Where was ‘The Front Street’ in Dundalk?

Where was ‘The Front Street’ in Dundalk?

Recently a local man in his sixties asked me if I knew where was once known as 'The Front Street'? I had to confess than I had never heard of it!

He said that his father had told him that he had once lived there and was told that it was an old name for Seatown Place. He wondered why it was called by this name? I did not know but said that I could guess that the reason might be that there were two streets in town called 'Seatown', running parallel to each other.

You see Seatown was a settlement that existed before the walled town of Dundalk was established by Bertram de Verdon in the late 12th century.

There was some dispute among scholars as to the origins of the name --- was it 'Sraid-Baile', which just means a cluster of houses, or 'Traigh Bhaile' meaning 'Baile's Strand'.

This latter name refers to a tragic love story about a prince of the kingdom Ulaid named Baile Mac Buian who, according to legend, committed suicide on the seashore at this place when falsely told that his lover, a princess of the kingdom of Meath, was dead.

When she arrived in her chariot and found his body promptly killed herself at the same place.

This story, which is not unlike William Shakespeare's play 'Romeo and Juliet', was retold in a play by W. B. Yeats performed at the Abbey Theatre called 'On Baile's Strand'.

Unfortunately, it was not that popular and only ran for a few nights!

An old map of the town drawn by John Brownrigg about 1785 shows what is now Jocelyn Street - Seatown Place - Barrack Street as 'Upper Seatown; while the present Seatown-Mill Street is marked Lower Seatown.

On this map there is no road connection between these two streets and Castle Road did not exist.

Another reason why this thoroughfare might have been called the 'Front Street' could be that it led from the Courthouse down to the Cavalry Barracks, a distance of approximately one mile, and grander houses were built along it in the nineteenth century by military officers.