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For other uses, see Ardee (disambiguation).
Baile Átha Fhirdhia
View north along Market Street,from the battlements of Ardee Castle
View north along Market Street,
from the battlements of Ardee Castle
Town Crest
Coat of arms
Motto: Na Bris Sith, Na Bris Cairdis
Don't Break Peace, Don't Break Friendship
Ardee is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 53°51′19″N 6°32′16″W / 53.855362°N 6.537895°W / 53.855362; -6.537895Coordinates: 53°51′19″N 6°32′16″W / 53.855362°N 6.537895°W / 53.855362; -6.537895
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County County Louth
Population (2016, Preliminary Results)[1]
 • Urban 4,917
 • Rural 2,952
Irish Grid Reference N958906

Ardee (/ˈɑːr.d/; Irish: Baile Átha Fhirdhia, meaning "townland of Ferdia's ford") is a town and townland in County Louth, Ireland. It is located at the intersection of the N2, N52, and N33 roads. Ardee is on the banks of the River Dee and is eqidistant between the county's two biggest towns - approximately 20 km (12 mi) from Dundalk and Drogheda, while it is also close to Slane and Carrickmacross. With a population of over 5,000, Ardee has grown exponentially in recent years – thanks in no small part to its close access to its neighbouring towns and major cities such as Dublin and Belfast via the M1 Motorway.


Originally called Atherdee, its name is derived from the Irish Áth Fhirdia (the Ford of Ferdia), from the mythological four-day battle between Cúchulainn and Ferdia, for the defence of Ulster from Queen Maeve of Connacht. Ferdia fell after four days of battle and is buried on the southern banks of the river alongside the Riverside Walk. The pair are now depicted by a bronze statue on Bridge Street in the town.

Ardee is situated in the southern part of the ancient terrority known as the Plain of Muirheimhne. The town lies along the 15th century Pale frontier between Dundalk and Kells.

The town comprises the townlands of Townparks – the greater portion of which compromises Ardee bog, and a small portion of Dawsons Demesne, which takes in the southeastern quadrant of the town on the northern side of the river Dee.

To the west of the town is the Great Bog of Ardee, one of the most easterly raised bogs in Ireland.

Away from Ardee’s place in myth folklore, Ardee Castle in the town – also known as St. Leger’s Castle) is the largest fortified medieval tower house in Ireland. Built circa 15th century, the castle was used as a prison during the 17th and 18th centuries before going onto house Ardee’s district courthouse until recently.

Ardee is a prime example of a medieval ‘walled town’, many of which can be found across Ireland. With its distinctive, central Main Street and long narrow properties extending away from the main street on either side, it holds many of the properties associated with the type.

This identity is enhanced further by surviving medieval buildings – as mentioned above – and some of the features that survive within the town, notably the intact medieval street pattern.

Ardee is home to many more historic buildings and structures – including Kildemock’s Jumping Church, Hatch’s Castle, Chantry College, St Joseph’s Hospital, Convent of Mercy and St Mary’s Church.

Legend has it that the Jumping Church at Kildemock had a non-Christian buried inside the Church walls and that later that night, the Church jumped so as to leave his remains outside of the sacred ground.[citation needed]


Ardee railway station, serving the town, was previously linked to the main Belfast-Dublin railway line at Dromin Junction station, along a five mile long (8 km) branch line. Ardee railway station opened on 1 August, 1896 and passenger services ended on 3 June, 1934. The line continued as a freight service until finally closed on 3 November, 1976,[6] serving the local fertiliser factory, sugar beet, and livestock transport. The trackbed was lifted in the late 1980s, and much of the short route is now a designated walkway.

Recent developments[edit]

Ardee has grown much in the last 15 years,[when?] mainly as a result of easy access to new roads including the M1 motorway which links Dublin to Belfast.[citation needed] The development of the town resulted in a dramatic rise in house prices in the area.[citation needed]

This development caused a growth in industrial businesses being established in and around Ardee. Oriel Attachments, manufacturers in excavator attachments, Oriel Flues -manufacturers in stove attachments, Bryan Lynch salads - manufacturers of fresh delicatessen salads and Farrell Office Furniture to name but a few.

Ardee Castle in Ardee has been recently been refurbished and was used to house the district courthouse, before it was moved and it is now housed in the new Civic Offices Complex at the Fair Green. The ancient townhouse is currently not open to the public but moves are being made by Louth County Council to open it on a permanent basis. In 2015, it was announced that €1.2 million would be earmarked for development on the ancient townhouse.

Places of Interest[edit]

Place Description Location Image
Ardee Castle
Hatch's Castle
Riverside Walk
St Mary's Church of Ireland
Nativity of Our Lady Church
Chantry College
Mercy Convent Ardee
Ardee Library
Market Square
St Brigid's Hospital
St Joseph's Hospital
Fair Green
Bohemian Centre
Smarmore Castle
Jumping Church


A philanthropic trust founded by Erasmus Smith in the 17th century funded the establishment in Ardee of a boys' school in 1806 and a girls' school in 1817. At first, both Protestant and Catholic children attended them, the Town Commissioners provided financial support and income was derived from charging attendance fees. While other schools existed in the town at that time, by 1824 the Smith schools were the only two: there were 22 Catholic and 21 Protestant boy pupils, 44 Catholic girls and 16 Protestant. Later, by 1835, the number of schools had grown to seven. The Smith schools appear to have amalgamated into a combined-sex establishment by 1858, by which time the National School movement was leading to the creation of denominational schools there. Although remaining a non-denominational institute, the Erasmus Smith school had a roll of only 16 boys, all Protestant, in 1868. It was fully integrated into the National School system in 1954, when it became known as Saint Mary's Church of Ireland National School.[7]

Ardee now has one secondary school called Ardee Community School. The school opened in 1974 and in 2014 celebrated its 40th year. The school was an amalgamation of three schools which had previously existed independently- St. Anne’s Convent of Mercy, De La Salle Brothers’ School and the Vocational School. It currently has a student body of around 750. Alumni include MEP Mairead McGuinness, Irish Independent soccer correspondent Daniel McDonnell, The Irish Times political reporter Sarah Bardon and former Republic of Ireland Under 21 footballer Ross Gaynor.

There are three primary schools located in the town: Monastery Boys National School, Scoil Mhuire na Trocaire Girls School and Ardee Educate Together - a multi-denominational, multi-cultural primary school for both girls and boys. Ballapousta National School is located just outside the town and currently has just under 250 pupils. The Boys School currently has 268 pupils enrolled.


Ardee has a rich sporting heritage.


It is the home of two soccer clubs who currently play in the North East Football League (formerly MDL) - Square United and Ardee Celtic. In 2016, Square United celebrate their 40th year in existence.

Ardee Celtic's first team is currently managed by former League of Ireland star Trevor Molloy while two ex-LOI footballers have turned out for Square United - Alan Doherty and Ross Gaynor. Both teams have junior sections that cater for very young players all of the way up to Under 18 level. In 2015, Ardee Celtic announced a community partnership with English Premier League side Crystal Palace while Square have a similar link-up with Everton FC.

Local footballer Ross Gaynor has represented the Republic of Ireland Under 21 team at international level and after returning to Ireland after a spell in England with Football League side Millwall, he has played for Cobh Ramblers, Drogheda United, Dundalk, Sligo Rovers and Cork City. He currently plays for NIFL side Linfield.

While at Sligo Rovers, Gaynor won a League of Ireland league title, a Setanta Sports Cup and an FAI Cup.


Ardee St Marys are the main GAA team in Ardee. The Blues are one of Louth's most successful senior GAA sides with 11 Senior Championship wins in their history - the first in 1914 and the most recent in 1995. For the 2016 campaign, they will be coached by former Dublin GAA All-Ireland winner Jack Sheedy. Ardee St Mary's most recent Louth senior player is Darren Clarke.

There are four other GAA sides that operate in Ardee's hinterland - Hunterstown Rovers, Westerns GFC, John Mitchels and Sean McDermotts. Louth GAA legend Stephen Melia began his career with the John Mitchels in the 1980s. Hunterstown Rovers are twice Louth Intermediate Championships and they have won the Louth Junior Football Championship four times, most recently in 2013.

As of January 2016, Hunterstown's Ryan Burns and David Finn and Westerns' Tommy Durnin are in Colm Kelly's Louth senior football panel.


The town has one rugby club - Ardee Rugby Club which has a first and second senior team and a number of juvenile teams at various age levels for boys and girls. In 2015, Ardee Rugby Club won the McGee Cup and their youth sides pick up both the Under 15 and Under 17 North East Shield.

There are a number of other sporting groups in Ardee including Ardee Cycing Club and Ardee & District Athletics Club as well as tennis and badminton groups.

List of Clubs[edit]

  • Ardee St Marys GFC
  • Westerns GFC
  • Hunterstown Rovers GFC
  • Sean McDermotts GFC
  • John Mitchels GFC
  • Ardee Celtic
  • Square United
  • Ardee Rugby Club
  • Ardee & District Athletics Club
  • Ardee Badminton Club
  • Ardee Tennis Club
  • Ardee Archery Club


  • is an online hub for the town of Ardee with news, sport, features, event information, business listings, photo galleries and social media channels providing up-to-date information for the community and visitors alike.
  • is the Ardee Traders and Business Association's website for Ardee people to keep up to date on local events and includes a large variety of featured local companies for "free of charge". They are a voluntary Association catering for the promotion of Ardee for Trade, Tourism, Employment and Community & Infrastructure development.
  • The Mid-Louth Independent is a regional edition of the Drogheda Independent newspaper, published weekly. It is distributed and sold in Ardee, Collon, Dunleer and Tallanstown.
  • The Dundalk Democrat 'County Edition' is the regional edition of the weekly newspaper, which covers Ardee and it's surrounds.
  • LMFM Radio is the local radio station for the North East covering Ardee as well as the rest of Louth, Meath, Monaghan and North Dublin. It broadcasts on 95.8 on fm and also broadcasts online.

Arts and Festivals[edit]

A festival for Ardee was launched in 2009 titled the "The Turfman Festival". It was held on the August bank holiday weekend with numerous community events including a Festival Queen competition, tuft footing, and events happening on the street and in local venues from live music to face painting, art exhibitions and talks to a popular town-wide pub quiz. The last festival was held in 2013.

Since 2004, the town has hosted the Ardee Baroque Festival at various locations throughout Ardee. The annual two-day event which sees visitors travel from across the country and afar to take in some of the works of known composers and the other events taking place over the weekend. The Irish Baroque Orchestra headline the event every year.

Dermot O’Brien is Ardee’s most musical son. In the 1960s, Dermot’s band The Clubmen reached the top of the Irish singles chart with The Merry Ploughboy. Later in the decade, Dermot starred in his own RTE show ‘The Styles of O’Brien’.

His rendition of ‘The Turfman of Ardee’ is widely renowned across the country.

Twin Town[edit]

As of 2010, Ardee is now twinned with the Italian town of Nettuno, in the province of Rome. Nettuno is home to Italian World Cup winner Bruno Conti. Every year, the town sends delegates to Ardee to take part in the town’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. The twinning agreement was signed in 2010 by their respective mayors.


  1. ^ Census for post 1821 figures.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "NISRA - Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (c) 2015". Retrieved 17 July 2016. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ "Ardee station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-08. 
  7. ^ Quane, Michael (1969). "The Erasmus Smith School, Ardee". Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society. 17 (1): 10–18. doi:10.2307/27729188. JSTOR 27729188. (subscription required (help)).