Ardee (/ˈɑːr.d/Irish: Baile Átha Fhirdhiapronounced [ˈbˠalʲə aːhə fʲerðiað]) 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.[2]


Baile Átha Fhirdhia
View north along Market Street,
from the battlements of Ardee Castle

Coat of arms
Na Bris Sith, Na Bris Cairdis
Don't Break Peace, Don't Break Friendship
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 53.855362°N 6.537895°W / 53.855362; -6.537895
CountyCounty Louth
Time zoneUTC±0 (WET)
  Summer (DST)UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing key
Telephone area code+353(0)41
Irish Grid ReferenceN958906

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.

Ardee has seen a large growth in population from 2002 to 2010 with an increase of roughly a thousand, the town has an estimated population of 5,000.[1][3]

Governance and administrative units

Ardee lies in the local council area of Louth County Council. Local authorities have responsibility for such matters as planning, local roads, sanitation, and libraries. The Council is an elected body of 29 members with councillors: elected from five electoral areas in the county. Ardee lies in the Ardee electoral area, which returns six members to the council.[4][5]

Ardee is in the Roman Catholic parish of Ardee & Collon which lies in the Archdiocese of Armagh in the ecclesiastical province of Armagh.[6][7]



Originally called Atherdee, the towns name is from 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.[2][8]

Ardee is an 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.

Smith schools

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.[9]


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.[10]

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.[11][12]


Ardee Railway station, previously serving the town, was linked to the main Belfast-Dublin railway line at Dromin Junction station, along a five mile long (8 km) branch line.

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,[13] 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.


Architecture, buildings and structures

Ardee Castle

Ardee's 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 the castle itself.It was previously known as St. Leger's Castle, it's 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."[14][15][16]

Hatch's Castle

A gift give to the Hatch family by Oliver Cromwell, it is still in use as a private family home and as a B&B, it is the older of the town's two castles, It was modernized in the 19th century with large windows placed in the east and west faces. It is a late 14th Century urban fortified house that was once a common feature in many towns throughout Ireland. The southern corner has a projecting turret which houses a spiral stairway to roof level.[17][18]

Jumping Church of Kildemock

The Jumping Church of Kildemock (also known as Millockstown Church) is a tourist attraction in Ardee which claims to be an "unsolved mystery". The site was restored in 1954 after the site was cleared of debris by archaeologists the previous year. Legend surrounding the church states that a non-Christian was believed to be buried inside the Church walls in 1715, and that the Church jumped later that night to leave his remains outside of the sacred grounds.[19]

A plaque on the site reads:

"Is léir ar an bhfalla seo gur aisbrigh sé tuairm 3 troithe isteach óna bhonn. Tá trácht i gcúntais i 1715 ar stoirm mhór sa bhliain sin o'ardaigh an falla as a ionad ach do reir seanchais na ndaoine is amhlaidh a léim an falla isteach thar uaigh dhuine a cuireadh faoi choinneallbhádh."

and is accompanied by a translation in English:

"This wall by its pitch, tilt and position can be seen to have moved three feet from its foundation. Contemporary accounts mention a severe storm in 1715 when the wall was lifted and deposited as it now stands but local tradition states that the wall jumped inwards to exclude the grave of an excommunicated person."

All that remains at Kildemock today is a small ruin, containing the wall that for a reason unknown moved three feet. It is believed to be caused by a storm but this cannot be confirmed.[20]

Chantry College

Founded a short time prior to 1487, it consists of a gabled tower, four storeys in height, which has an adjoining two-storey hall to the north. Although the Chantry College was defensible, it's excluded from being classified as a fortified town house. It was an ecclesiastical building. and as such differs from the two castles.[21]

Statues and Monuments

Statue of Cuchulainn and Ferdia

Helmet Monument

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 hosted 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 was Celtic Way.

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.

Places of Worship

Nativity of our Lady Church

The church is a detached multi-bay Roman Catholic church, built 1974. The church replaced a previously existing catholic church built 1829, which is now a furniture store.[22]

It is a distinctive post-Vatican II church, designed by Guy Moloney and Associates, the interior is a luminous space with carefully executed detailing evident in the altar, pews and other furnishings. The leaded light clerestory windows introduce colour to what is otherwise a plain interior.[23][24]

Saint Mary's Church

Built in the early 19th century on the site of an earlier church, St Mary's Church was substantially repaired and rebuilt preserving portions of a tower belong to a previous church. This site has been the focus of Christian worship for at least eight hundred years.[25]


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.

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.



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.


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.[26]

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.

Twin town



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