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Online lecture series to mark 250th anniversary of No. 5 Vicar’s Hill

Tuesday, 29th November, to Friday, 2nd December 2022

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the building of No. 5 Vicars’ Hill, which is located opposite St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh. Originally the Registry for the Diocese of Armagh, it was built by Archbishop Richard Robinson in 1772 to hold Church of Ireland and civil records. Today, the building is a small museum displaying examples of the non–book treasures of Armagh Robinson Library, including prints, coins, medals and antiquities. There is also a small selection of manuscripts from the Registry Collection for visitors to view, with the bulk of the collection now held at the Public Record Office in Northern Ireland.

To mark the significant anniversary, Armagh Robinson Library (which owns No 5 Vicars’ Hill) has arranged an online lunchtime lecture series. Delivered via Zoom, the lectures will take place from 1pm – 2pm each afternoon from Tuesday 29 November to Friday 2 December 2022 inclusive.

On Tuesday 29 November Dr Katharine Simms will speak about the Medieval Archbishops of Armagh. The papers of the Armagh Diocesan Registry include, for instance, the registers of Archbishops Milo Sweteman (1361–1380), Nicholas Fleming (1404–1416) and John Swayne (1418–1439). Daughter of George Otto Simms, who was Archbishop of Armagh from 1969–1980, Dr Katharine Simms is a Research Associate attached to the Centre for Research in Medieval History at the School of Histories and Humanities, Trinity College Dublin and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy. Dr Simms was a lecturer in Medieval History at Trinity College Dublin from 1980 until her retirement in 2010. An expert on the ecclesiastical history of medieval Ireland, Dr Simms’ publications include From Kings to Warlords: the Changing Political Structure of Gaelic Ireland in the Later Middle Ages (1987), Medieval Gaelic Sources (2009) and Gaelic Ulster in the Middle Ages: History, Culture and Society (2020).

The speaker on Wednesday 30 November will be Steven Ellis, Professor Emeritus of History, National University of Ireland, Galway. His talk will consider why the Reformation failed in Ireland. The talk will offer some new insights into this long running debate which has set the agenda for the Reformation in Tudor Ireland for the last forty years and that will show many of the difficulties faced by the reformers in Tudor Galway were the same as those in Armagh. An authority on Tudor Ireland, Professor Ellis’s publications include Ireland in the Age of the Tudors, 1447–1603: English Expansion and the End of Gaelic Rule (1998).

On Thursday 1 December Alan Ford will give a talk entitled, ‘Money and Brains: Christopher Hampton, James Ussher and the 17th–century See of Armagh’. Alan Ford is Emeritus Professor of Theology at the University of Nottingham and Honorary Secretary of the Church of Ireland Historical Society. He is a leading expert on Irish history in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with publications including The Protestant Reformation in Ireland (1997) and James Ussher: Theology, History and Politics in Early Modern Ireland and England (2007).

Finally, on Friday 2 December, staff from the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland will speak about the treasures of the Armagh Diocesan Registry Papers and about how they have been conserved. The Armagh Diocesan Registry archives comprises over 400 volumes and almost 18,000 documents on the primacy, the province and the archdiocese of Armagh, 1240, 1291 and 1360–1977. It includes Archbishops’ Registers (1360–1543, 1679–1719 and 1878–1943); correspondence from 1615–1957 on schools, education and charities; visitation returns, 1617–1973; and title deeds, leases, rentals, maps and surveys of church lands, 1606–1910.

The lectures are free to attend, with donations towards the Library’s current Endowment Appeal very welcome. Places can be booked online at https://armagh-robinson-library.arttickets.org.uk or by emailing admin@armaghrobinsonlibrary.co.uk

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