Dundalk

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This article is about the town of Dundalk in Ireland. For other towns of the same name see: Dundalk (disambiguation).

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Dundalk (Irish: Dún Dealgan) is a town in County Louth in the Republic of Ireland, close to the border with Northern Ireland. It takes its name from Dun Dealgan, Dalga’s fort home closely associated with the famous mythical warrior Cuchulainn and was granted its charter in 1189. It is sited on the lowest bridging point of the Castletown River.

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History

Around 3500 BC a group of people known as Neolithic people came to Ireland. One of the lasting features they left behind is the Proleek Dolmen at Ballymascanlon, on the northern side of Dundalk.

The Celts arrived in Ireland around 500 BC having colonized most of Europe. The group that settled in North Louth were known as the Conaille Muirtheimhne and took their name from Conaill Carnagh, legendary chief of the Red Branch Knights of Ulster. Their land now forms upper and lower Dundalk. The poets in Celtic society were known as the fili and were responsible for mythological tales and legends. The most famous of these being the tales of The Red Branch Knights, The Táin Bó Cauilgne and Cuchullain.

In 1169 the Norman Army arrived in Ireland and set about conquering large areas of Ireland. By 1185 a Norman nobleman named Bertrum De Verdon erected a manor house at Castletown Mount. Another Norman family, the De Courceys lead by John De Courcey settled in the Seatown area of Dundalk, the "Nova Villa de Dundalke". Both families assisted in the fortification of the town, building walls and other fortification in the style of a Norman fortress. The town of Dundalk was developed as it lay close to an easy bridging point over the Castletown River.

Dundalk had been originally developed as an unwalled "Straid Bhaile" or "StreetTown". The streets passed along a gravel ridge which runs from the present day Bridge Street on the North, through Church Street to Clanbrassil Street to Earl Street, and finally to Dublin Street.

In the 17th century Lord Limerick (James Hamilton), Earl of Clanbrassil created the modern town we know today. He was responsible for the construction of streets leading to the town center; his ideas came from many visits to Europe. In addition to the demolition of the old walls and castles, he had new roads laid out eastwards of the principal streets. The most important of these new roads connected a newly laid down Market Square, which still survives, with a linen and cambric factory at its eastern end, now Aiken Military Barracks. This was the beginning of Dundalk as an industrial town.

In the 19th century the town grew in importance and many industries were set up in the local area. This development was helped considerably by the construction of a railway linking Dublin with Belfast, the expansion of the docks area or 'Quay' and the setting up of a board of commissioners to run the town.

The town continued to grow in the 20th century. Many industries prospered and provided employment for generations of townspeople. Today many fine international companies have factories in Dundalk, from food processing to high-tech computer components.

Overview

Dundalk today retains the linear characteristics of a mediaeval town, although there is evidence of prehistoric and early Christian settlements. The town is now the sixth largest conurbation in Ireland in population and is strategically located on the East Coast half-way between Dublin and Belfast, the two largest cities on the island. The town has a total population of 32,505 (2002 Census). Dundalk Institute of Technology is the town's third level institution.

Dundalk is the principal centre in the middle of the East Coast. Within a 30 mile radius there is a population of 428,000. A 50 mile radius brings in Ireland’s two main cities, Dublin and Belfast, increasing the catchment to in excess of 3 million. Dundalk is located on the M1/N1 National Primary Route equidistant between the two cities. It is also served by the inter-city rail network. Dundalk is very advantageously positioned in relation to international airports, Dublin International Airport and Belfast International Airport.

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