Autumn is also synonymous of Apples in Northern Ireland, so today we went to County Armagh also known as the Orchard County to learn more about the apple harvesting. The place we were is the Ardress House that belongs to the National Trust, though the majority of the orchards belong to MacIvors Cider Co. and are used for commercial purpose (to produce the famous cider). At the entrance of the property we are welcomed with the views of the orchards from both sides.
Have a look below how the orchards look at the blossom and now ready for the harvesting.
The famous Bramley Apples were introduced in Armagh in 1884 by Nicholson of Cranagill, but these well known apples didn’t start here, they were planted by chance by a girl from England called Mary Ann Brailsford. You are probably wondering why those apples are called Bramley and not Mary Ann or Brailsford? The reason is simple, it’s because Mary Ann’s house was bought by Matthew Bramley and in 1856 Henry Merryweather saw the potential of these trees and asked Bramley permission to use some cuttings to grow the tree in Ireland. Bramley agreed under the condition that the apples would be named after him. The first tree planted here at Ardress House dates 200 years ago and they are still here. Extraordinary how trees can be so resilient!
Some of these trees are sterile and they need other apple trees from a different species to be pollinated, but pollination can also be carried out by bees. Ardress House has some hives that are used for this purpose alongside the production of honey. Do you know how many bees each hive can hold? 60000 is the answer. And do you know how much honey a bee produces during their life? Well, first let me tell you that bees have a short life span, they live on average 6 weeks and during their short life they only produce half of a tea spoon of honey. So can you imagine how many bees are needed to produce a jar of honey?
The production of apples is very important for Armagh’s economy as it employs 1500 local people and generates a revenue of around £20m per year.
I really enjoyed the tour and the explanations provided and the chance of picking up some apples that will hopefully make a nice apple pie.
You can also buy some products like cider, honey and apple pies.
Explore the 100 acres Ardress offers you. You can feed the chickens, have the chance to meet some animals that live in the farm, visit the house, walk around the surrounding areas, enjoy the autumn season with your family… plenty to choose from.
You really should try this amazing experience!