Faughart (also written Fochart) is an early Christian ruins and shrine site just north of Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland. As a popular site for modern pilgrimages, it was the birthplace of St. Brigid in 451 AD, and one of her relics is held in a church in nearby Kilcurry. Edward Bruce is buried in the graveyard on the hill above the shrine ( ). Bruce, who had taken the title King of Ireland, was defeated and killed at the Battle of Faughart in 1318. Landmarks include St. Brigid's stone and pillar, her shrine and well, and modern religious sites devoted to the saint that attract thousands of pilgrims and tourists, providing a massive boost to the local economy. Ruins include an iron-age fort, a Norman motte-castle, and a medieval church.
Situated 3 km north of Dundalk and 6 km south of Forkill, and standing at the southern end of the Gap of the North/Moyry Pass, Faughart held huge strategic importance for many centuries and was the scene of many battles; one such legendary battle was fought by Cú Chulainn in the Táin.
The date of 732, or alternatively 735, is given for the Battle of Fochart between Áed Allán, king of Ireland, and Áed Róin, king of Ulaid. Áed Róin and Conchad mac Cúanach of Uí Echach Cobo were slain, with Áed Róin being decapitated on the Cloch an Commaigh (Stone of Decapitation) located near the door of the old church of Faughart. This conflict arose as a result of a request by Bishop Congus. The Annals of the Four Masters give the story as follows under the year 732:
The battle of Fochart, in Magh-Muirtheimhne [was fought] by Áed Allán High King of Ireland and the Clanna-Neill of the North, against the Ulidians, where Aedh Roin, King of Ulidia, was slain; and his head was cut off on Cloch-an-chommaigh [The Stone of Decapitation], in the doorway of the church of Fochard; and Conchadh, son of Cuanach, chief of Cobha [Magh Cobha, a plain in Iveagh, Co. Down], was also slain, and many others along with him. The cause of this battle was the profanation of Cill-Cunna [Kilcloony, parish of Ballyclog, Barony of Dungannon, Co. Tyrone] by Ua Seghain, one of the people of AedhRoin, of which Aedh Roin himself said: " I will not take its Conn from Tairr" for Ceall-Cimna and Ceall-Tairre [Cill-Thairre, anglice Kilharry, a glebe in the parish of Donaghmore, Barony of Dungannon, Co. Tyrone] are side by side. Congus, successor of Patrick, composed this quatrain, to incite Aedh Allan to revenge the profanation of the church, for he was the spiritual adviser of Aedh, so that he said:
- ‘Say unto the cold Aedh Allan, that I have been oppressed by a feeble army; Aedh Roin insulted me last night at Cill-Cunna of the sweet music.’
Aedh Allan collected his forces to Fochard, and Aedh Allan composed [these verses] on his march to the battle:
- ‘For Cill-Cunna, the church of my confessor, I take this day a journey on the road;Aedh Roin shall leave his head with me, or I shall leave mine with him.’
Of the same battle was said:
- ‘The slaughter of the Ulidians with Aedh Roin [was made] by Aedh Allan, King of Ireland. For their coigny at Cill-Cunna he placed soles to necks’
An Irish proverb arose from this incident: Torad penne Congusa (‘the fruit of Congus’s pen’), i.e. the downfall of the Ulaid resulted from the letter of Congus.
The Battle of Faughart was fought on 14 October 1318 between a Hiberno-Norman force led by John de Bermingham, 1st Earl of Louth, and Edmund Butler, Earl of Carrick and a Scots-Irish army commanded by Edward Bruce, the brother of Robert Bruce, King of Scots, who had been hailed as King of Ireland by certain Irish chiefs.
- D'Alton, John (1864). The history of Dundalk and Its Environs: From the Earliest Historic Period to the present time. William Tempest. p. 8.
- D'Alton, John (1864). The history of Dundalk and Its Environs: From the Earliest Historic Period to the present time. William Tempest. p. 10.
- D'Alton, John (1845). The history of Ireland: from the earliest period to the year 1245, Vol II. Published by the author. p. 49.
- Rickard, J. (27 August 2000), Battle of Dundalk, 14 October 1318, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_dundalk.html
- Domhnall Ó Néill (1317). "Remonstrance of the Irish Chiefs to Pope John XXII". CELT: The Corpus of Electronic Texts. Retrieved 2016-08-15.
- Foster, R.F. The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland. Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 83 online.
- Lehane, Brendan. The Companion Guide to Ireland. Companion Guides, 2001, p. 458 online.
- Lewis, Samuel. A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, vol 2. London 1837. Full text downloadable.
- Saint Brigid’s Shrine & Well Faughart, with map