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Baile na Lorgan
Muckno Street in Castleblayney town centre
Muckno Street in Castleblayney town centre
Castleblayney is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 54°07′12″N 6°44′17″W / 54.120°N 6.738°W / 54.120; -6.738Coordinates: 54°07′12″N 6°44′17″W / 54.120°N 6.738°W / 54.120; -6.738
Country Ireland
Province Ulster
County County Monaghan
Elevation 104 m (341 ft)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Town 3,634
 • Urban 1,752
 • Environs 1,882
Irish Grid Reference H824199

Castleblayney or Castleblaney (Irish: Baile na Lorgan, formerly Caisleán Mathghamhna) is a town in County Monaghan, Ireland. The town has a population of 3,634 according to the 2011 census. Castleblayney lies near the border with County Armagh (Northern Ireland) and lies on the N2 road from Dublin to Derry. Its name is often shortened to "Blayney" or "Blaney" by locals.


The town, in the heart of typical South Ulster drumlins and lake countryside, lies above the western shore of Lough Muckno, the largest lake in County Monaghan. The River Fane flows eastwards from the lake to the Irish Sea at Dundalk in County Louth. As the Irish name of the lake, 'the place where pigs swim', suggests, the area is associated with the Black Pig's Dyke, also known locally in parts of Counties Cavan and Monaghan as the Worm Ditch, an ancient Iron Age boundary of Ulster.

A few miles to the north-east is the highest elevation in County Monaghan, 'Mullyash', at altitude 317 m (1,034 ft). Until modern times itCastleblayney or Mullyash? was associated with folk festivals of which the churches often disapproved. Markets and fair days were held in the town since the 17th century, but these have faded away in recent decades. Beyond the town, there are a variety of proposed natural heritage sites.


The town of Castleblayney originated in the Tudor conquest of Gaelic Ulster in the Nine Years' War, 1583-1601. In 1611 the Crown granted forfeited lands in the area previously owned by the MacMahon chieftains to Sir Edward Blayney of Montgomeryshire in Wales for his service to Queen Elizabeth I. He became Baron of Monaghan and later, the first Lord Blayney. She had already granted him appropriated Augustinian church land (or 'termon') at Muckno Friary on the northeastern side of the lake in the Churchill area (Mullandoy) in 1606/7.

Muckno is also the name given to the Roman Catholic parish (St. Mary's, Castleblayney and St Patrick's, Oram, just three miles north east of the town) and Church of Ireland parish (St Maeldoid's), of the diocese of Clogher. These cover most of the areas around the lough and town.

Strategically placed at the junction of many routes from all directions, the nucleus of the town developed around the original Blayney Castle, above the western shore overlooking the lough. The old monastic and parish church site fell into disrepair and largely disappeared, though it was used as a graveyard that has recently seen some restoration. For the first hundred years the 'town' was little more than a vulnerable, besieged fortification due to the widespread instability, insurgency and wars throughout Britain and Ireland for much of the 17th century.

The piecemeal settlement of English and even some French Huguenot incomers, all of the Protestant faith in contrast to the continuing Catholicism of most of the native population, was followed by a significant influx of largely Ulster-Scots settlers after 1690 when greater security prevailed.[citation needed]

Population displacement and settlement along with gradual urban and commercial development, the crossroads location, the anglicizing National Schools system, the Famine as well as the incorporation of the town into the rail network (1849), all helped hasten the decline of the vernacular Irish spoken in the area. However, in rural districts to the south and south-east of the town - particularly Lisdoonan and the barony of Farney as well as parts of neighbouring south Armagh, the language was quite widely spoken among country people and written by local scribes until the mid-19th century. Some naturally native speakers survived into the 20th century. Old Irish music and songs have been recovered in recent times.

In 1762, a demonstration occurred in the town accompanied by a threatening military presence. This was connected with the 'Oakboys' movement that was active in the county. The protest was about compulsory work to repair public roads as well as private roads and avenues in gentry demesnes that was exacted from agricultural labourers for no wages.

The modern planned town, reminiscent of Plantation towns with its characteristic very wide main street, and with long, narrow individual gardens to the rear and out of sight, dates from ca. 1830. It was laid out under the direction of the 11th Lord Blayney, Andrew Thomas, who governed the Blayney estates from 1784 until his death in 1832. Educated in France and Germany, Andrew Blayney is famous for his distinguished military career, eventually becoming Colonel, having served the Crown in the West Indies, South America, southern Africa, the Napoleonic Wars as commander of the 89th Foot, popularly known as 'Blayney's Bloodhounds'. He was very active in the suppression of the revolt of the United Irishmen in 1798.

Relatively enlightened,[citation needed] socially progressive, and professedly committed to the welfare and improvement of the people and county of Monaghan, he also provided for the erection in Castleblayney of the current church buildings of the Roman Catholic, Episcopalian and Presbyterian churches, being tolerant in religion if traditionalist in politics and strongly supportive of Empire and the Anglo-Irish ascendancy. He also had a Market House built, on to which the Courthouse was later superimposed in the quasi-centre of the town. It and the former Alms Houses (1876), which were interdenominationally managed, are the only civic buildings of any architectural merit in the town. As for older dwellings, a row of formerly Muckno Estate workers' cottages in Church St, possibly of Continental style, is of fine design and quality (apart from modern PVC windows). Some more substantial bourgeois houses in the square close to the Castle gates have Georgian echoes. The courthouse will soon undergo major refurbishment and restoration. About 40 structures and buildings are designated as being of 'regional or local importance'.

In the early 1840s, what is now St Mary's Hospital was erected as a Workhouse for the very poor. In the course of the year 1849 following the dire effects of the Famine, it catered for up to 2000 inmates in an extreme state of destitution and misery - its own graveyard is nearby. In later times, the Workhouse became a 'County Home' for the infirm.

In 1853, Cadwallader Blayney, 12th Baron Blayney and sometime MP for Monaghan in the United Kingdom Parliament, sold the Castle and estate to Henry Thomas Hope from Deepdene in Surrey, a former MP at Westminster. The Castle was renamed 'Hope Castle', as it still called. Hope gave the Georgian Castle with its splendid prospect a Victorian makeover that the present prettified building retains, externally at least. 'Castle' has always been a misnomer, since it was more of a 'Big House', mansion or manor house than a castle. After his death in 1862, Hope's wife, Anne, inherited the estate. Soon after 1887, the Castle and demesne fell to the next heir, a grandson of Hope: Henry Francis Hope Pelham-Clinton-Hope, otherwise known as 'Lord Francis Hope', famous for having sold the renowned family heirloom, the 'Hope Diamond'. After 1916, he no longer resided in the Castle nor in Ireland. On becoming the Duke of Newcastle in 1928, he later sold off both the Castle and the estate, which became broken up and used in part for local political patronage. During the 'Emergency' (World War II), the old woods on the Black Island in Lough Muckno were comprehensively despoiled by the Irish Free State government, so that for several decades the Island was a wilderness and environmental eyesore. The woods were only reinstated in recent times as a valuable amenity.

In 1919-1921, during the Anglo-Irish military hostilities over independence, the Castle was used as a barracks by the British Army. Some time afterwards it functioned as a hospital, and from 1943 to 1974, it was occupied by Franciscan nuns who also managed an adjacent guest house. After some years of neglect, the Castle has been used for catering and hotel purposes set in what is now a Leisure Park with golf course, though the location and lough suffer from being in management and conservation limbo. The current Castleblayney Golf Club adopted the Blayney family coat of arms, with its three nags' heads. In October 2010, the Castle was burnt down in an arson attack.

Rail services at the town ceased on New Year's Day, 1960. Recent decades have seen some incomers from Eastern Europe and beyond settling permanently or temporarily arising out of European Union obligations. And with increasing all-Ireland harmony, there is increasing natural 'cross-border' mobility that is diminishing the old and sterile 'border town' atmosphere and mentality.


The modern town of Castleblayney is administered by a Town Council consisting of 9 elected members, together with appointed officials. Other administrative functions in the area are carried out by Monaghan County Council. The Castleblayney Area, which includes Ballybay, has 4 members on Monaghan County Council. Most of the day-to-day functions of local government are carried out by the appointed officials.

Under the programme for the reform of local government, the Town Council is to be abolished at midnight on 30 May 2014. A new Municipal District of Carrickmacross and Castleblayney will be created, consisting of six elected members, all of whom will also be members of a new 18 member Monaghan County Council.

Town government began in Castleblayney on 17 May 1853 when 21 Town Commissioners were elected on foot of a proclamation by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, dated 10 April 1853. In 1865 the Town Commissioners voted to bring the town under the Town Improvement (Ireland) Act 1847 and in 1899 the 9 Town Commissioners were replaced by an Urban District Council, re-designated as a Town Council under the Local Government Act 2001. The Local Government Reform Act 2014 will bring town government to an end and replace it with an integrated municipal district (town and rural areas)and county system.


  • Castleblayney was one of the first towns in the country and the first in Monaghan to open a Community Enterprise Centre (1987) which provides office and unit workspace for business start ups. The Centre today offers meeting rooms and fully equipped computer suite. Governed by a voluntary Board of directors and backed up by a staff team the group manage the town Website and are also responsible for many other activities which include the staging of the towns Muckno Mania Festival*Castleblayney has a new modern Theatre & Community Resource Centre, called Iontas, which was officially opened by the President of Ireland in December 2005.
  • Two shopping centres are Located in the Town. One with SuperValu as its anchor tenant and the other with Centra.
  • An 18-hole championship golf course is located at Concra, just outside the town.


  • A new €120m by-pass from Castleblayney to Clontibret opened on 5 November 2007, linking Castleblayney directly to the M1 Motorway and to Dublin. The bypass consists of 16 kilometres of 2+1 carriageway.
  • The town is served by Bus Éireann, Ulsterbus and several private coach companies.
  • Castleblayney is no longer served by railway. Castleblayney railway station opened on 15 February 1849, closed to passengers on 14 October 1957, and finally closed altogether on 1 January 1960.[7]


  • Lord Andrew Blayney (see above)
  • General Eoin O'Duffy (1892–1944). Born at Caraghdoo, Laragh, near Lough Egish, south of Castleblayney; ex-IRA leader and controversial politician in the Irish Free State with links to Franco's Spain, Mussolini's Italy, and Hitler's Germany. Aggressively nationalist in politics and cultural attitude, he founded the quasi fascist 'Blueshirts'.
  • Clare Sheridan (1885–1970). Renowned sculptress of famous people including Lenin, Trotsky, Churchill and Gandhi, journalist, traveller, romantic adventurer and celebrity. Daughter of an English aristocrat and American mother; had Anglo-Scots-Irish connections, related to the Leslies of Glaslough, Co. Monaghan; first cousin of Sir Winston Churchill; a late convert to Roman Catholicism, from 1960 she resided in retirement for some years at the guest house of the Franciscan Convent in Hope Castle.
  • Thomas Hughes (VC) (1885–1942). Born at Castlebayney, private in the British Army with the Connaught Rangers in the First World War; awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry; lived later in a small hill-farm (bought for him by public subscription) in Aghnafarcon, between Broomfield and Lough Egish. Had little or no local recognition after 1922 until recently.
  • Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught. A son of Queen Victoria, Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in Ireland 1900-1904, when he also rented Hope Castle in Castleblayney as a residence outside Dublin.
  • Peadar Livingstone (1932–1987). Born in Castleblayney, teacher, historian and latterly Catholic priest of Broomfield parish (Castleblayney district). Graduate in history from Queen's University Belfast, his scholarly Monaghan Story (1980) is monumental in proportions and is an invaluable, reliable work of reference. His book is preeminently characterized by a highly informed, inclusive approach to the history of Monaghan communities of all political hues and religious persuasions - partly explicable by his own 'mixed' family background.
  • Samuel Hemphill (died 1741). In a pioneer and frontier context, the first Presbyterian minister of Castleblayney (1718). Originating in either Cavan or Monaghan, he was a graduate of Glasgow University. He made some literary forays into contemporary doctrinal disputes. A traditionalist, he opposed liberal theological views held by Presbyterians of the 'Belfast Society'. Financially often in straits, he seems to have been arrested by the Sheriff of Monaghan, possibly for debt, and then bought out by the minister of Creggan (Freeduff) for £50, twice Hemphill's annual salary.
  • John J. Clarke (1879–1961). Highly rated amateur photographer, he was a medical doctor in Castleblayney, like his father before him. Studied medicine in Dublin at the then Royal University of Ireland from 1897-1904. His fame rests on photographs of people and backgrounds of great historical value that he took around central Dublin during that Edwardian era (the Dublin of James Joyce) - a townscape that has largely vanished apart from prestige buildings. At that time, photography was still at the early stages of development. The National Photographic Archive of the National Library of Ireland holds a 'Clarke Collection' of ca. 200 photographs of not only old Dublin, but other areas of Ireland including some of Castleblayney. Many are viewable on-line: (click 'photographs', then insert 'clarke, j.j.')
  • James McMahon Graham (1852–1945), was born in Casteblayney, and after emigration to the USA he became an attorney in Illinois. From 1909-1915, he was a Democratic Congressman in the House of Representatives. He published some works on Catholic religious matters.
  • Hugh Keenan (ca. 1796-1882), was born in Castleblayney, emigrating to Pittsburgh, PA. He became a lawyer, and served as US Consul in Dublin 1847-50, and later in Cork, 1854-59. He is buried in the town of his birth.

International relations[edit]

Twin towns — Sister cities[edit]

Castleblayney is twinned with Nogent-sur-Vernisson in the Loiret department of north-central France.


Castleblayney is known as the Nashville of Ireland. Top Rank Entertainment managed many of Ireland's musical acts from its headquarters in the town. Castleblayney is steeped in a strong tradition of music, with people like Big Tom and The Mainliners, Paddy Cole, Anna Mc Goldrick, Tommy Fat Sam Toal [1] who was lead vocalist with Maurice Lynch Showband and sang alongside Paddy Cole and The Regal Showband and was also a pioneer of Local & Community Radio, his stations being Big M and Hometown Radio with his format still in use today by stations up and down the country, and his son Eamonn who proudly represented his hometown at the 2000 Eurovsion Song Contest in Stockholm, Sweden, all having enjoyed acclaim over the years. Similarly, Castleblayney amassed a wealth of showbands, too many to mention, who enjoyed success on the musical circuits in Ireland and abroad. These bands included the Maurice Lynch Showband, Paddy Cole All Stars, The Regal Showband, Everglades, Travellers, The Mainliners, The Outlaws, Emmett Ceili Band, Gerry Black and the Seasons, Ginger Morgan Band and the McGuigan céilí Band. And although Castleblayney is known as the Nashville of Ireland it was one of the first towns outside of Dublin to form a rock band when in 1976 Montana was born. The band was hugely popular back in the day and its members were Kieran Brennan, Brendan Farrell, Raymond Lynch, Jimmy Rooney and Paul Toal.


The local Gaelic Athletic Association club, Castleblayney Faughs, was founded in November 1905 and holds the record for most Senior County Club Championship titles in Ireland and 2nd on the isle of ireland behind Crossmaglen rangers of Armagh.


The town has two second level schools, Our Lady's Castleblayney and Castleblayney College. The latter is a co-educational school with plans for a new €5 million extension.

There are five national schools in Castleblayney: Scoil na gCailíní, Scoil Mhuire na mBuachaillí, Convent Junior School, The Central School and Gaelscoil Lorgan.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Census 2011 – Volume 1 – Population Classified by Area" (PDF). Central Statistics Office Census 2011 Reports. Central Statistics Office Ireland. April 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  2. ^ Census for post 1821 figures.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. 
  6. ^ Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700-1850". The Economic History Review 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x. 
  7. ^ "Castleblayney station". Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 16 September 2007. 

Reference works[edit]

  • Borderlands: Essays on the History of the Ulster-Leinster Border, ed. by Raymond Gillespie and Harold O'Sullivan (Belfast, 1989).
  • Peter Collins & A.P.W. Malcomson, The Blayney of Castleblayney Papers in The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. For outline of holdings with survey of family and estate history, see Website: (1998).[dead link]
  • Patrick J. Duffy, Landscapes of South Ulster—A Parish Atlas of the Diocese of Clogher (Belfast, 1993).
  • Charles Laverty, 'The old name of Castleblayney', in: County Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal, vol. I/4 (1907), 29-33.
  • Samuel Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (London, 1837. 1842).
  • Peadar Livingstone, The Monaghan Story, Clogher Historical Society (Enniskillen, 1980)
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (on Andrew Blayney, Clare Sheridan, Eoin O'Duffy, and Samuel Hemphill).
  • Photographic Memories: a pictorial history of Castleblayney, Castleblayney Heritage Group Millennium Publication (Castleblayney, 1999).
  • Evelyn P. Shirley, The History of the County of Monaghan (London 1869). Reprint 1988.

External links[edit]