ALTHOUGH in area, including the County of the town of Drogheda, only 201,618 statute acres, and the smallest county in Ireland, Louth deserves to rank among the most prosperous. The Eastern boundary is the Irish Sea, which gives to its commerce three outlets of considerable importance: Drogheda, Dundalk, and Greenore. These are also shipping points for Meath and Monaghan, the Southern and Western boundaries, and for Armagh, which with Carlingford Lough, bounds the county on the North.
For a long time previous to the entry of the English, Louth had formed part of Orgial, an independent Principality, consisting of a portion of the Province of Meath, and the entire of Armagh and Monaghan. The O’Carrols were Princes of Orgial. The barony of Louth was referred to particularly as their country. In 1183, John de Courcy conquered Orgial, and it was afterwards known by the English variously as Uriel and Oriel.
The followers of de Courcy and de Lacy settled the portion of Orgial called English Oriel, and in 1210 the County of Louth was formed from it by King John. Many castles were erected for the purpose of enabling the settlers to continue in possession. Their ruins are still to be found in every part of the county, adding greatly to the picturesqueness of the scenery. In 1315, Edward Bruce, brother of the Scottish King, on condition that he should aid them in driving the English out, was offered the Kingdom of Ireland by the Ulster Chiefs. Having landed with an army of 6,000 men, he soon became master of Ulster, and was crowned on the 2nd of May, 1316. Toward the close of the year following he was killed, and his army defeated by the English.
Louth was one of the counties of the English Pale, and had a small standing force in 1437, commanded by Sir Laurence Taaf, Mayor of Drogheda, and Richard Bellew. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the Chiefs of Ulster, O’Nial and O’Donel, had become so formidable that they rejected a proposal to make Dundalk the frontier of the English possessions in Ireland. A conference was held at Faughart, in 1596, to arrange terms. Previous to that time Louth had been a part of Ulster. Soon afterward it was included in that of Leinster, and has so remained ever since. In the Parliamentary war of 1641, some fighting was done in the Northern and Southern portions of the county. Cromwell entered from Dublin at the head of 10,000 men in 1649, and having captured Drogheda, after two days’ siege, marched through to Dundalk and received its surrender. In the Revolution, the armies of King James and King William traversed the County Louth, and finally struggled for the mastery on the banks of the Boyne, in 1690. Facts of history referred to here are more elaborately treated in the chapters descriptive of the several towns and villages. The County of Louth and the County of the borough of Drogheda returned twelve members to the Irish Parliament before the Union. Under the Redistribution Act of 1885, Louth is divided into two parts, North and South. Two members only will represent it in the Imperial Parliament.
GEOLOGY, MOUNTAINS, RAILWAYS, AND ROADS.
FROM the geological point of view, Louth is moderately interesting. The Ravensdale, Cooley, and Carlingford Mountains, which so greatly serve to heighten its scenic attractions, are composed for the most part of granite. Greenstone and hornblende are found everywhere within the granite area. Limestone is very plentiful throughout the county…..
With a single exception the Louth towns have railway communication. The Great Northern enters at Drogheda, passing over the Boyne Viaduct, bearing date 1855, and a suitable monument to the genius of the late Sir John M’Neil, C.E., a native of Louth. This line runs through CastleBellingham, Dunleer, and Dundalk, on the way to Belfast. A separate line connects Dundalk with Greenore, and this also connects Newry with Greenore. ….
Louth is second to no other county in the matter of public roads.....
THE remains of antiquity are very numerous, and extend through every part of the county. They continue in very much the same condition that they were found more than one hundred and twenty-five years ago by Thomas Wright, author of Louthiana. ….
AGRICULTURAL INTERESTS, MARKETS, AND FAIRS.
IN the southern part of the county the land is first-rate. It is highly cultivated, and for the greater part well sheltered and drained. The nature is rich vegetable mould, based on marl, limestone, or clay slate. In the vicinity of Drogheda, Ardee, the village of Louth, Dundalk and CastleBellingham, it is good for either tillage or pasture. North of Dundalk it is less favoured, often rising to heights which are only accessible to goats and hardy sheep. Along the way from Dundalk to Carlingford there are evidences constantly in view of the industry of the people. ….
Owing to the compactness of the County Louth, the markets are being almost entirely confined to the large towns, in this respect differing from other counties. Dundalk, Drogheda, Ardee, and Carlingford have markets. Fairs are held at Drogheda, Dundalk, Ardee, Collon, Dunleer, Carlingford, CastleBellingham, Louth and Mullaghcrew. The tendency to favour the larger at the expense of the smaller towns and villages in fairs, likewise, becoming more manifest from year to year. ….
TRADE, FISHERIES AND MANUFACTURES.
LOUTH has not escaped the stagnation which has affected trade in other parts of the United Kingdom. The conditions, however, have at no time been of such a character as to have seriously impaired the financial standing of the leading merchants. ….
HUNTING, COURSING AND RACING.
MUCH of the Louth hunting country extends across the Boyne into the County Meath. As a whole, it stands on the record as first-rate. In the Southern part the fences are stiff, and in the North stony. ….
If the numbers attending the meetings is an indication, horse-racing must be regarded as the most popular sport in Louth. ….
ANGLING, BOATING, REGATTAS, &c.
WITHOUT entering into a comparison with other counties, it can be said truthfully that the rivers of Louth, on the whole, afford good sport for anglers. Those which are preserved are excellent, and those that are open to all corners suffer from the industry of unreasoning persons who consider it tedious labour to operate with hook and line. ….
The advantages afforded at Dundalk and Drogheda for aquatic exercises have been taken advantage of to a very considerable extent. Both towns have their boat clubs and boat houses. The Boyne Regatta was held on 7th. July, 1885, and was largely attended. ….
A regatta and aquatic sports were held at Dundalk on the 4th. of August, 1885, and it also was a success. ….
FOOT-BALL, GAELIC, ATHLETIC EXERCISES, CRICKET, LAWN TENNIS AND CYCLING.
YOUNG blood in the County Louth is in no danger of stagnation. In 1885, it coursed freely, at public and private exhibitions of athletic skill.
The Drogheda Foot-Ball Club led off in June with their annual sports ….
There is a foot-ball club at Dundalk which has produced famous players.
In a little more than two months after its establishment, the Gaelic Athletic Association of Drogheda held sports on the 18th of August. 1885. ….
Cricket, as a game, has not reached a high stake of popularity in the county. ….
Lawn Tennis is exceedingly popular. ….
Cycling is also very popular. ….
(Source: Bassett, George Henry, Louth County Guide and Directory, Dublin 1886, extracts
from pages 1 to 39)
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