Louth is the smallest county in Ireland, therefore referred to as the Wee County. The northeast coast located county is only 826 square kilometres and often passed through as people are on their way to Belfast or Dublin, which means it never gets the attention it deserves. Both the bigger towns are a popular choice for out-of-town birthday celebrations as well as hen or stag nights arranged at nightclubs.
County Louth gets its name from the village of Louth, named after the ancient Irish God Lugh. The name has had previous spellings in history, including Luchmhaigh, Lugmad, and Lughmhadh, of which the modern version is simply Lú.
While the county infused by history, myth and legend are in the setting of Táin Bó Cúailnge, it also seen Viking influence, therefore named after Carlingford Lough. In the ninth century longphort at Annagassan established and at that time Louth consisted up of no less than three sub-kingdoms. Each of the sub-kingdoms ruled by over-kingdoms such as the Fir Arda Ciannactha, Fire Rois and Conaille. During the 12th century, the entire area became part of the area ruled by Donnchas Au Cerbaill called the o’Caroll Kingdom of Aurgialla. This is also the time that the area was no longer part of the See of Diocese or Clogher or Airgailla and the diocese of Armach and transferred to Louth. The county is rich with historical sites, while religious sites include the St Mary Magdalene Dominican Friary, Mellifornt Abbey and the Monasterboice.
The Louth, occupied by the English Oriel in the 1180s, distinguished it from the Irish Oriel, which became the McMahon Lordship of Oriel of County Monaghan. Edward Bruce’s Scottish army repulsed from Drogheda in the early 14th century, finally defeated by the John de Bermingham force, resulting in the losing his claim to the high kingship of Ireland.
After the manor house was erected by Bertram de Verdun a Norman nobleman at Castletown Mount in 1189, Dundalk was granted a royal charter. Drogheda got a royal charter in 1412, it unified Drogheda-in-Uriel (Louth), and Drogheda-in-Meath to a county styled as the county of the town of Drogheda. It continued as a county borough until the enactment of the Ireland Government in 1898, which followed the setting up of County Councils. This made the area south of the River Boyne and Drogheda part of the then extended County Louth.
Louth was a part of Ulster until the late 16th century before it was included as part of Leinster, which followed because of the 1596 conference. The conference between Archbishop of Cashel and the Earl of Ormonde on that of the English and the Chiefs of Ulster (O’Niel/ O’Nial and McDonnel/ O’Donel), on the Irish side, took place in Faughart. Battles and skirmishes followed in the 16th and 17th centuries involving the English and Irish forces since Louth was on the main route to the Ulster and Moiry Pass areas that was uncolonized and often in rebellion.
In 1649, Oliver Cromwell attacked Drogheda, resulting in the slaughtering of hundreds of citizens in the town and the royalist garrison, towards the end of the century it was a face-off between the armies of William III of Orange and James II. The battles fought in south Louth was the build-up to the Battle of Boyne that took placed only 3km west of Drogheda. While Drogheda, held by Lord Iveagh for James, this plan failed, as a day after the battle ended it was surrendered to William.
The United Irishmen leaders in 1798 consisted of John Byrne, Patrick Byrne and Bartholomew Teeling, from Castletown as well as Anthony Marmion from Dundalk and Louth Town and Nicholas and Thomas Markey from Barmeath, Arthur McKeown, John Warren, Anthony McCann and James McAllister from Cambricville. Betrayed by an informer Dr Colan from Dundalk and Sam Turner from Newry.
Landscape and Population of Louth
Louth is known for a variety of things, and its unique landscape is one of them. By far, Louth is reportedly the smallest country in Ireland, only ranging to be around 826 km², or also known as 319 sq miles. Out of all of Ireland, it has taken the title of being 19th in terms of the general population. In Leinster, the province where Louth is located, also hold the title of being the small area while surprisingly ranking sixth in terms of the population.
Towns in Louth do have a varying range in their populations. Listed below are the top five towns in Louth that are known for their larger than expected populations.
Drogheda – 38,578
Dundalk – 37,816
Ardee – 4,927
Clogherhead – 1,993
Dunleer – 1,786
Due to Ireland being a larger country, lawmakers have separated the country into having different jurisdictions, some that overlap others, for a plethora of administrative reasonings. While these subdivisions have been in the history of the country for decades, they can change when needed to compensate for the growing population, as well for any new administrative changes. Any research will show a few select terms that have been heavily related to the topic of subdivisions.
The country of Ireland has been subdivided into multiple jurisdictions that overlap for are number of purposes relating to administrative reasons. Those that are seeking information relation to their family history will find this when searching maps, land valuations, censuses, church registers, voting lists and legal records. The boundaries have seen changes as time has gone on that are reflective to the administrative and population changes. Those most frequently changed include Towns and Cities, Baronies, Electoral Division, Dioceses, Ecclesiastical Parishes and Civil Parishes.
Poor Law Unions
As the name suggests, poor law unions were created to aid the poor and unfortunate in any one of the civil districts. This act came along in 1838 and was officially dubbed the Poor Law Relief Act the same year. The government dived the country into separate districts who will have specified groups, the civil parishes, who will try to raise taxes to help the poor find sanctuary. Due to this act, over 163 unions were created with the same purpose in mind f helping the less fortunate. Today, you can find the exact districts while looking in an Irish map or atlas.
Towns and Cities
Civil areas can vary in size in population and have been officially named as towns. Which can all be seen while browsing a map of Ireland.
In 1898, 3,715 civil jurisdictions were created to handle elections in a more organized format. They are also known as the District Electoral Divisions (DED’S) and made their first appearance during the census in 1901 through 1911.
This was one of the most prominent divisions in the Irish history. It was based heavily off the boundaries that were set by the old tribes in the areas. While they are not as known today, information about baronies can still be found in any of the following atlases: Mitchell’s, Gardner, or Harland and Smith.
The two leading churches in Ireland, the Church of Ireland, which follows an Anglican faith, and the Catholic Church have a list of dioceses across the entire country. The creation of these dioceses was founded by a bishop of the church and was filled with a varying number of priests and ministers– which was dependent on the size and location. It is well known that both churches dioceses overlapped in some counties which have caused some issues. More information about both churches dioceses has been outlined in Mitchell’s Atlas.
The civil parishes are areas where local governments take place. They can include churches, areas in the countryside, or even a bundle of several towns. There is a recorded number of 2,500 of these parishes in the country and they have been noted to comply positively with the parishes created by the Church of Ireland.
ecclesiastical parishes are created by the church and are located throughout the country. They will usually contain a “mother or head church where a minister or a priest will reside and hold services. The parishes created by the Catholic charge are usually larger compared to the Angelicin parishes. Although Presbyterians are present, they do not follow the same structure as the previously mentioned churches.
There are twelve other counties which are located in Louth, some which are known for their festivals that bring in thousands of visitors a year. These include: