County Louth Coat of Arms
Editorial Note: County Louth is the birth place of my paternal great grandparents, Thomas Kerr - son of Thomas Kerr and Ann Clarke - and Alice McEvoy - daughter of Thomas McEvoy and Anne McDonald.
County Louth (pron.: //; Irish: Contae Lú) is a county of Ireland. It is part of the Border Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Louth. Louth County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 122,897 according to the 2011 census.
County Louth is colloquially known as 'the Wee County' as it is the smallest county by area (826 km² (319sq miles). It is the 19th largest in terms of population. It is the smallest of Leinster’s 12 counties by size and the sixth largest by population.
The towns and villages of County Louth
- Gyles' Quay
- Sandpit, County Louth
The official spelling in the Irish (Gaelic) language (Lú) must not be confused with the similar sounding superlative form lú meaning smaller or smallest of the adjective beag. Instead, it is derived from Lughbhaidh - the Celtic pagan god Lugh, whose festival was celebrated at Lughnasadh (Lúnasa). This is a county steeped in myth, legend and history, going back to the pre-historic days of the Táin Bó Cúailnge (Cooley Cattle Raid, see Cú Chulainn). Later it saw the influence of the Vikings as seen in the name of Carlingford Lough. They also established a longphort at Annagassan in the ninth century. At this time Louth consisted of three sub-kingdoms each subject to separate over-kingdoms: Conaille (Ulaidh); Fir Rois (Airgialla); and, the Fir Arda Ciannachta (Midhe). The whole area became part of the O'Carroll Kingdom of Airgialla (Oriel) early in the twelfth century.
The Normans occupied the Louth area in the 1180s, and it became known as English Oriel, to distinguish it from the remainder (Irish Oriel) which remained in Irish hands. The latter became the McMahon lordship of Oriel of Monaghan. There are a number of historic sites in the county, including religious sites at Monasterboice and Mellifont Abbey. In the early fourteenth century the Scottish army of Edward Bruce (brother of Robert of Bannockburn fame) was defeated in the Battle of Faughart near Dundalk, Edward losing not only his claim to the High Kingship Of Ireland, but also his life. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries featured many skirmishes and battles involving Irish and English forces, as it was on the main route to 'the Moiry Pass' and the Ulster areas often in rebellion and as yet uncolonised. Oliver Cromwell attacked Drogheda in 1649 slaughtering the Royalist garrison and hundreds of the town's citizens (Siege of Drogheda). Towards the end of the same century the armies of the warring Kings, James and William, faced off in South Louth during the build-up to the Battle of the Boyne - the battle takes its name from the river Boyne which reaches the sea at Drogheda.
In 1798 the leaders of the United Irishmen included Bartholomew Teeling, John Byrne and Patrick Byrne, all from Castletown; Anthony McCann from Corderry; Nicholas and Thomas Markey from Barmeath, Arthur McKeown, John Warren and James McAllister from Cambricville. They were betrayed by informers, notably a Dr. Conlan, who came from Dundalk, and an agent provocateur called Sam Turner, from Newry. Several leaders were hanged.
In 1816, the Wildgoose Lodge Murders took place in the west of the county.
The priest and scientist Nicholas Callan (1799–1864) was from Darver.
The majority of the county's population live in either Dundalk (2011 pop. 31,073) in north Louth, or Drogheda (2011 pop. 30,435) in the south. The 2006 Census confirmed Dundalk and Drogheda as not only the largest towns in the county, but also the second and third largest towns in Ireland.
Within legally defined boundaries Dundalk has the larger population, however the total population (including suburbs or environs) is greater in Drogheda, this includes areas and suburbs of Drogheda which lie in County Meath. The Local Government Commission has recommended an increase to the urban area of Dundalk to be implemented in 2012/2013 thus introducing Borough council status and replacing the existing Town Council. This will result in a further increase to the urban population of Dundalk by a projected 25,000 residents.
The local authority is Louth County Council, offices in Dundalk, which provides a number of services including; planning, roads maintenance, fire brigade, council housing, water supply, waste collection, recycling and landfill, higher education grants and funding for arts and culture.
For elections to Dáil Éireann, Louth is represented by the five member Louth constituency which takes in the entire county of Louth and small parts of eastern Meath. In the last general election 2 TD's from Fine Gael and one each from Sinn Féin, the Labour Party and Fianna Fáil were elected.
The area of Omeath was Irish-speaking until the early 20th century. A native dialect of Louth Irish existed there until about 1930, but is now extinct, although recordings have been made. Within the county 1,587 people use Irish on a daily basis outside of the education system according to the 2011 census.
Well-known people from County Louth