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Armagh, archiepiscopal diocese of

Armagh, archiepiscopal diocese of (archiepiscopal diocese of Ard Machae). Its strong associations with St Patrick make Armagh inevitably the seat of both the Catholic and Anglican primates of all Ireland. Traditionally founded by St Patrick in 444, the original church community, contrary to Celtic tradition, was headed by bishops, but from the 8th cent., in Celtic style, the ‘heir of Patrick’ was always an abbot with bishops subordinate. With the advent of 10th/11th-cent. Roman reform Abbot Cellach was consecrated bishop (1106). By the Council of Raithbressail (1111) Armagh became the metropolitan see of Leth Cuinn (northern half of Ireland) with twelve dioceses. Later, by the Council of Kells-Mellifont (1152) when Ireland was divided further into four provinces, the province of Tuam for western Ireland was carved out of Armagh, while Armagh, with its eleven dioceses, still retained overall primacy. In the late 20th-cent. troubles both primates of Armagh have worked for reconciliation. Armagh has two cathedrals, both dedicated to St Patrick. The Anglican one on the site of a 5th-cent. church is 19th cent. with a 10th-cent. crypt. The catholic cathedral is neo-Gothic (1840–73). A notable Anglican archbishop was James Ussher (1625–56).

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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