St Patrick was reputed to have built the first ‘great stone church’ here in 445 a.d inside a ringfort on a hill called ‘Druimsailech’. He called it ‘My Sweet Hill’ and ordained that this church should have pre-eminence over all other churches in Ireland. Armagh therefore became the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland. It has 2 cathedrals, one Catholic and the other Protestant, facing each other across the town. It also has two archbishops who are each entitled to call themselves ‘Primate of all Ireland’. The Cathedral Cathedral (seen here), was begun in 1838 but was not finished until 1873 due to a pause in construction due to the Great Famine. It’s enormous twin spires stand at 210 feet and are Armagh’s most recognizable landmark. The building is a curious mix of architectural styles as it changes half way up the walls. The bottom half was designed in 1838, in the English Perpendicular Gothic style and the top half was designed in 1853, in the French Decorated Gothic style. To complicate things further, the interior has a  Byzantine style with every piece of wall and ceiling covered in brilliantly coloured mosaics. A unique feature of the Cathedral are the Cardinal’s Hats which hang in the sanctuary. On the death of a Cardinal his hat would be left to decay here – symbolising the end of all earthly glory. This practice is no longer followed!

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