Bush & Grange Partnership

Cattle Raid of Cooley

In Irish mythology there is a famous story called the Cattle Raid of Cooley.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.mythicalireland.com/

This mythical story centres around Queen Maeve of Connaught.   Maeve could match her husband's, Ailill, wealth in every way except for a powerful White Bull he had in his herd. The only bull which could match this animal was the renowned Brown Bull of Cooley owned by Daire, chieftain of Ulster. According to legend, Queen Maeve sent a request to the chieftain to borrow the bull but Daire, while first agreeing to her request, later refused to release the bull when the queen's messengers boasted that she would have taken it anyway. The refusal enraged Maeve and she declared war on Ulster and marched her armies to capture the Brown Bull. They travelled through the Cooley Peninsula searching for the Brown Bull and many local place names are recorded in the legend.   Before leaving Connaught Maeve's Druids cast a debilitating curse on the warriors of Ulster who were bearing arms on that day. This did not include the seventeen year old Cuchullain who was left to defend Ulster single-handed and who, for three days, kept the Connaught forces at bay engaging them in single combat. During his gallant defence Cuchullain had to fight his friend, Ferdia, who was in exile in Connaght and in Maeve's army. This was an epic battle which Cuchullain won. When the men of Ulster recovered from the spell they won the battle but during the fight the Brown Bull was captured and taken to the West where he defeated Ailill's White Bull.

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The Village of Grange

The village of Grange is steeped in history


St James Roman Catholic Church dates back to 1762.

Long's Pub is at least two hundred years old

Monksland House is pre 1800.

 and the Granary is Pre 1800's


Click here for more information on the Grange & District Residents Association

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St Andrew's Church of Ireland, Bush

Situated in the beautiful Cooley Peninsula Co. Louth, the church was built as a Chapel-of-ease for nearby Carlingford Parish although it now functions in practice as the Parish Church. The parish has been united with Ballymascanlon since 1966 and grouped with Creggan and Forkhill from 1973.

The foundation stone was laid in September 1844 and the Church was consecrated on Tuesday, September 16th 1845. The dedication to St. Andrew was applied to the Church in 1994, following the closure of Omeath Church. A pair of stained glass windows from both Jonesborough and Forkhill was installed in 1996 along with the 1820s organ from Mellifont (Tullyallen). Memorials from Forkhill and Omeath were also transferred here.

In 1994 two years work by FAS completely restored the church at a cost of £40,000. The local Roman Catholic community was particularly generous in subscribing to the cost. Local Protestants showed equal generosity when St James Roman Catholic Church was refurbished in 1994. Since 1994 we have made our Harvest Service and Carol Service ecumenical occasions. This has provided an opportunity for the community to come closer together.

Parishioners are actively involved in several local community groups including The Cooley Vintage Fair which raises thousands of Euro annually for charity.

Parish records for the seven churches within the group were computerised in 1995 using FAS. The churchyards at Carlingford, Omeath, Bush and Ballymascanlan are now maintained by FAS.

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The Unknown Sailors buried at Bush Cemetery


In 1858 three sailors lost their lives at sea off Cooley Point, their bodies were washed up on the shore at Rathcor and they were laid to rest in a corner of the graveyard at St. Andrew’s Church of Ireland, Bush.

No doubt this was considered a great tragedy at the time but with the passing of time the fact that they were buried in the graveyard had almost been forgotten. The graves were unmarked and it was only by word of mouth from one generation to the next that we know where they were buried and how they lost their lives so tragically.

Records have helped to fill in some of the details that have been lost through time.

The records state that on the night of the 8th April 1858 the Sloop Endeavour, 23 registered tons, of Amlwch, (Amlough) Anglesey, North Wales carrying a cargo of slates was driven ashore and wrecked on Cooley Point during a south westerly gale.  The Captain and his crew of two lost their lives. At an inquest held the following day in Cooley, Dr. Callan, the Coroner, gave the verdict -------FOUND  DROWNED.

This tragedy may have been overshadowed by the wreck of the Mary Stoddart in Dundalk Bay on 6th April 1858 which claimed the lives of Captain J.J. Kelly, his three comrades and seven members of the ship’s crew.  Over a period of five days there were a number of rescue attempts and four local men lost their lives trying to save the crew in horrific weather conditions. A memorial stands in Roden Place, Dundalk to serve as a reminder of the heroic efforts of these men.

It is believed that the lost crew of the Endeavour were from Wales and hopefully, with further research, they may be identified and perhaps their descendants could be informed of their place of rest. Communication in 1858 was limited and the families of these sailors had to live with the loss of their loved ones. According to the records the ship was sailing to Belfast.

It was decided to erect a memorial plinth in memory of the sailors before the memory of the tragedy is lost with the passing of time.  On Sunday 17th January 2010 an Ecumenical Service in their memory took place in St. Andrew’s Church of Ireland, Bush followed by the unveiling and blessing of the plinth. A wreath was laid at the memorial stone by two local children and the poem ‘Sea Fever’ by John Masefield was recited accompanied by the playing of a flute.

Members of Bush and Grange Partnership are proud to be associated with this initiative and are very grateful to the International Fund for Ireland and the Regional Development Council for providing funding for the project

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St James Roman Catholic Church, Grange

This is the oldest church in the Archdiocese of Armagh. Very little is known about its early history but it has been in continuous use since 1762.

Prior to that there was a Cistercian Abbey in Grange, built in 1144, which was part of the monastery in Newry.

In 1762 St. James Church was a long buildng with a door at each end and the altar was in the centre. In 1815 a battlemented sacristy and a belfry were added.

Shortly after that an extra wing was added opposite the altar to convert the church to a T plan, which was the typical design at the time. The architect and builder was James Gallagher from Ravensdale.

The original building had a thatched roof which was later slated in the 1840's and the floor tiled. This was the work of Canon Anthony Gossan who was Parish Priest of Cooley from 1846 to 1873. His reflections: 'When I went to Cooley I found an old church in the townland of Irish Grange and that chapel was in very poor condition; but since then, through the generosity of the people of the parish, it has been renovated and although very plain as to the exterior, in the interior it deserves to be classified among the most comfortable churches in the entire dioceses'.

The early history of the Church is obscure; it was part of the Parish of Carlingford. The Parish Priest was Fr Patrick McCanna and his assistant was a Dominican friar, Fr Daniel Kelly, possibly from the Friary in Carlingford.

The first Parish Priest of Cooley was Fr. Peter Kearney, he served the parish for twenty seven years. He died in 1838 and he was succeeded by Fr. Edward Holland who died in 1846. Both priests are laid to rest in the centre aisle of the church. The third Parish Priest was the famous Fr Anthony Gossan, he was a heroic figure and one of the most remarkable priests of his generation. The year after his arrival in the Parish 1847, Cooley was severley affected by the famine; the death roll recorded in the Parish of Cooley for that year was 217. During this time Fr Gossan supported his parishioners and saved St James Church from falling into decay. Undoubtedly it is the work of restoration and repair carried out by him that has preserved the building until its recent restoration. 

In 1994 the church was again renovated and refurbished by the late Canon John McGrane. Great care was taken to provide a modern equipped church while maintaining its ancient character. The church in its beautiful setting, nestling under Maeve's gap, has attracted many visitors in recent times.   


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Bush Old Schoolhouse 

The Schoolhouse at Bush is thought to have been built about 1844 around the same time as St Andrew’s Church or as it is better known locally Bush Church. The land on which both buildings stand and the graveyard surrounding them was given to the Church by the Upton Family. It is an attractive site which enjoys views of the Cooley Mountains to the North and the sea to the South.

It is a modest but attractive building built in a gothic style with tall masonry chimneys, steeply pitched roofs cast iron diamond lattice windows and gothic arched fenestration and doorways.


The interior of the building is divided into the teacher’s residence and the classroom. The teacher’s residence was very modest by today’s standards, consisting of four small rooms, two downstairs and two upstairs. The kitchen and parlour were downstairs and the two small bedrooms upstairs.

Heating was provided by open fire-places both upstairs and downstairs and the original cast iron fireplace remains in situ in the bedroom.

Similarly the classroom was heated by open fire, indeed the fireplace still remains in the classroom and many of the past pupils remember standing around the fire to keep warm during their lessons on cold winter days

Both boys and girls attended the school and as there was only one classroom they were all taught together.  The school was run by the Church of Ireland and would have been built primarily to provide education for the children of Church of Ireland families living in the locality.

When researching the history of the school we found the information from the roll books invaluable.

The school roll during the period 1880-1920 indicates that while the majority of the pupils were Church of Ireland there were also Presbyterian and Roman Catholic children educated at Bush school.  The Roll books also show that most of the pupils came from an area stretching from Gyles Quay to Whitestown and Piedmont to Rathcor. Most children had to walk to school but some were fortunate to travel by pony and trap.

The majority of parents were farmers which would reflect the importance of farming at the time, other occupations of parents listed in the roll books included station master, coast guard, sergeant and teacher. The roll would suggest that the coast guards who resided at Gyles Quay were posted there for six years approximately before being transferred to another part of the country.

The old roll books contained a lot of detailed information which has been very useful when researching information on the history of the school. They show evidence of a small school fee being paid annually.

Many past pupils still live in the locality and they recall their fond memories of their schooldays and their parents’ schooldays. Alec Grills related a story which his father told him about travelling to school with his brothers by horse and trap and untying the horse at Bush and leaving it to graze. At lunchtime the horse was given hay or a nose bag of grain and by home time it was ready for the return journey back to Ballinamoney. I’m sure other pupils were keen to hitch a lift along their way.


Joe Bothwell remembers his walking route to school over seventy years ago along the road by Maguire’s Cross, there were few houses there then and Bush Vocational School had not been built. When it was built in the late 30’s Joe credits it with great educational opportunities for the people of Cooley, prior to that many children did not attend secondary school. During his years at Bush he found the railway station a source of fascination and enjoyed listening to the sound of the engine of a passing train.   As there was no water supply in the school it was Joe’s job to collect water from the well at Savage’s across the road. Traffic wasn’t a problem in those days so it was safe enough for a schoolboy to cross .While he was across the road he also called into Savage’s shop for some bull’s eyes (sweets).


Mrs Annabel Christmas (nee Hunter), teacher at Bush, is described by her past pupils as a ‘lady’, she was kind and caring and a dedicated teacher. It was a sad day for her and for her pupils when the school closed in 1968.                                                                Apart from electricity being installed in the 1950’s the school building had not really changed since it was built in 1884.  From 1968 until the present time it has been largely disused and fell into disrepair but fortunately the structure of the building remained sound probably because the roof was kept in tact over the years and saved the fabric of the building.


After the school closed in 1968 the Church of Ireland children attended the local National schools or went to Wellington School in Dundalk.

Since the school closed it has remained largely unused and although it fell into considerable disrepair it remained structurally quite sound.

In 2006 a number of parishioners became concerned about the future of the building believing that it would soon fall into complete disrepair if it was not renovated, refurbished and put to use.

A number of meetings were convened and it was decided that a Committee would be formed with the aim of restoring the building for future use, not just by the Church of Ireland Parishioners but by the entire community.

The response from the local community to fundraising efforts was immense as was the response from various agencies and bodies. Grant Aid came from the Peace & Reconciliation Fund, Louth County Council Conservation Fund, The Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund, the Church of Ireland Priorities Fund and The International Fund for Ireland.  Donations came from the Cooley Vintage Committee, The Clermont Chorale, local businesses and private individuals.

At this point in time it is hoped that the building will be ready for use by June 2010. It will result in the preservation of a unique piece of local architectural heritage but more importantly it will symbolise what can be achieved when people work together. Its real value will be that it will be an asset to the entire community for their use and enjoyment. It is hoped that the events, activities, classes and workshops that it will host will bring people together in a new way in an old building.  How apt that a building built as a school will once again become a place where people will learn and have fun!

Click here for more information on the Bush Old Schoolhouse Committee.

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A brief history of Greenore Railway &                     the Railway Bridge at Bush

1834 - In 1834 a meeting took place at which a man named Mr Barton suggested reviving the dormant port of Greenore. It was the only deep water port between Dublin and Belfast.

1840 - In this year a successful ferry service for livestock and passengers between Greenore and Holyhead was established.

1855 - Railway links were being established between small towns throughout Ireland but there was no link to Greenore even though there was a link between Dundalk and Newry. It was difficult to promote freight and passenger business at the port because of the poor network of roads. The Hotel was also struggling to survive for the same reason.

1863 - To improve access to Greenore the Dundalk, Newry and Greenore Railway Company was setup. The Company built a line from Dundalk to Greenore in 1873 and on to Newry in 1876. One of the railway stations on this line is beside Bush Post Primary School. The building is now a commercial premise. The bridge which carried the old Carlingford to Dundalk road over the railway line still exists beside the Bush Station.

1918 to 1922 - During the years of the First World War Greenore Railway and Port suffered financially and both were in danger of closure.

1926 - The Great Northern Railway (GNR) took over the running of the Dundalk-Greenore-Newry line and once again it began to thrive.


1951 - This year saw the closure of the Greenore Railway line, but it was not finally wound up until 1953. However the Ferry continued to operate between Greenore and Holyhead for Freight and Livestock only. With the closure of the railway livestock had to be transported to Greenore by road transport. 


 The Bridge at Bush as it looked 2010


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Monksland National School

In 1840 Carlingford School was the nearest school for the children of Cooley. There were a number of Hedge Schools but the Parish Priest, rev Edward Holland did not approve of them and described them as 'more mischievous than useful'.

A site for Monksland School at Rogan's Cross was donated by Richard De Vernon J.P. who lived in Grange. A two-storey building was erected in 1841 measuring 34 feet by 20 feet with outside steps leading to the girls' classroom upstairs. The school was opened on 3rd October 1842 with 100 boys and 70 girls in attendance.

The first teachers at Monksland were Ms Catherine Murray 1842 - 1848 and Mr Patrick Callan 1842 -1885.

The school closed its doors in 1960 and it was demolished in 1968 to make way for the modernisation of the road system. The present Monksland School was opened in 1960 as a three teacher school.

Teachers from 1842 to 1960



 Ms Bridget Carroll  1848 to 1860 Mr Lally1920's
 Ms Mary Rogan1860Mr P.J.McHaran1920's
 Ms Ann Campbell1870Mr Grimley1920's
 Ms Catherine Rogan1870Miss O'Callaghan1920's
 Mr John Fearon1885 to 1896Ms Katie Woods1920's
 Ms Maria Boylan1896 to 1903Mrs Mary O'Connor1920 to 1960
 Mr Michael Campbell1896 to 1932Miss Ryan1920's
 Mr McParland1905Mr Patrick Weldon1930
 Ms Eliza Hughes1906Mrs Rosetta Rogan1950's
 Ms Katie McKeown1906 to1910Mrs Chris Larkin (Carron) 1950's
 Mr George Lowe1915 to 1960Mr Marry 1950's
 Mr Murray1915Mr Bailey 1950's
 Mr Dunne1915Mrs Anna Kindlon 1958 to 1960

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Bush Post Primary School

Bush Vocational School opened in Kearney's store next to Bush Railway station in 1933. twenty two boys enrolled in the first year. In 1937 the first class of girls was admitted. Twenty six girls from the local area enrolled. Mr Peter McAteer was principal.

A new school was built on its present site in the late 1930's.

The principal then was Mr James Ruane followed by Mr P.J. Edwards. Mr Vincent Kieran was the longest serving Principal.

Principals since 1981;

 Mr Michael O'Hanlon
 Mr Martin O'Brien
 Mr Kevin Conroy
 Mrs Teresa McKevitt the current principal. 


The present enrolment is 440 and there are 38 members of staff.

You will find more details of  

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How we used to live

How we used to live as displayed at Cooley Vintage Festival.

See Gallery for more photos.

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Cooley Credit Union Ltd

Cooley Credit Union has served the whole community for the past 40 years. In February 1969 Fr John McGrane convened a meeting in Bush Post Primary School and a study group was formed to learn about Credit Union and how it operated.



On June 23rd 1969 a decision was reached at an organisation meeting to form a local Credit Union. In October 1969 a prefab costing £300 was purchased as the first office. The business went from strength to strength and in 1976 the present Credit Union office was opened by John Hume. Cooley Credit Union's success is due to the dedication of its voluntary workers and the support of the local community. Congratulatons on serving the community for 40 years. 

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