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Baile Átha Fhirdhia
View north along Market Street,
from the battlements of Ardee Castle
|Motto: Na Bris Sith, Na Bris Cairdis
Don't Break Peace, Don't Break Friendship
|Population (2016, Preliminary Results)|
|Irish Grid Reference|
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.
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 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.
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 mythical 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 on to house Ardee’s district courthouse up 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 to leave his remains outside of the sacred ground.
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 now consists of the N2, which runs directly through the town, and the M1 motorway, which is connected to Ardee through a bypass/linkroad.
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. The development of the town resulted in a dramatic rise in house prices in the area.
This development caused a growth in industrial businesses being established in and around Ardee. Among them were Oriel Attachments, Oriel Fuels, Bryan Lynch salads who joined established businesses like Farrell Office Furniture.
Ardee Castle in the town has been recently been refurbished and was used to house the district courthouse, before it was moved and to the new Mid-Louth Civic Services 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
|Ardee Castle||Castle Street, Ardee|
|Hatch's Castle||Market Street, Ardee|
|Riverside Walk||Bridge Street, Ardee|
|St Mary's Church of Ireland|
|Nativity of Our Lady Church|
|Chantry College||College Park, Ardee|
|Mercy Convent Ardee||Hale Street, Ardee|
|Ardee Library||Market Square, Market Street, Ardee|
|Market Square||Market Street, Ardee|
|St Brigid's Hospital||Kells Road, Ardee|
|St Joseph's Hospital|
|Fair Green||Fair Green, Irish Street, Ardee|
|Bohemian Centre||Jervis Street, Ardee|
|Smarmore Castle||Smarmore, Ardee|
|Jumping Church||Kildemock, Ardee|
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.
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 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. Work has begun on a new extension to Ardee CS that will increase it's capacity to around 900 pupils. It is expected to be completed in 2018.
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 267 pupils enrolled while the Girls School and the Educate Together School have 261 and 124 pupils respectively.
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 celebrated their 40th year in existence.
Ardee Celtic's first team is currently managed by Niall Taaffee, Conor Lynch and former Drogheda Unied 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 
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 Olympics Games. She represented Great Britain.
List of Clubs
- Ardee St Marys GFC
- Westerns GFC
- Hunterstown Rovers GFC
- Sean McDermotts GFC
- John Mitchels GFC
- Stabannon Parnels GFC
- Ardee Celtic
- Square United
- Ardee Rugby Club
- Ardee & District Athletics Club
- Ardee Badminton Club
- Ardee Tennis Club
- Ardee Archery Club
- Cuchulainn Archers
- ThisIsArdee.ie 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.
- 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
Every year, March 17th sees Ardee host their St Patrick's Day parade. The parade began in Ardee in 1962 and has run every year since - except in 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.
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 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.
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 9th to Saturday June 11th. 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.
Founded in 1860, Ardee Concert Band is the third oldest concert band in Ireland. In just over 150 years in operation, they have achieved much and received wide acclaim in Ardee, Louth and beyond.
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. On occasion, the town sends delegates to Ardee to take part in the Ardee St. Patrick’s Day parade. The twinning agreement was signed in 2010 by their respective mayors.
- Nettuno, Italy (2010).
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Ardee.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ardee.|
- Census for post 1821 figures.
- "NISRA - Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (c) 2015". Retrieved 17 July 2016.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ross, Noel (1983). "The Historical Writings of Diarmuid Mac Íomhair.". Journal of the County Louth Archaeological and Historical Society. 20: 175–179 – via JSTOR.
- "Ardee station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-08.
- 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 (. ))