Dundalk Tourist Attractions
Dundalk (Dún Dealgan, "Delga's Fort") lies on the Irish east coast near the frontier with Northern Ireland, in Dundalk Bay, which forms a sheltered harbor. It is at the meeting place of three main roads - the N1, N52 and N53.With a variety of industry (engineering, printing, tobacco, footwear) the town has a busy and prosperous air.In the 10th C. the Irish inhabitants of the area were attacked by Viking raiders, and a naval battle was fought in the bay. The town was fortified in 1185. In 1253, and again in 1315, it was burned down. Thereafter for 300 years it was a cornerstone in the defense of the Pale (the territory in the east of Ireland under English control) and was subjected to repeated attacks. In 1690 it was taken by William of Orange, and in 1724 its fortifications were pulled down.
In the center of the town of Dundalk, in Crowe Street (near the bus station), are two handsome 19th C. buildings, the Court House and Town Hall. In Chapel Street, to the northeast, is the Municipal Library, which has a small collection of local antiquities. Farther east, in Seatown Place, can be seen an old windmill, a massive seven-story structure. In Clanbrassil Street, which runs north from Market Square, stands St Nicholas's Church (RC: 18th C., with an older tower). St Patrick's Cathedral is modeled on King's College Chapel, Cambridge. It is not really a cathedral.
Dundalk International Maytime Festival
This annual 10-day festival was founded in 1964, making it one of the longest-running annual cultural events in Ireland. A variety of musical and theatrical events make up the program, including an amateur drama competition. The competition draws actors from as far as Israel and the United States. One of the highlights of the festival is the selection of the Maytime Queen. The festival usually takes place in late May.
The County Museum is housed in a restored 18th C. warehouse with exhibits that celebrate the social, industrial and cultural history from the Stone Age up to the present day.
Opening hours: Apr 1 to Oct 31: 10:30am-5:30pm; Sun: 2pm-6pm
Nov 1 to Mar 31: 10:30am-5:30pm; Sun: 2pm-6pm; Closed: Mon
Nov 1 to Mar 31: 10:30am-5:30pm; Sun: 2pm-6pm; Closed: Mon
Entrance fee in EUR: Family €10.15, Adult €3.80, Students €2.50, Senior €2.50, Child €1.25, Group discounts FREE
Disability Access: Partial facilities for persons with disabilities.
The surroundings of Dundalk have much of interest to offer to the viewer.
2mi/3km northeast of Dundalk a side road (R173) branches off the N1 and runs east into the Cooley Peninsula, an attractive hilly promontory between Dundalk Bay and Carlingford Lough, an arm of the sea to the north.
Northeast of Dundalk, the R173 passes Cooley Peninsula and then arrives at Ballymascanlon, where stands the Proleek Dolmen (National Monument), with a 40.6 ton capstone borne on only three uprights. Tradition has it that anyone who can throw a pebble on to the capstone so that it remains on the top will have a wish fulfilllled.
On the northeast side of the Cooley Peninsula, northeast of Dundalk, lies the ancient little town of Carlingford, dominated by the massive King John's Castle (13th C: National Monument) on a crag above the harbor. Nearby can be seen the Tholsel, an old gatetower in which the elders of the community used to meet. In a little street off the Square is the old Mint, a 15th C. fortified tower house with curious window carvings. Taaffe's Castle opposite the station has a large square keep (16th C.) with a fine spiral staircase.Carlingford is recognized as the gastronomic capital of the north-east and is a renowned for outdoor pursuits, on foot, by horseback or on the water.
On the coast south of Dundalk is the little resort of Blackrock with a golf course (18 holes), tennis courts and facilities for water sports. Trout and salmon fishing in the River Fane.
3mi/5km south of Blackrock, which lies south of Dundalk, just off the N1, we come to Dromiskin. In the churchyard are a 56ft/17m round tower and a high cross, both dating from the earliest days of a monastery established here in the sixth century. Adjoining is a 13th C. church. All of these are National Monuments. There are a number of well-preserved castles within a few miles' radius.
1.25mi/2km south of Dromiskin, which lies south of Dundalk, in Castlebellingham, stands Bellingham Castle, in a beautiful setting on the River Glyde, with handsome yew hedges. It has been renovated and is now a hotel.
From Dundalk the N52 runs southwest to Ardee. A more attracive route, however, is on the R171, which branches off the N52 and comes in 6mi/10km to Louth, in earlier times a place of such importance that it gave its name to the county. St Mochta's House (National Monument) is a vaulted two-story oratory (12th C.) with a stone roof. Nearby are the ruins of a 14th C. church.
South of Dundalk, 6mi/10km south of Louth, on the River Dee, is the little town of Ardee, with a nine-hole golf course and good fishing. It has two castles - Hatch's Castle and Ardee Castle, a square keep which now houses a small museum. St Mary's Church (Protestant), which incorporates parts of an older church, has a beautifully carved font.
3mi/5km east of Ardee, which lies southwest of Dundalk, stands Roadstown Castle, a tall narrow keep with projecting towers at two opposite corners.
7mi/11km east of Carrickmacross the old schoolhouse of Iniskeen houses a local museum, with a section devoted to the old Great Northern Railway, which passed through the town. On the site of an old monastery is the 42ft/13m high stump of a round tower (National Monument).
Just to the east of Dundalk on the R178 rises an 60ft/18m high earthwork which is said to be the birthplace of the legendary hero CuChulainn. The site is now occupied by a building of 1780; fine views. A short distance away is Castletown Castle (15th C.), a four-story structure with flanking towers.
4.5mi/7km northwest of Dundalk are the ruins of Castleroche (13th C: National Monument), a triangular structure with bastions; it is particularly impressive when seen from the plain.