3,000 years of apple growing heritage celebrated in Richhill

The Richhill Apple Harvest Fayre began in 2014 to celebrate the Armagh Bramley apple.

It’s back this year after being cancelled due to the pandemic in 2020 and takes place today in the picturesque Armagh village.

With three thousand years of apple growing heritage in the county the organisers have time on their side.

The first Bramley apple tree was grown in 1809 from pips planted by a young girl called Mary Ann Brailsford at her home in Southwell in Nottinghamshire. A butcher named Matthew Bramley bought the house and garden in 1846. Local nursery man Henry Merryweather asked to take some cuttings from the tree to sell and Matthew agreed provided the tree was known as the Bramley. An English classic was born.

In 1883 a Mr Nicolson of Cranagill House in County Armagh in Northern Ireland bought 60 seedlings from Henry. At this stage there were over 100 different varieties of apple tree growing in the county. The Bramley thrived in Armagh – thankfully it’s a fruit that likes a good dousing of rain all year round. As it flourished, it usurped the other apples growing in the region and is now the most commonly available apple. In 2012 the Armagh Bramley was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, marking it in the world with other cherished foods associated with their place like English Stilton cheese and Italian Parma ham.

Local Bramley grower Hamilton Loney says “An Armagh Bramley apple has to be grown within the Archdiocese of Armagh, which includes Richhill and the surrounding area where we have many orchards.

The Richhill Apple Harvest Fayre is part of the growing effort locally to allow people to experience and learn more about the rich apple growing tradition we enjoy.

Even St Patrick is said to have planted an apple tree in Armagh”.

Armagh Bramley apples are denser than their English counterparts – more rain and frost than the sunnier climes of across the water...They weigh down on your palm and when you cut in the flesh bursts with lip puckering juice.

There’ll be Bramley growers, producers and much entertainment in Richhill Square today. And if you can’t make it I included a couple of Bramley apple recipes to celebrate this wonderful heritage product.

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