The earliest document which refers to Carlingford Lough prior to the Viking and Anglo-Norman era settlements comes from the “Annals of Ulster” in A.D. 852. The entry refers to a battle on the Lough between Danish and Norse invaders.
“The complement of eight score ships of fair-haired foreigners came to Snám Aignech, to do battle with the dark foreigners; they fought for three days and three nights, but the dark foreigners got the upper hand and the others abandoned their ships to them. Stain took flight, and escaped, and Lercne fell beheaded”.
Carlingford’s name is derived from the Norse Carlinn Fjord.
Bertram de Verdun was granted the lands of the Cooley Peninsula by John, Lord of Ireland (later to become King John) in 1189-1191.
Carlingford Castle was constructed around 1200 (there were further extensions added in the 15th and 16th century).
In 1227 Carlingford was granted the right to hold an annual three day fair in the month of August. This tradition is carried on to this day with the annual “Medieval Living agus na Gaeilge” festival.
In 1326 the first record of the granting of a Town Charter for Carlingford is made. A levy for a “Murage” tax to fund the building of town walls is also mentioned at this time.
In 1467 Carlingford was granted the right to mint coinage.
Carlingford was attacked and “burned” on the orders of Phelim O’Neill in 1642 as part of the Irish Rebellion which had began the previous year.
During 1689-90 Williamite forces used Carlingford Lough as a safe harbour for supply ships. The also used the defunct Dominican Friary as a hospital station before transporting the ill and wounded soldiers to Carrickfergus.
In 1742, the opening of the Newry Canal and the new sea level locks on Carlingford Lough resulted in the bypassing of Carlingford as a trading port.