Louth, Irish Lú, County, province of Leinster, Ireland. The smallest county in Ireland, with an area of 317 sq mi (821 sq km), it is bounded on the north by Northern Ireland, on the east by the Irish Sea, on the south and west by County Meath, and on the northwest by County Monaghan. Most of Louth is part of a central lowland, generally about 200 ft (60 m) above sea level, and occurrences of glacial drift are found everywhere. Only one-eighth of the county is unimproved land, of which the largest stretch is in the mountains of the Carlingford Peninsula in the northeast. Many patches of peat bog have been cleared and the land used for pasture and crops.
The kingdom of Oriel, established in the 4th century and comprising Louth, Monaghan, and Armagh, was conquered by Anglo-Norman invaders, and in 1185 Prince John annexed the barony of Louth to the English crown. Under Richard II, late in the 14th century, Louth was included in the English Pale. The towns of Drogheda and Dundalk became important, and parliaments were sometimes held in them. In Tudor times (16th century) Dundalk was often a marshalling place for armies that advanced north into Ulster through the Dundalk gap. Notable relics of the monastic period of the Celtic Church are in Mellifont and Monasterboice; castles of the Anglo-Norman era are relatively numerous.
Two-thirds of the population lives in towns, especially Dundalk and Drogheda (q.v.), both urban districts. Dundalk is the county town (seat), and there is a county manager. Local agriculture is transitional between the small farm regimes of Counties Down and Armagh and the large grazing farms of County Meath. Pop. (1981) 88,514. Source
The principal towns are Carlingford, Dundalk, Drogheda, and Collon.
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