Dunleer /Dun Leire or Lann Leire (Church of Leire)
Dunleer has it's origins in the Sixth Century Monastery of Lann Leire which was located approximately where today Dunleer's Church of Ireland is located. After numerous attacks over it's history, it was finally burned to the ground in 1148. After a period of ruin, the Norman family of De Audley settled the area about thirty years later.
It is possible that it was at this time that the settlement became known as "Dun" Leire. There is a reference to "the ville of Dun Leire" in old records dating from 1227. Dunleer was granted a Market Town Charter in 1252, with the right to hold a Fair and Markets at various times.
Dunleer is the principal town in the former Barony of Ferrard and was granted an enhanced Charter by King Charles II in 1671 to hold markets and fairs.
This was followed by Royal Charter in 1678 establishing Dunleer as a Municipal Corporation (Town Borough Council). It had 13 members, and annually elected a mayor, known as "Soverign" of the Borough. It was the very last Borough to be established in Ireland. The Corporation has not convened since 1811.
Dunleer at one time also elected two members of parliament to the old Irish House of Commons, which was abolished by the Act of Union in 1801.
In the early 20th Century, the town becme a centre of appliance manufacturing, with the opening of the AET factory in 1938. This was later to become what is today's global electrical giant, Glen Dimplex.
In the latter part of the 20th Century, Dunleer developed as a centre of the Services industry, and with new people making the town their home, it developed into a local transport hub, with pressure growing on government agencies to re-open Dunleer's disused Railway Station.
Since the turn of the 21st Century, Dunleer has developed a vibrancy not seen before in the Town. This is due in part to the growth in Dunleer's population, which grew from 1,600 (2001 census) to 2,340 (2006 census). One has only to look at the number of voluntary groups that are involved in all sphere's of the community. As of 2014, there are numerous examples of progress being made and planned for the future.
For example, there are now Three Cafes, Two Restaurants, and three take-aways. The Cafes and Restaurants provide take away services too. It is hoped to open in the near future a Gaelscoil (Irish Language School) in the Area.
During the economic downturn experienced in early 2009, Dunleer remarkably bucked the prevailing trend, and new business actually came into the town, and the sense of optimism is heartening. The DCDB were particularly delighted to have Dunleer selected as the home of the Leinster Fleadh 2010 Festival, which was held on July 9-11th 2010.
In late 2010, the newly elected DCDB Executive Council for 2010/2011 made their priority for the forthcoming year the development of a much needed Community Play Ground, and Urban renewal of the fine 18th Century former Roman Catholic Parochial House (and one-time Municipal Market House) into a Community Campus entitled ‘Dunleer Market House and Gardens.
In 2011, DCDB Ltd. took charge of the Market House, and commenced planning how best to utilise such an asset to the best advantage for the entire community. Dunleer Community Development Board also initiated a massive fundraising and planning effort in March 2011, and in March 2012, they successfully completed Dunleer Community Playground, which was an outstanding achievement.
In December 2012, Dunleer Christmas Fair was revived by the Board as part of the four day Dunleer Christmas Festival, which involved Santa Arrival and Turning on The Christmas lights Night (Thurs), Wren Boys Night by Scoraiocht Lannleire (Fri), Christmas Fair by DCDB Ltd. (Sat), and Christmas Choral Evensong by St. Brigid's congregation (Sunday).
In a remarkable achievement for the DCDB team of volunteers, the Playground is complete, and the Market House is almost ready.
Dunleer Community Development Board 2014.