Strategically located in the middle of the main East Coast corridor between Dublin and Belfast, Louth is enthusiastic about the opportunities provided by the opening of the M1 motorway whjch now runs smoothly west of Dundalk. To the south, it crosses to Meath over the River Boyne near Drogheda on a handsome modern structure which is the largest cable-stayed bridge of its type in Ireland, a much admired and award-winning structure designed by Joe O’Donovan. With traffic pressure removed from its other roads, Louth begins to find itself. Though it may be Ireland's smallest county at only 317 square miles (it’s just an eighth the size of Cork, the largest), Louth still manages to be two or even three counties in one, yet the locals cheerfully call it “the wee county”.
Much of it is fine farmland, and this is celebrated with an annual Cooley Vintage Festival with a tractor world rally which in early August 2007 assembled at least 2,212 vintage tractors from 22 countries – in 2008 they’ll be aiming for 2,500. The farmland is at its most productive in the area west of the extensive wildfowl paradise of Dundalk Bay, on whose shores we find the attractive village of Blackrock, one of Ireland's better kept secrets. But as well there are the distinctive uplands in the southwest, whose name of Oriel recalls an ancient princedom which is also remembered in Port Oriel, the busy fishing port at Clogherhead.
In the north of the county, the Cooley Mountains sweep upwards in a style which well matches their better-known neighbours, the Mountains of Mourne, on the other side of the handsome inlet of Carlingford Lough. Its name might suggest that this is a genuine fjord, but it isn't. However, its beauty is such that there's more than enough to be going along with, and on its Louth shore the ancient little port of Carlingford town used to be a best-kept secret. It was a quiet little place imbued with history, but today it is happily prospering both as a recreational harbour for the Dundalk and Newry area, and as a bustling visitor attraction in its own right.
The county's three main townships of Ardee, Dundalk and Drogheda each have their own distinctive style, and all three have been finding fresh vitality in recent years. The historic borough of Drogheda is the main commercial port with its harbour authority adding a new facility across the county border at Bremore in Meath. Drogheda’s river valley is crossed by the Boyne Railway Viaduct of 1855 vintage, a remarkable piece of engineering work that it is reckoned one of the seven wonders of Ireland. Dundalk is the county town, and home to the Louth Museum, where a recent acquisition is the riding jacket worn by William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
Local Attractions and Information
Ardee (Tallanstown) Knockabbey Castle & Gardens
+353 (0)42 9374690
Carlingford Carlingford Adventure Centre
+353 (0)42 9373100
Carlingford Carlingford Sea School
+353 (0)42 9373879
Carlingford Heritage Trust
+353 (0)42 9373888
Carlingford Tourism Information
+353 (0)42 9373033
Castlebellingham Farm Market
+353 (0)404 43885
Drogheda Beaulieu House and garden
+353 (0)41 9838557
Drogheda Droichead Arts Centre
+353 (0)41 9833946
Drogheda Millmount Museum
+353 (0)41 9833097
Drogheda (Tullyallen) Old Mellifont Abbey
+353 (0)41 9826459
Drogheda Tourism Information
+353 (0)41 9837070
Dundalk Louth County Museum
+353 (0)42 9327056
Dundalk Tourism Information
+353 (0)42 9335484
Termonfeckin Irish Countrywomens Assoc. College
+353 (0)41 9822119