Toby's Handcrafted Cider
A brief history of Armagh Cider
According to the history books, apples have been grown in Armagh for over 3000 years. It is thought that St Patrick himself planted an apple tree at Ceangoba, an ancient settlement east of the City of Armagh.
In the early records of the Culdee Monasteries in Armagh we are told that at festival times the monks were not allowed to increase their intake of bread at meal times, but they were allowed certain treats including the apple.
It is also said that William of Orange quenched his thirst with the cider of the Orchard County, before his victory at the Battle of the Boyne. The King sent his cider maker, Paul le Harper, to Portadown with a handful of equipment to make sure his army wouldn't go without their favoured tipple.
The modern history of apple growing in Armagh can be traced back to the village of Southwell in Nottingham, England. In 1809 Mary Anne Brailsford planted a seed, which would become known as Bramley's Seedling, in her garden. A number of years later Mary Anne's property was bought by Matthew Bramley and although he played little part in the development of the tree, it bears his name.
In 1856 nurseryman Henry Merryweather recognised the commercial potential of the tree and it received a first class certificate from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1883. One year later Mr Nicholson of Crangill bought 60 Bramley seedlings from Henry and introduced them to Northern Ireland. By 1921 the Bramley had become the principal variety in Armagh.
Although the Bramley Orchards have declined in size since then, there still remains around 5000 acres of apple orchards in County Armagh, so it is easy to see how the county recevied is name of 'The Orchard County' or 'The Orchard of Ireland'.
Since the turn of the 21st century, County Armagh has seen a revival of it cider traditions, with artisan cider makers such as ourselves returning to the art of handcrafting cider. We are still using the the same traditional methods to produce our authentic, all natural handcrafted Armagh Cider.