Around the Palace Grounds

    For more than two centuries, the Palace Demesne played host to the Archbishops of the Church of Ireland.
    The Palace and its surrounding parkland comprises of some 300 acres, and was the creation of Archbishop Richard Robinson.
    The walks around the Demesne, which have recently been extended to include a walk through the adjoining forested area, vary in both distance and difficulty.
    They take you from the Friary ruins at the entrance of the park to the meadows at the rear of the park and around the splendid Palace Gardens.
    Setting off from the main gates, you will first pass Armagh Franciscan Friary which was founded by Archbishop Patrick O’ Scannell in 1263/64.
    The Friary had prominent patrons within the city and the Franciscans played an important role in the city’s religious life until it was suppressed in 1542 with the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, the building fell into ruin by 1600.
    Two empty graves and two tomb recesses near the east end are reminders of the important patrons buried in the Friary Church.
    Passing by the Friary on the left you will see the Armagh registry office for births, deaths and marriages.
    Turn right after this and you’ll come to a new path which leads up towards the forest at the top of the hill.
    During recent renovation work, pathways were included to take in all of the Demesne Public Park and the forest walk was also added.
    A short 500 metre walk through the forest will lead you to the children’s play area at the side of the Palace Stables, which is popular with the kids and always a hive of activity.
    No walk in the Palace Demesne Public Park is complete without a trip around the Palace Stables Heritage Centre.
    The Heritage Centre is a restored Georgian stable block, and located beside the Primates Palace, formerly the home of the Archbishop of the Church of Ireland from.
    Visitors to the Palace Stables Heritage Centre can experience 18th Century life by visiting the ‘Day in the Life’ exhibition and the Primate’s Chapel. Living History interpreters re-enact Georgian life in 1786.
    One of the Palace’s hidden gems has to be the ‘Garden of the Senses’. A wonderful experience, accessible to all and made up of five linked areas to test the five senses. There is also a seating area if you wish to sit and rest a while.
    In the gardens surrounding the Palace there are several other points of interest, the ice house which leads away from the back of the stables and the servant’s tunnel. And if you find yourself peckish or in need of a snack then the stables has its own restaurant.
    In 2012, husband and wife duo Sean and Ramune Farnan opened the Moody Boar and its success has seen it noted in the Michelin Guide. It’s most definitely worth a visit before, during or after your walk whether it’s for a full 3 course dinner or just a coffee and cake.
    Continuing down past the Primates Palace you will come to a lightly wooded area where the path leads down to the bottom of a meadow at the rear of the building. Following this path will lead you adjacent to the neighbouring Armagh Golf Course – so listen out for cries of “FORE”.
    Meadow pathway is approximately one kilometre in length and moves through in a large figure of eight. It varies in difficulty from flat walkway to a small but sharp hill at the rear.
    At the top of the meadow you will pass Armagh Dog Pound so it’s not unusual to hear lots of excited dogs as you pass by.
    Returning to the bottom of the meadow you will then follow a new path along the bottom of the main park at the front of the Palace Grounds. This pathway will lead alongside the Armagh Rugby grounds where, if you are lucky, you can take in a game.
    A short walk alongside the top of the Rugby grounds will take you to a gate, which will lead you back out at the Franciscan Friary.
    This is a great way to spend an afternoon with the family. The Palace Stables also operates guided tours of the facility, where you can learn more of it’s history, and occasionally they hold murder mystery events.

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