:-Lurgan, Newtown-Hamilton, Markethill, Portadown, Crossmaglen, Newly, Tandcragee, and Middleton. The local government is entrusted to a lieutenant and custos, a high sheriff, 19 deputy lieutenants, 60 magistrates, and the usual county officers. Previous to the union, it returned six representatives to the Irish parliament-two for the county, two for the borough of Armagh, and two for the borough of Charlemont. It now sends three members, two for the county, and one for the borough of Armagh, Charlemont having been disfranchised at the union. The surface of the county is generally hilly and irregular. The most level district is that in the north and north-west, bordering on Lough Neagh and the Blackwater. The hills in that district are almost wholly under cultivation. Vicar's Cairn, situated in the centre of the county, and one of the principal elevations in the northern half, does not rise above a height of 820 feet. There are some tracts of bog and marsh along the shores of the lough. The fertility of the soil, the undulation of the surface, and the well-wooded estates, make the aspect of the northern half of the county very pleasing and beautiful. Towards the south, the ground is much more irregular, and the hills rise into mountains. The principal ranges are the Pews, divided into Upper and Lower, and running mostly in a direction from southeast to north-west. Armagh Breague has an elevation of 1,200 feet, and Newry Mountain of 1,385 feet. Further to the south, and not far from the borders of Louth, is Slieve Gullion, the loftiest mountain in the county, and the loftiest but one in the province of Ulster; it is a granite peak rising to the height of 1,893 feet having a lake on its summit, and commanding a magnificent prospect as far as the bay of Dundalk. There are many varieties of rock in the county-granite at Slieve Gullion, in the Newry mountains, and the Fathom hills; mica slate abounds in the district round Cam Lough; greywacke slate in the centre of the county; white limestone in the west; red sandstone near Lough Neagh, and trap rocks in blocks in various parts. The limestone becomes reddish and of a better quality near the town of Armagh. Lead ore has been found in several parts, and a mine was formerly opened at Keady. Some traces of iron and other metals have been discovered. The climate of Armagh is more genial than that of the other counties in the province. The soil except in the rugged south, is fertile. There is much good meadow land, especially along the banks of the Blackwater and the Bann. The soil is very rich in the valleys among the hills. Wheat is grown extensively in the north and north-western districts; oats and potatoes are the principal crops elsewhere. The farms are mostly small, and spade husbandry is common. Much flax is grown, and apples are largely cultivated. The methods of farming have been improved, and the modern implements brought into use. A good deal of butter is made for exportation, from cows which graze on the banks of the rivers and on the common lands; but the scientific grazing of cattle and the pasturage of sheep are almost entirely neglected, while both goats and pigs are carefully tended. The latter, indeed, are often thoroughly domesticated. Small horses are also bred, to convey the numerous itinerant vendors of linen and other merchandise from cabin to cabin, and to the various fairs and markets which they frequent. -There are no large lakes in this county; Camlough and Lough Clay are the only two worth naming. The former is situated in a mountainous district a little to the north of Slieve Gullion; the latter is in the western part of the county, near Keady, it is the source of one branch of the river Callan. The Blackwater and the Bann are the chief rivers. The former flows along the north-western border of the county, from near Killyleagh northward, and falls into Lough Neagh. It receives the waters of the Callan, the sources of which are in the central districts, a little below Charlemont. The river Tall joins the Callan above Charlemont. The Bann, which rises in the county of Down, enters Armagh above Portadown, where it is joined by the Newry canal and the river Cushir: flowing thence in a north-westerly direction, it falls into Lough Neagh, about 3 miles to the E. of the mouth of the Blackwater. There are many smaller streams. The only island in the county is Coney Island, situated on Lough Neagh, between the mouths of the Blackwater and the Bann. On the eastern side of the county is the Newry canal which was constructed to connect Carlingford Bay with Lough Neagh. It extends from the Newry Water to the point where the Bann becomes navigable. On the north-western side is the Ulster canal, the course of which is parallel with that of the Blackwater, with which river it unites near Charlemont. By this canal Lough Erne is brought into connection with Lough Neagh. The main branch of industry in Armagh is the linen manufacture. Formerly there was a considerable woollen trade carried on, but at present no woollen goods are made except for home use. Some cotton goods and unions are made and there are several flax mills. There are salmon fisheries at the mouths of the Bann and the Blackwater. The county has several interesting remains of antiquity. In the south-east is the Dane's Cast, a dyke or line of fortification near Poyntz Pass, and extending into the county of Down. Near Armagh are the ruins of Eamania, or Navaurath, a fortress and seat of the kings of Ulster, and the Vicar's Cairn. On the Callan river is the traditional burial-place of one of the O'Nials, marked by a tumulus. Cairn Bann is near Newry. Ruins of castles exist in several places, and near Poyntz Pass are Tyrone's ditches. Numerous weapons and decorations have been found-spears, axes, swords, collars, rings, amulets, &c. The city of Armagh has some interesting ecclesiastical remains. The principal seats in the county of Armagh are the following: Gosford Castle, the seat of Earl Gosford; Tandcragee Castle, that of the Duke of Manchester; Roxboro' Castle, of the Earl of Charlemont; Castle Hill, of Lord Caledon; Brownlow House, of Lord Lurgan; Tandcragee, of Count de Salis; Castle Dillon, of Molyneux, Bart.; Tynan Abbey, of Sir James Matthew Stronge, Bart.; Churchill, of Verner, Bart.; Drumbanagher, Forkhill, Carnagh, Culloville, Lissadian, &c. The Dublin and Coleraine railway enters Armagh at Newry, whence it is continued in a parallel direction with the Newry canal to Portadown. A branch line from Portadown runs to Dungannon, in Tyrone. The Ulster railway enters from Belfast at Portadown, and is continued by Armagh to Monaghan. The principal roads are the following:-from Dundalk by Newry, Market Hill, to Armagh and Charlemont; from Dundalk by Newtown-Hamilton, to Armagh; from Monaghan, crossing the county in a north-easterly direction, by Middletown, Armagh, Portadown, to Lurgan."
[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)]
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2018