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‘A delightful city that deserves more attention’: 80s icon Timmy Mallett falls in love with Armagh!

The legendary Mallett's Mallet man has pedalled and painted his way across Northern Ireland and through south Armagh to the Ecclesiastical Capital, visiting St Patrick's Cathedral and admiring the Georgian Mall, enjoying a Road Bowls final and quaffing a 'monster' Ulster Fry en route!

Timmy Mallett in Armagh
Timmy Mallett with the Archbishop of Armagh John McDowell. Photos courtesy of Timmy Mallett

Legendary 80s icon Timmy Mallett has been visiting Armagh as part of his latest charity road trip.

The flamboyant entertainer – who kickstarted his career on TV-am and went on to present kids’ favourite Wide Awake Club – has forged a new lease of life as an artist.

And as he has been out on his recent travels, he has been painting some of the local landscapes as he passes by.

Travelling by bike, the brightly bespectacled and colourfully clothed celeb has been bringing fun and mirth to many along the way – while keeping a regular social media video diary of his days.

Timmy, famed for his foam mallet which he used to clobber players in a fast-paced word association game, has been making his way across Northern Ireland in recent days, on what he describes as his “epic circumnavigation of #norniron”.

And it would appear the broadcaster – who topped the UK charts with Bombalurina’s cover of Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini – is more than just an itsy-bitsy bit impressed with what Armagh has to offer!

His Easter escapades have seen him visit St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh and attend the Bol Fada final between Armagh and Cork at Tassagh, passing through Forkhill, Glassdrummond, Crossmaglen and other scenic parts of south Armagh en route. Timmy had already visited Newry and Newcastle, after enjoying the Mournes Coastal route, and having stopped at Patrick Kielty’s favourite pub in his native Dundrum.

And he stopped off too at Basil Shiels in Tassagh, where he quaffed an Ulster fry, producing a fantastic painting of the popular hostelry into the bargain. He also has shown off his stunning picture of the Armagh skyline, complete with two majestic Cathedrals.

Archbishop of Armagh John McDowell welcomed 68-year-old Timmy to the Church of Ireland Cathedral, while Keeper of the Armagh Robinson Library and Dean of Armagh, Rev Shane Forster, gave him a tour and insight into the historic literary collection which lies within.

It was a fun occasion which allowed Timmy, usually to be seen with trademark mallet in hand, take charge of the Archbishop’s crozier instead!

Recalling his Armagh adventure on social media, Timmy was clearly besotted with our city, as he wrote: “The great team at Basil Sheils produced a wee breakfast for me – the monster Ulster fry up!

“Cycled past the donkey fields along the lanes till Armagh came into sight. The twin cathedrals on the hill have welcomed pilgrims across the centuries.

“I have a meeting with the Dean and Archbishop after the Easter service in the square towered cathedral. St Patrick built the first stone church in this site in 445 and this is building number 17 on the same spot.

“Archbishop John began unexpectedly, ‘Hello Timmy. You went to Warwick University 1974 to 77 didn’t you? My twin brother was there at the same time and I can engender the whiskey we had after the graduation ceremony’.

“That’s something to recall the drink we had nearly 50 years ago!

“It’s a pleasure to meet John and hear about his role following on from Patrick as the head of the church in all Ireland.

“He hands me his crozier while he signs my little book. That’s a good photo!

“Dean Shane tells me the history of the church in this spot. The first on the island of Ireland and Irish King Brian Boru was buried here in 1014. King Charles visited last year. Its got some pedigree.

“Shane showed me the library of 46,000 books including Jonathan Swift’s personal first edition of Gulliver’s Travels with his own hand written corrections to the printed work.

“His family made me a sandwich and I cycled down to Armagh’s Georgian Mall.

“This is a delightful city and deserves more attention.

“On the ride back to Tassagh I saw the dramatic stone viaduct for the long gone railway line to Dublin. It only ran for 50 years. Short sighted I feel.

“There’s another viaduct at Keady and a crowd of people waiting for the final of the Bol Fada, the bowling weekend along the lanes.

“Thomas Mackem from Armagh vs Aidan Murphy from Cork on a 2 mile course. It’s a thrilling competition and the only sport where the fans can be in the course and in the way! Two hours later is a sound win for Thomas and he collects at least 36,000 euros. Yes, it’s big business.”

Big business indeed, and certainly a big occasion for Armagh and beyond, to have such a legend grace us with his presence and keep all entertained as only he can do.

Best of luck on your onward travels, Timmy, and do come back again!!

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