County Louth

County Louth (/lð/[4] Irish: Contae Lú)[5] is a county[6] in the Republic of Ireland. It is in the province of Leinster and is part of the Mid-East Region. It is named after the village of Louth. Louth County Council is the local authority for the county. According to the 2016 census, the population of the county was 128,884.[3]

County Louth

Contae Lú

Coat of arms
The Wee County
Lugh sáimh-ioldánach  (Irish)
"Lugh equally skilled in many arts"
Dáil ÉireannLouth
EU ParliamentMidlands–North-West
County townDundalk
  TypeCounty Council
  Total827 km2 (319 sq mi)
Area rank32nd
Highest elevation589 m (1,932 ft)
  Density160/km2 (400/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC±0 (WET)
  Summer (DST)UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing keys
A91, A92 (primarily)
Telephone area codes041, 042 (primarily)
Vehicle index
mark code


County Louth is colloquially known as 'the Wee County' as it is Ireland's smallest county by area (826 km2 319 mi2).[7] It is the 18th-largest in terms of population.[8] It is the smallest of Leinster's 12 counties by size and the sixth-largest by population.

With its fairly average total population and its small size, Louth is the second-most densely populated county in Ireland, behind Dublin, and the fourth-most on the island of Ireland.


County Louth is named after the village of Louth, which in turn is named after Lugh, a god of the ancient Irish. Historically, the placename has had various spellings; "Lugmad", "Lughmhaigh", and "Lughmhadh" (see Historic Names List, for full listing). is the modern simplified spelling.

The county is steeped in myth, legend and history, and is a setting in the Táin Bó Cúailnge. Later it saw the influence of the Vikings, as seen in the name of Carlingford Lough. They also established a longphort at Annagassan in the ninth century. At this time Louth consisted of three sub-kingdoms, each subject to separate over-kingdoms: Conaille (Ulaidh); Fir Rois (Airgialla); and, the Fir Arda Ciannachta (Midhe). The whole area became part of the O'Carroll Kingdom of Airgialla (Oriel) early in the 12th century under Donnchad Ua Cerbaill. At the same time, the area was removed from the diocese of Armagh and the episcopal see of the Diocese of Airgíalla or Clogher was transferred to Louth c. 1130-1190.

A number of historic sites are in the county, including religious sites at Monasterboice, Mellifont Abbey and the St Mary Magdalene Dominican Friary.

The Normans occupied the Louth area in the 1180s, and it became known as 'English' Oriel, to distinguish it from the remainder ('Irish' Oriel) which remained in Irish hands. The latter became the McMahon lordship of Oriel of County Monaghan.

In the early 14th century, the Scottish army of Edward Bruce was repulsed from Drogheda. Edward was finally defeated, losing his claim to the High Kingship of Ireland along with his life, in the Battle of Faughart near Dundalk, by a chiefly local force led by John de Bermingham.

In 1189, a royal charter was granted to Dundalk after a Norman nobleman named Bertram de Verdun erected a manor house at Castletown Mount. Later in 1412, a royal charter was granted to Drogheda. This charter unified the towns of Drogheda-in-Meath and Drogheda-in-Uriel (Louth) as a County in its own right, styled as ‘the County of the town of Drogheda’.[9] Drogheda continued as a County Borough until the setting up of County Councils, through the enactment of the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, which saw all of Drogheda, including a large area south of the River Boyne, become part of an extended County Louth.[9][10][11]

Until the late 16th century, Louth had been a part of Ulster, before being included as part of Leinster after a conference held at Faughart (in 1596) between the Chiefs of Ulster (O'Nial/O'Niel and O'Donel/McDonnel), on the Irish side, and the Archbishop of Cashel and the Earl of Ormonde on that of the English.

The 16th and 17th centuries featured many skirmishes and battles involving Irish and English forces, as Louth was on the main route to 'the Moiry Pass' and the Ulster areas often in rebellion and as yet uncolonised. Oliver Cromwell attacked Drogheda in 1649 slaughtering the Royalist garrison and hundreds of the town's citizens. Towards the end of the same century, the armies of the warring Kings, James II and William (III) of Orange, faced off in south Louth during the build-up to the Battle of the Boyne; the battle was fought 3 km west from Drogheda. Drogheda held for James under Lord Iveagh, but surrendered to William the day after the battle of the Boyne.

In 1798, the leaders of the United Irishmen included Bartholomew Teeling, John Byrne, and Patrick Byrne, all from Castletown; Anthony Marmion from Louth Town and Dundalk, Anthony McCann from Corderry; Nicholas and Thomas Markey from Barmeath, and Arthur McKeown, John Warren, and James McAllister from Cambricville. They were betrayed by informers, notably a Dr. Conlan, who came from Dundalk, and an agent provocateur called Sam Turner, from Newry. Several leaders were hanged.

The priest and scientist Nicholas Callan (1799–1864) was from Darver.


County Louth is the 18th largest county in terms of population, but it is the most densely populated county in Ireland outside Dublin, with a population density of 160 people per km2, almost double the national average. The majority of the county's population lives in the two main towns of Drogheda and Dundalk, also the overall 6th- and 8th-largest urban areas in Ireland respectively.

Towns and settlements (2011 census)

Area Legal Town Limit Inc. Environs Inc. Rural
Dundalk 31,149[18] 37,816[19] 63,429
Drogheda 30,393[20] 38,578[21] 38,578
Ardee 4,554 4,927 7,418
Blackrock 3,000 3,000 3,000
Clogherhead 1,993 3,026 3,026
Dunleer 1,786 2,340 2,340
Termonfeckin 1,443 1,443 1,443
Tullyallen 1,358 1,358 1,358
Dromiskin 1,115 1,115 1,115
Carlingford 1,045 1,045 1,045
Castlebellingham 1,035 1,035 1,035
Louth 715 715 715
Tallanstown 673 673 673
Knockbridge 583 583 583
Omeath 503 503 503
Tinure 456 456 456
Jenkinstown 323 323 323
Beaulieu 221 221 221
Annagassan 180 180 180

Population by religion

Religion 2006 2011[22] 2016[3]
Roman Catholic 99,678 106,845 105,186
Church of Ireland (incl. Protestant) 1,759 2,179 -
Presbyterian 436 570 -
Methodist, Wesleyan 194 56 -
Jewish 15 19 -
Other stated religion (nec) 4,078 6,058 10,775
No religion 3,338 5,414 9,747
Not stated 1,769 1,756 3,176

Towns and villages

Local government and politics

Louth County Council

The local authority is Louth County Council, offices in Dundalk, which provides a number of services including; planning, roads maintenance, fire brigade, council housing, water supply, waste collection, recycling and landfill, higher education grants and funding for arts and culture.[23]

Since the implementation of the Local Government Reform Act 2014 on 1 June 2014, County Louth has been subdivided into four Local Electoral Area's (often abbreviated as LEA) for elections to Louth County Council and three Municipal districts for local government which are,

Council Area District
[t 1]
[t 2]
[t 3]
Louth County Council (29)ArdeeYY6
DroghedaY[t 4]Y10
Dundalk CarlingfordY6
Dundalk SouthY7


  1. Y indicates the area is a municipal district. (Those designated as "metropolitan district" or "borough district" are footnoted.)
  2. Y indicates the area is a local electoral area.
  3. The number of Councillors returned by the LEA and/or the number on the district council. All district councillors are ex officio members of the county/city council.
  4. Borough district.

Louth Dáil constituency

For elections to Dáil Éireann, Louth is represented by the five member Louth constituency which takes in the entire county of Louth and two electoral divisions in County Meath. the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2009 merged the electoral divisions of St.Mary's (Part) and Julianstown, collectively known as "East Meath" in County Meath with County Louth to form one Louth Dáil constituency.

The Report on Dáil and European Parliament Constituencies 2007 outlined;

"by extending the constituency southwards from, and in the environs of, Drogheda and taking in electoral divisions which have extensive linkages with the town. This will allow the inclusion of the town of Drogheda and hinterland areas in a single constituency."[24]

This merger allowed the areas of the Greater Drogheda area in County Meath[25] and their combined population of 20,375 to be merged with Drogheda and County Louth.

Following the 2011 general election, the constituency elected two TDs for the Fine Gael party (centre right), and one touchdown each for Fianna Fáil (centre to centre-right), the Labour Party (centre left) and Sinn Féin (left wing).

Irish language

The area of Omeath was Irish-speaking until the early 20th century, a native dialect of Louth Irish existed there until about 1930, but is now extinct although recordings have been made.[26]

Within the county 790 people use Irish on a daily basis and 2,276 people use Irish on a weekly basis outside the education system according to the 2016 census.[3]







See also


  1. "Irish Chiefs and Clans in County Louth - Irish Pedigrees".
  2. "County Louth, Ireland Genealogy Genealogy - FamilySearch Wiki".
  3. "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: County Louth". Central Statistics Office. 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  4. Pointon, Graham E. (1990). BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 154. ISBN 0-19-282745-6.
  5. "Placenames Database of Ireland". Fiontar (DCU) and The Placenames Branch (Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht). 2008. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
  6. Section 2(1) of the Local Government Act, 2001, provides that the administrative area for which a county council is responsible is a county:,1963,en.pdf Archived 20 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  7. "North West Passage". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  8. Corry, Eoghan (2005). The GAA Book of Lists. Hodder Headline Ireland. pp. 186–191. ISBN 0-340-89695-7.
  9. Johnston, L. C. (1826). History of Drogheda: from the earliest period to the present time. Drogheda. p. 37.
  10. D'Alton, John 1844, The History of Drogheda
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 July 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. For 1653 and 1659 figures from Civil Survey Census of those years, Paper of Mr Hardinge to Royal Irish Academy 14 March 1865.
  13. "Server Error 404 - CSO - Central Statistics Office". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  14. "HISTPOP.ORG - Home". Archived from the original on 7 May 2016.
  15. NISRA - Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (c) 2013 Archived 17 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine. (27 September 2010). Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
  16. Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. (eds.). Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
  17. 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. hdl:10197/1406.
  18. "Legal Towns Dundalk Legal Town (CSO Area Code LT 10008)". Central Statistics Office. 2011.
  19. "Dundalk Legal Town And Its Environs Results". Central Statistics Office. 2011. Archived from the original on 29 October 2014.
  20. "Legal Towns Drogheda Legal Town (CSO Area Code LT 10008)". Central Statistics Office. 2011.
  21. "Drogheda Legal Town And Its Environs Results". Central Statistics Office. 2011. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014.
  22. "Dundalk Migration, Ethnicity and Religion (CSO Area Code LT 10008)". Central Statistics Office. 2011. Archived from the original on 29 October 2014.
  23. "Services". Louth County Council. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  25. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 August 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. "The Doegen Records Web Project". Doegen. Royal Irish Academy. 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2018.

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