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LOUTH

"COUNTY LOUTH, a maritime county in the province of Leinster, and the smallest in Ireland, bounded on the N. by Carlingford Bay and Armagh, on the S. by county Meath, on the E. by the Irish Channel, and on the W. by counties of Monaghan and Meath. This county was originally part of the territory of the Voluntii, and subsequently was included in the independent sovereignty of Argial, or, as it was called by the English, Oriel, or Uriel. After being conquered by John de Courcy in 1183, it was erected into a county by King John in 1210, who presented it to De Courcy as part of Ulster: During Elizabeth's reign the insurgent chieftains committed great devastations in the county, and towards the close of the 17th century negotiations took place between O'Nial and O'Donel and the English government as to the right of the English to that part of Ulster between the Boyne and Dundalk, and the towns of Carlingford, Carrickfergus, and Newry; but nothing came of these negotiations, and from that period Louth has formed part of Leinster province. Edward Bruce was killed at Dundalk in 1318. At Drogheda, at an old church gate, "Poynings law" was passed in 1694, Cromwell having previously taken it by assault in 1649. Louth comprises an area of 315 square miles, or 201,434 acres, of which 178,972 are arable, and about 16,000 uncultivated. Its greatest length, from Drogheda to Carlingford Bay, is 32 miles, and its greatest breadth 15 miles. The southern districts of the county are level, with some parts undulating, all in a high state of cultivation.

The Ravensdale, Cooley, and Carlingford mountains are to the N. From the mouth of the Boyne the coast is low and sandy for nearly 10 miles northward to Clogher Head, where is a natural harbour. To the S. of Dunany Head is a sandy bay with some reefs; these are covered at high-water, but left dry for a considerable distance at ebb-tide. Dunany Point is the southern extremity of Dundalk Bay, the town and harbour being its most inland point. From the head of the bay the land sweeps round the peninsula which projects to the S.E. between Dundalk Bay and Carlingford Lough: Here, on the northern side, the mountains already mentioned rise grandly from the water's edge, their height ranging from 904 feet to 1,935 feet, the height of Carlingford Mountain. Carlingford and Dundalk bays are unsafe for shipping; but great quantities of fish are caught, including turbot, cod, haddock, and herring, and oysters of a delicious flavour at Carlingford, the greater portion of which are sent to Dublin. The county is almost wholly agricultural; the southern parts are the most fertile, the best land being about Ardee and Louth; and though large parts are pasture, all kinds of grains are extensively cultivated. Great quantities of flax are also grown, and sent to the spinners of Bolton, Leeds, and other manufacturing towns in England. The population in 1851 was 107,657, which in 1861 had decreased to 90,713. It is calculated that 62 per cent. of the population are employed in agriculture, and about 27 per cent. in manufacture and commerce. Louth is divided into 6 baronies, Ardee, Drogheda, Upper and Lower Dundalk; Ferrard, and Louth, and contains 64 parishes Before the Union, Louth returned 10 members to the Irish parliament-, since it has only returned three to the Imperial parliament-viz:, two for the county and one for Dundalk borough. The chief towns are Dundalk, Ardee, and part of Drogheda. Dundalk is the county, assize, and sessions town, and the head-quarters of the police. It is in the diocese of Armagh, and in the Belfast and Dublin military districts, and is governed by a lieutenant, custos rotulorum, 13 -deputy-lieutenants, a high sheriff, and some 45 magistrates. The district lunatic asylum is in Dublin; the county hospital at Dundalk, which is reckoned one of the most complete of its kind in Ireland, both as to the structure and the way in which it is conducted. There is a considerable quantity of linen manufactured at Drogheda, and there are large bleach-grounds at Collon and Ravensdale. There are large pin manufactories at Dundalk and Louth; also an iron and brass foundry. There are also extensive breweries and distilleries: the ale of Castle Bellingham has long been held in very high repute. Flax-mills abound on all the smaller rivers, and there are also many large flour and meal mills in the county. Most of the rivers are small; they, include the Boyne, celebrated for the battle of that name, fought in 1690, in which William III. defeated James II., who watched the engagement from Donors Church; the Flurry, Stranarn, Cully, and Craeghan, which rise in county Armagh, and flow into Dundalk Bay; the Fane flows into the same bay, the Lagan and Dee into the sea below Castle Bellingham; and many small streams rise in the interior, which very much contribute to the fertility of the country. The roads are good and well kept. There are numerous remains of antiquity of a very varied character, including Druid circles at Ballrichan and Carrick Edmond, the ruins of a Druidical temple at Ballinahalne, near Dundalk, a cromlech at Ballymascanlan, and a large cairn on Carrick-Beant; also Danish camps, or forts, at Rosskugh, Castle Bellingham, Mount Albini, near Kilbig Hill, and the extraordinary fort called Fayh-na-eineighe, or "the one night's work." There is a round tower at Monasterboice, 110 feet high, and part of another at Dromiskin. Upwards of twenty religious houses have existed in the county, remains of which may be seen at Carlingford, Faughart, Mellifont, and Monasterboice, where there are two pillar crosses, 18 and 20 feet high-one, named St. Boyne's, being the most ancient and the largest and most richly decorated in Ireland. There are numerous ancient castles, accounts of which will be found under their respective parishes. Large numbers of pure gold ornaments, swords, spears, bronze axes, and other antiquarian relics, have been found. In 1835 a very large head ornament and fibula of pure gold were discovered near Monasterboice. Edward II. created Sir John Birmingham earl of Louth; but the title died with him. Subsequently Henry VIII. created Sir Oliver Plunkett Baron Louth, whose descendants have the title to this day. Viscount Ferrard of Collon has also the title of Baron Oriel, the ancient name of the county. There are many seats in the county, including those of Lord Massareene, at Oriel, and Lord Louth, at Louth Hall."

 

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)]
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2018