Article written by: Heather Alexander
The Armagh Observatory has been a staple feature along the Armagh skyline since its creation in 1790. Astronomical research has been undertaken within the organisation since the 1790s and to this day it has seen several different Directors and numerous astronomers walk through its historical doors.
How did it all begin? What prompted the building of such an organisation, and in Armagh of all places? Surely Belfast would have been the better place, or Derry-Londonderry? In this article we will look at the very beginning, the big bang, as it were.
Armagh Observatory. Opened in 1790 thanks to the efforts of Richard Robinson, Archibishop of Armagh. Image Credit: Armagh Observatory and Planetarium
The story starts with a man known as Richard Robinson. He was born in Yorkshire in 1709 and was educated in Oxford. After leaving school, he became a member of the clergy in the Church of England. He came to Ireland in 1751 as the chaplain to the new Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Duke of Dorset, Lionel Cranfield Sackville. Ireland during this time was dominated by the Penal Laws. Members of the Catholic and Presbyterian community were discriminated ...