Dundalk – An Early History

Old DundalkDundalk has borrowed its name from the great fort at Castletown, imperishably with the name of Cuchulain, chief of the Red Branch Knights in the first century of the Christian era. Dun Dealgan or as its called in some earlier tales Dun Delga or Dealga was the residence of Cuchulain. According to O’Curry Dealga was the Firbolg chief responsible for the construction of the earthwork, which is about 50 feet in height. There has been much learned controversy as to the name by which the old town, proper, was know – whether Sraid-Bhaile (a name applied, in a more or less general way to unfortified clustered of houses) or Traigh Baile signifying Baile’s Strand, the Baile referred to being Baile Mac Buain, a prince of Ulster. The preponderance of worth-while opinion favours the pretensions of the prince. As the town developed it took to itself the name Dun Dealga or Dun Dealgan as used in later writings and it is now known as Dundalk, from a corrupt form of its Irish title

Industry Trade and Transport

Old DundalkAs in other towns, the early industries of Dundalk were of the domestic rather than the factory type. The large scale industries came in the 17th Century. The linen industry was then established here by Lord Dungannon and it seems to have prospered for many years. IN 1760, a linen Hall was built by public subscription on portion of the site now occupied by St. Nicholas’s Catholic Church, for the purpose of stimulating sales of local product. By the early years of the 19th Century production according to reports of the Linen Board had dwindled and the manufacture eventually petered out. A long time elapsed before linen manufacture was resumed in the town. In 1900 Messrs. Acheson took over the mill in Mary St. and installed a number of looms. The venture was very successful, additional equipment was installed and employment is now given to a large number of girls and men.

Cambric Manufacture

Old DundalkIn the early years of the 18th century , Rev Wm Woolsey, the local vicar, took over some houses in the town and converted them into a damask and weaving factory. A number of weavers were brought from Portadown to instruct the local workers. In 1737, the cambric manufacture was undertaken here, mainly by the exertions of the Protestant Primate, Dr Boulter, an Englishman. The Primate brought over a Frenchman M. de Loncourt, to superintend the manufacture. The industry was subsided by the Irish Parliament and the site of the principal factory – now the military barracks – came to be known as Parliament Square, Lord Limerick, it is stated., contributed €1000 to the cost of a patent or charter for the industry. Huguenots were brought over to the number of about 70 to teach a Shropshire gentleman, who interested himself in the industry and cognate industries at a later period, had a bleach green at Scotch Green. He was on intimate terms with the Jocelyn family.


Old DundalkIn common with other Irish towns, Dundalk has a number of small-scale “breweries” from a very early date. In the 17th century Joell Hoey, Neale Kelly, Jas Drummican, W Curraun, T Mullen and Brian McRory were ministering to the needs of the thirsty by manufacture “ on the premises”. In 1779 WM McGawley was advertising cut-price beer at 23 p per barrel. In the later years of 18th century James Mc Allister had established a brewery on a more ambitious scale at Casangarve, or Cambricville. In 1799 Mr P Martin established a brewery in Park Street. In 1890 Bernard Duffy had a brewery in Lower Ward and Patrick Martin a brewery in Upper Ward. In 1816 McAllister’s (Cambricville) brewery and a brewery in Dublin street owned by Mr P. Wynne were the only breweries in operation locally and they were according to a contemporary account “doing little more than supplying local needs”. In 1850 Mr Wynne’s nephews Messrs John C and Arthur E Duffy in partnership with Mr E H Macardle had succeeded to the Dublin st establishment. IN 1856 the Dublin street brewery was the only brewery operating in the town and it was turning out about 300 barrels of porter and also a week. The McAllister family were however preparing to resume operations that year at Cambricville. Messrs Duffy’s interest in the Dublin street concern were acquired by Mr EH Macardle, their partner, and in 1863 he formed a partnership with Alderman A.T. Moore of Dublin, under the title of Macardle Moore and Co. Alderman Moore was connected with the distilling industries and was also one of the largest tannery owners in the country. The business progressed rapidly and the business was transferred to Cambricville where it continued until 2001. Mr EH Macardle was elected on 21 occasions to the Town Board. The best known of his sons was Sir Thomas Callan Macardle who did much to advance the economic interests of the town.