No 5 Vicar’s Hill provides opportunities to explore the collections from Armagh Public Library in more detail, through the use of touch screens. This deceptively large building, which resembles a modest dwelling from the outside, has a fascinating interior, retains many of its original features and opens into two beautiful, octagonal rooms with vaulted ceilings which will appeal to all age groups.
The art and coin collections of Archbishops Robinson and Beresford are exhibited and a Bell of the Blood reputedly blessed by Saint Patrick. Rare survivals of eighteenth century fine art include James Tassie’s ‘gems’ from the 1770s. Tassie reproduced classical figures in a hard-setting sulphur paste. Collectors of his ‘gems’ included Russia’s Catherine the Great, while Louis XIV of France commissioned medals to commemorate his reign. The exhibition features some very rare casts of these medals, made in about 1690 from originals in the Paris mint. In addition, a number of Hogarth’s satirical engravings from the Library’s internationally important print collection are on display.
Old maps of Armagh are displayed and provide a good overview of settlement from 1600 onwards. A timeline provides a continuous history of religious leaders in the Cathedral City from St Patrick to the present Archbishop and includes key dates such as the arrival of the Vikings. Younger visitors can make use of activity sheets to write their name in Ogham, the earliest form of Irish.