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02 Oct 2022

Is there a chance Dundalk will ever become a city?

Peter Kavanagh

Is there a chance Dundalk will ever become a city?

Is there a chance Dundalk will ever become a city?

When I was young there used to be an old saying 'Drogheda was, Dublin is and Dundalk will be.'

Those reciting this mantra were not talking about football champions --- in any code --- but referring to the fact that Drogheda was at one time in history the seat of power in Ireland and that Dublin has been such for many centuries. The dream was that Dundalk might, one day, be the most important urban centre in Ireland!

That dream was raised in the last century as I read in an old report from the Democrat of November 1966 --- 'Under the auspices of the Old Dundalk Society, a meeting was held in the Town to debate the wisdom of seeking a charter for Dundalk and calling the Dundalk Urban Council a Corporation.'

Nothing much seems to have come of that meeting back nearly 55 years ago and I had forgotten all about it; but I do recall that the idea was raised again in the 1980s when Dermot Ahern was a rising political star in Louth. In a letter to the Urban Council he informed them that no less a person than Charles J. Haughey, who was then Taoiseach, was prepared to back the idea of Dundalk becoming a city.

The matter was discussed at several meetings of the Council but I recall, perhaps surprisingly, several leading members, including the late Tom Bellew, were opposed to the idea, stating that it might be more trouble than it was worth. Many officials, however, were not against it and the idea was not completely dropped. Tom Hogan, however, when Minister for the Environment, put paid to such a development for many years when he abolished the Dundalk Town Council as part of his supposed local government reforms.

Who knows, now that Covid 19 has put paid to his influence, the idea of Dundalk becoming a city might be revived again. Even Brexit might work to Dundalk's advantage in this respect! It could be argued that Dundalk has a much greater claim to recognise a city than its neighbour across the Border --- Newry!

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