Seven miles northwest of Armagh, the picturesque village of BENBURB merits a detour. Main Street’s tiny cottages were once apple-peeling sheds, and the parish church, dating from 1618, is one of the oldest still in regular use in Ireland. It stands next to the gates of a Servite priory – the monastic order of Servants of the Virgin, which, though founded in Florence in 1233, did not establish itself in Ireland until 1948. The priory grounds offer a pleasant stroll, but far better are the walks along the Blackwater River in Benburb Valley Park (daily 9am–dusk; free), accessed from Main Street, where, perched on a rock thirty metres or so above the water, are the substantial remains of a castle built by Viscount Powerscourt in 1615, which offer commanding views of the Blackwater valley.

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