- For other places with the same name, see Dundalk (disambiguation).
Dundalk is the county town of County Louth on the east coast of the Republic of Ireland, 7 km south of the border with Northern Ireland. It's industrial and residential but there are scenic areas to the north, especially the Cooley peninsula. Its Irish name Dún Dealgan means "Dealgan's Fort" and there are several ancient sites nearby, such as Dromiskin monastery and Louth village.
Dundalk has long been a border town, even in legend and prehistory. To the south is low-lying fertile Leinster, settled by many invaders, such as the Normans from the 12th century. To the north rise the mountains of Ulster: the Ring of Gullion and the Mourne Mountains, with a gap between. Communications are funneled into this gap, towards Newry.
Dundalk was wrecked and its townsfolk slain on so many occasions, but a long peaceful period began from 1801 and created the 19th century town you see today. It developed into a miniature Belfast with linen and other textiles, food-processing, metal-bashing, shipping, the shoe trade, tobacco and distilling, and the Dublin-Belfast railway arrived in 1849. It grew even in the famine years when rural Ireland was being eviscerated. A slump set in when the 1921 partition of Ireland drew the border with Britain a few km north of town, traditional industries were lost to foreign competition, and from the 1960s "The Troubles" blighted the border. But in December 2000 after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, 60,000 people heard US President Bill Clinton's open-air speech in Market Square, heralding "a new day in Dundalk and a new day in Ireland."
The new day was more like a long grey morning here, as industry and tourism were slow to recover. Currency and tax differences drove cross-border shoppers north to Newry not south to Dundalk. But the area is dotted with prehistoric and medieval sites that you can have to yourself, and there's coastal and hill scenery especially on the Cooley Peninsula. It takes little more than an hour to reach Dublin or Belfast, so Dundalk is very accessible. It's thus become a commuter town for both cities, and in 2016 had a population of 39,004.
The Tourist Information Office is in the municipal building on Magnet Rd, south end of Long Walk. It's open M-F 10:00-16:00.
Every couple of hours, the Enterprise Train runs from Dublin Connolly via Drogheda to Dundalk, taking 90 min, and continues to Newry, Portadown and Belfast Lanyon Place. There are also morning and evening commuter trains from Dublin. A walk-up single is €15, see Irish Rail for timetables and ticket deals.
1 Dundalk Clarke Railway Station is 500 m west of town centre. It's the original 1894 station, named for Tom Clarke (Tomás Séamus Ó Cléirigh 1858-1916), executed for his part in the Easter Rising - along with Pearse and MacDonagh he was one of its main instigators.
Expressway Bus 100X runs hourly, daily from Dublin (several city stops but not Busáras) via the airport and Drogheda to Dundalk, taking two hours. The Aircoach and Belfast buses bypass the town.
2 Dundalk bus station is called The Long Walk. It's right in town centre; remarkably for an Irish transport facility, the name is nothing to do with being executed by the British.
By car from the south follow M1: there's a toll at Drogheda. From the north follow A1, which sweeps across the border at Killeen to become N1.
3 Carlingford Ferry plies across the opening of the lough between Grenore east of Dundalk and Greencastle in County Down. A car with all passengers is £12, a foot passenger, cyclist or motorbike is £2.25. It sails hourly Apr-Sept daily 09:00-20:00, Oct-Mar Sa Su 10:00-17:00, and the crossing takes 15 min. In early 2021 the ferry is suspended.
There were ferries from Liverpool to Dundalk until 1968. It's still a busy port but only handles freight.
Walk the town, but you need your own wheels to explore Cooley Peninsula.
Taxi fares are nationally regulated and taxis must use the meter. As of March 2021, fares M-Sa 08:00 to 20:00 are €3.80 flagfall then €1.14-1.50 per km, 20:00 to 08:00 and Sunday €4.20 flagfall then €1.45-1.80 per km. In slow traffic or if asked to wait they charge by the minute, 40-50 cents. Local taxi firms include Sevens +353 42 93 77777 and Fives +353 42 93 55555.
In town, Bus Éireann has three routes from Long Walk bus station, M-Sa every 30 min: 174 to Muirheavna, 174A to Fatima / Cox's, and 174B to Bay Estate. The 174B is the only Sunday service, hourly 13:30-17:30.
The cash fare (as of Jan 2021) is €2 adult and €1.20 child, and by TFI Leap Card it's €1.40 adult and 84c child.
Out of town: see Get In for the inter-city bus from Dublin, the airport and Drogheda. Other district routes are:
- Bus 100 south to Castlebellingham, Dunleer and Drogheda, hourly daily.
- Bus 160 north to Ravensdale, Carrickcarnon and Newry, daily every 2 hours.
- Bus 161 loops round the Cooley Peninsula, via Greenore, Carlingford and Omeath to Newry, M-Sa every 2 hours.
- Bus 166 west to Inniskeen and Carrickmacross, M-F every 2 hours but with only four on Saturdays. M-F one bus extends to Cavan.
- Bus 167 southwest to Louth Village, Tallanstown and Ardee, M-Sa every 2 hours.
- Bus 168 south to Dromiskin (for monastery), Castlebellingham, Baltry and Drogheda, M-Sa every 2 hours with four on Sunday.
For route maps see the TFI route mapper.
- St Patrick's Church (St Patrick's pro-cathedral), Roden Place. Large RC church built 1842-60 in Gothic style.
- Kelly's Monument next to St Patrick's commemorates the 1858 loss of four lifeboat men while attempting to rescue the crew of the wrecked Mary Stoddart.
- St Nicholas on Church St is C of I, and called "the green church" for its verdigris spire. There's a monument to the poet Robert Burns, whose sister Agnes moved to Dundalk - her husband William Galt built the reservoirs for Stephenstown House, now just a sorry ruin. She retained her Ayrshire rural accent and recited her brother's poetry in its original inflection, which meant nobody could understand a word. Agnes and William are buried here.
- Seatown Castle at the corner of Mill St and Castle Rd is a bell tower, all that remains of a Franciscan friary.
- County Museum, 8 Jocelyn St A91 EFY9. Tu-Sa 10:00-17:00. Museum in an 18th century warehouse depicts county life.
- 1 Blackrock is a coastal village. In the 1950s / 60s this was the Costa Cavan, a budget beach resort for the nearby landlocked counties. The beach is artificial, as it keeps washing away to silt up the harbour. What the place lacks in sand it recompenses in mud, with mudflats stretching out for 5 km at low tide, a habitat for sea birds. The St Oliver Plunkett Church (RC) is attractive with a round tower, but it was only built circa 1920.
- 2 Dún Dealgan Motte in legend was the birthplace or castle of Cú Chulainn, and in fact was a motte-and-bailey: an earth mound topped with a palisade. But what you see now is "Byrne's Folly", a single tower of an incomplete 18th century Gothic house. Byrne was said to be a pirate though it was probably just the common sport of smuggling. The house was rebuilt in the 1850s, to fall down again, so the folly has outlasted more sensible constructions.
- 3 Castle Roche is the substantial ruin of a 13th century castle perched on a rocky outcrop 10 km northwest of town. It's free to stroll around.
- Proleek Dolmen or "Giant's Load" is within the grounds of Ballymascanlon House, see Sleep. There's also a wedge tomb nearby.
- 4 Hill of Faughart is a viewpoint north of town. There's a shrine to St Brigid to the west. Faughart Old Graveyard southeast of the hill has the grave of Edward Bruce, who was High King of Ireland until slain in battle here in 1318.
- 5 Gyles' Quay is a historic wharf (popular with 18th / 19th century smugglers) and beach strip on the Peninsula.
- 6 Carlingford is a small resort town on the north coast of Cooley Peninsula, looking across the lough to the Mourne Mountains in County Down. The Tholsel is the medieval gatehouse, The Mint is a 15th / 16th century tower house, and there's a ruined friary and castle. Lots of accommodation here.
- 7 Dromiskin is a village 10 km south of Dundalk with a monastery, active from 6th to 12th century. There's a squat but impressive Round Tower, High Cross and ruined church.
- 8 Clochafarmore is a standing stone 3 m high, on R171 four km southwest of town towards Knockbridge. In legend Cú Chulainn was slain here, but while his body was lashed to the stone he was able continue hacking bits off his foes.
- 9 Louth village is the tiny place that gave its name to the county. St Mochta founded a monastery here circa 528 AD. Nothing remains that, but there are the ruins of 12th century St Mary's Priory, and St Mochta's House a medieval oratory reconstructed in the 1920s.
- Louth Hall Castle 3 km south of the village is just a shell. it's on private land but you see enough from the road towards Ardee.
- Knockabbey House and Gardens 3 km southwest of Louth village is closed, and in 2021 the property is for sale.
- What's on: read the Dundalk Democrat, The Argus, Dundalk Leader, and Louth Now.
- An Táin Arts Centre has a theatre and art gallery.
- Cinemas: IMC is on Long Walk in town centre. Omniplex is just beyond N52 at the east edge of town, junction with Avenue Rd.
- Look up your Irish ancestors at Louth County Archives in the old gaol on Ardee Rd, and at the Genealogy Research Service in the County Library on Roden Place - this lists a series of source documents.
- Dundalk FC, Carrickmacross Rd. "The Lilywhites" play in the Premier Division, the top tier of soccer in Ireland; they often win it and qualify for European tournaments. Their home ground Oriel Park (capacity 4500) is just south of the railway station.
- 1 Dundalk Golf Club is towards the coast 1 km east of town centre. Blue tees 6206 m, par 72.
- 2 Dundalk Stadium, 2 km north of town on N52, stages both horse racing and greyhounds. Horse racing is flat, on a 1¼ mile left-handed oval with a Polytrack surface. Most races are Friday evenings, with the principal meetings being the Diamond Stakes and the Mercury Stakes in October. The dog track within the oval hosts greyhound races most Friday and Saturday evenings after the horses depart; the principal event is the Dundalk International.
- 3 Slieve Foy is the 589 m / 1932 ft mountain behind Carlingford, the highest point in the county. Easy loop trails ascend from the village. Ignore Google Map which places it on the border several km west - people have been reporting this error for years to no avail.
- Féile na Tána is a festival and masterclass in Irish trad music, song and dance, held in February in Carlingford. The next event is 4-6 Feb 2022.
- The main retail strip is The Marshes, just south of the centre. Aldi nearby on Rampart Lane is open M-F 09:00-22:00, Sa Su 09:00-21:00.
- Cross-border shopping since the Good Friday Agreement has usually gone north to Newry, but this waxes and wanes with the relative strengths of £ / €. In 2021 some things are a little cheaper in Dundalk (eg fuel) but not enough to draw northern shoppers to make a special trip.
- Europa, 16 Earl St A91 KRP3, ☏ . M-Sa 11:00-00:30, Su 12:00-00:30. Italian / Irish food, cheap and cheerful.
- 1 Lisdoo, Newry Rd, Lisdoo, ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-23:30, Su 12:00-23:30. Lively bar and grill, you won't go hungry, good value.
- 2 Malt House, Dublin Rd, ☏ . M-Sa 10:00-23:30, Su 12:00-23:30. Reliable pub grub opposite County Hospital.
- 3 Fitzpatrick's, Rockmarshall, Jenkinstown, ☏ . Daily 12:00-22:30. Rustic pub bistro does great seafood and other Irish cuisine.
- 4 Sextons Bar & Restaurant, Dublin Rd, Haggardstown AP91 PP28, ☏ . Open daily. Traditional Irish fare.
- Brubakers, 39 Park St A91 Y9HN, ☏ . Su-F 17:00-23:00, Sa 13:00-23:00. Bru's Bar, Courtyard, and Henry's upstairs are the offerings in this bright jazzy place.
- Oscars (formerly Jimmy's), Park St. Friendly pub, it's the blue one on the corner of Francis St.
- The Bartender, 12 Park St A91 V120, ☏ . M Tu 16:00-23:30, W-Su 15:30-00:00. Lively place with beer-garden, dog-friendly, wide selection of beers.
- The Phoenix, 15 Park St A91 WE04. Great trad terrace pub with original 19th century fittings. In 2021 the property was closed and for sale.
- Spirit Store, George's Quay A91 NR79, ☏ . Su-Th 16:00-23:30, F Sa 16:00-00:30. Great bar and live entertainment venue on the harbour side.
- Cooley Distillery on the peninsula produces a variety of whiskeys. No tours.
- Dundalk Bay is a brewery and distillery on the east edge of town, producing beer, whiskey and gin. No tours.
- 1 Imperial Hotel, Park St A91 ND6P, ☏ . Well-run hotel in town centre, good food and service. B&B double €110.
- Innisfree House, Carrickmacross Rd A91 V504 (west side of railway station), ☏ . Charming B&B in an Edwardian town house. B&B double €110.
- 2 Crowne Plaza Hotel, Inner Relief Rd A91 EF88, ☏ . Modern chain hotel south edge of town, gets good reviews for comfort and service. B&B double €120.
- 3 Ballymascanlon House Hotel, Carlingford Rd A91 PF57 (R173 five km northeast of town), ☏ . Upscale resort hotel in Victorian mansion, great dining, service and comfort. B&B double €180.
As of Jan 2021, Dundalk has 5G from Eir and Three, and 4G from Vodafone. The signal is poor on the Cooley Peninsula.
- Newry just across the border is an interesting old market town. You usually have to go that way to reach the Mourne Mountains, as the ferry is summer-only.
- Drogheda to the south is a historic town near the Boyne battlefield and Brú na Bóinne megalithic complex.
- Dublin and Belfast can both be reached in little over an hour. You can easily day-trip, thought they're both worth at least a lost weekend.
|Routes through Dundalk|
|Belfast ← Newry ← continues as ←||N S||→ merges with|
|merges with ←||N S||→ Drogheda → Dublin|