In the Land of Giants – Carlingford on the Cooley Peninsula


Cairlinn (in Irish) is situated within the Cooley Peninsula next to the Northern Ireland border. It’s a tiny super tidy town (1988 it won the Irish Tidy Towns Competition) next to the sea and int the Cooley mountains with a lot of myths and legends.

A friend of mine and I were here on a wonderful summer day with a blue blue sky. We strolled in the medieval streets, had lunch here and a look to the castle.


The town is situated of a very important place for the Irish mythology. Cooley was the home of the famous bull Donn Cùailinge and the cattle raid of Cooley.

Historically the town was occupied by the Norman knight Hugh de Lacy, who played a huge role in the history of the Leinster region. He founded the castle which still today is seen on a rock high above the sea.


Later it became a flourishing trading port during the 14th and 16th century. But this found a sudden end when the whole place was burnt to the ground by a Scots force as a punitive raid.

Of that prospered time the Mint and the castle are testimonials.


For long periods Carlingford was struggling with its economy and only in the late 19th century it started to open up to tourism. A secondary economic income gives fishing (oysters and crabs mainly)

When I was there I saw a lot of tourists from all over the world and the little town was bursting with people. Tiny shops and restaurants where people got lunch sitting outside in the yards, flower pots hanging at every street lamp, a busy port and people walking in the medieval streets… a wonderful place to dive deep in the Irish history getting the ‘perfect feeling’.


The castle is the most eminent structure in my point of view. Unfortunately it is closed due to safety but you can walk around and enjoy an incredible view on the sea, the port, the town and the not too far away mountains. The King John’s Castle has its name by Richard Lionheart (King John) who visited the town in 1210.

We visited also the Carlingford priory. It was founded in 1305 by Dominican monks. Once these ruins were a cloister, a church and some domestic buildings for living. A small river flows along the complex, perfect for a continuous water supply. But like most of monasteries in Ireland and Great Britain with the dissolution by Henry VIII in 1539 the decline was inevitable. The church survived a little longer as accommodation for herring fishermen.

There is another little church, modern and in use but in old architecture we had a look from outside. Here the windows were fascinating as the glass was uneven, wavy.


It was one of the most beautiful summer days I visited this place and it was a kind of jump in ‘real Irish feeling’. What every one believes when thinking of Ireland. When you are on the way from Dublin to Northern Ireland, this is a ‘must see’!


Carlingford, County Louth/Ireland:

For further information:
Official website of Carlingford


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