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Baile Átha Fhirdhia
View north along Market Street,
from the battlements of Ardee Castle
Motto(s): Na Bris Sith, Na Bris Cairdis|
Don't Break Peace, Don't Break Friendship
|Irish Grid Reference|
Ardee (//; 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. The town shows evidence of development from the thirteenth century onward but as a result the continued development of the town since then much of the fabric of the medieval town has been removed.
Ardee is on the banks of the River Dee and is equidistant 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.
Originally called Atherdee, the towns name is from the Irish Áth Fhirdia (the Ford of Ferdia) which itself is derived from the fabled four-day battle between Cúchulainn and Ferdia, for the defense of Ulster from Queen Maeve of Connacht. It is said Ferdia fell after four days of battle, and is buried on the southern banks of the river alongside the Riverside Walk. A depiction of the pair is located on Bridge Street in the town as a bronze statue.
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. The town itself is situated in the southern part of the ancient territory known as the Plain of Muirheimhne. The town lies along the 15th century Pale frontier between Dundalk and Kells.
The town comprises the townlands or townparks – the greater portion of which is made up of Ardee bog, and a small portion of Dawson's Demesne, which takes in the southeastern quadrant of the town on the northern side of the River Dee.
This identity of a walled town is further enhanced by surviving medieval buildings and some of the features that survive within the town, notably the intact medieval street pattern and Ardee Castle.
Ardee Castle 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 on to become Ardee’s district courthouse until June 2006 when a specialized facility was built as it;
"could no longer meet the official needs of court users in the 21st century."
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.
The ruins of the Jumping Church of Kildemock formally known as Millockstown Church is a tourist attraction in Ardee which claims to be an "unsolved mystery." Myth has it that a non-Christian was buried inside the Church walls, and that later that night the Church jumped to leave his remains outside of the sacred ground.
A philanthropic trust founded by Erasmus Smith in the 17th century funded the establishment of a boys' school in 1806 and a girls' school in 1817. Both Protestant and Catholic children were allowed to attend. At the time there were other schools but in 1824 they became the sole schools in the area. The Smith schools amalgamated into a combined-sex establishment by 1858, by which time the National School movement was leading to the creation of denominational schools there. The school remained a non-denominational institute but the school decreased in numbers and in 1868 had a roll of only 16 Protestant boys. It was fully integrated into the National School system in 1954, when it became known as Saint Mary's Church of Ireland National School.
Ardee today has only 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 that 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.
Among the facilities at Ardee Community School are an autism class. The room was officially opened in 2007 with enhanced facilities opened in 2018. Work was completed on a secondary for Ardee CS that will increase its capacity to around 900 pupils.
There are three primary schools located in the town: Monastery Boys National School, Scoil Mhuire na Trocaire Girls School and Ardee Educate Together. Ardee Educate Together is a 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 267 pupils enrolled while the Girls School and the Educate Together School have 261 and 124 pupils respectively.
Newspapers include the Mid-Louth Independent, a regional edition of the Drogheda Independent newspaper, which is published weekly. It is distributed and sold in Ardee, Collon, Dunleer and Tallanstown. The Dundalk Democrat is the regional edition of the weekly newspaper, which covers Ardee and its 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. LMFM broadcasts mainly on 95.8FM or 95.5FM but its broadcasts are also streamed online.
Ardee previously had a local website called "ThisIsArdee", that would describe local happenings and broadcast news from the Louth area that was quite popular among the local area, but while it was popular locally the team did not benefit monetarily from its increased status and in an attempt to continue the site and utilize its increased viewer base it launched a crowdfunding campaign through Patreon, the low take-up contributed to a decision to cease publication as well as the work being time consuming and expensive.
The 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, serving the local fertilizer 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. Ardee's transport network consists of the N2, which runs directly through the town, and the M1 motorway, which is connected to Ardee through a bypass/linkroad.
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 celebrated their 40th year in existence.
Ardee Celtic's first team is currently managed by Niall Taaffee, Conor Lynch and former Drogheda United boss Paul Lumsden 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.
Former Ardee Community School and Ardee St Marys man Ryan Rooney currently plays college football for St. Rose of Albany USA after attaining a scholarship there in 2014. In November 2016 Rooney was named on the All East conference team of the year, scoring a total of thirteen goals that season.
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 2017 campaign, they will be coached by Hugh Durrigan and former Donaghmoyne manager Paddy Martin. John Bingham and Ronan Carroll have both turned out Louth in 2017 while Darren Clarke is a former Louth star and the veteran still turns out for the Ardee side. St Marys reached the 2016 Louth Senior Football Final for the first time since 2003, however, they were narrowly defeated by Sean O'Mahonys of Dundalk on a scoreline of 1-11 to 1-9 with Mark Fay scoring the Marys only goal of the game and finishing with 1-1.
There are five other GAA sides that operate in Ardee's hinterland - Hunterstown Rovers, Westerns GFC, John Mitchels, Sean McDermotts and Stabannon Parnells. 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. Hunterstown celebrated 75 years in existence in 2016 while in 2017, John Mitchels GFC celebrate their 60th year since foundation.
As of January 2016, Ardee St Marys' John Bingham and Ronan Carroll, Hunterstown's Ryan Burns, Tony McKenna and David Finn and Westerns' Tommy Durnin were in Colm Kelly's Louth senior football panel for the O'Byrne Cup. Bingham, Burns and Durnin retained their places for the league campaign.
In 2012, Ardee Community School's senior gaelic football team, under Mark Gilsenan, made history by becoming the first Ardee team to win the Lennon cup, defeating St. Mary's of Drogheda on scoreline of 4-11 to 0-7. The following year Ardee made it back to back Lennon cup victories, defeating The Marist of Dundalk in a replay. History was again made in 2014 as the team reached the All Ireland 'C' final but were defeated by Coláiste Ghobnatan of Cork on a scoreline of 1-12 to 2-6
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 picked 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.
There are currently two archery clubs operating in Ardee - Cuchulainn Archers and Ardee Archery Club. in 1908, Ardee-born Beatrice Hill-Lowe became the first Irishwoman ever to win an Olympic medal, taking home bronze for archery in the 1908 Olympic Games. She represented Great Britain.
Arts and Festivals
Founded in 1860, Ardee Concert Band is the third oldest concert band in Ireland. The concert year has been 150 years in operation and they have become well known in Louth and within Ardee.
Ardee also has an annual St Patrick's Parade on March 17. The first parade began in Ardee in 1962 and has run every year since then, except for 2001 due to the foot-and-mouth crisis. Local bands such as Ardee Concert Band are joined by commercial and community floats and novelty floats too. Every year, a local person is bestowed the honour of Grand Marshal of the parade - while dignitaries and local elected representatives are also invited to attend.
Since 2004, the town has hosted the Ardee Baroque Festival at various locations throughout Ardee. The annual two-day event 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.
A festival for Ardee was launched in 2009 titled 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.
In 2017, Ardee will play host to the Association of Irish Floral Artists National Flower Festival. Taking place at Ardee Parish Centre, St Mary's Church of Ireland and the Church of the Nativity of Our Lady, the festival's theme in 2017 is Celtic Way. It takes place from Friday June 9 to Saturday June 11. Thousands of people are expected to attend.
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.
Places of interest
Ardee Castle, previously used as the district courthouse from 1805, until a new courthouse was opened in the new Mid-Louth Civic Services complex at the Fair Green, is planned to be refurbished in the near future. The 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.
- Nettuno, Italy
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Ardee.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ardee.|
- "Sapmap Area - Settlements - Ardee". Census 2016. CSO. 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
- "Where Ferdia fell: Ardee, Co Louth" (PDF). Archaeology Ireland Heritage Guide. 73: 6. Summer 2016.
- "Ardee Local Area Plan 2011 -2016" (PDF). Louth County Council Development Plan 2011-2016: 88. April 2011.
- Ross. Noel (2011). "The Walled Town of Ardee: Selected Extracts." Journal of the County Louth Archaeological and Historical Society, 27 339-365. - via JSTOR
- "Ardee Courthouse Opens". www.courts.ie. Court Service Ireland. 2006-06-06. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
- Ross, Noel (1983). "The Historical Writings of Diarmuid Mac Íomhair". Journal of the County Louth Archaeological and Historical Society. 20: 175–179.
- 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 (. ))
- "About The Dundalk Democrat". Dundalk Democrat. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
- "ThisIsArdee.ie to cease publication". www.thisisardee.ie. 2018-01-25. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
- "Ardee station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-08.
- "The largest fortified medieval tower house in Ireland on the edge of The Pale". Curious Ireland. 2015.
- "New €2.3m courthouse opens in Ardee". The Courts Service of Ireland. 6 June 2006.
- Louth County Council (17 February 2017). "Part 8 - Ardee Castle Refurbishment & Access Improvement Works".
- Ardee Local Area Plan 2010 – 2016 (PDF). Louth County Council. April 2011. p. 50.