Discover Carlingford’s Medieval History with 5 Thrilling Carlingford Hikes

Step back in time and explore the captivating beauty of a town that has been around for centuries! Carlingford, nestled on Ireland’s Cooley Peninsula, is full of old-world charm with its enchanting myths & legends. Embark on an unforgettable walking holiday as you traverse mesmerising panoramas while discovering glimpses into its fascinating history – it’s all waiting to be explored!

Carlingford Harbour, Carlingford town and King John's Castle, County Louth, Ireland. Walking Holiday Ireland
View above Carlingford tow, King John’s castle and Carlingford Lough

History of Carlingford: Discovering the Gems of This Irish Town

Carlingford is a small, charming town on Ireland’s east coast. Despite its size, it boasts a rich history that dates back centuries. From Viking invasions to Norman conquests, The Cooley Peninsula has seen it all. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history of this town and explore the town’s most noteworthy landmarks.

1. Early Settlements

Carlingford’s history can be traced back to the Neolithic period. Evidence of early settlements can be found at several archaeological sites in the area, such as the Proleek Dolmen and Mount Oriel Cairn. These sites suggest that the area was inhabited as early as 3500 BC.

Proleek Dolmen, Cooley Peninsula
Proleek Dolmen, throw a small stone on top of the Dolmen that stays there and find love within the year!

2. Viking Invasions and the Foundation of Carlingford

In the 8th century, Vikings invaded Ireland and established settlements along the coast. In the 9th century, the Vikings founded a trading post in Carlingford, which they called “Kerlingfjord” (meaning “narrow sea-inlet of the hag”). This trading post was instrumental in the town’s development and helped establish Carlingford as a major trading hub.

3. Norman Conquest and the Rise of King John’s Castle

In the 12th century, the Normans arrived in Ireland and began to conquer the land. Carlingford was one of the towns they targeted. The Normans built a castle on the waterfront which became an important strategic outpost in the region. Today, the castle is one of the area’s most popular tourist attractions.

Carlingford09
King John’s Castle, Carlingford, Carlingford Lough

4. The Medieval Period

The medieval period was a time of growth and prosperity for the town. and the strategic location made it an important centre for trade and commerce. The medieval streetscape of Carlingford is still evident today, with its narrow lanes and historic buildings.

5. The Famine and Emigration

Barnavave hike to the abandoned village above Carlingford
Hiking to the abandoned village above Carlingford

In the 19th century, Ireland was hit by the Great Famine, a period of mass starvation and disease that devastated the country. This area was not spared from the effects of the famine. Many of its inhabitants were forced to emigrate to the United States and other parts of the world for a better life.

6. Modern Carlingford

Today, Carlingford is a thriving tourist destination known for its scenic beauty and rich history. Visitors can explore the town’s many historic landmarks, such as the Tholsel, a 15th-century gatehouse that once served as the town’s courthouse. Other popular attractions include King John’s Castle and the Holy Trinity Heritage Centre.

Carlingford street, Co. Louth Ireland, Walking holiday Ireland, Hiking in Ireland
Discover Carlingford's Medieval History with 5 Thrilling Carlingford Hikes 24

Carlingford Places of Interest

King John’s Castle, Taaffe’s Castle/Merchant House, The Tholsel, The Mint, and the Dominican Friary are notable places of interest in Carlingford that offer a glimpse into its rich history. You should make it your business to visit the Heritage centre when in the area and maybe even book a town tour.

  1. King John’s Castle: The Normans built this castle in the 12th century, and is one of the town’s most popular attractions. It is now a museum that provides insight into the town’s history and heritage.
  2. Tholsel: The Tholsel is a 15th-century gatehouse that was used as the town’s courthouse. It is a historic landmark that is worth exploring.
    Carlingford Tholstel, Walking Holiday Ireland
  3. Holy Trinity Heritage Centre: The Holy Trinity Heritage Centre is located in the heart of Carlingford and is dedicated to preserving the town’s history and heritage. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the past.
  4. Cooley Mountains: The Cooley Mountains offer breathtaking views of the surrounding area and are a popular destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Top 5 hill-walks in Carlingford

Hikers Following the trail on the Cooley peninsula, Louth, Co. Ireland. Hiking Tour
Hikers Following the trail on the Cooley peninsula, Louth, Co. Ireland. Hiking Tour

Carlingford is a picturesque coastal town on the Cooley Peninsula of County Louth, Ireland. The quant medieval town is the centre of one of Ireland’s best hillwalking locations and is surrounded by stunning natural beauty and offers a variety of scenic walks and hiking trails that are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. Here are some of the best Carlingford walks to explore:

  1. The Tain Way: This is a long-distance walking trail that stretches for 40 km from Carlingford to Omeath, following the path of the legendary warrior Cuchulainn. The trail takes you through the stunning landscapes of the Cooley Mountains and offers breathtaking views of Carlingford Lough and the surrounding countryside.
  2. Slieve Foye Loop: This is a challenging hike that takes you to the summit of Slieve Foye, the highest peak in the Cooley Mountains. The trail is steep and rocky, but the views from the top are well worth the effort.
Hiking group on the Cooley Peninsula Hiking Tour, Hiking Ireland
Discover Carlingford's Medieval History with 5 Thrilling Carlingford Hikes 25
  1. The Greenway: This is a scenic coastal walk that stretches for 7 km from Carlingford to Omeath. The trail follows the path of an old railway line and offers stunning views of Carlingford Lough and the surrounding coastline.
  2. The Carlingford Loop: This is a moderate hiking trail that takes you through the forests and hills around Carlingford. The trail offers panoramic views of the town and the surrounding countryside, and passes by several historic landmarks and ancient ruins.
  3. The Barnavave Loop: This challenging hike takes you to the summit of Barnavave, a 350-metre peak that offers stunning views of the Cooley Mountains and the Irish Sea. The trail is steep and rocky, but the views from the top are well worth the effort.

In conclusion, Carlingford offers a variety of scenic walks and hiking trails that are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a leisurely stroll, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this beautiful coastal town.

Carlingford Oyster Festival

Carlingford is also the Oyster capital of the country, and every August, the Oyster Festival draws vast crowds into this pretty village of whitewashed cottages and ancient clustered buildings.

Carlingford Oyster Festival, Walking holiday Ireland, Hiking in Ireland
Discover Carlingford's Medieval History with 5 Thrilling Carlingford Hikes 26

The Cooley Peninsula is centralised on the national epic of Ireland, ‘An Táin Bó Cuailigne,’ which tells the story of Cuchulainn, Queen Maebh, and the famous Brown Bull of Cooley.

The route of the Tain can be followed across Ireland to the Cooley mountains on the national waymarked way, known as the ‘táin trail.’

Enjoying the sunshine on a terrace in Carlingford, Walking Holiday Ireland
Enjoying the sunshine on a terrace in Carlingford, Walking Holiday Ireland

Looking for the perfect backdrop to your next holiday? If a balance of natural beauty and medieval majesty is what you are after, then look no further than Carlingford and Cooley Peninsula in Ireland. This remarkable area offers an unforgettable experience through its majestic landscapes and ancient history – truly something special that any traveler wishes they could explore!

So pack your bags, put on your walking shoes, and explore the enchanting Cooley Peninsula!

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