Lannleíre and Dunleer

Lannleíre, the ancient name of Dunleer, has been interpreted as meaning the Church of Austerity, Lann being the ancient Irish word for a church and Leíre, an ancient Irish word for austerity. A modern interpretation of the name, with which I tend to agree, is that Lannleíre is the Church in the district of Leíre, Lann meaning Church and Leíre the name of a district.

The monastery of Lannleíre was founded in the sixth century by Sts Furodrain and Baithin, brothers, who succeeded on another as abbots of the monastery. Their Feastday falls on the 18th of June. No other monastery in Co. Louth gets as frequent a mention in the annals as does the monastery of Lannleíre. They were Patron Saints of the Parish.

Maenach is named as Abbot in 721A.D. and from then onwards the
names of Abbots of the Monastery appear regularly. Two Bishops
lived in the Monastery, Gormgal Mac Muireadaig, who died in
843A.D. and Maelicianan Mac Fortceirn who died in the year 900A.D.

In 795A.D. the Vikings began to appear in Ireland and by 832A.D. began establishing settlements here, one of the first was Annagassan. The Monastory of Lannleíre was burned by Foreigners in 824A.D. presumably from Annagassan. In 922 the monastery was again plundered. In 1970A.D. Domhnall, King of Ireland, plundered the monastery and left many dead. It is possible that the Vikings were in possession of the Monastery at the time, though that was not always necessarily so. In 1002 the monastery was plundered by the Uí Meith, who were Irish. On their way home the Uí Meith were overtaken by the men of Bregia also Irish, and all the Uí Meith were either killed of led captive. In 1148A.D. the monastery was finally burned down.

The monastery seemed as a Parish Church around which the people collected for Mass. The monks lived in cells. There were special cells for monastic artists who copied and bound books. The site of the Church of Ireland in Dunleer is believed to be part of the site on which the monastery of Lannleíre was situated.

The tradition that St. Brigid was associated with Dunleer is strong in the Parish. In the course of improvements in the churchyard in Dunleer, a stone was unearthed, of which only a fragment remains and on one side of it is the word Machbríde, which points to the local generation of St. Brigid.

The Normans invaded Ireland in 1169. By 1179 they invaded the territory now known as Co. Louth. They built forts along the White River, one of which was near the site the monastery which had been burned about thirty years earlier. This fort or Dún then presumably became known as Dúnleíre, the fort in the district of Leíre. This would appear to be a logical assumption.

The name Dunleer appears in 1212A.D. as being one of the possessions of the Knights Hospitallers of Jerusalem. In 1217 Dunlere Appears in the Calender of Documents Ireland and in the Charter of St. Mary's Abbey no.27 Simon de Napeton is recorded as being the parson of Dunleer about the year 1220A.D. In May 1227 a grant of lands in England and the following lands, tendaments and ??????? in Ireland the Village called Dunleer was made to Henry de Aldithel. A weekly market on Tuesdays and yearly fair of three days duration - 24th to 26th March was established in Dunleer by royal grant in 1252A.D.

The Manor of Dunleer was granted by Henry III of England to the family of De Audley in 1227.

At the time of the Cromwellian Plantation the old Palesman proprietors of the site fo the town and the land all about it were George Plunkets of Dunleer, Patrick Ardagh of Dunleer, Christopher Tallon of Dunleer, Richard White of Richardstown, Mathew Ardagh of Ardaghstown, John Drumgoole of Dromgoolestown, Christopher Barnwell of Rathescar, John Finglas of Toherstown, Sir Christopher Bellew and the Lord of Louth. Thomas Breg has his land reserved to him.

It is not specified how much land was held by each individual owner, but they were grouped as owners of 1.046 Irish acres in the townland of Dunleer and also 20 parcills in the same per estimation 16 acres - probably town houses and gardens. This land now comprises 14 townlands and with Athclare and Burren forms the sixteen townlands of the Parish of Dunleer (the civil parish of Dunleer, as then and now delimited. Much of this land was confiscated by Cromwell and assigned to soldiers).

Those who received land in the civil Parish of Dunleer remained only until the restoration of the monarchy in England in the person of Charles II, Colonel William Legg fought on the side of Charles I until Charles was executed. He, then, followed Charles into exile. On the restoration of the monarchy 1660A.D. Charles II granted considerable lands both in England and Ireland, including the civil parish of Dunleer, to Colonel Legg, I don't think Colonel Legg ever visited Dunleer, but he had an agent here and his letters to Legg give us considerable information about conditions here.

William Legg's agent suggested to him that he should request the King to raise his property in Co. Louth to the level of a Manor to be named Manor of Leggsborough and to grant Corporation Status to Dunleer.

more to follow …..