The Old Dundalk Society (ODS) was established in 1964. The Society is very much to the forefront in promoting the importance of local history.
The objectives of the Society are to encourage and promote an interest in history, and the general development of the town of Dundalk. Towards this end the Society will co-operate with other organisations, including the local authorities in the furtherance of activities calculated to promote the social, cultural, and educational good of the town of Dundalk.
I proceeded to Dundalk, town famous in the annals of Ireland. Is well situated for trade and has the advantage of a very safe bay. From the ruins of the walls and castles, concluded it must have been formerly a place of great strength.
C.J. Bowen, A Tour through Ireland 1790, (Dublin,1791), p.242.
The Society was established in the late Autumn of 1964 and in the intervening months had regular meetings, at which lectures were delivered or papers read on many varied subjects covering the historical, ecclesiastical, educational, and industrial life of the town from earlist times to the present day.
The Society in the early years of its foundation were actively pursuing the following projects :-
- Reclamation of Seatown Graveyard.
- Publishing of Tempest Annual. (Final publication of the Annual 1976) Compiling of a History of Dundalk Port.
- Provision of a Museum.
- Research covering many aspects of the town’s history.
- Preparation of a guide- book to Dundalk and district.
All the above projects were eventually achieved, and or were brought about by various interventions.
The re-publishing of The Tempest Annual and Dundalk town directory in 1965 to 1976 (10) issues was a watershed initiative on behalf of the Society for developing a renewed interest in local history in Dundalk.
Over the intervening years, to the present day the Society continues to uphold the original objectives of its founding fathers. The Society continues to pursue a range of projects to protect and preserve our heritage town, and its precious artefacts. The Society has every reason to be proud of its achievements over the last 50 years. St Leonard Garden in Seatown, which was reclaimed from a wilderness, today is a tranquil retreat for townsfolk. The Coat-of-Arms for Dundalk was researched by members of the Old Dundalk and registered with the Chief Herald Office at Dublin Castle, who confirmed its authenticity. The Arms has been authenticated as of fourteen-century origin, devised in all probability between the years 1320-1360. They are to be found on a seal affixed to a legal document by the Bailiffs of the Corporation of Dundalk dated 25th Oct 1420. Further confirmation of the authenticity of the Coat-of-Arms is provided by a Seal Matrix which was in possession of the Magrath family Dundalk (now deposited in the National Museum of Ireland).The Seal Matrix was found in St Nicholas Church in the early 1900’s. In 1968 the Society presented to the Urban Council a ceremonial Town Flag emblazoned with this Coat-of-Arms. This device is used today on official notepaper of the Council.
The society from its inception, has been very much the ‘tour de force’ in bringing the history of the town of Dundalk to the attention of the public. The Old Dundalk Society has been the catalyst for developing an enthusiasm for learning the stories of Dundalk’s past.
Preserving our heritage is a vital link to our educational, culture, and economic legacies all of which quite literally make us who we are.