Pancake Platter Tuesday at The Gathering Rooms Café

Shrove or Pancake Tuesday has long been a tradition for everyone to indulge in their pleasures before the long commitment of Lent – a 40-day period in the lead-up to Easter. And pancakes have been getting tossed around for over 500 years.

At the Gathering Rooms, you will see an ordinary café with a beautiful aroma of fresh coffee, as well as baked desserts that are to die for. This hidden gem sitting beside the historic Church of Ireland Cathedral, on Vicars hill is a great spot to relax in Armagh.

But what makes this hidden away café extraordinary? It is not just their original recipe, but it is the people who will cook and serve you that recipe.

The Gathering Rooms is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund Empowering Young People Program supported by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust. The program involves helping people diagnosed with Autism to develop the skills they need in employment, as the social aspect of work can be quite daunting.

The Gathering Rooms spoke to me about the effects the cost-of-living crisis is having on business:

“In Lockdown, to survive, we had a delivery service for our pancakes. Now, due to the cost of diesel and petrol, we can no longer offer a delivery service.”

Pauline Coulter, Waitress – The Gathering Rooms

With food prices increasing and food sourcing becoming increasingly difficult, the café has also had to raise its prices.

The project has a purpose in the small City of Armagh. Without the Gathering Rooms, there would be one less environment for people with Autism to integrate into a workspace that empowers them and encourages them to develop their skills for later employment and life.

If you are between the age of 16-25, are diagnosed with ASD by the SHSCT, and are interested in attending the Gathering Rooms as a trainee, call 02837525900, or email

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Hi, I am a 21-year-old second-year Journalism student at Ulster University, Coleraine.