The value of individual grants awarded has varied, ranging from £1.2m for the renovation of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, to £6,400 for the Loughgall Heritage Tales and Trails project.
Armagh has the smallest population of all the places featured in the research, with 15,000 residents. The people of Armagh tend to think of heritage not only as the physical fabric of their city – with the two cathedrals particularly prominent – but also associate it very strongly with local myths and folklore. Many talked of the role that these stories play in binding communities together. Others talked of literature, language, food (and in particular the local apples and cider), dancing and the traditional flax industry.
The quantitative research shows that, over their time of residence, 48% of residents think Armagh has improved, whilst 40% think it is about the same, and 11% think it has got worse. This is more positive than the other places in the research. Residents are also more likely to say that local heritage has improved.
“Coming through the Troubles, there’s two sides of heritage across the community. I think it’s important to try to engage with both sides of the community, because, you know, those days are over.” Workshop participant
Almost everyone singled out the strength of the local community; they spoke of friendly people, strong relationships with their neighbours and of being able to ‘leave the key in the latch’. Although it was apparent that relationships between communities, across the sectarian divide, can still sometimes be difficult. It’s interesting, therefore, that a distinctive feature of this case study was the role that people felt shared heritage could play in bringing people together – a benefit with much wider relevance than in just this town.
About the research
Armagh was one of the locations selected for all strands of the research. We gathered background data on the city to see how it had changed over the last two decades. To understand the impact of HLF funding on Armagh, we conducted five interviews with local stakeholders, including representatives from the local council, the Chamber of Commerce, a community development trust and tourism organisations. We also held a half-day workshop with 14 local residents, and carried out a telephone survey with 357 Armagh residents.
“Your heritage or history defines you. If you have no heritage…If the past gets lost in translation – what is the future?” Workshop participant
As in all the workshops, participants identified local heritage and imagined how they would feel if there was no heritage, through an obituary exercise (see more on methodology). As part of an exercise exploring what they felt made a heritage project successful, there were presentations about local heritage projects. One of these was from the Armagh Pipers Club, which received funding to support its work in making, and teaching residents to make, traditional bagpipes. The second focused on a much larger project: the restoration of Armagh Mall.
Heritage projects in Armagh
The research project focused on the following heritage sites and projects, which are also reflected in this map.
- Armagh Observatory
- Armagh Mall
- St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh
- Armagh Public Library
- Loughgall Country Park
- Armagh County Museum
- Cardinal Tomas O’Fiaich Memorial Library and Archive
- No. 5 Vicars Hill
- Historic building restoration in the Richhill area
*Grants awarded to projects in the Armagh research area up to September 2013.