Ardee – which sits on the banks of the River Dee – is a town in Co. Louth, equidistant between Dundalk and Drogheda.
With a population of over 5,000, Ardee has grown exponentially in recent years – thanks in no small part to it’s close access to it’s neighbouring towns and major cities such as Dublin and Belfast via the M1 Motorway.
The town has a thriving local business and industry base and its bustling town centre has provided retail services and leisure facilities for its residents and visitors for years.
Ardee has an exceptional reputation in both secondary and primary education. The town has one secondary school – Ardee Community School, which currently has a student body of 750 – and three primary schools in the town, with more in the extended hinterland.
As of 2010, Ardee is now twinned with the Italian town of Nettuno, in the province of Rome. Nettuno is home to Italian World Cup winner Bruno Conti. Every year, the town sends delegates to Ardee to take part in the town’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Sports and activities play a huge part of life in Ardee, with two town-based soccer clubs, five local GAA clubs and one rugby club all currently active in the town and all providing teams for men and women, boys and girls from senior to juvenile level.
In addition, Ardee has clubs that partake in a wide range of other sports – from badminton to cycling, tennis to archery, golf to athletics – there’s something for everyone.
Away from sport, Ardee has a long musical tradition. Ardee Concert Band, based in the town’s famous Bohemian Centre, is the third oldest concert band in Ireland having recently celebrated their 150th anniversary.
Dermot O’Brien, a famed ex-Louth GAA captain and All-Ireland winner, is Ardee’s most musical son. In the 1960s, Dermot’s band The Clubmen reached the top of the Irish singles chart with The Merry Ploughboy. Later in the decade, Dermot starred in his own RTE show ‘The Styles of O’Brien’.
His rendition of ‘The Turfman of Ardee’ is widely renowned across the country.
Ardee is situated in the southern part of the ancient terrority known as the Plain of Muirheimhne. The town lies along the 15th century Pale frontier between Dundalk and Kells.
The town comprises the townlands of Townparks – the greater portion of which compromises Ardee bog, and a small portion of Dawsons Demesne, which takes in the southeastern quadrant of the town on the northern side of the river Dee.
To the west of the town is the Great Bog of Ardee, one of the most easterly raised bogs in Ireland.
Originally called Atherdee, the name Ardee (Baile Áth Fhirdia) derives from the Irish Áth Fhirdia (the Ford of Ferdia), from the mythological four day battle between foster brothers Cúchulainn and Ferdia, for the defence of Ulster from Queen Maeve of Connacht.
After days of intense battle, Ferdia fell to his friend and is buried on the southern banks of the river alongside what is now the Riverside Walk.
One of the most famous tales from Ireland’s mythological past, the battle of Cuchulainn and Ferdia continues to captivate and intrigue audiences to this day.
In 2009 – at the inaugural The Turfman Festival held in Ardee – a re-enactment of the battle took place on the Riverside Walk, the scene of the tale, in front of a huge crowd.
The tale of Cuchulainn and Ferdia is regarded as one of the key elements in the history of Ardee. It’s said that Cuchulainn was the defender of Ulster and when Queen Meabh of Connacht sought the Brown Bull of Cooley, the champion and his friend, Ferdia, fought by the banks of the river before Cuchulainn slayed his old pal.
The pair are now depicted by a bronze statue in the town.
Away from Ardee’s place in myth folklore, Ardee Castle in the town – also known as St. Leger’s Castle) is the largest fortified medieval tower house in Ireland. Built circa 15th century, the castle was used as a prison during the 17th and 18th centuries before going onto house Ardee’s district courthouse until recently.
Ardee is a prime example of a medieval ‘walled town’, many of which can be found across Ireland. With it’s distinctive, central Main Street and long narrow properties extending away from the main street on either side, it holds many of the properties associated with the type.
This identity is enhanced further by surviving medieval buildings – as mentioned above – and some of the features that survive within the town, notably the intact medieval street pattern.
Ardee is home to many more historic buildings and structures – including Kildemock’s Jumping Church, Hatch’s Castle, Chantry College, St Jospeh’s Hospital, Convent of Mercy and St Mary’s Church.
ThisIsArdee.ie is the new online hub for the town of Ardee, Co. Louth – designed with residents, local businesses and visitors in mind.
As Ardee evolves and looks to thrive as a modern, connected hub for the community and business, ThisIsArdee.ie aims to serve the needs of all in the town and become an online focal point for all things local.
The website has been co-founded and is run by Kelvin Farrell and Barry Landy, who were both brought up in Ardee and have lived in the town for most of their lives. Kelvin designed our website and is responsible for all of our branding and graphic design. He is lead designer for Fandom and has worked for companies such as the London Irish Centre and RightFit.ie.
Barry has a BA Hons degree in Sports Journalism from Staffordshire University and when not acting as editor-in-chief on This Is Ardee, he currently works for eir Sport in Dublin and writes for a number of national and local newspaper titles and websites such as The42.ie. He has previously spent time at Sky News and has contributed to the Irish Independent and Irish Daily Mirror among others.
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