Ancient Literature

The County, in common with several European cities, takes its name from Lugh, the 'Celtic Sun-god'. Louth figures strongly in Ireland's ancient literature, especially as the setting for the Táin Bó Cúailgne. A central episode of the Táin is the tragic battle at the ford, in modern Ardee (Áth Fhirdhia), between the foster-brothers Cúchlainn and Ferdia, respectively the champions of 'the men of Ireland' and the defender of Ulster, which then ran down to the Boyne. Louth boasts many splendours from Ireland's ecclesiastical history too, with important monastic sites from many eras, such as the early Christian 'Celtic' monasteries at Dromiskin and Louth villages and the reputed birthplace of Saint Brigid, known in Irish as the Mary of the Gael, at Faughart, between Dundalk and the present border. Monasterboice was one of the greatest of the early Christian, native monasteries, an importance still reflected in its fine High Crosses and it was in due homage to this that Saint Malachy of Armagh founded Ireland's first, Continental-style, Cistercian monastery at nearby Mellifont in 1142. Monasterboice's splendour has resulted in it being proposed as part of a serial World Heritage Site.