Loughbrickland (from the Irish: Loch Bricleann meaning "Bricriu's Lake") is a small village in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is situated on the main Belfast to Dublin road. In the 2001 Census it had a population of 681 people. It lies within the Banbridge District Council area.
The name of the village of Loughbrickland derives from Irish 'Loch Bricleann' or Briccriu's Lake. Other theories suggest it took its name from the lake, which is supposed to have taken its name from the speckled trout with which it is said to have formerly abounded.
Loughbrickland ringfort in the townland of Coolnacran is a high status bivallate fort around 30.5 metres across. It is a scheduled ancient monument dating from Early Christian times. Also there is a crannog at Loughbrickland lake. There is also reputed to have been a second crannog, in the area, in a lake, which is now Meenan bog, in the townland of Lisnagonnell.
In the description,of Aghaderg Parish from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837, it states, about half a mile to the south-west of Loughbrickland are three upright stones, called "The Three Sisters of Greenan" apparently the remains of an ancient cromlech: they are situated on a gentle eminence, and near them is a fourth lying in a ditch. This fourth stone seems to have been forgotten in more recent times, it is now considered that The Three Sisters is a short alignment of three standing stones in which stand at the roadside in the townland of Greenan, whose name comes from grianan, "the place of the sun", hinting that here, as with several other short stone rows, there may have been midsummer and midwinter rituals. There are now just two of the original three stones still standing in a gorse hedgerow at the side of a farm track - the third lies in the hedge somewhere; as does possibly the fourth? The east stone is 1.4m tall and has a vertical split in it, so that one thin slice hangs off the side. The other standing stone is 1.6m tall and has been cut into a very nice cuboid block with very flat surfaces. The south-easterly one, which has fallen, measures over two metres in its entire length.
The remains of Water Hill Fort (Dun Uisce), stand on a hill to the south of the lake; an unusually constructed ancient rath with its surrounding ditch inside the bank; possibly a feast site or ceremonial role; some speculate it a possible location of Briccriu's Feast from legend. However, this seems unlikely as it is stated this took place at Dun Rudraige, which is Dundrum, County Down.
Local tradition refers to an early monastic foundation, a Franciscan house which is believed to have prospered in the townland of Drumsallagh from the early fifteenth century until 1569, when it suffered suppression under Elizabeth I. It lies in the valley to the west of the village. The name Drumsallagh, or Droim Saileach, means ‘willow ridge’ it occupies a valley that used to carry the old northern road sometimes known as the Slige Midluachra or High Kings Road that ran in ancient times from Tara to Dunseverick on the north coast. A manuscript that has been attributed to Rev. John Deth, first Protestant Vicar of Aghaderg, claims that the monastery was quarried to provide building materials for the original Church of Ireland church in Loughbrickland, constructed in 1600. The Deth manuscript also records that, according to information he received from one of the friars, the remains of the three earlier saints of Meenan had been previously reinterred in the chapel of the Franciscan monastery. The 26 October was set aside each year to commemorate this fact. The site was in use in the 11th century, however, and remained as a Franciscan Monastery until 1641 when it was destroyed with the rest of the nearby village. According to the manuscript notes of Dr. Osborne Shiel, Vicar of Aghaderg 1768-1798, various artefacts were unearthed in Drumsallagh in the latter half of the eighteenth century - a gold chalice and paten (1780), a gold candlestick, a stone depicting St. Francis feeding birds - legacies of the Franciscan era?
The Three Collas (meaning strong man) in the great Battle of Achadh Leithdheirg in Fearmuighe (also Fearnmhagh), in Dalaradia, on the borders of Down and Antrim, 331 AD, defeated the forces of Fergus Foga, king of Ulster, who was slain; and the victors burned to the ground Emain Macha (now called Navan Fort) or Emania, (near the present city of Armagh,) the famous palace of the Ultonian kings, which had stood for six centuries, and had been long celebrated by the Irish bards. The place where this battle was fought is called also Carn Achy-Leth-Derg, and is now known as the parish of Aghaderg, in the barony of Iveagh, County of Down. The sovereignty of Ulster thus passed from the race of Ir to the race of Heremon. Samuel Lewis in 1837 records that the battle site was commemorated by "a huge Carn of loose stones near Loughbrickland". This Carn, known as Carn Cochy in the Annals of the Four Masters, was a huge seventy feet high, but appears to have been destroyed when the Scarva to Banbridge railway line was constructed in 1859.
Early Christian figures associated with Aghaderg parish are three seventh-century saints, Nasad, Beoan and Mellan, hermits of Down. The three are recorded in the Martyrology of Aengus (also sometimes known as "The Feiliré of Aengus", which was completed about 805 AD) for the 26 October and are mentioned as having been interred "in one church: Tamlacht Menand on Loch Bricrend in Iveagh in Ulidia." The Annals of the Four Masters records two of these saints: "Beoan, Bishop and Mellan of Tamlacht Menan on Loch Bricrenn." These references suggest the existence of an early church, in the townland of Meenan, around two miles from the village of Loughbrickland today. The word "Tamh" means an epidemic pestilence; and the term "Taimhleacht" ("the plague monument"), which frequently enters into topographical names in Ireland, signifies a place where a number of persons cut off by pestilence were interred together.
Loughbrickland was a major seat of the Magennises of Iveagh. The Magennis castle was believed to be on the shores of Loughbrickland Lake although they also inhabited the crannog on the lake as late as the seventeenth century.
The Magennises were succeeded in the Loughbrickland area by Marmaduke Whitechurch, who was probably the most prominent developer of the district establishing villages, churches and markets that formed the basis of the infrastructure of the area as we now know it. Sir Marmaduke Whitechurch also seems to have built his castle by the lake, this castle was dismantled by Cromwell's army, and remained in ruins till 1812, when it was taken down a dwelling-house was erected on its site. Its location has never been accurately located and possible sites range from the site of the Magennis castle to where the old Aghaderg School now stands and also where the Church of Ireland built their Rectory in 1801.
In 1690 William III camped near Loughbrickland with his army from the 14th to the 25th of June, on his march to the Boyne. Tradition has it that William stayed overnight at Bovennet house, and mounted his horse from a stone on the corner of the Poyntzpass Road.
Loughbrickland is classified as a small village or hamlet by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (ie with population between 500 and 1,000 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 681 people living in Loughbrickland. Of these:
For more details see: NI Neighbourhood Information Service