Category Archives: Events

What’s happening

March Meeting

Our March meeting will take place on Wednesday, 8th March in the Irish and Local Studies Library at the usual time of 7:30 p.m.

The speaker will be Dr John Butler,  Emeritus Research Astronomer at Armagh Observatory and the title of his talk is “Armagh Observatory in Four Centuries”.

John has worked in the Observatory for four decades and among other projects has written a short history of the observatory.

AGM + February Meeting

Our February meeting will take place on Wednesday, 8th February in the Irish and Local Studies Library at the usual time of 7:30 p.m.

The meeting will begin with our Annual General Meeting followed by a talk by Gerry Oates entitled ‘The Corvans of Armagh’ – An illustrated talk on this family of Armagh origin beginning in the late medieval period and tracing the fortunes of various Corvans /Corvins and Corvens up to the early 20th century.  Including “Cat Gut Jim” pictured here.

January Meeting

Our January meeting will take place on Wednesday, 11th January in the Irish and Local Studies Library at the usual time of 7:30 p.m.

The speaker will be Dr Elaine Farrell from the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen’s University. The title of her talk is “‘She was large in the family way a week before the fair’: The infant murder mystery in Markethill”.

Elaine contributed to the Mad or Bad exhibition currently on show at Armagh County Museum which explores mental health, crime and gender in Ireland during the last half of the nineteenth century. The exhibition focuses on how and why women who had committed crimes were treated differently from men.

December Meeting

The December meeting of the Armagh & District History group will be held in the Irish and Local Studies Library on Wednesday, 14th at 7.30pm.

The Lord Mayor will be present to launch the latest edition of History Armagh at the meeting so please come along to collect your copy (free for members) and enjoy a light supper with tea, coffee or a glass of wine!

November Meeting

The Life and Times of Constable Charles (Charlie) McGee R.I.C.

charles-mcgee-ric Dr Méadhbha Ní Bhaoill is our speaker on 9th November, she is the grand-niece of Charlie McGee and is due to publish the story of his life and death as part of the 1916-2016 County Louth Commemorative Programme.

The following text sets the scene for her talk.

Many historical accounts have been written on the military aspects of the 1916 Rising in County Louth and on the participation of members of the Louth Volunteers in that event. However, there is a paucity of information on Constable Charles McGee who was fatally wounded in the village of Castlebellingham, County Louth on Easter Monday evening at approximately 7.30 p.m. It is somewhat ironic that a native Irish speaker from Donegal was to be the first member of the Royal Irish Constabulary to die in the Rising. The account reveals the complexities of Irish history and the network of relationships that linked counties Donegal, Louth and Antrim in 1916.

It is fortunate that Constable McGee’s story and the 100 years’ of society’s refusal to acknowledge the memory of members of the R.I.C., is finally being recognised in the inclusive 2016 Centenary Commemorative Programme.

October Meeting

Our next meeting will be held on 12th October in the Armagh County Museum at 7:30 p.m. As mentioned elsewhere on this site this new exhibition “Mad or Bad” is opening on October 4th at Armagh County Museum, and for our October meeting the history group will get a talk and guided tour of the exhibition by Sean Barden, the Curatorial Services Officer at the Museum.

The exhibition explores the history of crime, gender and mental illness in late nineteenth century Ireland, and will run until 18th February 2017.

joemckiernan_withtextThe topic is a difficult but fascinating one with a special relevance to Armagh because both the County Jail and District Lunatic Asylum (both now closed) were situated in the city.

Armagh Courthouse also played a part in this story because many of the decisions made at trials were influenced by the defendant’s sanity or gender. These life and death factors were always present but not always obvious.

The museum has used objects from its own collections as well as loans from other museums and archives to illustrate this challenging subject. Many of the items on display have poignant and often tragic stories to tell.

annebeech_withtextArmagh Jail was often the final destination for those that had broken the law and faced trial. Others less fortunate were sent to the gallows. However there was a third alternative; the Lunatic Asylum.

The exhibition addresses the question of why the accused’s gender and not just the nature of their crime often determined if they ended up in an asylum, prison or on the gallows.

The museum is working closely with staff and students from Queens University Belfast to research particular cases using original convict photos as a starting point. Each photograph is a tangible link to a lives lived in an era when law breaking often had life changing consequences.

The photos of the two above convicts appear by kind permission of Northern Ireland Prisons Museum, the copyright holders

September Meeting

Our monthly meeting took a different form in September with an outing on Friday 16th.
The outing was to Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin in the morning and to the Boyne Visitor Centre in the afternoon followed by an evening meal in the Lisdoo Arms, Dundalk

History Group and friends
History Group and friends

Photos from the trip, click on an icon to see the full picture

June Meeting

Our next meeting will be held on 8th June in the Irish and Local Studies Library at 7:30 p.m. as usual.

SignAs this is the last meeting before the summer break it will take the form of a light-hearted Quiz, to find out what you know about Armagh.  For example, do you know where this speed limit sign is located in the city centre? This and many other questions will be answered at the meeting.

May Meeting

Our speaker for May is Sr. Nora Smyth – and the title of her talk is “Call and response: a glimpse at the life and times of Janet Erskine Stuart”.

JEStuartThe following short biography is taken from website of the Network of Sacred Heart schools:

“Janet Erskine Stuart was born November 11, 1857 in the Anglican Rectory of Cottesmore, Rutland, England. As a child of thirteen, she set out on a solitary search for Truth, having been urged to this venture by a casual remark of one of her brothers that every rational creature must have a last end. The search for this last end took, she said, seven years and brought her to the Catholic Church at the age of twenty-one. In 1882, she entered the Society of the Sacred Heart at Roehampton, outside of London, where she was to spend 30 years of her religious life. Named Mistress of Novices soon after her profession, she became Superior in 1894, and 17 years later was elected the sixth Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart.”

April Meeting


Our speaker for the April meeting will be Gerard MacAtasney and his topic “Unionist reaction to the Easter Rising”. Gerard has spoken to the group on a number of occasions on the famine and on Sean MacDiarmada and his published a number of books on these topics.  His most recent bookTom Clarke: Life, Liberty, Revolution” is based around the correspondence of Clarke and tells the story of another one of the signatories of the Proclamation to be executed after the Rising.

Please note the talk will be on Wednesday, 6th April at 7:30 p.m.  This is a week earlier than we normally hold our meetings to facilitate the launch of Ted Fleming’s new book “On the Hill of Armagh: In and around the Cathedral” on the 13th April. For further details click here.