As one approches the village from Ardee the whole area is dominated by Louth Hall, set high on a bare hillside, an impressive castlelated mansion whose long battlemented outline dominates the north approach to Tallanstown. It`s obvious domination of the village in years gone by is clearly evident.
There are two parts of the Castle.The original part was built in the 14th century and it is gothic in design.
The Castle was extendedin the 18th and 19th century andin Georgian design. There were approximately 1075 acres of land attached to the estate.
The history ofthe Estate can be written around a family called Plunkett, who were great friends of Henry 8th and the English crown. Around 1530 under the rule of Henry 8th Patrick Plunkett was given an empty title of the 1st Lord Louth.
The most famous member of the family St Oliver Plunkett used Louth Hall on many occasions to hide from the British soldiers back in the 18th century.
This once splendid home has fallen into decay in recent times and unfortunately can be viewed only from the roadside.
I did a lot of research into the history of this castle so I am reasonably sure of my facts. The townland of Tallanstown in name goes back to the early Anglo Norman times when it is said to have got its name from a family called Tallans.
Then under Henry VII 1485-1509 the Plunkett family got possessions. But it does appear that it was under Henry VIII 1509-1549 that this family got most of its power. They got possession of the 1027 acres in the townland itself, they also got charters on lands all over Co. Louth. But most important they got possession of all the lands, mills, workshops, water rights and churches, abbey belongings to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Louth, they also got possession of Maghe Ross and Donaghmoyne church lands and buildings. This was in 1542-3.
The first Lord Oliver Louth was created by Henry VIII in 1525 and it was he who in order to protect the Pale and his own family arranged to have the present castle built. At that time the Plunketts lived in a small castle in the west side of the townland near Rathbody. It was not until after the death of Lord Oliver that his son Lord Thomas commenced to build this castle in approx 1538. He obtained a grant of ?500 from the Kings Council. The work lasted 5 years, which included the planting of a demesne wood. This wood was laid out in such a design that one could walk around for a whole day without walking over the same patch twice or without being exposed to sun or rain. The garden and woods near the castle were laid out in the form of the Plunkett Family Crest. And it was at that time the townland of Tallanstown changed its name to Louth Hall.
The McMahons of Farney were also known as Lords of Oriel, so when Oriel became Co Louth the Plunketts became Lords of Louth, they also became the number one enemy of all the Farney clans with the result that all through the 16th century a continual war want on between the men of Farney and the English settlement in the Pale. While the Pale moved many times due to the pressure from the O’Neills and McMahons it always held its ground along a line at Rogerstown, Cardistown, Charlestown, Tallanstown, Maplestown and the west of Dundalk onto a point on the Fane river called Castlering. Here the Talbots of Malahide got a very large grant to build a strong house and fort like Louth Hall, it was intended to guard a ford on the River Fane
The River Lagan also known as the Louth and Glyde due to its flooded valleys west of Tallanstown provided a very strong defence line between the English and Farney but here in the west of the parish there was what could be described as a no-mans land between the Irish and English.
It was along this point between Ballyhoe and Mills of Louth that the army of Farney made secret raids on the Pale. And when in the 1950′s the Board of Works did a very extensive deeping of the River Glyde they found a few man-made fords which were secretly made in order to enable them to get into the Pale, raid the English cattle and kill any of the planters that came their way. One very famous McMahon known as John Boy lived just across the River at Anahearn and indeed it was at his lands that the secret fords were found in 1950.
In a letter dated 4th May 1578 and signed Sir Nicholas Malby Lord Chief Justices it states “this morning came dulful news. The John-Boy with his ribles raided the Pale at Tallonstown and did provory the glorious young Patrich 3rd Lord of Louth who was with his friend dining at the beautiful new castle. He did ush (rush) out with 30 of his gentlemen soldiers and did give chase but was drawen into ambush at the great woods of Thomastown near the Old Abbey. (this Abbey is also mentioned in the Thomastown House) and was here with 20 of his nobal men killed”.
Those very knowledgeable in historical matters may have noticed in these notes that we have passed through the reign of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and now we found we are with Elizabeth I. But while the Lords Louth still retained their popularity with the English royalty they did not escape being called to order so on 9th November, 1579 the 4th Lord Thomas Louth was called to the Queens Court to answer why he should have on his castle 365 windows which was in fact the same number as was on the castle of her Royal Highness. He was excused since it was not he who planned the castle and that a Royal grant was given to build it. However, he was ordered to have some window closed.
Reading notes one might become confused as to what church the Plunkett or Lord Louths did belong, well up to 1538-40 the family would have been Roman Catholic but in order to retain and to gain more lands they supported Henry VIII in his new Reformed Church. Now branches of the family remained Roman Catholic such as the Westmeath House but the Tallanstown Lord Louths or Plunketts stayed with the Reformed Church up until the late 19th century when they again became Roman Catholic.
THE COUNTRY HOUSE DATABASE represents a first attempt at listing country houses in the British Isles from the late medieval period to ca. 1850, together with an index to all the families so far traced as having occupied them.