County Louth

County Louth is a maritime county in the province of Leinster….woth seeing on tours of Ireland.

 Ireland’s smallest county, only 318 square miles, Louth is, however, more heavily populated than other larger counties because it has the major towns of Drogheda and Dundalk near both its northern and southern extremities.  These two towns together account for just over half the county’s population. 

The most strikingly beautiful part of the county is the Cooley Peninsula, which looks across the border with Northern Ireland to the majestic Mourne Mountains in County Down.  On the peninsula are the active port of Greenore, a small whiskey distillery, and the historic town of Carlingford (renowned for its oysters). 

 The Cooley Peninsula is most famous for the legendary epic Tan Bo Cuailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley), which chronicles Queen Maeve of Connacht’s attempts to carry off a prized bull from Cooley so that her herd could equal that of her husband’s. 

To the west of Dundalk is a standing stone that tradition associates with the death of Cuchulainn, the hero of the Tain Bo Cuailnge.

The county’s southern border is the river Boyne, scene of the fateful Battle of the Boyne (1690), in which King William of Orange defeated the forces of King James II and changed the course of Irish history. 

 More than three centuries earlier, the Scottish King Edward Bruce’s invasion of the county cost him his life at Faughart, where he is buried.  Faughart is also the acknowledged birthplace of St. Brigid, Ireland’s foremost female saint. 

The high crosses at Monasterboice are among the most impressive and best preserved in Ireland. 

In Mellifont, the Cistercians founded their first Irish Monastery in the twelfth century. 

The church of St. Peter in Drogheda houses the head of Ireland’s only canonized martyr, St. Oliver Plunkett.

Louth, at one time on the cusp of Gaelic Ireland and the English-dominated Pale, has some fine castles and tower houses including Carlingford Castle,Castle Roche, and Roodstown. 

St. Laurence’s Gate in Drogheda is a symbol of the strength of this once fortified town on the river Boyne.  Nearby, a viaduct over the river constructed for the Dublin – Belfast railway line was regarded as the great engineering feat of  mid nineteenth-century Ireland. 

On the northern side of the estuary is Beaulieu, dating from the 1660s, one of the first county houses in Ireland to be built without fortifications.

See the highlights on Ireland tours….you will not be disappointed.