Dundalk

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This article is about the town of Dundalk in Ireland. For other uses, see Dundalk (disambiguation).
Dundalk
Dún Dealgan
Town
Clockwise from top: Castle Roche, Clarke Station, St. Patrick's Church, The Marshes shopping centre, Market Square, Dundalk Institute of Technology
Clockwise from top: Castle Roche, Clarke Station, St. Patrick's Church, The Marshes shopping centre, Market Square, Dundalk Institute of Technology
Coat of arms of Dundalk
Coat of arms
Motto: Mé do rug Cú Chulainn cróga  (Irish)
"I gave birth to brave Cú Chulainn"
Dundalk is located in Ireland
Dundalk
Dundalk
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 54°00′32″N 6°24′18″W / 54.009°N 6.4049°W / 54.009; -6.4049Coordinates: 54°00′32″N 6°24′18″W / 54.009°N 6.4049°W / 54.009; -6.4049
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County County Louth
Dáil Éireann Louth
EU Parliament Midlands–North-West
Inhabited 3500 BC
Charter 1189 AD
Area[1]
 • Town 25.19 km2 (9.73 sq mi)
Population (Census 2011)[2]
 • Rank 7th
 • Urban 31,149
 • Rural 6,667
 • Total 37,816 (with Environs)
Time zone WET (UTC0)
 • Summer (DST) IST (UTC+1)
Irish Grid Reference J048074
Dialing code 042, +353 42
Website www.dundalk.ie

Dundalk (/ˌdʌnˈdɔːlk/, from Irish Dún Dealgan, meaning "Dalgan's stronghold") is the county town and administrative capital of County Louth in Ireland. It is situated where the Castletown River flows into Dundalk Bay. The town is close to the border with Northern Ireland and equidistant from Dublin and Belfast. The town's name, which was historically written as Dún Dealgan,[3] has associations with the mythical warrior Cú Chulainn. The town's crest reads Mé do rug Cú Chulainn Cróga, meaning "I gave birth to brave Cú Chulainn". It was granted its charter in 1189. Within Legal Town boundary limits it is the largest town in Ireland[4] having an urban population in 2011 of 31,149, however with the inclusion of environs it is the second largest town[2][5][6] and seventh most populous urban area with a population in 2011 of 37,816;[7] it is also the largest town by area, at 25.19 sq km (9.73 sq mi).[1]

In 2003 Dundalk was amongst nine cities and towns to be designated Gateway status in the Irish Government's National Spatial Strategy.[8]

History[edit]

The Dundalk area has been inhabited since at least 3500 BC, in the Neolithic period. A tangible reminder of their presence can still be seen in the form of the Proleek Dolmen, the eroded remains of a megalithic tomb located at Ballymascanlon two miles to the north of Dundalk. Celtic culture arrived in Ireland around 500 BC. According to the legendary historical accounts,[9] the group settled in North Louth were known as the Conaille Muirtheimne and took their name from Conaill Carnagh, legendary chief of the Red Branch Knights of Ulster. Their land now forms upper and lower Dundalk.

Dundalk had been originally developed as an unwalled Sráid Bhaile (meaning village; translates literally as "Street Townland"). The streets passed along a gravel ridge which runs from the present day Bridge Street in the North, through Church Street to Clanbrassil Street to Earl Street, and finally to Dublin Street.

St. Patrick's Church, Dundalk

In 1169 the Normans arrived in Ireland and set about conquering large areas. By 1185 a Norman nobleman named Bertram de Verdun erected a manor house at Castletown Mount and subsequently obtained the town's charter in 1189. Another Norman family, the De Courcys, led by John de Courcy, settled in the Seatown area of Dundalk, the "Nova Villa de Dundalke". Both families assisted in the fortification of the town, building walls and other fortification in the style of a Norman fortress. The town of Dundalk was developed as it lay close to an easy bridging point over the Castletown River and as a frontier town, the northern limit of The Pale. In 1236 Bertram's granddaughter, Rohesia commissioned Castle Roche to fortify the region, and to offer protection from the Irish territory of Ulster.

The town was sacked in 1315, during the Bruce campaign.[10] After taking possession of the town Edward Bruce proclaimed himself King of Ireland and remained here for nearly a whole year before his army was totally defeated and himself slain after being attacked by John de Birmingham.

The modern town of Dundalk largely owes its form to Lord Limerick (James Hamilton, later 1st Earl of Clanbrassil) in the 17th century. He commissioned the construction of streets leading to the town centre; his ideas came from many visits to Europe. In addition to the demolition of the old walls and castles, he had new roads laid out eastwards of the principal streets. The most important of these new roads connected a newly laid down Market Square, which still survives, with a linen and cambric factory at its eastern end, adjacent to what was once an army cavalry and artillery barracks (now Aiken Barracks).

In the 19th century the town grew in importance and many industries were set up in the local area. This development was helped considerably by the opening of railways, the expansion of the docks area or 'Quay' and the setting up of a board of commissioners to run the town.

The partition of Ireland in May 1921 turned Dundalk into a border town and the DublinBelfast main line into an international railway. The Irish Free State opened customs and immigration facilities at Dundalk to check goods and passengers crossing the border by train. The Irish Civil War of 1922–23 saw a number of confrontations in Dundalk. The local Fourth Northern Division of the Irish Republican Army under Frank Aiken, who took over Dundalk barracks after the British left, tried to stay neutral but 300 of them were detained by the National Army in August 1922.[16] However, a raid on Dundalk Gaol freed Aiken and over 100 other anti-treaty prisoners;[17] two weeks later he retook Dundalk barracks and captured its garrison before freeing the remaining republican prisoners there. Aiken did not try to hold the town, however, and before withdrawing he called for a truce in a meeting in the centre of Dundalk. The 49 Infantry Battalion and 58 Infantry Battalion of the National Army were based in Dundalk along with No.8 armoured locomotive and two fully armoured cars of their Railway Protection Corps.

For several decades after the end of the Civil War, Dundalk continued to function as a market town, a regional centre, and a centre of administration and manufacturing. Its position close to the border gave it considerable significance during the "Troubles" of Northern Ireland. Many people were sympathetic to the cause of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and Sinn Féin. It was in this period that Dundalk earned the nickname 'El Paso', after the Texan border town of the same name on the border with Mexico.

On 1 September 1973 the 27 Infantry Battalion was established with its Headquarters in Dundalk barracks, renamed Aiken Barracks in 1986 in honour of Frank Aiken.

Dundalk suffered economically when Irish membership of the European Economic Community in the 1970s exposed local manufacturers to foreign competition that they were ill equipped to cope with. The result was the closure of many local factories, resulting in the highest unemployment rate in Leinster, Ireland's richest province. High unemployment produced serious social problems in the town that were only alleviated by the advent of the Celtic Tiger investment boom at the start of the 21st century. Dundalk's economy has developed rapidly since 2000. Today many international companies have factories in Dundalk, from food processing to high-tech computer components. Harp Lager, a beer produced by Diageo, is brewed in the Great Northern Brewery, Dundalk.

The Earls of Roden had property interests in Dundalk for over three centuries, and at an auction in July 2006 the 10th Earl sold his freehold of the town, including ground rents, mineral rights, manorial rights, the reversion of leases and the freehold of highways, common land, and the fair green. Included in the sale were many documents, such as a large 18th century estate map. The buyer was undisclosed.[18]

Geography[edit]

Landscape[edit]

Situated where the Castletown River flows into Dundalk Bay, the town is close to the border with Northern Ireland and equidistant from Dublin and Belfast.

Climate[edit]

Similar to much of northwest Europe, Dundalk experiences a maritime climate, sheltered by the Cooley and Mourne Mountains to the North, and undulating hills to the West and South, the town experiences cool winters, mild summers, and a lack of temperature extremes.


Climate data for Dundalk, (2013-2015 averages).
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14
(57)
15
(59)
16
(61)
23
(73)
23
(73)
30
(86)
29
(84)
24
(75)
24
(75)
22
(72)
17
(63)
16
(61)
30
(86)
Average high °C (°F) 12
(54)
11
(52)
12
(54)
14
(57)
17
(63)
20
(68)
23
(73)
18
(64)
17
(63)
17
(63)
12
(54)
13
(55)
15.5
(59.9)
Daily mean °C (°F) 6.0
(42.8)
6.0
(42.8)
8.0
(46.4)
11.0
(51.8)
12.0
(53.6)
16.0
(60.8)
18.0
(64.4)
15.0
(59)
16.0
(60.8)
11.0
(51.8)
8.0
(46.4)
7.0
(44.6)
11.2
(52.2)
Average low °C (°F) 0.0
(32)
1.0
(33.8)
3.0
(37.4)
8.0
(46.4)
11.0
(51.8)
13.0
(55.4)
14.0
(57.2)
12.0
(53.6)
13.0
(55.4)
7.0
(44.6)
4.0
(39.2)
0.0
(32)
7.2
(45)
Record low °C (°F) −4.0
(24.8)
−4.0
(24.8)
−1.0
(30.2)
2.0
(35.6)
6.0
(42.8)
7.0
(44.6)
7.0
(44.6)
5.0
(41)
7.0
(44.6)
2.0
(35.6)
−1.0
(30.2)
−5.0
(23)
−5.0
(23)
Source: Dundalk ILOUTHDU4 Private Weather System,[19]

Demographics[edit]

Population by place of birth:

Location 2006[20] 2011[21] Change
Ireland 28,095 29,114 +1,019
UK 3,488 3,839 +351
Poland 252 555 +303
Lithuania 421 633 +212
Other EU 27 692 1,119 +427
Rest of World 1,804 2,269 +465

Population by ethnic or cultural background:

Ethnicity or culture 2006[20] 2011[22]
White Irish 29,840 30,645
White Irish Traveller 325 441
Other White 1,802 2,987
Black or Black Irish 1,276 1,669
Asian or Asian Irish 372 687
Other 380 389
Not stated 757 711

Population by religion:

Religion 2006[20] 2011[23]
Catholic 30,677 31,790
Other stated religion 2,472 3,350
No religion 1,158 1,971
Not stated 778 705

Places of interest[edit]

  • Louth County Museum[24]
  • St. Patrick's Church,[25] the site was acquired in 1834 with the building completed in 1847, but was in use from 1842.
  • St. Nicholas' Church,[26] the site was levelled and the foundations cleared out in February 1859, dedication of the Church was in in August 1860.
  • St Joseph's Redemptorist Church,[27] the community of Redemptorists, or missionary priests, settled here in 1876.[28]
  • Church of Saint Nicholas (Anglican Church of Ireland), known locally as The Green Church due to it's green copper spire.
  • Priory of St Malachy, Dominican chapel in Dundalk. The 'Carlingford Dominicans' official foundation in Dundalk was in 1777[29]
  • Saint Brigit's Shrine[30][31]
  • Castle Roche
  • Proleek Dolmen[32]
  • Franciscan friary, founded 1246[33]
  • Our Lady's Well / Ladywell, pattern takes place here on the 15th August, during the feast of the assumption.
  • Cloghafarmore (Cuchulains Stone)
  • Dromiskin High Cross
  • Cúchulainn's Castle / Dun Dealgan Motte
  • Rockmarshall Court Tomb
  • Aghnaskeagh Cairn and Portal Tomb
  • Faughart Round Tower
  • Faughart Motte
  • Kilwirra Church, Templetown

Arts & Festivals[edit]

Dundalk has two photography clubs – Dundalk Photographic Society[34] and the Tain Photographic Club. In 2010 Dundalk Photographic Society won the FIAP Photography Club World Cup.[35]

Dundalk has a vibrant music environment. The following can be found:

The Fr. McNally Chamber Orchestra created in April 2010.[36] It is a string chamber orchestra made of violins, violas, double basses and cellos and has 29 members.

The Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland[37] (CBOI) which is one of Ireland's primary youth orchestras. It is based in the Dundalk Institute of Technology and maintains a membership of 160 young musicians between the ages of 12 and 24 years. The CBOI was established in 1995 shortly after the implementation of the Peace Process and is recognised internationally and one of Ireland's flagship peace initiatives. The CBOI tours regularly to Europe and America and has sold out such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, New York and Chicago Symphony Hall.

The Clermont Chorale.[38] It was formed in 2003 and has 30 members, drawn from all parts of County Louth. Its repertoire includes music from the 17th to the 21st century, across many styles and genres.

Dundalk School of Music.[39] Created in February 2010, it aims to provide education in music for all age groups in many disciplines.

Historic Dundalk Gaol is the home of The Oriel Centre – a regional centre for Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Éireann. The Oriel Centre Dundalk Gaol.[40] opened in Oct 2010 and focuses on the promotion of Traditional Irish music, song dance and the Irish language.