Visual Arts in Armagh
Cultural History, Famous Artists and Art Galleries.

County Armagh, Ulster

Note: For an outline of Celtic culture
along with ancient artworks of the
Celts, see: Celtic Art. For details of
the earliest styles, which influenced
so many Irish metalworkers during
the renaissance of the early Christian
era, see: Hallstatt (c.800-450 BCE)
and La Tene (c.450-50 BCE).

Visual Arts in County Armagh

County Armagh, in the province of Ulster is one of the six counties in Northern Ireland. Its population is 141,000 and its county seat is in Armagh Town. Ever since St. Patrick came to Ireland in the fifth century and converted the population to Christianity, Armagh has been the preeminent Catholic centre of Ulster.

Early Visual Arts

Not surprisingly, given the importance of Armagh in Irish religious history, its early Irish art is Christian in origin. For example, one of the earliest artworks associated with the county is the Book of the Angel (640), produced by the monastic scribe Ferdomnach and his assistants. It incorporates material of St. Martin of Tours, St. Patrick's Confession, and gives a unique glimpse of Armagh in the early medieval era.

For a list of buildings/sites of
historical, architectural or
artistic significance, see:
Architectural Monuments Ireland and
Archeological Monuments Ireland.


One hundred and fifty years later, the illuminated gospel manuscript known as the Book of Armagh (c.805), was created by unknown monks in one of the county's monasteries. Unfinished, its level of illumination is quite low, and several pages on the Apostles lack the amount of colour which appears in other early Christian manuscripts like the Book of Durrow or the Book of Kells. In addition, the abbeys of Armagh - being undoubted centres of Christian and secular scholarship and culture - would have produced other artworks, such as Celtic-style metalwork and scriptural sculpture. Sadly, little remains of these fine arts and crafts.

Famous Artists

County Armagh's renowned painters include: Charles Lamb, (Landscape Artist, Portrait and Figure Painter); Cecil Maguire, (Landscape and Figurative Artist); Victor Sloan (Fine Art Photographer); James H Flack, (Watercolour Landscapes); Nicola Russell, (Contemporary Painter of Witty Colourful Paintings); John Skelton, (Illustrator and Academic Figurative Painter); and John Vallely, (Semi-Expressionist Painter and Muralist).

Heritage, Cultural Centres and Arts Museums in Armagh

The foremost art space in the county is the Armagh County Museum in Armagh Town which accomodates two exhibition galleries in which is displayed the Museum's permanent art collection. The collection features paintings, prints, ceramics and some Irish sculpture.


Portraits of local scenery and people are well represented among works by established Irish artists such as: James Humbert Craig, TP Flanagan, Tom Carr, Charles Lamb, John Luke, JB Vallely and William Conor. The Armagh art collection also includes a series of over 20 works by George "AE" Russell, including: "The Potato Gatherers" and "Women on a Hillside" which featured on the album cover of the Irish CD "A Woman's Heart". The centre also stages temporary exhibitions of many different art media.

Navan Centre
Not far from the centre of Armagh is the Navan Centre, a Neolithic site which features in the Ulster Cycle of epic myths. This series of earthworks and settlement sites was the original capital of Ulster and the mythology of Ireland in Celtic and pre-Christian times, is beautifully explained via audio-visual and interactive techniques, and exhibits of Stone Age crafts.

Newry Museum
This small museum situated in the Arts Centre, has models of the town as it used to be 1761 and in the 1930s, together with old photographs of the town. The highlight of the museum is the panelled room, decorated in the Georgian style of design, complete with two grandfather clocks. This room together with an adjoining archway were taken from an early 18th-century house when it was being demolished.

Art Galleries

Among the other art venues in the County are: the Eakin Gallery, Armagh Town (02838-872013); Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown (02838-394415); and Prentice Gallery, Portadown (02838-353377).

• For more about Irish culture, see: Ireland Visual Arts.
• For more about the historical heritage of the province of Ulster, see: Homepage.
• For a list of the top living painters in Ireland, see: Best Irish Artists/Painters.
• For details of art venues and museums in Ulster, see: Irish Art Galleries.

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