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Monastery National School, Ardee, Co. Louth


Our school is in the town of Ardee in County Louth, the smallest county in Ireland. We are 70 km North of Dublin and 19 km southwest of Dundalk. We are about 26 Km from the border between Northern Ireland and southern Ireland.

Local History
Some years ago the school completed a comprehensive project on local history, this was compiled by Mr Mc Creanor and his 6th class It consists of slides photographs, text and worksheets which are used in teaching local history in our school.

Ardee has a population of approximately 5000. The mains street is called Castle Street. It is so named because of the large castle which dominates the skylines and is a feature of the street. The castle was built as a fortified townhouse by John St Leger between the years 1320 and 1325. It is the largest surviving town house in Ireland. The River Dee also flows through the town.

Ardee's name comes from the story of The Táin Bó Cúailnge, or 'Cattle Raid of Cooley',which is the most famous tale in Irish mythology. It is at the centre of the Ulster Cycle of mythological sagas, known as the Rúraíocht in Irish. The tales in the Ulster Cycle are the most heroic of all the Irish myths that have been recorded in writing, and also the most renowned. 
The Táin involves the story of Queen Medb of Connacht and her husband Ailill, who plot to steal the sacred bull Donn Cuailnge from Ulster.Much of the action in the Táin surrounds the efforts of the teenage hero Cúchulainn to oppose the warriors of Connacht. According to mythology, most of the story took place in the area of Louth.

It is towards the end of this great story that a fight takes palce between two great heroes and friends. These two brave Irish warriors fought each other to the death at a ford on the river. The fight ended with Cuchulainn killing his best friend and it is said that Ferdia is buried in a field beside the ford. The story has given its name to Ardee –(Ath Fhirdia /Ford of Ferdia) and also Ferdia Park and Cuchulainn terrace. If you want to read the full story of the Táin Bó Cuailgne click here. This great legend is celebrated in art works in the town of Ardee.

Ardee also has associations with St Patrick. The townland of Kilpatrick (Cill Phadraig) indicates that St Patrick had a church there and Belpatrick implies that he passed through the area.

The priest’s mount or Castle guard, Hale St. may have been a royal rath or ford in Celtic times. After the Norman invasion it may have been used as a Motte and Bailey

The Monastery of St John the Baptist was founded by Roger De Pipard in 1207 for the cross friars in the area of Moore Hall, Hale St and John St. It was a hospital mainly run by monks and nuns to tend to the sick. It was suppressed by Henry V111 in 1540. a Carmelite monastery was founded by Ralph Fitznicholas Pipard in about 1521. In the 1400’s turf was taken from the great bog by raft down the River Dee to be sold in the town. The area is known as Boat Trench.

The Chantry College was founded shortly before 1487 by Walter Verdon chaplain of Ardee to provide residence for chaplains employed in the local church St Mary’s, Some early references to St Mary’s are 1197,1207,1315. The market cross still stands outside the west tower.
Hatch’s castle (early history unknown) appears on a map from 1677. It was owned by the Hatch family for almost 200 years from 1757.

St Mary’s church John St. was begun in august 1829 by Canon John Levins P.P. on the site of the previous church. It closed on Sunday 8 December 1974 when the new church of the nativity of our lady was opened by Cardinal Tomas O Fiach .

A visitor to our town would notice that the main street Market Street is very wide. This is because Ardee used to be a market town. In the days when there were few shops an no supermarkets, farmers used to bring cattle vegetables and other produce in to Ardee to sell them on the side of the street. The street had to be very wide to accommodate them.. Market day would have been a very busy day indeed. The old market house was begun in 1809 and completed in 1810 for about 600 pounds. It was demolished in 1987 to make way for the new library. The statue in the market square was erected to honour Frederick Foster in 1861 by tenants of the Foster Estate. (Photo)

The people of Ardee are very friendly, so if you ever come to visit you will certainly be made welcome.