In Search of Gargoyles & Angels

    In June 2010 a major urban regeneration scheme to re-vitalise the streets in Armagh City Centre was undertaken. A public art programme was carried out, which included the installation of 22 bronze gargoyles & angels in a variety of locations around Armagh.
    The plan for the project was to take the images of the gargoyle and angel out of their historic sacral context into the contemporary urban environment of Armagh City.
    Holger Christian Lönze, a Cork based, German sculptor who trained in Belfast, was commissioned to complete the sculptures. He is highly interested in the ecological aspects of many Irish craft traditions.
    Most of Holger’s sculpture work centres around the interaction of people with their cultural and natural environments, with the sea being a recurring theme.
    The works are deliberately small and intricate in scale: meant to be discovered by accident and bring with them an element of surprise.
    But if you find yourself with an afternoon free, a fantastic way to fill your day and see some of Armagh is to spend a few hours walking the city streets on a gargoyle & angel hunt.
    St. Patrick’s Trian provides a detailed brochure of the Gargoyles and Angels, as well as a map of their location – but this doesn’t make it easy to spot them.
    Starting at the Market Place Theatre, you’ll be hard pushed to find your first gargoyle, but he is sat there watching as you buy your tickets to a show – you may need to ask for help from friendly theatre staff.
    After successfully finding your first little creature, move outside and you’ll have to look out for a wide mouthed face at the back of the Armagh Library.
    A short walk across the pedestrian area in front of the theatre towards Uluru Restaurant, you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for a cheeky looking chap watching your every move.
    Overlooking the Market Street area is St. Patrick’s (CoI) Cathedral, this is also home to two more of these little critters. Guarding the walls of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral Gardens is a little hobo carrying his knapsack on his shoulder, while a dainty angel carries books to the Old Armagh Library at the main entrance to the Cathedral, can you see them?
    Down Dawson’s Street and along Edward Street and you will find yourself in front of Armagh’s St. Patrick’s RC Cathedral where a saintly looking figure guards the entrance.
    The Shambles Market was once the hub of the city, where vendors came to sell their wares and farmers came to offload their cattle at the old shambles slaughterhouse. Now, the slaughterhouse is watched over by a winged butcher who acts as a reminder of its once grim history.
    Turn the corner at lower English Street and you are on course to meet another four of our cities now famed bronzed inhabitants.
    Just beyond the Charlemont Arms Hotel’s main doors you’ll find an angel protecting a keg of the pubs finest ale while a short distance away at St Patrick’s Trian, an ugly gargoyle sits with his head buried in a good book.
    A short walk to nearby Russell Street and an angelic bugler sounds out your arrival.
    Some of them are very difficult to spot and none more so than the guardian at the Bank of Ireland…… just be careful when you are wiping your feet.
    Turn left down McCrum’s Court and you’ll find a mysterious looking pig watching over you as you pass The Hole in The Wall Bar.
    Sainsbury’s car park between McCrum’s Court and The Mall is made that little bit creepier knowing that a Gargoyle is watching you from high and above. Looking over his VW Beetle bonnet nose…
    A walk past the take away restaurants on The Mall, but staying with the VW theme, a door knocker to Mall View House almost stops you from calling.
    Continuing towards Gaol Square and right along Barrack Street there’s a reminder of who collects and delivers the mail on the post office wall.
    Entering back into the city along Dobbin Street and an impatient Gargoyle watches the clock at the Butter Market.
    Across Linenhall Street, at the side of McCrystal’s opticians, another Gargoyle looks up as you pass by, adorning specs to get a better look.
    A short walk to the front of St. Patrick’s Fold on Scotch Street and possibly the hardest angel to spot lurks. Forgetting to use his wings, this angel uses a more difficult method to get to the rooftops above.
    After spotting the winged climber, a trip up Scotch Street towards the Northern Bank and the lonely figure of a banker guards over the night safety deposit box.
    From Market Street into Thomas Street and you’ll have to work hard to spot a winged figure helping to light the Gas Lamp’s lights.
    Cross the road and walk through Armagh Shopping Centre and into the car park at the back of Ogle Street. Heading round towards the car park entrance you’ll come to the DVLA centre where an angel is en route home laden down with shopping bags.
    And finally it’s back to Ogle Street and finish the day off with an old boot gargoyle on the corner of Chapel Lane, on the side of Kerr’s Shoe Shop. He’s in dire need of a repaired sole.
    After almost three kilometres of walking and hunting you will have passed by many restaurants, attractions and bars whilst taking in much of this old city. So why not call in to your nearest cafe, bar or restarant and rest your weary feet with some food and a drink….. you’ve earned it.

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