Alternative Placement Shannon Morgan

As a final year student studying Education with Religion and English at Stranmillis University College, I was delighted to have received Armagh Robinson Library for my two-week Alternative Placement!

Being a local of Armagh town itself, and a past pupil of St Patrick’s High School, Keady, I felt that I had good prior knowledge of, and a close link to Armagh Robinson Library before my placement here, giving the locality of it, but what I was not aware of was the immense brilliance that lay behind their doors. I was stunned at how well kept all of these ancient books were dating back to the 15th century, and how relevant they still remained to the school curriculum even today, especially in relation to my two key subjects, Religion and English.

During my two weeks spent here, I have thoroughly enjoyed linking together the resources here at Armagh Robinson Library to the subject of RE, especially within the Post-Primary sector, focusing on topics covered throughout GCSE and A-Level. Through this, I have suggested ideas to add to ‘The Morning on the Hill’ trip offered by the Library, its second building at No.5 Vicars’ Hill and by St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in order to make it more compatible with the RE Core Syllabus at GCSE and A- Level.

For example, by referring to the famous ‘Book of Armagh’, this can promote the Celtic Church topic studied at A-Level as there is a sense of locality to it in relation to ‘the claims of Armagh’ section within it, as well as the relevance of Saint Patrick himself within this topic and the impact that he had, and still has on the city of Armagh today. By doing so, this allows pupils undergoing examinations during these challenging two years an opportunity to gain further insight into their studied topic from a different angle, outside of the classroom which will hopefully be beneficial to them.

My visit to the amazing No.5 Vicars’ Hill exhibition gave me an incredible insight into the true history that lay within the walls of these spectacular buildings in Armagh and how history has changed and developed over time. This included a study of the Cathedrals of Armagh, Armagh Robinson Library’s collections, examples of which are on display in No. 5, and my visit also highlighted the development of Penmanship and Christianity in Ireland, both extremely relevant to my two key subjects. As well as this, the folklore stories that were associated with Vicars’ Hill and the story of the Green Lady were also made known to me, which I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about, given that this was a story that I grew up only hearing snippets about, so it was good to hear the facts that the story was based upon.

Being a local of Armagh and in reflection of my two-week visit, I was pleasantly surprised to learn of the vast amount of history that I didn’t realise was so close to home. From Vicars’ Hill only being an area that I passed most days on my travels prior to this Alternative Placement, to leaning so much about its history, my only regret is not learning about it sooner!

I cannot thank Carol and the rest of the staff enough for how kind and welcoming they have been to me! Each and every member of staff has made this short period of time so insightful and enjoyable, and I have loved every minute of being here.

This is definitely a hidden gem of Armagh City that I will be returning to (hopefully with a class of my own) in the near future. I highly recommend visiting Armagh Robinson Library, and the area of Vicars’ Hill as an entirety if you wish to learn more about this beautiful city and the rich history that is associated with it.