Whether you refer to it as a town or city, Armagh is a beautiful place but like many towns and cities across Northern Ireland and beyond, it is suffering. The same theories mentioned below could be applied to Newry – another town, turned city.
Armagh has changed over the years, for the better. But we have lost a lot too. The shift to online shopping has had its impact on the high street – just look at the number of banks and Post Offices axed in the last 10 years!
It has always been hard to consider Armagh a bustling metropolis despite the stunning architecture, incomparable history and links to St Patrick. On the other hand, our infrastructure would have us relegated if this was a league table. And did someone mention McDonald’s….joking!
It has changed over the years and continues to do so. Some things we have lost, some things we have gained but what has remained constant is our history, architecture and friendly, welcoming community.
But in this ancient city, we are blessed with a raft of hidden gems – the side streets. With some development and investment they could serve as valuable community hubs.
For example, Little Barrack Street, which links the Mall to the foot of Scotch Street – running to the rear of Barrack Street – has seen much needed regeneration work with additional shop units added to the thoroughfare, but to what gains? So far, many serve as storage and not a very commercially friendly use.
Akin to Belfast's ‘umbrella street’ – located on Commercial Court – it could add to the vibrance of the area with colour and ‘living walls’, with a host of retail made up of hand-made crafts. Let’s go a step further, could these spaces be best served as pop up shops for the independents of the area?
Abbey Lane, which links Linenhall Street to Thomas Street, could perhaps serve as an Arts Quarter. We already have Armagh Theatre Group there so why not build on that? Open mic nights for budding artists, poetry writing sessions, pop up theatre...the possibilities are endless.
Yes, in Armagh we have a strong sense of community and our commitment to preserving its rich history and traditions are unmatched but do we need to think a little more outside the box to reverse the trend of online and build upon a new city centre experience? Let us know what you would love to see in the city centre…and zero marks if you say Primark!
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Memory notices with Armagh I
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The open area behind the library would be great for some nice restaurants and a focal point for some night life.