Archbishop Robinson built No 5. in 1772 as the Diocesan Registry to hold records for the Church of Ireland Diocese. This Grade A listed building has been restored and is open to the public. While the records are no longer retained in the building, examples are on display, with ancient Roman and Medieval coins, Neolithic stone tools, Bronze age weapons, Irish hand bells, gems, significant prints, eighteen century fine art, early Christian artefacts and other collections and curiosities which belong to the Armagh Robinson Library.
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.
There are opportunities to explore the collections in more detail, through the use of touch screens. Young visitors can handle replica old coins, answer quiz questions, have fun rubbing outlines of medals and ancient bronze objects and try jigsaws of the old prints.