The official Monaghan Tourism website.
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County Monaghan takes its name from the Irish ‘Muineacháin’, meaning ‘little hills’. Inhabited from an early era, many relics of the Bronze Age have been unearthed throughout the county over the years. It was later the centre and heartland of the kingdom of Oriel, and an ancient monument at Donaghmoyne is reputed to have been the residence of the Kings of Oriel.
The arrival of Christianity saw St. Patrick visit several locations in the county, while his ‘right-hand man’ – St. Macartan became patron of the diocese of which County Monaghan forms approximately one half. Tiernach of Clones and Dympna of Tydavnet later became two of Ireland’s best known saints.
The Vikings were invaders during the 10-11th centuries and a Viking fort is still visible near Glaslough, while a later Norman motte and bailey stands at Donaghmoyne. Prior to the 17th century Plantation,s County Monaghan was ruled by the McMahons who controlled four fifths of its area, and the McKennas who controlled the remaining one fifth. When the Elizabethans decided in 1585 to divide Ulster into ‘shire-land’, the boundaries of the county were laid out, roughly the same as todays, but it was not until the first decade of the 17th century that the county was officially formed and named.
From the 15th to 17th centuries the McMahons and the McKennas formed part of the armies of the O’Neills and were a constant thorn in the side of the English, whose territory ‘The Pale’, just touched the southern end of the present county.
In the Nine Years War (1595-1603) the first major battle was fought at Clontibret while the McMahon/McKenna combination also figured in later battles and in the defeat at Kinsale in 1601. Mountjoy’s forces pursued them following that defeat and destroyed many of their fortifications.
Elections were always keenly contested in the county, none more so than in 1826 when, on the instigation of Daniel O’Connell, Westenra was elected by the Catholic voters as a pro-Emancipation candidate and again in 1833 when Parnell addressed huge meetings at Castleblayney, Monaghan, Emyvale and Scotstown in support of Tim Healy, who then became the first ever nationalist MP for the county.
The Monaghan of today is a county with strong links to its historical past and many towns and villages retain and portray a history and tradition of times long past.
There are heritage trails in Monaghan, Clones and Carrickmacross and many sites of historical interest including Edergole Court Tomb, Mannan Castle Motte and Bailey, Inniskeen Round Tower and Lisnadarragh Wedge Tomb.