Despite the hustle and bustle of large towns and cities in Ireland, one can’t fail to notice the magnificence of the many landmarks that surround them, writes Cathal Coyle.
In the capital and largest city, Dublin, there are a plethora of famous landmark buildings and open spaces, such as Mansion House and Phoenix Park. In other cities such as Belfast, the City Hall is a versatile landmark that even hosts a popular ‘Continental Market’ twice a year!
There are also world-famous sporting arenas such as Croke Park (Dublin) and Thomond Park (Limerick) that have a fascinating history, while new buildings, bridges and monuments such as the Peace Bridge in Derry are symbolic of a confident 21st century Ireland. Here we look at a selection of some great landmarks that are located in the cities across the island of Ireland.
ARMAGH – Ard Mhacha meaning ‘Macha’s Height’ was named after Queen Macha who built a fortress on the main hill where the Church of Ireland cathedral now stands. It is one of the oldest settlements in Ireland and was located on the Moyry Pass, which once stretched from the south of Ireland, through Tara, to the north.
The Mall has been central to the leisure activities of Armagh’s citizens for over 200 years. The tree-lined promenade was created in the early 18th century; and from 1731 until 1773, it was a horse-racing course with monthly trading fairs in the central area.
In 1765, Archbishop Robinson began a plan to redevelop Armagh as a city to rival Dublin. He gifted the new mall to the citizens of Armagh as a public walkway. Over the years this Orchard county landmark became an area for sports such as Cricket, Football and Rugby.
The Mall remains a popular venue for residents of Armagh and surrounding villages to use its marvellous facilities for leisure and recreation purposes.
BELFAST – Béal Feirste, meaning ‘river mouth of the sandy ford’ is the second largest city in Ireland. It became a substantial settlement by the seventeenth century after being established as a town by Sir Arthur Chichester. It flourished as a commercial and industrial century over the next two centuries, with linen and shipbuilding prominent in its success.
Belfast City Hall
Belfast was granted city status by Queen Victoria in 1888. This prompted the Belfast Corporation (later known as Belfast City Council) to commission a city hall to celebrate this new status. A young Englishman named Alfred Brumwell Thomas was selected because his design was so unlike typical Victorian buildings at the time. Construction began in 1898 and was completed in 1906; opening its doors on 1st August 1906. The building was scheduled to cost £150,000; but the final bill was £360,000.
Tours of the City Hall were free as the Council decided that the citizens of Belfast had already paid for it once and it would not be fair to charge them again – this feature has continued to the present day.
The inside of the City Hall houses dozens of paintings, busts, statues and stained-glass windows to commemorate important aspects of Belfast’s history. In 1959, the original Titanic Memorial Monument, designed by Sir Thomas Brock, was moved to the grounds of City Hall.
Now known as the Titanic Memorial Garden, this area of the grounds now stands in memory of the ‘dutiful and heroic members of Belfast who died saving the lives of hundreds of people’ on board the ship. A plinth in memory of citizens who died also stands in the garden.