Togher (in Irish An Tóchar, meaning causeway or level place) is a rural parish in Co. Louth on Ireland's North-East coast. It is located 25 kilometres south of the county town of Dundalk, and 21 kilometres north of the historic town of Drogheda. It can be reached via the R132 from Dundalk or via the R166 from Drogheda, with access now made increasingly easy due to the M1 motorway. The parish has approximately 8 kilometers of coastline that extends from its borders with Clogherhead parish in the south to Annagassan Bridge at its north boundary.
What we now know as Togher parish is the amalgamation of the six medieval parishes of Clonmore, Port, Dysart, Dunany, Salterstown and Drumcar. These now represent six of the main townlands in the parish. The current population stands at 2,162 residents, with approximately one quarter of these aged 18 years and under.
As a rural parish with good soil, farming has been one of the mainstays of the local economy and life in Togher. Local blue clay quarries also provided much employment between the 1940 and the 1970s. When this activity ceased the parish continued to benefit as the two quarries in Boicetown and Simonstown were converted into man-made lakes that now provide habitats for an abundance of wildlife.
As in many coastal areas fishing was also one of the most importance sources of employment in Togher, with the small fishing village of Annagassan being the hub for this activity. Annagassan is the oldest recorded site of Viking settlement in Ireland, with the original raids by the Norsemen beginning there in 831, where they created a permanent naval station and fortress. This invasion and the long tradition stemming from it are now celebrated with the Annagassan Viking Festival, which takes place in August each year. Annagassan, which sits at the mouth of the Glyde and Dee rivers, is now a pretty seaside village with a fishing harbor that attracts recreational fishermen and small pleasure crafts, the old mill, two public houses, a restaurant and bed and breakfast.
Togher’s picturesque beaches attract many visitors year round. Port beach has Blue Flag status and boasts wide sandy shores and a wide range of flora and fauna including the Marsh Orchid. The beach is fronted by a mature dune area, which is perfect for picnics, and offers space for children to play in. The sea is cool and clear offering ample opportunities for bathing. The sweeping views of Dundalk Bay and the Cooley Mountains are truly stunning on a clear day, no matter what the season. Port beach, as well as the beaches at Salterstown, Annagassan and Dunany, provide natural playgrounds and leisure facilities for local residents and visitors of all ages all year round. They offer excellent bathing and walking amenities, with kite-flying and parasurfing making an increased appearance in recent years. On Christmas Day each year the brave (or foolhardy!) can be seen swimming at Salterstown beach to raise funds for local charities.
Togher also has a number of houses of historical interest including Barmeath Castle, the home of the Bellew family, who open their established and constantly developing gardens to the public each summer. Barmeath Castle and Dunany House, which is also located in Togher, provide two of the locations for a ‘Travelling Supper’ each summer. This sees local residents and visitors travel to a number of historic houses in the county for a different course in a fine dining experience.
Togher also has a wealth of community activity that provides leisure opportunities for all ages and interests. Naomh Finbarra GAA Football Club and St. Anne’s Camogie Club have long provided sporting outlets for boys and girls, men and women. Other sports clubs include Togher Golf Society and Togher Gun Club. The parish also has an active ICA group, an art group, beach committee (Port beach), tidy towns committee (Annagassan) and Credit Union. The two national schools located in the parish each have an active parent’s committee and each of the churches has an alter committee. Recently, a Togher Macra na Feirme and Togher Theatre Group have also been established. What is thought to be Togher’s first ever panto, Cinderella, is due to be staged in Drumcar Hall in February 2010.
The parish of Togher has plenty to offer both locals and visitors – beautiful coastal scenery, wildlife sanctuaries, an active community, a number of pubs, annual festivals and a warm community spirit.