Many old varieties of apple and pear have been lost but there is increased interest in preserving those that remain.
Keegan Crab, Barnhill Pippin, Golden Nobel and Ballyfatten, all planted around 1880, may still be found in the MacNeice orchards beside Ardress House in Armagh. Other old trees survive beside farmhouses, sometimes kept as much for their Spring blossom as for their fruit – old pear trees may bear small fruit but their white flowers are a joy.
There are now strenuous efforts to establish orchards of the old trees with their wonderful colour, flavour and texture of fruit. Often they were more frost hardy and flower later than the widespread bramley. Not only were apples eaten raw or cooked; special types were used for cider, a tradition which has disappeared. The Caledon cider apple from Caledon and Tynan on the Armagh/Tyrone border is believed to have been developed at the local Franciscan Friary: it has a red skin with pink-tinged flesh and must have made beautiful apple juice and cider.