LOUTH, a parish and post-town, chiefly in the barony of LOUTH, county of LOUTH, and province of LEINSTER, but partly in the baronies of ARDEE and UPPER-DUNDALK, but 5½ miles (W.) from Dundalk, on the road to Kingscourt, and 39½ (N. by W.) from Dublin; containing 9721 inhabitants, of which number, 613 are in the town. This place, called anciently Knockfergus, and also Cluain-Caoin, was celebrated for an abbey founded here by St. Patrick, over which he placed St. Mocteus or Mochtalugh, a Briton, who died at a very advanced age in 534. The monastery became a very extensive seat of learning under the superintendence of St. Mocteus and his successors; and it is said that 100 bishops and 300 presbyters, all eminent for learning and piety, were educated in this school. St. Dichull, who became abbot about the commencement of the 8th century, and several of his successors, were styled indifferently abbots or bishops; and the monastery continued to flourish till 830, when it was pillaged by the Danes, by whom the abbey was destroyed in 839 and many of the brethren killed. In 968, while in the possession of the Danes, the abbey was plundered by Muirceartagh, son of Donell, King of Ireland, who slew many of these invaders; and in 1043, this place and the adjacent country were plundered by Andatus O'Ruairc, who was himself soon after slain. In 1075, the town, with all its churches, was destroyed by fire; and in 1133 and 1148 the abbey experienced a similar calamity, from which it never seems to have recovered. Donchad O'Kervaill, prince of Orgial, and Edan O'Coellaidhe, Bishop of Clogher, who had recently founded the abbey of Knock, jointly erected a priory on its site for Canons Regular, which was subsequently made a sanctuary by Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh: the prior sat as a baron in parliament. The town was destroyed by fire in 1152, 1160, and 1166, when it was also plundered; and in 1242 a grand chapter of the order was held in the priory by the Archbishop of Armagh, at which were assembled all the abbots and priors of the Canons Regular in the kingdom.
Edward Bruce and other leaders of the Scottish army were entertained here, in 1315, by the prior, who was afterwards pardoned by Edw. II. on payment of a fine of £40; and in 1488, the prior, who had been concerned in the insurrection of Lambert Simnel, received the king's pardon. John Wile, who had alienated a considerable portion of the revenues of the establishment, and who was prior at the time of the dissolution, voluntarily resigned his office into the king's hands and received a pension of £16. 13. 4., for the remainder of his life; and the priory, with all its revenues, was granted in the 33rd of Hen. VIII. to Oliver Plunkett, ancestor of the present proprietor. The town is situated on the river Glyde, and from a grant made by Hen. IV. to the "Bailiff and Commons of the Town of Loueth," releasing them from two parts of the chief rents during the minority of Lord D'Arcey, it appears to have had a municipal government prior to 1406. It contains 126 houses, and has a sub-post-office to Ardee, Carrickmacross, and Dundalk. There is a constabulary police station, and another at Glyde Farm, in the parish. Fairs are held every month in the village of Mullacrew, and petty sessions every Thursday in the town.
The parish, according to the Ordnance survey, comprises 17,842¾ statute acres, of which 2081¼ are in the barony of Ardee, 1654½ in that of Upper Dundalk, and 14,107 in that of Louth. The land is of very good quality and principally under tillage, producing abundant crops; the system of agriculture is improved; there is very little bog, and not any waste land. The principal seats are Stephenstown, the residence of M. Fortescue, Esq., a handsome mansion in a highly improved demesne of 500 acres, well planted and watered by the river Fane, which here separates the parish from that of Killincoole; Glyde Farm, the property of T. Fortescue, Esq., at present in the occupation of G. Wade, Esq., a handsome residence in tastefully disposed grounds; and Corderry, of Faithful Fortescue, Esq. There is an extensive flour-mill at Channon Rock, and there are also two corn-mills at the southern extremity of the parish, near Killincoole. The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Armagh, and in the patronage of the Crown for two presentations, and the Lord-Primate for one. The tithes amount to £1988. 1. 9.; the glebehouse was built in 1813, at an expense of £4940. 6. 1¾., and the glebe comprises 64¾ statute acres of cultivated land, valued at £147. 14. 2. The church is a plain structure, erected about 1807 and enlarged in 1828 by parochial assessment; it has a tower and spire, which are not yet completed, and has been recently repaired by a grant of £242 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
The R. C. parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church; there are three chapels, situated at Louth, Knockbridge, and Stonetown; the two first are spacious edifices. About 500 children are taught in four public schools, of which the parochial school in the town, with an infants' school attached to it, is partly supported by the rector; one near Glyde Farm by the trustees of Erasmus Smith's charity, also aided by the rector; and one on the demesne of Stephenstown, supported by the rector and M. Fortescue, Esq. There are five private schools, in which are about 400 children; and a dispensary for the poor, who, when unable to attend, are visited at their own dwellings. At Ardpatrick, in this parish, a church was founded by St.
Patrick, of which no part remains; and at Knock a monastery for Canons Regular, and dedicated to St.
Peter and St. Paul, was founded in 1148, by Donchad O'Kervaill, prince of Orgial, and Edan Coellaidhe, Bishop of Clogher, who also founded the priory of Louth.
Marian O'Gorman, who was abbot in 1167, composed a martyrology in the Irish language, which existed in the time of Colgan and was then in great esteem; the endowment was augmented by Hugh de Ardiz, in 1260, but was yet insufficient for the maintenance of its establishment.
The abbot surrendered the monastery, with its revenues, in the 31st of Hen. VIII.; and Jas. I., in the 3rd of his reign, granted it to Sir John King, Knt., at the yearly rent of £16. 10. 4.; there are no remains.
On the summit of a hill near this place is Mount Ash, a curious fort, supposed to be of Danish origin; it consists of an oval mount, the surface of which is depressed, and surrounded with a vallum, and around two-thirds of the circumference is a second vallum with a ditch.
On the glebe land is Fairy Mount, an abrupt conical eminence surrounded by a high earthen vallum; and Castle-Ring, near the town, is of similar construction, but more elevated, and has a small stream surrounding it between the vallum and the counterscarp; on the summit are the foundations of a hexagonal mural fort.
The remains of the ancient abbey of Louth, founded by St. Patrick, or rather of the priory subsequently erected on its site, are extensive but in a very dilapidated state; and the cemetery is still a favourite place of interment.
Dr. Plunkett, the R. C. Archbishop of Armagh, who was executed in London for high treason, was for some time resident here.
from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.