County Louth

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County Louth
Contae Lú
Coat of arms of County Louth
Coat of arms
Motto: Lugh sáimh-ioldánach  (Irish)
"Lugh equally skilled in many arts"
Location of County Louth
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
Dáil Éireann Louth
EU Parliament East
County town Dundalk
 • Type County Council
 • Total 826 km2 (319 sq mi)
Area rank 32nd
Population (2011) 122,897[1]
 • Rank 18th [2]
Car plates LH
Cooley Mountains

County Louth (/ˈlð/; Irish: Contae Lú, Lugmad, Lughbhadh, Lughbhaidh, Lughmhadh)[3][4][5] is a county[6] in 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.[7]

Geography and political subdivisions[edit]

County Louth is colloquially known as 'the Wee County' as it is the smallest county by area (826 km² (319sq miles).[8] It is the 19th largest in terms of population.[9] It is the smallest of Leinster’s 12 counties by size and the sixth largest by population.

Largest Towns in County Louth (2011 Census)[edit]

  1. Dundalk, 31,149[10] (37,816[11] including Environs) administrative capital of County Louth
  2. Drogheda, 30,393[12] (38,578[13] including Environs and Suburbs in north County Meath)
  3. Ardee, 4,927
  4. Clogherhead, 1,993
  5. Dunleer, 1,786

Towns and villages[edit]


Immaculate Conception church, Co. Louth.

The official spelling in Irish, , is derived from Lughbhaidh - the Celtic pagan god Lugh, whose festival is 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 Marmion from Louth Town & Dundalk,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. 31,149[20]) in north Louth, or Drogheda (2011 pop. 30,393[21]) in the south. The 2006 Census[2] confirmed Dundalk and Drogheda as not only the largest towns in the county, but also the largest and second 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. [2] 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.

Local government and politics[edit]

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.[22]

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.

Irish language[edit]

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.[23] Within the county 1,587 people use Irish on a daily basis outside of the education system according to the 2011 census.[24]







See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Census 2011 - County Louth". Central Statistics Office. 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Central Statistics Office Census 2006 Reports. Central Statistics Office Ireland (April 2007).
  3. ^ "Placenames Database of Ireland". Fiontar (DCU) and The Placenames Branch (Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht). 2008. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Louth - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  5. ^ Location Result
  6. ^ Section 2(1) of the Local Government Act, 2001, provides that the administrative area for which a county council is responsible is a county:,1963,en.pdf
  7. ^ Census 2011 - County Louth Overview
  8. ^ North West Passage
  9. ^ Corry, Eoghan (2005). The GAA Book of Lists. Hodder Headline Ireland. pp. 186–191. ISBN 0-340-89695-7. 
  10. ^ "Dundalk Legal Town Results". Central Statistics Office. 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  11. ^ "Dundalk Legal Town Results inc. Environs". Central Statistics Office. 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  12. ^ "Drogheda Legal Town Results". Central Statistics Office. 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  13. ^ "Drogheda Legal Town Results inc. Environs". Central Statistics Office. 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  14. ^ For 1653 and 1659 figures from Civil Survey Census of those years, Paper of Mr Hardinge to Royal Irish Academy March 14, 1865.
  15. ^ Census for post 1821 figures.
  16. ^
  17. ^ NISRA - Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (c) 2013. (2010-09-27). Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
  18. ^ 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. 
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ "Dundalk Legal Town Results". Central Statistics Office. 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  21. ^ "Drogheda Legal Town Results". Central Statistics Office. 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  22. ^ "Services". Louth County Council. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  23. ^ Louth Irish Language
  24. ^ "County Louth". Central Statistics Office. 2011. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°50′N 6°30′W / 53.833°N 6.500°W / 53.833; -6.500