Armagh City Infrastructure

The city, which is large, handsome, and well built, is delightfully situated on the declivity of a lofty eminence, round the western base of which the river Callan winds in its progress to the Blackwater. It is chiefly indebted for its present high state of improvement to the attention bestowed on it by several primates since the Reformation, especially by Primate Boulter, and, still more so, by Primate Robinson, all of whom have made it their place of residence. The approaches on every side embrace interesting objects. On the east are the rural village and post-town of Rich-hill, and the demesne of Castle-Dillon, in which the late proprietor erected an obelisk on a lofty hill in memory of the volunteers of Ireland.

The western approach exhibits the demesnes of Caledon, Glasslough, Woodpark, Elm Park, and Knappagh; those from Dungannon and Loughgall pass through a rich and well-wooded country; that from the south, descending through the fertile, well-cultivated, and busy vale of the Callan, the banks of which are adorned with several seats and extensive plantations, interspersed with numerous bleach-greens and mills, is extremely pleasing; and that from the southeast, though less attractive, is marked by the classical feature of Hamilton's Bawn, immortalised by the sarcastic pen of Swift. Many of the streets converge towards the cathedral, the most central point and the most conspicuous object in the city, and are connected by cross streets winding around the declivity; they have flagged pathways, are Macadamised, and are lighted with oil gas from works erected in Callan-street, by a joint stock company, in the year 1827, but will shortly be lighted with coal gas, the gasometer for which is now in progress of erection; and since 1833 have been also cleansed and watched under the provisions of the general act of the 9th of Geo. IV., cap. 82, by which a cess is applotted and levied on the inhabitants.

A copious supply of fresh water has been procured under the authority of two general acts passed in 1789 and 1794. Metal pipes have been carried through all the main streets, by which a plentiful supply of good water is brought from a small lake or basin nearly midway between Armagh and Hamilton's Bawn, in consideration of a small rate on each house; and fountains have also been erected in different parts of the town occupied by the poorer class of the inhabitants. The city is plentifully supplied with turf, and coal of good quality is brought from the Drumglass and Coal Island collieries, 11 miles distant. A public walk, called the Mall, has been formed by subscription, out of ground granted on lease to the corporation, originally in 1797, by the primate, being a part of the town commons, which were vested in the latter for useful purposes by an act of the 13th and 14th of Geo. III.: the enclosed area, on the eastern side of which are many superior houses, comprehends nearly eight acres, kept in excellent condition. In addition to this, the primate's demesne is open to respectable persons; and his laudable example has been followed by two opulent citizens, who have thrown open their grounds in the vicinity for the recreation of the inhabitants.

The Tontine Buildings, erected as a private speculation by a few individuals, contain a large assembly-room having a suite of apartments connected with it, a public news'-room, and a savings' bank. Dramatic performances occasionally take place in this edifice, from the want of a special building for their exhibition. The public library was founded by Primate Robinson, who bequeathed for the free use of the public his valuable collection of books, and endowed it with lands at Knockhamill and houses in Armagh yielding a clear rental of £339. He also erected the building, which is a handsome edifice in the Grecian style, situated to the north-west of the cathedral, and completed in 1771, as appears by the date in front, above which is the appropriate inscription "TO THΣ ΨΥXHΣ IATPEION." The room in which the books are deposited is light, airy and commodious, and has a gallery: there are also apartments for a resident librarian. In 1820, an additional staircase was erected, as an entrance at the west end, which has in a great measure destroyed the uniformity and impaired the beauty of the building. The collection consists of about 12,000 volumes, and comprises many valuable works on theology, the classics, and antiquities, but is comparatively deficient in modern publications. In the record-room of the diocesan registry are writings and books bequeathed by Primate Robinson to the governors and librarian, in trust, for the sole use of the primate for the time being. The primate, and the dean and chapter, by an act of the 13th and 14th of Geo. III., are trustees of the library, with liberal powers.

The observatory, beautifully situated on a gentle eminence a little to the north-east of the city, was also erected by Primate Robinson, about the year 1788, on a plot of 15 acres of land: the building is of hewn limestone, and has on its front the inscription, "The Heavens declare the glory of God;" it comprises two lofty domes for the observatory, and a good house for the residence of the astronomer. The munificent founder also provided for the maintenance of the astronomer, and gave the impropriate tithes of Carlingford for the support of an assistant astronomer and the maintenance of the observatory, vesting the management in the primate for the time being and twelve governors, of whom the chapter are eight, and the remaining four are elected by them as vacancies occur. Primate Robinson dying before the internal arrangements were completed, the establishment remained in an unfinished state till 1825, when the Right Hon. and Most Rev. Lord J. G. De La Poer Beresford, D.D., the present primate, furnished the necessary instruments, &c., at a cost of nearly £3000. This city is usually the station of a regiment of infantry: the barracks occupy an elevated and healthy situation, and are capable of accommodating 800 men. In the immediate vicinity is the archiepiscopal palace, erected in 1770 by Primate Robinson, who also, in 1781, built a beautiful chapel of Grecian architecture nearly adjacent, and embellished the grounds, which comprise about 800 acres, with plantations tastefully arranged.

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