Category Archives: News


History Armagh 2016 magazine launched.

The Lord Mayor, Garath Keating (pictured above with our chairperson Mary McVeigh) launched the 2016 edition of History Armagh at our December meeting in the Irish and Local Studies Library. There was a good turnout on the night and members and visitors enjoyed the excellent refreshments provided. The magazine is available in the Irish and Local Studies Library and will be available in the usual local outlets in the next few days.

New Book “The Green Lady Mystery” by Sean Barden

The Green Lady Mystery by Sean Barden is a historical investigation into what happened to Bellina Prior a young Armagh girl convicted of murdering three-year-old neighbour Annie Slavin in 1888.
After Bellina was tried and found guilty but insane, she was detained in the asylum at the Lord Lieutenant’s pleasure. However, helped by her privileged background and mother’s influence she was released just four years later.
After discovering hundreds of Bellina’s letters the author has gained a unique insight into her troubled mind and subsequent campaign to expose alleged abuse she suffered while in the asylum.
The story ends as tragically as it began when in 1909 Bellina’s mother took her own life having just murdered her daughter by poisoning her.

The book is on sale at the museum and will soon be available in many local shops, price £7.99.

History Lecture Series – WWI and the aftermath.

Historical Lectures

Through its Good Relations Programme, Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council will host a series of public lectures exploring WWI from 1916 onwards.

Series Chair – Dr. Eamon Phoenix. All talks begin at 7.00pm

17th November – Armagh County Museum
· Series launch by Dr. Eamon Phoenix with guest speaker Mr. Lar Joye, Curator of Military History at National Museum of Ireland.

24th November – Navan Centre, Armagh
· Dr. Eamon Phoenix – “The North Began: Ulster and the 1916 Rising”
· Film footage by Robert Kee.
· Mr. Patrick Toland – “Life & Times of Willoughby Weaving”

1st December – O’Fiaich Library, Armagh City
· Mr. John Killen – “Political Cartoons in Ireland 1912 onwards”
· Mr. Ashley Forbes – “Symbolism of WWI Period Postcards”.

12th January – Navan Centre, Armagh
· Guest Speaker Mr. Gary Sheffield, Professor of War Studies at the University of Wolverhampton & Vice-President of the Western Front Association.
· Film screening – “The Battle of the Somme”.

19th January – Navan Centre, Armagh
· Dr. Eamon Phoenix – “Injured Return: Establishment of local hospitals”.
· Mr. Philip Orr – “Returning to a Transformed Island: The Experience of Irish Soldiers in a Dividing Ireland 1918-25”.
· Mr.Jim McDermott – “The Connaught Rangers & Irish Nationalist Soldiers 1914-25”

Admission is FREE but pre booking is advised by contacting Heather Wilson at 028 4066 0605 or email Seats will be reserved on a first come first served basis.

Dolores Donnnelly
Good Relations Officer – Craigavon (maternity cover)
Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council
66 Lakeview Road
BT64 1AL

T: 028 3831 2400 ext. 1490

Armagh in O’Connor’s Time

johnoconnorThis talk by our Chairperson Mary McVeigh is part of the John O’Connor Literary Festival and it brings back to life the city of the 1940s and 50s which John O’Connor knew and loved. Remarkably, he would recognise much of the city today. Mary fills in the gaps where historic areas, including Banbrook Hill, Mill Row and other streets, have disappeared. A fascinating insight into growing up and working in Armagh between the wars and post-WWII.

The talk will be held in the  Irish and local Studies Library at 2.30–3.30pm on Friday 4th November. Admission is free.

For details of other events associated with the John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Festival see

Public Lecture – Armagh Natural History and Philosophical Society


Armagh Natural History and Philosophical Society Free Public Lecture: “Babylonian Astronomy and Modern Science” by Professor Richard Stephenson, University of Durham; in the Armagh County Museum at 7.30pm, Thursday 27th October. All Welcome.

The illustrated talk will explain how, from at least as early as 700 BC, Babylonian astronomers kept a regular watch for a wide variety of celestial events. Their observations included eclipses of the Sun and Moon, and conjunctions of the Moon with planets and bright stars, as well as occasional comets and meteors. The records of these phenomena, the prime sources of which are astronomical diaries, are inscribed on clay tablets using a cuneiform script; they are largely preserved in the British Museum. More than a thousand tablets are preserved. Most texts are in a fragmentary condition, but extensive studies have revealed much that is important in present-day science. For instance early sightings of Halley’s comet are helpful in studying the past orbit of the comet; while numerous timed observations of eclipses enable long-term changes in the Earth’s rate of rotation to be investigated with remarkable accuracy. Both of these aspects will be discussed in this talk.

This free public lecture is being held in memory of Dr Denis Gerard McCartan (1944-2014), a distinguished former pupil of St Patrick’s College (now St. Patrick’s Grammar School), Armagh. He was one of two sons of Denis McCartan, the former Assistant Postmaster of Armagh, and this lecture will celebrate his life in science and science communication at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne as teacher and research scientist. The lecture will be followed by a general discussion of the relationship between science, philosophy and religion, reflecting topics covered in a popular course co-delivered by Gerard McCartan at Newcastle University, namely “Faith, Reason and the Cosmos”. The proceedings will conclude with light refreshments in the Society’s Reading Room and there will be a retiring collection in aid of Cancer Research UK. The event is being held in association with the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium.

Book Launch – Names Carved in Stone


The Mall Presbyterian Church, Armagh invite all to the launch of ‘Names Carved in Stone’ on Friday 4th November at 7.30pm.
The book contains the personal profiles of all 69 men and women whose names are carved in stone on the First World War, War Memorial and Roll of Honour.


The profiles include their family background, early life and upbringing in Armagh, their role within the Mall Church as well as their contribution to the Great War.
The hard backed, full colour book has been researched and written by Fiona Berry, edited by Rev Ivor Smith of the Presbyterian Historical Society, designed by Jason McFarland of Artwork Army and printed by Trimprint of Armagh.

The book will be of interest to those who enjoy genealogy, the First World War, congregational life as well as local history.
It will be on sale on the night for £10. All profits will go to SASRA (The Soldiers and Airmen’s Scripture Readers Association).

Everyone is welcome to attend this unique event.

New Exhibition opening at Armagh County Museum

A new exhibition is opening on October 4th at Armagh County Museum and it will explore the history of crime, gender and mental illness in late nineteenth century Ireland. Entitled “Mad or Bad” the exhibition runs 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

Annual Outing – Glasnevin Cemetery and the Battle of the Boyne Centre

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

Dr Timothy Bowman – The Battle of the Somme