D'Alton: The History of Dundalk

Pdf D'Alton, John and O'Flanagan, J.R. The history fo Dundalk and its environs. Dublin: Hodges, Smith & Co., 1864.
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The History of Dundalk and its Environs by John D'Alton and J.R. Flanagan was published in 1864 and covers events in Dundalk town from ancient times until the latter half of the 19th century.

Dundalk or Dún Dealgan which means 'Dalgan's stronghold' is situated on the Castletown River which flows in Dundalk Bay . The area was inhabited in the stone age and the most dramatic evidence is the Proleek Dolmen at Ballymascanlan to the north of Dundalk . Numerous Celtic and early Christian remains also exist in the locality.

In 1169 the Norman conquerers arrived in Ireland . Two noblemen, Bernard de Verdun and John de Courcy established strongholds and Dundalk developed as a strategically important outpost on the north of the English controlled area known as the Pale. The medieval town was walled and fortified but was sacked by the forces of Edward Bruce, brother of the Scottish King Robert Bruce, in the early 14th century.

Following the 16th century English Reformation, the Gaelic Irish and the Old English, the descendants of the Norman conquerors, refused to renounce their Catholicism. Following the Battle of Kinsale, King James I began the plantation of Ulster by importing British Protestant settlers beginning in 1609. The remainder of the 17th century witnessed a Catholic uprising in Ulster in 1641, the re-conquest of Ireland by Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentarians and the defeat of the Catholic King James II at by the Battle of the Boyne by William III of Orange in 1691.

Dundalk survived these upheavals and in the 17th century, Lord Limerick and later Earl of Clanbrassil, James Hamilton, gave the town a new layout and demolished the old walls and castles. In time the town became an important port and was known for its linen and textiles and brewing. A board of commissioners took over the running of the town and in the 19th century steam railway linked it with Dublin city.

In common with the rest of Ireland , an Anglo-Irish Protestant elite controlled country estates in the rural areas of County Louth where the mostly Gaelic Irish Catholic population of tenants and peasants lived in miserable poverty. The Great Famine of 1845-1853 saw thousands of them die from starvation and disease and Dundalk like other urban centres provided relief for the rural poor while its port was the departure point for emigrants seeking a new life in America and Britain .

John D'Alton (1792-1867) was born in Bessville, County Westmeath and studied at Trinity College Dublin before becoming a barrister. His career included poetry and major works of history such as The Social and Political State of Ireland from the First to the Twelfth Century for which he won a prize from the Royal Irish Society. He was a frequent contributor to the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy . He died in 1867 and was buried at Glasnevin, Dublin .

James Roderick O'Flanagan (1814–1900) was born in Fermoy, County Cork , the son of a soldier and also worked as a barrister. He wrote prolifically for the Dublin University Magazine, for periodicals and was editor of the Irish National Magazine. He wrote numerous historical works and also a novel entitled Brian O'Ryan. His most important work was The Lives Of the Lord Chancellors of Ireland published in 1870. He died in 1900 in Fermoy and was buried next to his twin sister.


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