Britannia, by William Camden

The County of Armagh.

Big O ON the east side of this Lough, lies also the County of Armagh; bounded on the east by the river Neury, on the south by the County of Louth, and on the north by Blackwater. This soil (as I have often heard the Earl of Devonshire, Lord Deputy, say) is the richest of any in Ireland; insomuch, that if manure be laid on to improve it, it grows barren, as if angry and affronted. ⌈Besides the City of Armagh, and the Borough of Charlemont, it hath now in it several pretty Towns.⌉

The first tract that we meet with in this County, is Fewes,Fewes. ⌈heretofore⌉ belonging to Turlogh Mac Henry, of the family of O-Neal; and full of woods and unpassable fens: ⌈It is a long ridge of mountainous wast-ground, and belongs now to several Gentlemen whose Lands border upon it, and the name and nation of Turlogh Mac Henry are forgotten in these parts.⌉ Next, Orry,Orry. in which is very little wood: here lives O Hanlon, and here stands the fort Mont-Norris,Mont-Norris. built by Charles Baron Montjoy, Lord Deputy, and so call’d by him in honour of John Norris, under whom he first serv’d in the wars.

Eight miles from hence, near the river Kalin, stands Armagh,Armagh. an Archbishop’s See, and the Metropolis of the Island; ⌈wherein also a publick School or Academy was very early instituted (as appears by the life of St. Patrick,) and was the first in this Kingdom.⌉ The Irish tell you, it was so call’d from Queen Armacha; but in my opinion, this is the very same that Bede calls Dearmach, which, he says, signifies in the Scotch or Irish tongue, a field of oaks. It was call’d Drumsailick, till St. Patrick built a city here, very fine in respect of situation, form, bulk, and compass; the Angels (as my Author says) having contriv’d and model’d it for him.S. Patrick. This Patrick was a Britain, and S. Martin’s Sister’s Son. He was baptized by the name of Sucat,Marianus Scotus. and sold into Ireland, where he was Shepherd to King Miluc. Afterwards, he was called Magonius by St. German, whose disciple he was; and then by Pope Celestine, Patricius, that is, Father of the Citizens; and was sent into Ireland to convert them to the Christian Faith. Yet some are of opinion, that Christianity was in Ireland before his time, grounding upon an ancient Synodal, wherein St. Patrick’s own authority is urg’d against the Tonsure,Tonsure in Ireland. which was usual at that time in Ireland; namely, on the fore part of the head only, and not in the shape of a crown. A custom, which by way of contempt, they father upon a certain Swineherd of King Lagerius, the son of Nell;Vid. Bede l.5. 22. and the writers of that age cry’d out against it, as an Institution of Simon Magus, and not of St. Peter. About the year 610. Columbanus built a famous Monastery in this place;Bede. from which many others were propagated and planted, both in Britain and Ireland, by his disciples. St. Bernard speaks thus of it: S. Bernard, in vita Malachiæ.In honour of St. Patrick, the Irish Apostle, who in his life-time presided in this Island, and dying, was bury’d in it; this is an Archiepiscopal See, and the metropolis of the Island; and was formerly held in such veneration and esteem, that not only Bishops and Priests, but Kings and Princes, were subject to the Metropolitan, and he alone govern’d them all. But, through the hellish ambition of some Potentates, it grew into a custom, that this holy See should be held by inheritance, and permitted to descend to none that were not of their tribe or family. And this horrid method continu’d for no less than fifteen generations, or thereabouts.

Flatesbury says much the same. Thus, by degrees, Church-discipline begun to slacken in this Island (while in towns and cities, the numbers and the translations of Bishops were just as the Metropolitan thought fit;) and John Papyrio, a Cardinal, was sent over by Pope Eugenius the fourth, to reform these matters, as we learn from an Anonymous writer of that age. In the year of our Lord 1142, John Papyrio, Cardinal (being sent by Eugenius the fourth, P. R. together with Christian Bishop of Lismore, and Legat of Ireland) came into this Island. This Christian held a Council at Mell, where were present the Bishops, Abbots, Kings, Dukes, and theMajores natu.States of Ireland; by whose consent, there were four Archbishopricks constituted, Armagh, Dublin, Cassil and Tuam; which were fill’d at that time by Gelasius, Gregorius, Donatus, and Edanus. After this, the Cardinal gave the Clergy his Benediction, and return’d to Rome. Before, the Bishops of Ireland were always consecrated by the Archbishops of Canterbury, by reason of their Primacy in that Kingdom. This was acknowledg’d by the Citizens of Dublin, when they recommended Gregory, Bishop elect of Dublin, to Ralph Archbishop of Canterbury, for Consecration, in these words: We have always willingly subjected our [Prelates] to your Predecessors, from whom we consider that our’s have received their spiritual dignity, &c. This is likewise evident from the letters of Murchertach King of Ireland, of a more early date, to Anselm Archbishop of Canterbury, about the ordaining of the Bishops of Dublin and Waterford; as also from those of King Gothrick to Lanfrank his predecessor, in behalf of one Patrick a Bishop; and from those of Lanfrank to Therdeluac King of Ireland, complaining, That the Irish leave their wives at pleasure, without any Canonical Cause, and match with others; either related to themselves, or to the wives they have put away, or such as have been forsaken wickedly by others in the same way; which is not to be look’d upon as marriage, but punish’d as fornication. And if these vices had not continu’d among them † † So said, ann. 1607.till our times, the Successions had been more certain, and neither the Gentry nor Commonalty so much stain’d with the blood and murther of their own relations, about the right of inheritance; nor the Kingdom so infamous among foreign nations upon this account. But this falls not within the compass of my design.

This Archiepiscopal See had not been long institituted, before it was again confirm’d by Vivian the Pope’s Legat; so that the opinion of some, who prefer the See of Armagh, and make it more ancient than that of Canterbury (pleading, that in this respect it ought to take place in all General Councils) is very groundless; for Armagh is the younger sister, by many ages. And besides, precedence in General Councils is never given according to the antiquity of Sees;Lib.1. of holy Ceremonies. Sect. 14. but all Prelates, of what degree soever, take place among their fellows, according to their Ordination or Promotion.

During Vivian’s abode in Ireland, Armagh was reduc’d and subjected to the English by John de Curcy; who did no hurt to the Country, but is said to have been very favourable to the Religious there, and to have repaired the Church, which * * So said, ann. 1607.in our time was burnt, together with the whole City, by John O-Neal; so that nothing remains † † Ann. 1607.at this day but some few thatch’d cottages, and the ruinous walls of the Monastery, Priory, and Archbishop’s Palace. Among the Bishops of this See, the most eminent are, S. Malachy, the first who restrain’d Clerks from marrying in Ireland; a person of great piety and learning for that age, and who was no more tainted with the barbarity of the Country, than Sea-fish with the saltness of the sea-water; as S. Bernard has told us, who wrote his life at large: Then, Richard Fitz-Raulf, commonly call’d Armachanus, who wrote sharply against the Friers Mendicants about the year 1355; abhorring that voluntary way of begging, in a Christian.

Upon a hill near Armagh, are still visible the remains of an old Castle (call’d Owen-Maugh,)Owen-Maugh. which is said to have been the Seat of the ancient Kings of Ulster. More to the East is Black-water,Black-water. in Irish More, i.e. great; the boundary between this County and Tir-Oen, of which we shall speak in its proper place. In and about this County, all the power and interest * * Is, C.was in the Mac Genises, O-Hanlons, O-Hagans, and many of the family of the O-Neals, who have distinguish’d themselves by several sirnames. ⌈But now the Lands of the O-Hanlons, are in the possession of the St. Johns, an English Family; and the O-Hagans are not of any considerable figure. In this County, the honourable Family of Caulfield enjoy the title of Viscount Charlemont.⌉

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06