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Monaghan Courthouse
Monaghan is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 54°14′52″N 06°58′15″W / 54.24778°N 6.97083°W / 54.24778; -6.97083Coordinates: 54°14′52″N 06°58′15″W / 54.24778°N 6.97083°W / 54.24778; -6.97083
CountyCounty Monaghan
71 m (233 ft)
 • Urban
Time zoneUTC±0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing key
Telephone area code+353(0)47
Irish Grid ReferenceH666337

Monaghan (/ˈmɒnəhən/ MON-ə-hən;[2] Irish: Muineachán [ˈmˠɪnʲəxaːnˠ]) is the county town of County Monaghan, Ireland. It also provides the name of its civil parish and barony.

The population of the town as of the 2016 census was 7,678.[1] The town is on the N2 road from Dublin to Derry and Letterkenny.[3]

Dublin Street, Monaghan


The Irish name Muineachán derives from a diminutive plural form of the Irish word muine meaning "brake" (a thickly overgrown area) or sometimes "hillock". The Irish historian and writer Patrick Weston Joyce interpreted this as "a place full of little hills or brakes".[4] Monaghan County Council's preferred interpretation is "land of the little hills", a reference to the numerous drumlins in the area.


Early history[edit]

The Menapii Celtic tribe are specifically named on Ptolemy's 150 AD map of Ireland, where they located their first colony – Menapia – on the Leinster coast circa 216 BC. They later settled around Lough Erne, becoming known as the Fir Manach, and giving their name to Fermanagh and Monaghan.[citation needed] Mongán mac Fiachnai, a 7th-century King of Ulster, is the protagonist of several legends linking him with Manannan mac Lir. They spread across Ireland, evolving into historic Irish (also Scottish and Manx) clans.

The northwestern side of St Macartan's Cathedral in Monaghan.

The Battle of Clontibret, fought between the forces of The Earl of Tyrone, An Ó Néill (The O'Neill), of Tír Eoghain, and the English Crown, was fought in northern County Monaghan in May 1595. The territory of Monaghan had earlier been wrested from the control of the MacMahon sept in 1591, when the leader of the MacMahons was hanged by authority of the Dublin government; this was one of the events that led to the Nine Years War and the Tudor conquest of Ireland.

On the Hill of Lech, the Hill of the Stone, was the inauguration stone of the Mac Mahons. It overlooks Ballagh Lough to the west, which was once known as Lough Leck. Situated 5 km (3 mi) south-west of Monaghan, the petrosomatoglyph was last used in 1595, but was destroyed by a farm owner in 1809. It is said to be built into the wall of a mill.[citation needed]

In 1801, Monaghan Town, along with the rest of the Rossmore Estate, became the property of the Westenra family.[5]: 460  The Rossmore Estate was inherited in August of that year by Warner Westenra, 2nd Baron Rossmore, from his uncle.[5]: 460  The Westenra family remained as the principal landlords of Monaghan town up into the early twentieth-century. Their 'ancestral seat' was established at Rossmore Castle (also known as Rossmore Park), a large country house mainly built in stages during the nineteenth-century on the south-western edge of Monaghan Town.[5]: 483  The castle was mainly built in the neo-Jacobean style of architecture.[5]

Rossmore Castle, former seat of the Westenra family, Barons Rossmore.[5]: 482–483 

The castle stood on the south-western edge of Monaghan town and was abandoned just after the Second World War.[5]: 483  The ruins of the castle were blown up by Monaghan County Council in 1974.[5]: 483 


The Ulster Canal through Monaghan linking the River Blackwater at Moy with the River Erne near Clones was built between 1825 and 1842. By the time it was completed, competition in the form of the Ulster Railway from Belfast to Clones was already under construction.[6] The canal was never a commercial success and was formally abandoned in 1931.

The Ulster Railway linked Monaghan with Armagh and Belfast in 1858 and with the Dundalk and Enniskillen Railway at Clones in 1863.[6]: Map 8  It became part of the Great Northern Railway in 1876.[6]: xiii  The partition of Ireland in 1922 turned the boundary with County Armagh into an international frontier, after which trains were routinely delayed by customs inspections. In 1957 the Government of Northern Ireland made the GNR Board close the line between Portadown and the border, giving the GNRB no option but to withdraw passenger services between the border and Clones as well.[6]: Map 39  CIÉ took over the remaining section of line between Clones, Monaghan and Glaslough in 1958 but withdrew goods services between Monaghan and Glaslough in 1959 and between Clones and Monaghan in 1960, leaving Monaghan with no railway service.[6]: Map 39 

Twentieth century[edit]

In February 1919 the first self-consciously proclaimed soviet in the United Kingdom was established at Monaghan Lunatic Asylum.[7] This led to the claim by Joseph Devlin in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom that "the only successfully conducted institutions in Ireland are the lunatic asylums".[8]

On 17 May 1974 an Ulster loyalist car bomb exploded in the Friday evening rush hour, killing seven people.[9] It was detonated outside Greacen's public house on North Road in a car that had been stolen earlier that afternoon in Portadown, Northern Ireland. The bomb killed Paddy Askin (44), Thomas Campbell (52), Thomas Croarkin (36), Archie Harper (73, died four days later), Jack Travers (28), Peggy White (45) and George Williamson (72).[10] It also injured scores of civilians and caused extensive damage to the fabric of the town with North Road and Mill Street among the areas worst affected. This was one of the few car bombings in the Republic during The Troubles, which were centred on Northern Ireland; three other bombs exploded on the same day in Dublin in what became known as the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. The Ulster loyalist paramilitary group Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) claimed responsibility in 1993.

A monument in memory of the victims was unveiled by the eighth President of Ireland Mary McAleese on 17 May 2004, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the atrocity. The sandstone and metal column containing seven light wells bearing the names of each of the seven victims of the bombing was designed by Ciaran O'Cearnaigh and stands as a reminder of one of the darkest days in Ireland's modern history.


Monaghan Leisure Complex, built in 2005.

Monaghan continues to host one of Ireland's most prestigious and established blues festivals,[11] the Harvest Time Blues Festival. It is hosted every September across Monaghan town.[12]

The Fiddler of Oriel Muineachán Competition (also known as Féile Oriel) first held in 1969 returned in 2009 to celebrate its fortieth anniversary.[13] It is held every May Bank Holiday weekend.

Founded in 1974, Monaghan County Museum is recognised as one of the leading provincial museums in Ireland, with a prestigious Council of Europe Award conferred in 1980, among others, to its credit. The museum is located in a mid-Victorian stone building of three stories, formerly two separate town houses, on Hill Street. It aims to acquaint its visitors with the history of County Monaghan and its people.

The Garage Theatre is an arts facility located on the Monaghan Education Campus. It hosts a wide range of activities including drama, music, dance and film.[14]

The town is home to Monaghan United Football Club, formerly of the League of Ireland Premier Division.

Local government[edit]

Local issues are dealt with by the Monaghan Municipal Council which elects six members, all of which are elected as members of Monaghan County Council. The town forms part of the Monaghan ward for local elections for elections to Monaghan County Council and part of the Cavan–Monaghan constituency for elections to Dáil Éireann.

The largest party on the municipal council is Sinn Féin, which holds two of six seats. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil each hold one seat and there are two independent members.[citation needed]

Town layout and architecture[edit]

The centre of the town is made up of four interconnecting squares: Market Square (or Street), Church Square, The Diamond and Old Cross Square.

St. Patrick's Church of Ireland

Dating from the seventeenth century, the oldest remaining architectural feature in Monaghan town is the "Old Cross" – located in Old Cross Square. It is not fully agreed that it is in fact a cross, but may in fact have been a seventeenth-century sundial. It was originally located in the Diamond, the traditional centre of the town, and was used as a hiring cross and for the attaching of proclamations. It was moved to its present location in 1876 to allow for the construction of the Rossmore Memorial. Two landmark buildings remain from the eighteenth century, Aviemore House (built in 1760) on Mill Street and the "extremely elegant" Market House (from 1792) on Market Square.[15]: 16 

Monaghan is notable for the quality of its nineteenth-century architecture, which adds a sense of dignity to the attractive town centre and its environs. Of its Victorian buildings, the Monaghan Courthouse on Church Square, designed by Joseph Welland and built in 1830, is the most stately. With its sandstone facade of Doric columns supporting a pediment that bears the royal arms of the House of Hanover, Monaghan Courthouse constitutes an integral part of Church Square.

The Rossmore Memorial in The Diamond was built in 1876 as a memorial to The 4th Baron Rossmore, who died after a hunting accident at Windsor Castle in 1874. This Victorian monument, described by architectural historian C.E.B. Brett as "formidable and striking"[15]: 10  is octagonal in shape, with central marble columns supporting a fountain. Around it, the eight grey columns support the pinnacled superstructure which rises to a dome. The dome is surmounted by a spire supported by yet more columns. The letters of Rossmore (also eight in number) are spaced out around the monument.

The Gothic-Revival St Macartan's Cathedral by James Joseph McCarthy is recognised as being "one of McCarthy's best works: an excellent example of the High Victorian ecclesiastical style at its best, rich without ever being over-ornate".[15]: 26  The building comprises a delicate rose window and an impressive soaring spire and took over thirty years to complete. Construction work began in 1861 and the cathedral was finally dedicated in 1892. Originally the nave was intended to be two bays longer but lack of funds meant that the design was cut back. The Cathedral sits on an imposing site overlooking the town. Occupying a similarly commanding site on the opposite side of the town is St Macartan's College for boys (from 1840), a 17-bay classical structure with a bell tower and private chapel, by the Newry-born architect Thomas Duff.

Church Square, Monaghan

Church Square is very much an environment in which the civic pride of Victorian improvers lives on in the satisfying essay in the Ruskinian-Gothic style that is the Bank of Ireland building, as much as in the peaks of St. Patrick's Church of Ireland and the Dawson Obelisk. One of the most interesting aspects of Monaghan's Victorian architectural heritage, which also includes the former railway station, the Orange Hall on North Road and the Westenra Hotel on the Diamond, is the rounded corners that connect the town's buildings from one street or square to the next. This practice of rounding corners in order to open up panoramic vistas was carried out with unprecedented frequency in the town of Monaghan, and is still reflected today in the edifices of The Diamond, Church Square and Mill Street, helping to secure Monaghan's status as one of Ulster's more attractive large towns.


The town is a centre for the timber-frame house building industry with Kingspan Century being the largest of its kind in Europe. It is also the centre of a thriving agri business most notable of which is the mushroom industry. Engineering also features in the region with both Moffett[16] and Combilift[17] major participants in the materials handling market.[18]

There is a campaign to boost tourism by reopening the Ulster Canal in a scheme which would eventually allow boats to travel from towns in Northern Ireland, such as Newry, by way of Monaghan to places as far south as Limerick, as well as Dublin.

Monaghan once had a thriving furniture manufacturing industry. Since 1990, this has diminished greatly under global competition. However, manufacturers such as Rossmore Furniture (which took its name from Rossmore Forest Park, situated just outside the town) continue to operate from the town.

Notable people[edit]

Sister city[edit]

Monaghan is twinned with Miramichi, New Brunswick.[citation needed]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Sapmap Area – Settlements – Monaghan". Census 2016. CSO. 2016. Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Monaghan definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary". Archived from the original on 10 March 2021. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  3. ^ Monaghan Health Status Report
  4. ^ Joyce, Patrick Weston (1870), Irish Local Names Explained.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Mulligan, Kevin V. (2013). The Buildings of Ireland: South Ulster. London: Yale.
  6. ^ a b c d e Hajducki, S. Maxwell (1974). A Railway Atlas of Ireland. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. map 9. ISBN 0-7153-5167-2.
  7. ^ Kostick, Conor (1996). Revolution in Ireland: Popular Militancy, 1917–1923. London: Pluto Press. p. 70. ISBN 9780745311234.
  8. ^ Hansard Archived 11 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine, 20 February 1919, accessed 18 July 2010
  9. ^ "Justice for the Forgotten". Archived from the original on 10 May 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  10. ^ "CAIN:Sutton Index of Deaths 1974". CAIN (Conflict Archive on the Internet). Archived from the original on 26 February 2019. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  11. ^ Monaghan Post, 6 September 2007. "Who's Behind the Blues? Archived 12 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine"
  12. ^ "". Archived from the original on 4 August 2009. Retrieved 8 September 2009.
  13. ^ Fiddler of Oriel Muineachán Competition Archived 10 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "The Garage Theatre". The Garage Theatre. Archived from the original on 7 July 2020. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  15. ^ a b c Brett, C.E.B. (1970). Historic Buildings, Groups of Buildings and Areas of Architectural Importance in the Town of Monaghan. Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society.
  16. ^ "Maurice Moffett Ltd". Archived from the original on 29 September 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2010.
  17. ^ Combilift Inc. Archived 25 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "Combilift 2. Background". Enterprise Ireland. 2010. Archived from the original on 10 July 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2010.
  19. ^ "Birthplace of Charles Gavin Duffy, Dublin Street, ROOSKY, Monaghan, MONAGHAN". Buildings of Ireland. Archived from the original on 17 May 2021. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  20. ^ Brett, C.E.B. "Historic Buildings, Groups of Buildings and Areas of Architectural Importance in the Town of Monaghan". Belfast, Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1973, p. 28.
  21. ^ Mennell, Philip (1892). "Swan, Nathaniel Walter" . The Dictionary of Australasian Biography  – via Wikisource.
  22. ^ "Ulster Medical Society: William Whitla". Archived from the original on 11 May 2021. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  23. ^ Baker, Audrey (2009). "Williams, Alexander". Dictionary of Irish Biography – Cambridge University Press. Archived from the original on 28 January 2021. Retrieved 11 June 2021.

External links[edit]