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County Louth facts for kids

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County Louth

Contae Lú
Coat of arms of County Louth
Coat of arms
The Wee County
Lugh sáimh-ioldánach  (Irish)
"Lugh equally skilled in many arts"
Location of County Louth
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
Region Eastern and Midland
Established 1210
County town Dundalk
Largest settlement Drogheda
 • Type County Council
 • Total 826 km2 (319 sq mi)
Area rank 32nd
Highest elevation 589 m (1,932 ft)
 • Total 128,884
 • Rank 18th
 • Density 156.03/km2 (404.13/sq mi)
Time zone UTC±0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing keys
A91, A92 (primarily)
Telephone area codes 041, 042 (primarily)
Vehicle index
mark code

Louth ( lowdh; Irish: An Lú) is a coastal county in Ireland. It is in the Eastern and Midland Region and the province of Leinster. Louth is bordered by the counties of Meath to the south, Monaghan to the west, Armagh to the north and Down to the north-east, across Carlingford Lough. It is the smallest county in Ireland by land area and the 18th most populous, with just over 128,000 residents as of 2016. The county is named after the village of Louth. Louth County Council is the local authority for the county.


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

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


Baronies of Louth
Baronies of Louth

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.

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 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 AD, 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’. 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.

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 it 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 and William, faced off in South Louth during the build-up to the Battle of the Boyne the battle was fought 3 km west Drogheda. Drogheda held for James II under Lord Iveagh, but surrendered to King William (III) of Orange 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.



Louth Population Density Map 2016
Louth population density map (2016)

According to the Central Statistics Office, Louth had a population of 128,884 as of the 2016 Census, a 4.9% increase since the 2011 Census of Ireland. The population density of the county is 155.4 people per square kilometre, which is more than double the national average and makes Louth the second most densely populated county in the Republic of Ireland, and the fourth most densely populated county on the island of Ireland. As of 2016 Louth was also the second most urbanised county in the State, with 67.6% of the county's population living within urban areas. Under CSO classification, an "urban area" is a town with a population greater than 1,500. As a result, much of the county outside of the larger towns is relatively sparsely populated, with most small areas (SAs) having a population density of between 20 and 50 people per km2.

The county has two dominant population centres, Dundalk, located in the north of the county, and Drogheda, located in the south on the border with County Meath. These two towns combined comprise approximately 58.3% of the county's total population, and are the 6th- and 8th-largest urban areas in Ireland respectively. Overall, Drogheda is the larger of the two; however, the towns southern environs - home to roughly 5,000 people - are located in Meath. Therefore, Dundalk is the largest settlement wholly located within Louth, and is also the county's administrative capital.

Louth has experienced a rapid rate of population growth since the 1960s, nearly doubling in size over the fifty years between the census of 1966 and that of 2016. Its rate of growth (4.9%) since the 2011 census ranks 7th of 26 counties. The sizable population growth in the county is influenced by its location along the Dublin–Belfast corridor; with the completion of the M1 motorway in particular driving the growth of Drogheda as a commuter town of Dublin. However, the northern areas of the county along the border with Northern Ireland experienced a slight decline in population between 2011 and 2016.

In 2016, Louth reached an all-time high population of 128,884 people, becoming one of only five counties in the State to surpass its pre-famine (1841 Census) peak. As of the 2016 Census, 7.4 percent of the county's population was reported as younger than 5 years old, 27.8 percent were between 5 and 25, 52.4 percent were between 25 and 65, and 12.4 percent of the population was older than 65. Of this latter group, 3,560 people (2.8 percent) were over the age of 80. The population was evenly split between females (50.63 percent) and males (49.37 percent).

In 2019, there were 1,700 births within the county, and the average age of a first time mother was 30.

Urban areas

The most populous towns in Louth as of the 2016 Census were (population in parentheses):

The most populous towns in Louth (2016)

Ethnicity and migration

As of the 2016 Census, the population of County Louth was 91.5% white. Those who identified as White Irish constituted 83% of the county's population, and Irish Travellers comprised a further 0.6%. Caucasians who did not identify as ethnically Irish accounted for 7.8% of the population.

The second largest ethnic group in Louth in 2016 was black, accounting for 2.8% of the population. Of this group, virtually the entire population lived in the two largest towns, with 50.5% of Louth's black residents living in Dundalk and 44.5% living in Drogheda.

Those of Asian and Mixed Race backgrounds accounted for 1.9% (2,399 people) and 1.4% (1,756 people) of the population respectively, with the majority of these groups also being resident in either Drogheda or Dundalk. Around 3,000 people or 2.5% of the population did not state their ethnicity in 2016.

Louth ethnic composition of population
Race Population (2016) Percentage
White 116,813 91.5%
Black 3,567 2.8%
Asian 2,399 1.9%
Others including mixed 1,756 1.4%
Not stated 3,176 2.5%
Main immigrant groups, 2016
Nationality Population
 Northern Ireland 7,026
United Kingdom Other UK 3,943
 Poland 1,936
 Lithuania 1,794
 Nigeria 1,307
 Latvia 1,061
 Pakistan 590
 United States 493
 Romania 454
 China* 390
 India 383
*Includes Hong Kong SAR

In contrast to the other counties in the Mid-East Region, which are characterised by widespread migration from Dublin, Louth has one of the highest proportions of native residents in Ireland. Around two-thirds (66.2%) of Louth residents were born within the county, making it the 7th most indigenous county in the State. People from Dublin accounted for just 7% of Louth's population in 2016, compared with 28% in neighbouring Meath to the south. A total of 18,638 people (14.6%) were born elsewhere in Ireland, and 24,509 people (19.2%) were born outside of the country.

As with other border counties, people from Northern Ireland make up the largest proportion of people born outside of the Republic of Ireland within Louth. Those born in Northern Ireland comprise 5.5% of Louth's population, and people born in Britain comprise a further 3.1% of the population.

Apart from the United Kingdom, the five largest foreign national groups in Louth are: Polish (2.2 percent), Lithuanian (1.6 percent), Nigerian (0.7 percent), Latvian (0.6 percent) and Pakistani (0.45 percent).

Irish language

The Cooley Peninsula was the last Gaeltacht outpost in Leinster. Speakers of Irish existed around Omeath and into southern Armagh up until the middle of the 20th century. The area had its own local dialect, songs, poetry and traditional customs. The dialect, known as Gaelige Oriel, is now extinct, as the last native speaker, Anne O'Hanlon, died in 1960 aged 89. However, extensive recordings were made by German linguist Wilhelm Doegen for the Royal Irish Academy in 1916. An Irish language college, Coláiste Bhríde, was originally established in Omeath in 1912, but later moved to Ranafast, County Donegal. In 2012, Coláiste Bhríde celebrated its 100th anniversary in Omeath, and locals were taught phrases in Gaeilge Oriel.

Uniquely, the Cooley Peninsula had a sizable population of Presbyterian Gaeilgeoirí in the late 18th and 19th centuries, owing to its proximity to Ulster. In 1808, Reverend William Neilson published "An introduction to the Irish language" to distribute to Presbyterian ministers in the area, as many in their congregations could not speak English.

Despite its historic Gaeltacht, Louth has the lowest percentage of Irish speakers of any county in the State. In the 2016 Census, just 34.1% of the population stated that they could speak Irish.


Saint Mochta's 'House', an ancient church
St. Mochta's House, a 1,000-year-old oratory in Louth village
Religion in Louth (2016)
religion percent
No religion
Other Christian
Not Stated
Other faith

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the Catholic Church is by far the largest religious institution in County Louth, with 105,186 members. Anglican denominations, including the Church of Ireland, England and Episcopalian, were the second largest group, with 2,079 members. There were 1,825 Muslims recorded in the 2016 Census, as well as 1,471 Orthodox Christians.

The county is located within the archdiocese of Armagh in the Roman Catholic Church, and the Archbishop of Armagh has been recognised by the Vatican as the "Primate of All Ireland" since 1353. This was replicated in the Church of Ireland following the Reformation, and the Protestant Diocese of Armagh covers the same territorial extent as the Catholic diocese. Further, the Archbishop of Armagh also has the title of Primate of All Ireland within the Church of Ireland.

As was the case in much of Ireland, there was a significant increase in the number of people stating that they were either non-religious or atheist in the 2016 Census. This demographic increased by 81% between 2011 and 2016, from 5,485 to 9,918. People with no religion now account for nearly 8% of the county's population.

The fastest growing religions in the county between 2011 and 2016 were Evangelicalism (499%), Islam (56%) and Orthodox Christianity (50%), while the most rapidly declining religions were Methodist/Wesleyan (-25%), Apostolic or Pentecostal (-10.5%) and Presbyterian (-6.5%).

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. Within the county 1,587 people use Irish on a daily basis outside of the education system according to the 2011 census.








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Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Louth para niños

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