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Cootehill is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 54°02′N 7°03′W / 54.04°N 7.05°W / 54.04; -7.05Coordinates: 54°02′N 7°03′W / 54.04°N 7.05°W / 54.04; -7.05
Country Ireland
Province Ulster
County County Cavan
Elevation 100 m (300 ft)
Population (2006)[1]
 • Urban 1,892
Time zone WET (UTC+0)
 • Summer (DST) IST (WEST) (UTC-1)
Irish Grid Reference H617133

Cootehill (Irish: Muinchille[7]) is a prominent market town and townland in County Cavan, Ireland. It was formerly part of the neighbouring townland of Munnilly, from Irish: Muinchille, meaning "the sleeve".[7]


Cootehill was established as a market town in 1725 when a charter was obtained to hold markets and fairs, and developed strong ties to the Irish linen industry. Cootehill gets its name from the 17th century marriage of Thomas Coote, a Cromwellian Colonel, to Frances Hill from Hillsborough. The Cootes of Cootehill have had some notable members, for example Thomas Coote was a judge of the Court of King's Bench (Ireland) in the 18th century, and other Cootes have served as sheriffs and under-sheriffs in the 19th century. The judge's grandson Charles was Earl of Bellomont.

A description from 1844 states: "The town is comparatively well-built and respectively inhabited; and is not equaled in appearance by any place between it and Dublin except Navan."[8] The Cootehill of this era has a surprising link to communist and labour history, as well. A branch of the First International was established in Cootehill in 1872, along with branches in Dublin, Cork, and Belfast.[citation needed]

Many prominent people have visited the town over the years: Her Excellency President Mary McAleese visited in 2002, to open Damien House, near Dartrey Forest; Bertie Ahern, when he was Taoiseach, visited Cootehill in 2006; The Rev. John Wesley, a founder of the evangelical and Methodist movement, visited the town in the mid-18th century; Eoghan Ruadh Ó Néill camped and trained the Ulster Army in Munnilly, in the 1640s during the Irish Confederate Wars.[citation needed]

Heritage and culture[edit]

Market Street, Cootehill 1905

The dominant architectural style reflects the 18th and 19th centuries, with a number of fine Georgian buildings in the town centre. The town has several fine architectural buildings: an office with an arched sandstone facade, built for the Provincial Bank (later AIB Bank) in 1858 and designed by architect William G Murray, stands at the far end of Market Street; it is next door to the Church of Ireland church, built 1819. Within 90 metres stands the renovated St. Michaels Catholic Chapel; with its well kept grounds it is an attractive place. The Cootehill Court House is another example of notable architecture, though the building is in need of refurbishment. It was designed and built in 1832 by William Dean Butler. There are also some interesting examples of Modern and Postmodern architecture, such as the Cootehill Post Office. The Market house, a building which helped define the town, was demolished in the 1960s. The former Railway Station buildings (Bradys Mart) and the site of the demolished Workhouses are important links to a forgotten past (see photo links below). The Fair Green, a town commons area was divided with a road and walled parking in the 1980s, was once used by Irish travellers, circuses and theater groups. Hiring fairs were conducted in the town as part of larger fairs up until the 1950s.

Cootehill's proximity to the artists' retreat at Annaghmakerrig makes it a favourite haunt for artisits, writers, poets and playwrights, including Patrick McCabe, and Seamus Heaney.

Cootehill has strong links with the arts with poets, writers and visual artists attracted to the area including John A Blakey, [21st century Irish painter], and author of Lundravar the Dragon Cootehill Library regularly hosts exhibitions of local artists' work, and in 2006 it showcased 'The Borrowing' a selection of pieces from the Irish Museum of Modern Art, including work by internationally-renowned artists. The Cootehill Arts Festival is also a key event in the Irish arts calendar, and features plays, workshops, readings, fringe theater and experimental work, such as the Duchess of Malfi, performed in 2002.

Live music - irish traditional music, country music, rock music and classical music, - is an important part of the local culture - the Ulster Fleadh Cheoil has been hosted in Cootehill several times.

Industry and tourism[edit]

Market Street, Cootehill, 2008

In 1837 it became the site of one of the first eight branches of Ulster Bank which remains to this day. The town is also home to Abbott Laboratories, which manufactures a range of infant formulae. Other factories include Eakins and Whelans Shoes, and the Cootehill Enterprise Centre is home to Carleton Bakery. Agriculture and related industry (such as chicken processing and mushroom cultivation), as well as retail, are the main employers. There are several large department stores, including Lennon's Drapery on Market St which has been owned and operated by the Lennon family for almost 100 years].

The surrounding lakes and rivers provide a scenic backdrop which attracts not only anglers (such as TV broadcaster Chris Tarrant), but other visitors and sports enthusiasts. Swimming and swimming instruction is available in the summer months, while boating and kayaking remain popular. Equestrians are also attracted to Cootehill and the surrounding countryside. In the 18th and 19th century Cootehill was a centre for horse-racing "a cup at Cootehill you have twice won with fame, And this day we are challenged, and you must run again"(Jackson and Jane).[9] Historians and architects find much to interest them in the local Architecture and historical sites. Places and sites of interest have been signposted recently by Cootehill Historical society.

There is a megalithic tomb on the townland of Cohaw situated 3.5 miles from Cootehill along the Shercock road.

Walks in Dartrey and Bellamont Forest are available. A description from 1844 states: "the banks of the Cootehill (Dromore) River, for several miles above the town, furnish a constant series of very rich close landscapes, chiefly of the class which may be designated languishingly beautiful."

Bellamont House is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of Palladian Architecture in Ireland, and remains in a well-preserved condition. The country house was the ancestral seat of the Coote family, Earls of Bellamont. The former Bellamont Estate was a sprawling country estate stretching from the town centre north towards Rockcorry to the right of the Dromore River. The forest was once thickly planted with Norway spruce and other trees, and is now managed by Coillte and was clearcut in the early 1990s, much to the dismay of local residents and tourists.

The estate featured several lakes, gatehouses at the numerous gates, open pasture, forest, drumlins, and a wide range of wildlife including wild deer and corncrakes and is bordered by the Dromore River and Dartrey Forest (formerly part of the former, and once vast, Dartrey Estate). Most of Bellamont Forest is now designated as Natural Heritage Area by Ireland's National Parks and Wildlife Service. However, most of the trees planted are still non-native Norway spruce.

Corravahan House, a fine late Georgian former rectory just west of Drung, a village a few miles south-west of Cootehill. This privately owned house is open to the public for guided tours at certain times of the year.


Cootehill is renowned for its wide main street. With the building boom of the last number of years the town has had a number of problems with parking and roads. One controversy related to parking on Market Street.

The old Cavan Road and Chapel Lane have become one-way streets, to allow space for parking. During the growth of the national and local economy (and population) the town saw the construction of a number of new private housing estates and one local authority housing estate.

The widespread building of new accommodation and housing, coupled with improved infrastructure, has seen the population expand by about 30% in recent years. Cootehill is fast embracing cosmopolitanism and multi-culturalism, while trying to retain its market town charm. This is evident from the juxtaposition of Chinese, eastern European and Indian shops and restaurants with traditional bakeries and draperies.

At the end of 2006, Bindoo wind farm was completed close to Cootehill supplying the area with 48MW of wind generated electricity. the hilly landscape around Cootehill is now dotted with windmills.


Cootehill has changed greatly over the last one hundred years, from being the hub of a rich agricultural community to being a virtual suburb of Dublin. Once surrounded by "shady groves and flowery hills" (Sweet Coothill Town), monoculture and industrial farming have replaced any local farm characteristics. The recent expansion of housing into the surrounding countryside has diminished much of the rural charm of the town with the removal of hedgerows and trees.

Rail transport[edit]

Cootehill railway station opened on 18 October 1860,[10] closed for goods and passenger traffic on 10 March 1947, finally closing altogether on 20 June 1955.[11]

Bus transport[edit]

Traditionally poorly served by Bus Éireann, a significantly enhanced service on existing Route 175 was introduced in mid-March 2011. It was further enhanced at the end of August, 2011. The service now comprises six journeys each way to/from Cavan and four journeys each way to/from Monaghan Mondays to Fridays inclusive. On Saturdays and Sundays there are two journeys in each direction.[12] There is also a three days a week Route 166 linking the town to Carrickmacross and Dundalk:[13]

A company called Sillan operates a through coach service between the town and Dublin:[14]

Aside from this there are several private coach companies and taxi firms.

Most of the population find it necessary to own cars, though there are many who choose to walk, given the compact nature of the town centre.


The town has two national schools: the Darley and St. Michael's. St Michael's is the larger of the two, with over 200 students from the ages of 4 to 12. The local secondary school: St. Aidans Comprehensive School serves great sausage rolls and the practical and academic needs of the area's population. The Holy Family School, Monaghan Road, caters to students with special needs. Tanagh Outdoor Education Centre provides adventure sport activities (canoeing, orienteering, etc.) for school groups and others.


John A Blakey, 1952-present, 21st Irish painter and author and illustrator of 'Lundravar the Dragon'

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Census 2006
  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. ^ a b Placenames Database of Ireland. "Cootehill". Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Parliamentary Gazeeter of Ireland available at LDS libraries. Randell, 1844. Online source [1]
  9. ^ Jackson and Jane: Article by P. B. O Mordha in Clogher Historical Society. Traditional song sung by Paul Brady, "The Liberty Tapes," 2001 [2]
  10. ^ Jonathan A. Smyth, 'The Establishment of Cootehill branch railway', Breifne, vol. x, no. 43. (2007)
  11. ^ "Cootehill station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 2007-09-23. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^

External links[edit]

[3] [4] [5]