Slieve Foye mountain - Carlingford,
Estimated at 588 m above sea level
Carlingford Town from above.
Carlingford ( ) is a coastal
village in northern County Louth, Ireland. It is situated between Carlingford
Lough (to the east) and Slieve
Foy, sometimes known as Carlingford Mountain (to the west) at
GPS co-ordinates: 54.02.463N 6.11.120W.
roads between Greenore Point and
Omeath townland, Carlingford is approximately 27 km
north (by road) of Dundalk (15.6km
directly), 90 km north of Dublin and
11 km south of the border with
Carlingford won the Irish Tidy Towns Competition
Carlingford has many streets with a medieval aspect - the main one
being Tholsel Street (Sráid an Tólsail
Carlingford was settled approximately 800
years ago by Norman knight Hugh de Lacy after laying the foundation stone to a castle on a
strategic outcrop of rock.
As was common in those days, a
settlement sprang up, close to this fortress.
The Prosperous Years
Carlingford’s strategic position on the east
coast of Ireland (along with Carrickfergus and Dundalk) made it a
vital trading port.
This trade led to its relative
prosperity during the 14th, 15th and early 16th Centuries.
Carlingford's early prosperity was rocked, when in 1388, the town
was burnt to the ground, by a Scots
force under the command of
Sir William Douglas of
. This was a punitive raid, following Irish attacks on
, the Lord of which was Nithsdale's
father, Archibald the Grim
Carlingford received 5 charters
in total –
the first in 1326 by Edward II
and the last to occur in 1619 under James I
. The increased trade encouraged
the rich mercantile class to build – the results of which can still
be seen today in the remains of the Mint
and Taffee’s Castle
War and Ruin
The 1640 rebellion
and the subsequent
of the 1690s all
took their toll on the surrounding economy. As recorded in the
Journal of Isaac Butler
the town was in a “state of ruin” by 1744. However, the final nail
in coffin was the desertion of the prosperous herring shoals that
occupied the Lough to open water by the early 18th century.
The Modern Era
Carlingford’s inability to develop a heavy industry allowed for its
medieval charm and archaeological artefacts to remain relatively
intact. This led directly to tourism being the main source of
employment. Also significant is fishing, particularly of oysters
and crabs from the nearby harbour. A daily passenger ferry operates out of
the village of Omeath, away,
during the summer months.
Carlingford has expanded in recent
years, the most recent addition being of a Four Season’s
The Irish singer / songwriter Tommy
wrote a melancholy song about the town, "Farewell to
Carlingford", covered by The Clancy Brothers and
Derivation of the name
Origin of the word Carlingford
The name of the village, Carlingford, is explained by examining the
two constituent words "carling" and "ford".
- "Carling" or "Carlinn" from Gaelic: "Cathair + Linn": "Cathair" meaning
city and "Linn" meaning pool. Literally "City of the Pool".
- "Fjord" or "fiord" from Norwegian, from Old Norse "fjorthr"
meaning a firth or ford. Indicating a relatively narrow inlet of
Combining both therefore leads to Carlingford - "City of the narrow
channel pool" which is mostly accurate due its calm, protected
waters and dangerous narrow channel at the entrance to the Lough.
The sinking of the SS Connemara
testifies to the channel's dangers.
Carlingford's Previous Name
Although not widely known or used, Carlingford had a previous name:
Cuan Snamh Aighneach
, or just Cuan Aighneach
literally: the swimming harbour/haven of the Aighneach.
perfect reputation.Putting it all together would lead to: the
swimming harbour/haven of the people with perfect reputation.
Places of Interest
- King John’s Castle (Caisleán Rí
Sheáin in Irish). Despite the
western part being commissioned by Hugh de Lacy c. 1190, the castle
owes its name to King John (Richard the Lionheart’s brother) who
visited Carlingford in 1210. The eastern part was constructed in
the mid 13th century with alterations and editions occurring in the
15th and 16th centuries. In the 1950s the Office of Public Works
(OPW) undertook conservation work to stabilize the structure. An
excellent view of the north pier and Lough can be had from the
looking area on the western side of the castle, though the castle
itself tends to remain locked to the general public for their own
- Taaffe’s Castle (Caisleán Taaffe in
Irish). A fortified town house that
belonged to the rich mercantile Taaffe family who became Earls of
Carlingford in 1661. It’s close proximity to the harbour would
suggest a trading depot of some kind occurring on the ground floor
with the upper floors reserved for residence. It construction
suggests two phases of construction - the main tower built in the
early 16th century while the extension to the side occurred
- The Tholsel (An Tólsail in Irish). The Tholsel or “town-gate” is the
only remaining example of its nature in Carlingford and one of the
few left in Ireland. Originally it was three stories high – the
present appearance due to alteration made in the 19th century. The
original function was of course to levy taxes on good entering the
town – the murder-holes on the side of the walls are testaments to
that fact. In 1834 it was used by the Corporation of Carlingford
for meeting and a Parliament is said to have used it to make laws
for the Pale. It was also used as a town gaol (Príosún An
Bhaile in Irish) in the 18th
- The Mint (An Mionta in Irish). Essentially a fortified three storey
town house belonging to a wealthy merchant family in the centre of
Carlingford. While the right to mint coinage was not granted to
Carlingford until 1467 it is unlikely that it was actually used as
a mint. The most interesting feature is the five highly decorated
limestone windows. The patterns and motifs are an example of the
influence of the Celtic Renaissance on art during the 16th
- Dominican Friary (Mainistir Chairlinn
in Irish). The Dominicans were established in Carlingford
in 1305 primarily because of their patron Richard de Burgo with the friary itself
being dedicated to St. Malachy.
Dissolved in 1540 by Henry
VIII it became the centre of a repossession struggle between
the Dominicans and Franciscans in the
1670s. It was resolved in favour of the Dominicans by Oliver Plunkett. However the friary itself
was subsequently abandoned in the 18th century by the Dominicans to
their present location of Dundalk. The remains today consist of a
nave and chancel divided
by a tower. Also, there are possible remains of some domestic
buildings to the south like a mill, mill
race and mill pond. The only permanent inhabitants now are the
pigeons that occupy the nooks and crannies and the occasional
- Town Wall (Balla an Bhaile in
Irish). Established by charter in
1326 by Edward II to the
Bailiffs of Carlingford it allowed them to
levy muragh for its
building. Not much remains however but the little that does has
some externally splayed musket loops that would indicate the
arrival of firearms to Ireland in the late 15th century. It is
likely that the wall had an external ditch to strengthen its
defences. Its purpose was to serve as a barrier to ensure that
goods entering the town had to pass through a town gate (and hence
could be taxed) but it also had the purpose of creating a boundary
between Gael and Norman.
- Ghan House (Na Glenntaigh in Irish, literally: the glen). A fine Georgian
House built by William Stannus in
1727 it is surrounded by castellated walls and a guard tower. The
first floor contains the drawing room which has a decorative
ceiling of rococo plaster work of flower garlands and medallion
busts reputed to be of Stannus ladies. The basement contains two
underground passageways (now blocked) that runs to the Heritage
Centre and the bakers (now chemist). This latter tunnel was
reportedly used by a silent order of monks who once lived on the
site – apparently they supplied the local bakery but with to avoid
contact with people. Today Ghan House is used as a luxury guest
house (with wine bar), ballroom, meeting room and cookery
- Church of the Holy Trinity (Eaglais Na
Tríonóide Naofa in Irish).
Donated by the Church of Ireland
to Carlingford this restored medieval church is also known as the
Holy Trinity Heritage Centre. Exhibits inside display the history
of Carlingford from Viking times to the
present period. The video and beautiful stained glass window are
popular with visitors. Musical recitals are common. The grounds
outside contain a graveyard.
- De Gaulle (Teach Meánaoiseach agus
Cloigeann Cloch in Irish,
literally: Medieval House and Stone Head). Carlingford has a pseudo
historical/comical head affectionately known as De Gaulle. This
feature is situated on the south facing gable on a building on
Newry Street. Some enterprising Francophile placed a piece of slate
for the cap and the attraction was born.
- Market Square (Cearnóg na Margadh in
Irish). Now the main street of
Carlingford, this was the area where a weekly market was held with
records of its layout going back to 1358. It is now the
intersection of Dundalk Street and the beginning of River
Other Items of Interest
- Carlingford Marina (Cairlinn Muiríne
- PJ O'Hare Pub (Teach Tabhairne in
Originally owned by Patrick Joseph O'Hare the pub was sold after
his death in 1991. Since then it has passed through two sets of
owners before the present owner extended it to its current size.
Known locally as PJs or just O'Hare's the Anchor Bar (as it is less
commonly called) is centrally located (on Tholsel Street) and is
popular with locals and tourists alike. The Leprechaun bones and
artifacts on display draw some amusement and are a tribute to PJ
who started the Lephrechaun Hunt that used to be held in May every
- The Spout (An Spút in Irish)
Not widely known, the Spout is located on ViewPoint Road.
Unfortunately, the build up of bacteria around this outlet of water
has made it an unsightly reminder of how the locals of Carlingford
collected their water in times long gone by.
particularly beautiful walk located between Omeath and
Carlingford before Slieve Foy mountain.
- Slieve Foy Wood (Coill Sliabh Feidh
It is both popular
with locals and tourists alike who appreciate the spectacular views
of the Lough and the sense of isolation. Also present along the
walk is a rock quarry, waterfall, logging camp and streams.
Carlingford railway station opened on 1 August 1876, but finally
closed on 1 January 1952 when the Dundalk, Newry & Greenore
Railway ceased operations.
Image:King johns front shadow.jpg|King John's Castle, Carlingford,
Ireland. Slieve Foye can be seen in the background
Image:King John Castle Carlingford - Close up.JPG|Close up of King
John's Castle, Carlingford, Ireland. Some of the work done on the
structure by the OPW can be seen
Image:The Mint Carlingford, close up.JPG|The Mint - Carlingford,
Image:Abbey Carlingford Inside.jpg|Dominican Friary - inside-out
view. Carlingford, Ireland
Image:Heritage Centre Carlingford.jpg|Holy Trinity Heritage Centre.
Image:Abbey Carlingford Outside.jpg|. Dominican Friary.
Image:Mint Carlingford.jpg|The Mint. Carlingford, Ireland
Image:Taaffes Castle Carlingford.jpg|Taaffe's Castle - Carlingford,
Image:Mint Window Carlingford.jpg|A window of the Mint.
Image:Mint Windows Carlingford.jpg|The 5 windows of the Mint.
Image:Taaffes Castle Close Up Carlingford.jpg|. Close up of
Taaffe's Castle. Carlingford, Ireland
Image:Tholsel 2 Carlingford.jpg|The Tholsel. Carlingford,
Image:Tholsel Carlingford.jpg|The Tholsel. Carlingford,
Image:Tholsel Slieve Foye Carligford.jpg|The Tholsel. Carlingford,
Image:De Gaulle Head Carlingford Ireland.JPG|De Gaulle medieval
head. Carlingford, Ireland.
Image:Carlingford Marina Co Louth Ireland.JPG|Carlingford
Image:PJ O Hara Pub - Carlingford.JPG|PJ O'Hare's Pub in
Image:Sliabh Foy Wood Carlingford.JPG|Sliabh Foy Wood, Carlingford,
- Thomas D'Arcy
McGee (13 April 1825, Carlingford - 7 April 1868, Ottawa, Canada) was the first Canadian politician to be
assassinated, reportedly by a Fenian. A formerly radical
politician, McGee became a moderate and urged Irish Catholics to
address grievances via parliamentary rather than physical force
- Rev. Lorcán Ó Muireadais (1883 -
1941) was a Roman Catholic priest and Irish language activist.
- Daniel Joseph Anthony
"Tony" Meehan (2 March 1943 – 28 November 2005) was a London-born and
raised musician and founder member of The
Shadows, along with Jet Harris, Hank B. Marvin and Bruce
Welch; he played drums on all the early Cliff Richard and The Shadows hits; buried in