Armagh City Trade and Commerce

Though an increasing place, Armagh has now no manufactures, and but little trade, except in grain, of which a great quantity is sent to Portadown and Newry for exportation: much of the flour made in the neighbourhood is conveyed to the county of Tyrone. After the introduction of the linen manufacture into the North of Ireland, Armagh became the grand mart for the sale of cloth produced in the surrounding district. From a return of six market days in the spring of 1835, the average number of brown webs sold in the open market was 4292, and in private warehouses 3412, making a total of 7704 webs weekly, the value of which, at £1. 11. each, amounts to £620,942. 8. per annum. But this does not afford a just criterion of the present state of the trade, in which a great change has taken place within the last 20 years; the quantity now bleached annually in this neighbourhood is nearly double that of any former period, but only a portion of it is brought into the market of Armagh. The linen-hall is a large and commodious building, erected by Leonard Dobbin, Esq., M.P. for the borough: it is open for the sale of webs from ten to eleven o'clock every Tuesday.

A yarn market is held, in which the weekly sales amount to £3450, or £179,400 per annum. There are two extensive distilleries, in which upwards of 25,000 tons of grain are annually consumed; an ale brewery, consuming 3800 barrels of malt annually; several extensive tanneries; and numerous flour and corn mills, some of which are worked by steam. The amount of excise duties collected within the district for the year 1835 was £69,076. 5. 8 ½. The Blackwater, within four miles of the city, affords a navigable communication with Lough Neagh, from which, by the Lagan canal, the line of navigation is extended to Belfast; and to the east is the navigable river Bann, which is connected with the Newry canal. A canal is also in progress of formation from the Blackwater, to continue inland navigation from Lough Neagh to Lough Erne, which will pass within one mile of the city. The markets are abundantly supplied; they are held on Tuesday, for linen cloth and yarn, pigs, horned cattle, provisions of all kinds, vast quantities of flax, and flax-seed during the season; and on Saturday, for grain and provisions.

Fairs are held on the Tuesday after Michaelmas, and a week before Christmas, and a large cattle market has been established on the first Saturday in every month. By a local act obtained in 1774, a parcel of waste land adjoining the city, and containing about 9 ½ plantation acres, was vested in the archbishop and his successors, to be parcelled into divisions for holding the fairs and markets, but only the fairs are now held on it. The market-house, an elegant and commodious building of hewn stone, erected by Archbishop Stuart, at an expense of £3000, occupies a central situation at the lower extremity of Market-street; the old shambles, built previously by Primate Robinson, have been taken down, and a more extensive and convenient range, with markets for grain, stores, weigh-house, &c., attached, was erected in 1829 by the committee of tolls: the supply of butchers' meat of very good quality is abundant, and the veal of Armagh is held in high estimation: there is also a plentiful supply of sea and fresh-water fish. Several of the inhabitants, in 1821, raised a subscription, by shares (on debentures or receipts) of £25 each, amounting to £1700, and purchased the lessee's interest in the tolls, of which a renewal for 21 years was obtained in 1829: eight resident shareholders, elected annually, and called the "Armagh Toll Committee," have now the entire regulation and management of the tolls and customs of the borough, consisting of market-house, street, and shambles' customs, in which they have made considerable reductions, and the proceeds of which, after deducting the expenses of management and five per cent, interest for the proprietors of the debentures, are applied partly as a sinking fund for liquidating the principal sum of £1700, and partly towards the improvement of the city and the places for holding the fairs and markets.

The Bank of Ireland and the Provincial Bank have each a branch establishment here; and there are also branches of the Northern and Belfast banking companies. The post is daily: the post-office revenue, according to the last return to Parliament, amounted to £1418. 4. 0 ½.

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