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Droichead Átha
Drogheda from the South
Drogheda from the South
Flag of Drogheda
Coat of arms of Drogheda
Coat of arms
Motto: Deus praesidium, mercatura decus  (Latin)
"God our strength, merchandise our glory"
Drogheda is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 53°42′50″N 6°21′01″W / 53.713889°N 6.350278°W / 53.713889; -6.350278Coordinates: 53°42′50″N 6°21′01″W / 53.713889°N 6.350278°W / 53.713889; -6.350278
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County County Louth & County Meath
Municipal district Drogheda Borough District
Dáil Éireann Louth
EU Parliament Midlands–North-West
Founded 911 AD
First Charter 1194 AD
County Status 1412 AD[1](Abolished 1898)
Highest elevation 23 m (75 ft)
Lowest elevation 1 m (3 ft)
Population [2] 38,578
 • Rank 6th
Demonym Droghedean, Boynesider
Time zone WET (UTC0)
 • Summer (DST) IST (UTC+1)
Irish Grid Reference O088754
Dialing code +353 41
Website drogheda.ie

Drogheda (/ˈdrɒhədə/; /ˈdrɔːdə/; Irish: Droichead Átha, meaning "bridge of the ford" Latin: Pontana Civitas) is a town located in the north east of Ireland. Siting on both banks of the River Boyne the town straddles both County Louth and County Meath but is predominantly situated in County Louth. It is the largest town[2][3] and sixth most populous area overall in Ireland with a population of 38,578 recorded from the 2011 Census.

During Roman times the Drogheda area was a trading centre[4] known as Inver Colpa.[5][6][7] The Viking Danes built on this and established a trading centre there in 911AD.[8] During the 12th century, after the Norman invasion the settlement of Drogheda flourished, becoming Ireland's first permanent Norman town. Initially divided into two separate towns on opposing side of the River Boyne, Drogheda-in-Meath on the south bank received its town charter in 1194AD and Drogheda-in-Uriel on the northern bank received its town charter in 1229AD. Although they immediately bordered one another, the two towns were in different church dioceses, had separate corporations, taxes, tariffs and landing charges. It wasn't until 1412AD that a new Charter was granted, unifying the two towns as a County Corporate, styled as ‘the County of the town of Drogheda’.[9] Drogheda continued as a County Borough until the setting up of County Councils, through the enactment of the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, which saw all of Drogheda, including a large area south of the River Boyne, become part of an extended County Louth.[9][10][11]

Drogheda has played a significant role in Irish history; key events include the visit of King John in 1210, the Black Death in 1348, the holding of Parliament at various times over the years 1441 – 1493, the effects of the Plague in 1479, the passing of Poynings Law in 1494, the swearing of allegiance to the Crown by the defeated Ulster Chiefs at the Dominican Friary in 1603, the failed Siege of Drogheda in 1641, the attack by Oliver Cromwell in 1649, and the Battle of the Boyne outside Drogheda in 1690. In the Twentieth Century Drogheda played its role in the momentous events which shaped the modern nation including the 1916 Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War during the years 1919 – 1923 which saw the shelling of Millmount Fort by Irish Free State forces.

Today Drogheda stands at the centre of the densely populated South Louth/East Meath region, which has a population of approximately 70,000 people.[12] The Electoral (Amendment) Act 2009 merged areas of East Meath with Louth for Dáil Éireann elections which allowed the town of Drogheda and its hinterland areas to form a single constituency.[13] As of 2014, Drogheda forms part of the Drogheda Borough District for local government purposes, a subsidiary of Louth County Council. There is a strong City Status campaign for the town headed by the Drogheda City Status Group.

Location and Function[edit]

Drogheda is situated in the east of Ireland approximately 47 km (29 mi.) north of Dublin, 35 km (22 mi.) south of Dundalk, 122 km (76 mi.) south of Belfast and 28 km (17 mi.) east of Navan. The town centre clusters around the narrow river Boyne Basin and is confined on both north and south sides by sharp hills. Drogheda’s central area is punctuated by a number of notable church spires and buildings which when combined with local topography, give a unique sense of place to the town. Drogheda is the largest town in Ireland[2] and acts as the major industrial, service and commercial centre for South County Louth, East and North County Meath. Drogheda’s Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital acts as the acute medical provider for the entire North East Region whilst Drogheda Port acts as a major import and export centre for much of the Eastern Irish Seaboard. The town forms the natural eastern gateway to the Boyne Valley, an area well endowed with a wide range of natural and built resources and a rich heritage including archaeological monuments of international significance including the world heritage, UNESCO designated, Bru na Boinne site. The Boyne Valley forms the southernmost extremity of County Louth and marks the border with County Meath to the south on which Drogheda stands.


Drogheda, in the Irish structure of the word, Droichead Átha translates as "the bridge of the ford" which signifies the ford on the River Boyne at which St. Mary's bridge stands today. Drogheda has been accordingly, by the historians of the early centuries, rendered in Latin "Pons Vadi" and "Pontana Civitas" while, in English, it was more vernacularly styled "Droicheatata" which dates from 1084AD,[14] "Droicheat Atha"(1193), "Drochet Atha" (1263), "Drochaidatha" (1293), "Droghdogh" (1441), "Drokeda", "Droghade", "Drougheda", "Drodath", "Drodag", "Droheda", "Drocheda", "Drohed" and sometimes "Treoid" and "Tredagh". This variety of pronunciations and spellings is due to the fact that there were no directories or dictionaries to consult at the time so words were usually spelled phonetically, this made the accent of the individual writer was an influencing factor.[15]

By 1671 there was still an evident struggle with the Anglicisation of Droichead Átha with Saint Oliver Plunkett using the spelling "Dreat" in a letter to Rome in that year. It is uncertain when the definitive spelling became Drogheda.[16]


Growth of Drogheda[edit]

View of Drogheda by Willem Van der Hagen, 1718.

The town of Drogheda is among the oldest urban centres in Ireland and its designation as a Borough represents one of the oldest Local Authorities in Ireland and indeed Europe which traced its origins back to 1412AD. The history of the town it representative Borough Council is long and sometimes controversial. Drogheda takes it’s name from the Gaelic, Droichead Atha meaning "Bridge of the Ford" referring to the town’s strategic location at a bridging point on the River Boyne between the provinces of Ulster and Leinster.

The beginnings of Drogheda as a town commence in the last quarter of the 12th century, it was Ireland's first Norman town. It is during this period that the townscape owes much of its form. The street pattern and boundaries were laid out and the town walls and churches were built. Documentary sources for the history of Drogheda begin to occur and in conjunction with the archaeological record aid the reconstruction of the town’s history and growth.[18] Drogheda-in-Uriel (Louth) on the north bank of the river was "probably in existence before the end of the 12th century with St. Peter’s church being founded here before 1186, and with the principle street axis established before 1215".[19] The urban settlement on the south bank of the river is much smaller, probably due to restrictions placed on house construction by the high rising scarp. This afforded the south side of the river defensive advantages, the earliest archaeological feature Millmount Motte was also established here.

After the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169 King Henry II feared that lords like Strongbow would try to set up an independent kingdom. He decided that the best policy was to divide and conquer. At this time Drogheda was two separate towns on opposing banks of the River Boyne. King Henry II conferred on Hugh De Lacy around 1172, the Lordship of Meath and the grant included the town of Drogheda-in-Meath on the south bank of the River Boyne which received its town charter from Richard the Lionheart in 1194AD. Under a similar grant Bertram de Verdun was given possession of Drogheda-in-Uriel (Louth) on the northern bank of the River Boyne, which received its town charter in 1229AD. The two towns were collectively knows in Latin as Drogheda ex Utraque Parte Aquce[20](Drogheda on both side of the water). Although they immediately bordered one another, separated by the River Boyne the two towns were in different church dioceses, had separate corporations, taxes, tariffs and landing charges. This last difference in particular was to lead to intense rivalry and even bloodshed as each town sought to undercut the other in order to gain a greater share of maritime trade.[21]

View of Drogheda from Millmount by Gabrielle Ricciardelli c. 1750 - 1755.

In 1220, a new grant of the Lordship of Meath was made to Hugh de Lacy's son Walter, by Henry III, the town and castle of Drogheda-in-Meath had become of so much importance, that the king retained them in his own possession, allowing to De Lacy £20 per ann. from the Exchequer, and the talliage of the town, as a compensation.[22]

In 1229, Henry III, by charter, gave to Drogheda-in-Uriel (Louth) certain privileges and free customs similar to those of Dublin. A new charter was granted in 1253 to the burgesses of Drogheda-in-Uriel (Louth), empowering them to elect a mayor, to exercise exclusive jurisdiction, and to hold an annual fair for 15 days: but the increase of the town was soon checked by the continued aggressions of the native inhabitants of the surrounding districts.

The rivalry and bloodshed between the two towns on opposing banks of the Boyne became so severe that in 1412, Father Philip Bennett, master of divinity, and a friar of the St. Mary Magdalen Dominican Friary in the town who, in the aftermath of a particularly 'sanguinary engagement' between the citizens of Drogheda-in-Meath and Drogheda-in-Uriel, invited both sides to hear him preach. On the feast of Corpus Christi outside the Collegiate St. Peters Church that he appealed to warring townsfolk and assumed for his theme these words of cxxxiii. Psalm,

Father Bennett having thrice asked the congregation with energy,

Alderman William Symcock answered, in the name of all,

When the sermon was ended, they were profusely entertained in the refectory of the St. Mary Magdalen Dominican Friary and, having there and then consulted with Father Bennett upon their disputes, by his advice a joint petition was made to King Henry IV, signed by Nicholas Flemmyng, Archbishop of Armagh for a "United Drogheda" which they sent to London by one Robert Ball.[21][23]

A charter of Union was granted by Henry IV at Westminster on the 1st November 1412. Robert Ball returned to Drogheda on the 15th of December that same year with the Charter of Union,[24] which provided for the towns of Drogheda on either side of the Boyne to be unified as a County Corporate, styled as ‘the County of the town of Drogheda’[9] to be governed by a mayor and two sheriffs chosen by the community.

The reasons given for this constitutional change included the harm caused by existing arrangements to Drogheda’s trading forces, and the dissensions and debates that they had given rise to among its inhabitants.[25]

View of Drogheda by Gabrielle Ricciardelli c. 1750 - 1755.

The following day, December 16, Nicholas Flemmyng, Archbishop of Armagh gave his blessing to the people of the county and town thus coalesced and that the first mayor of the United Drogheda so incorporated was the said William Symcock.[26] After the unification of the two towns, Drogheda was regarded along with Dublin, Waterford and Kilkenny as one of the four “Staple-Towns” of Ireland.[27][28]

Drogheda continued as a County Borough until the setting up of County Councils, through the enactment of the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, which saw all of Drogheda, including a large area south of the River Boyne, become part of an extended County Louth.[9][10][11]

With the passing of the County of Louth and Borough of Drogheda (Boundaries) Provisional Order, 1976,[29] County Louth and the Drogheda Borough again grew larger at the expense of County Meath. The boundary was further altered in 1994 by the Local Government (Boundaries) (Town Elections) Regulations 1994.[30] The 2007-2013 Meath County Development Plan recognises the Meath environs of Drogheda as a primary growth centre on a par with Navan.[31]

Historical events[edit]

Annalistic References[edit]

The Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland (Irish: Annála Ríoghachta Éireann) or the Annals of the Four Masters (Annála na gCeithre Máistrí) are chronicles of medieval Irish history, within the Annals the first account of the Drogheda area comes in the form of Inbhear Colptha (Inver Copla) on the Meath side of the Boyne in 'The first year of Conaire Mor, son of Ederscel, in the sovereignty of Ireland. The Age of the World, 5160.[32]

The Annals of the Four Masters first recorded Drogheda (Droichead-atha) in 'The Age of Christ, 1039.'[34]

Late Antiquity[edit]

Settlement activity is evident in the Drogheda vicinity during the early Bronze Age. Over 150 ceramic urns have been found in the past century at the Hill of Rath, including Encrusted Urns, Cordoned Urns, Pygmy cups and Food Vessels suggesting the burial site was in use from 1800 BC to 140BC. five bronze flat axeheads of Early Bronze Age date have been found. During the Late Bronze Age little is known of settlement in the area, but stray finds of this period have been discovered including a bronze socketed axehead (NMI: E92:384), a bronze sword dating to c.700BC, and a piece of gold ring money. These finds are sufficient to show that the area in the vicinity of Drogheda was occupied during the Bronze Age and that the site itself was frequented.[35][36]

The first maps showing the Drogheda area are of the River Boyne and date back to 150AD when the it was called Bovinda on a map drawn by Egyptian cartographer Ptolemy. He claimed that he received his knowledge on these matters from “the merchants who frequented Ireland.” Even in the confined ancient world the area around the mouth of the River Boyne was well known as a trading centre.[4]

Late Iron Age (Early Christian Ireland)[edit]

According to legend, St. Patrick in 443AD, walked to Drogheda, where he took a boat along the River Boyne to the village of Slane.[37]

Early Middle Ages[edit]

The prince of Austrasia Dagobert landed in Drogheda in 673 A.D. and immediately went to Slane where he passed 18 years studying religion and science. He then returned to Austrasia to become King Dagobert II.

Milesius and his followers first landed in Ireland at or or near Drogheda after a hard contested struggle, in which his son, Coalpha, was either killed or drowned. Coalpha was buried near the spot where he fell, and his memory is still preserved, by his having given name to the parish of Colp in Drogheda.

Drogheda, in the year 911 fortified by, and became the strong hold of Turgesius, the Dane, from which he frequently sallied, and laid waste the surrounding country.[37]

Excavations in Drogheda have shown that during the Early Historic Period the area was wealthy with stray finds within the town, such as two penannular brooches, now in the British Museum.[38] A double spiral headed pin,7th-8th century in date and at least five bronze stick pins (10th – 12th century) have been found. Most of these objects were found during dredging of the River Boyne.

High Middle Ages (Arrival of the Normans)[edit]

In 1180, at Lungangreen in Northern Drogheda, Norman John de Courcy battled O'Hanlon, Chief of Armagh. There was no clear winner and both sides retreated with heavy losses.[37]

By 1186 a defensive motte and bailey had been built at Millmount which overlooks the town from a bluff on the south bank of the River Boyne. The first town defenses which enclosed the settlements of Drogheda date to the 1190s. Archaeological discoveries of the 1970s show the original fortifications to consist of a ditch and an earthen bank with wooden palisades on top. Despite this, the defences were strong enough to repulse an attack in 1315-16 by Edward Bruse's Scottish army.[21]

In 1193, Derforghaill, wife of Tigernán Ua Ruairc, and daughter of Murchadh O'Maoilseachlainn [King of Meath], died in the monastery of Droicheat Atha [Drogheda], in the 85th year of her age.[14]

The quay in front of St.Saviour’s Church, immediately west of the bridge on the north side of the Boyne is first referred to in 1218. In 1306 the burgesses petitioned the King for permission to build a quay outside the precinct of the Franciscan Friary on the east side of the bridge. In 1340 the burgesses received a grant of quayage which was to be expended on repairing the quays and towers of the town wall.

1234 marked the commencement of the building of Drogheda's town walls.[14] Drogheda possesses one of the most extensive series of murage grants for any Irish town with at least 13 grants spanning the years between 1234 and 1424. The murage grants basically consisted of a licence to levy a toll upon goods coming into the town and the money thus gathered at the gates was used to construct and repair the town wall. The prosperity of medieval Drogheda can be seen in these town walls and fortifications built around the town between 1234 and 1334, enclosing an area of 113 acres, 33 acres on the south side and 80 acres on the north side. With a circumference of one and a half miles the walled city of Drogheda was twice the size of medieval walled Dublin.[39] The archaeological remains of medieval Drogheda are fairly extensive and include ruins of the Hospital of St. Mary D’Urso; the Tower of St. Magdalene on the site of the Dominican Friary; the Tholsel at the junction of West Street and Shop Street; the Barbican of St.Laurence at the east end of the same street; the Motte at Millmount and fragments of the town wall. Archaeological excavation has uncovered the remains of St. Catherine’s Gate at the Mall, a 12th-century stone building at the corner of Shop Street and Dyer Street, remains of a medieval river wall, a wooden quay side on the south of Dyer Street, a wooden revetment at the south end of Shop Street, burgage plots and stone-lined pits at John Street.

On the north bank of the River Boyne near Shop Street in 1981, during investigations by David Sweetman the remains of what appeared to be part of an early thirteenth century quayside were discovered. A number of timbers were also salvaged from the quayside on the south side of the Boyne, once part of a front braced vertical waterfront, a type characteristic of North West Europe. Dendrochronological dating gave a 1200 AD date, providing evidence for the town’s earliest quayside.. This evidence proves that around the year 1200AD the Normans were actively engaged in constructing the town of Drogheda and its first bridge and quayside.[18][27]

Friar Patrick O'Sgannail, archbishop of Ard-Macha, held a general Chapter in Drochet-atha [Drogheda] in the year 1263 (the 2nd, 3rd and 4th week-days after the Feast of All Saints).[14]

The Patent Rolls record King Edward’s orders for two galleys to be built in Drogheda during the 13th century. Taxes imposed on ship building materials in a murage grant suggests that the industry was in operation on the south side in 1296, “large boards, masts, rigging ropes and canvas for ships were subject to tax”.[40] At the close of the 13th century the royal armies of Scotland, Wales and Gascony were supplied with wheat, oats, flour and victuals from Drogheda. Animals, corn, hides, wool and fish were also exported during the 13th – 15th centuries. Drogheda was the centre of a sizeable Irish trade also.[41] The murage grants indicate that oxen, horses, sheep, pigs, wheat, rye, barley, oats, butter, cheese, apples, salmon, eels and seafish were marketed in the town. Throughout the medieval period Drogheda was an important port, utilising its estuarine location to full potential. According to the customs returns of 1276-1333, it was the fourth largest port in Ireland, handling a greater trade than Dublin, Galway or Limerick. Cloth was manufactured in Dyer St, leather working, skinners and butchers are attested in the 13th – 14th centuries.[18]

In 1297, Henry Mageraghty, Bishop of Conor, died, and was interred in the monastery of Drogheda.[14]

In 1316 The Lord Thomas Maundevile marched out of Drogheda with a strong party to Carrickfergus, on Maundy Thursday, and engaged the Scots and killed thirty of them.[14]

On the Sunday following [the Feast of Ss. Margaret] 1317, the Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, Justiciary of Ireland, Marched with his whole army towards Drogheda. At the same time, the Ulster-men took a great booty at Drogheda, but the Inhabitants sallied out and retook it; in this action, Miles Cogan and his Brother were both slain, and six other Lords of Ulster were taken Prisoners, and brought to the castle of Dublin.[14]

In the 7th and 24th of Edward I, the town received grants of toll for murage; and in 1316, the king granted 300 marks for the repair of the walls and turrets. In 1317, the burgesses of Drogheda in Meath obtained a new charter for a weekly market, with the grant of a piece of ground on which to hold the same, and the decision of all pleas except those of the crown. Mandates were issued, in 1319 and 1320, by the king to his justiciary in Ireland, to protect the mayor and burgesses of the town in Louth in the enjoyment of their liberties, and to grant remission of their fee farm rent of 60 marks per ann., to enable them to extend their fortifications.[42]

There was such an outflow of the Boyne in the year 1330, as was never seen before; "which flung down all the bridges upon this river, both wood and stone, except Babebridge. The water also carried away several Mills, and did much damage to the Friers-minor of Trym and Drogheda, by breaking down their houses.

In 1375, a mayor of the staple was appointed for both towns of Drogheda; but the calamity of pestilence, added to that of almost incessant warfare with the Scots and native septs, had so reduced the Borough of Drogheda, that in the year 1380, King Richard II then conferred upon them certain customs and duties for the repair of their walls and fortifications, and for the general improvement of the town.[42]

On March 16th, 1394, O'Donnell, O'Hanlon, McMahon, O'Neill and other Ulster chiefs submitted to England’s Richard II in the hall of the Magdalene Monastery in Drogheda.[37]

In 1407, the inhabitants of Drogheda united with those of Dublin in a predatory warfare against their common enemies, which they extended even to the coast of Scotland.[42]

Thomas FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Kildare also conventionally called "Thomas of Drogheda", attempted to found a university at Drogheda (first in Ireland - Trinity College, Dublin, was founded in 1592) but failed because he was accused by his political enemies of treason, for aiding the Irish against the King's subjects, as well as extortion. He attended a Parliament held in Drogheda on February 15, 1468 and was extracted from the Dominican friary and summarily executed, profoundly shocking the whole of Ireland. Edward IV learned the execution of his former friend with initial displeasure. He had been replaced by Sir John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, as king’s lieutenant.[43] Desmond was buried at St. Peter's Church, then afterwards removed to Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

Drogheda was arguably the most important walled town in the English Pale during the medieval period. It frequently hosted meetings of the Irish Parliament at various times over the years 1441 – 1493. In a spill-over from the War of the Roses, the Earl of Desmond and his two youngest sons (still children) were executed in Drogheda on Valentine's Day, 1468, on orders of the Earl of Worcester, the Lord Deputy of Ireland. It later came to light[44] that the Queen herself was implicated in the orders given.

In 1474, when the fraternity of arms was established, the goods of the men of Drogheda and Dublin were exempted from the tax for its support; and by the statute passed in Lord Grey's parliament, concerning the election of temporary chief governors, the mayors of Drogheda and Dublin were to have a voice in the council. In an engagement which took place at Malpas Bridge, during this reign, the mayor of Drogheda, at the head of 500 archers and 200 men armed with poleaxes, assisted in the defeat of O'Reilly and his confederates, who had committed great ravages in the county of Louth; in reward of which valiant conduct, the mayors are allowed to have a sword of state borne before them.[42]

"John o Rely Lo. of Breny, Hugh, his son, mc Cabe & mc Brady 2400 men entered the County of Louth burning and destroying the country above them towards Ardee. Sr John Bole Primate ranne to Drogheda and declared this invasion to the Mayor [possibly Richard Gernon] & Comons who gathered 500 chosen archers of the town and 200 polaxes & pans & went strayt to Ardee where met him Sr Robt Taaf with 70 men a horsback & in the Maudlin chappell the sd Primate a solemn mass & gave his benison to all the people: the Mayor mched to Corboly by Malpas bridge where both armys fought. Here O Rely wth Hugh his son mc Cabe Mc Brady were slayne & 400 of their men. 23 of Aprill 1498".[14]

On St. Jerome's day, the last day of September, 1472 The bridge of the town of Drogheda fell into the Boyne.

A general chapter (or synod) of the province of (Ulster), was held at the beginning of July 1486, at Drogheda, by the Archbishop of Armagh, namely, Octavious Italicus, which was attended by all the bishops and clergy of the North of Ireland.[14]

In 1494 Parliament was moved to the Drogheda. Sir Edward Poynings, in his position as Lord Deputy of Ireland, as appointed by King Henry VII of England, called together an assembly of the parliament. Coming in the aftermath of the divisive Wars of the Roses, Poynings' intention was to make Ireland once again obedient to the English monarchy. Assembling the Parliament in 1495 Poynings' Law was passed which subordinated the Irish Parliament's legislative powers to the King and his English Council and declared that the Parliament of Ireland was thereafter to be placed under the authority of the Parliament of England. Poynings' Law was a major rallying point for groups seeking self-government for Ireland, particularly the Confederate Catholics in the 1640s. It was also a major grievance for Henry Grattan's Patriot Party in the late 18th century, who consistently sought a repeal of Poynings' Law. The Act remained in place until the Constitution of 1782 gave the Irish parliament legislative independence.

Post Medieval Period[edit]

In 1501 the market Cross in Drogheda in St. Peters parish was made by John Ballard at his own charges.

In 1506 The bridge at Drogheda was made and finished while John Wyrall was Mayor after it fell in 1472.

27 of January, 1548 "about midnight St Peters steeple of Drogheda was blowne downe by a wonderfull great winde being one of the highest steeples in the world."[14]

In 1588 when Red Hugh O’Donnell escaped from prison in Dublin Castle he fled with a friend to Drogheda. Fearing that he would be recognised he did not come directly through the town. He turned from the main road towards the banks of the Boyne. There he handsomely paid a fisherman to row both himself and his colleagues across the river. The fisherman then recrossed the river and brought their horses through the town to where they waited at the landing place.[27]

The town was besieged twice during the Irish Confederate Wars.[45]

Cromwell's Forces commence their bombardment of Drogheda, 1649.

Drogheda in 1641 during the Irish Rebellion of 1641, a Catholic force under Phelim O'Neill laid siege to Drogheda. The rebels tried three assaults on the town. On the first occasion they simply tried to rush the walls. In their second attempt, a small party of 500 men broke into the town at night through dilapidated sections of the walls, with the aim of opening the gates for a storming party of 700 men outside. However, the initial incursion was repulsed in confused fighting and in the morning, the garrison opened the gates to rebels outside, only to take them prisoner once they entered the town. The rebels tried for a final time in March 1642, when a relief of the town was imminent, attacking the walls with scaling ladders, but were again repulsed. Shortly afterwards, the rebel siege was broken by English reinforcements from Dublin, under Colonel Moore. Colonel Moore was later created the Earl of Drogheda was created in the Peerage of Ireland in 1661.

On the 11th January 1642 during the Siege of Drogheda (1641) a pinnace, a frigate, a gabbard with two shallops and another vessel laden with biscuit, powder and ammunition arrived at the mouth of the River Boyne for the relief of the town. The entrance of the harbour was very narrow and at its mouth was a bar of sand, unpassable at low water. To close up the navigation completely O'Neill's forces sunk a ship in the channel but a strong west wind had a short time previously carried her out to sea. The besiegers had also stationed two vessels on each side and fixed an iron chain with a cable between them across the channel but the pinnace and shallops that brought the supplies overcame all the obstacles, passed the bar even at low tide and skimming over the chain arrived safely at the quay within the town walls.

The second and more widely known Siege of Drogheda took place on 3–11 September 1649 at the outset of the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. The town of Drogheda was held by the Confederate Ireland and Royalist when it was besieged and stormed by English Parliamentarian forces under Oliver Cromwell.

Oliver Cromwell arrived at Drogheda on 3 September and his siege guns, brought up by sea, arrived two days later. His total force was about 12,000 men and eleven heavy, 48-pounder, siege artillery pieces. On Monday 10 September Cromwell had a letter delivered to the governor, the English Royalist Sir Arthur Aston, which read:

A 19th century representation of the Massacre at Drogheda, 1649.


Arthur Aston, the Royalist commander in Drogheda, refused to surrender and at 5PM on 11 September, Cromwell ordered simultaneous assaults on the southern and eastern breaches in the walls of Drogheda. The volume of Parliamentarian forces streaming into the breaches, the Royalist resistance at the walls collapsed. The surviving defenders tried to flee across the River Boyne into the northern part of the town, while Arthur Aston and 250 others took refuge in Millmount Fort overlooking Drogheda's southern defenses. A drawbridge crossed the River Boyne that would have stopped the attackers reaching the northern part of the town, but the defenders had no time to pull it up behind them and the killing continued in the northern part of Drogheda. With up to 6,000 Parliamentary troops now inside the town, Drogheda had been taken.

Cromwell listed the dead as including "many inhabitants" of Drogheda in his report to Parliament. In his own words after the siege of Drogheda,


Hugh Peter, an officer on Cromwell's council of war, gave the total loss of life as 3,552, of whom about 2,800 were soldiers, meaning that between 700–800 civilians were killed.[48] The week after the storming of Drogheda, the Royalist press in England claimed that 2,000 of the 3,000 dead were civilians-a theme that was taken up both in English Royalist and in Irish Catholic accounts. Irish clerical sources in the 1660s claimed that 4,000 civilians had died at Drogheda, denouncing the sack as "unparalleled savagery and treachery beyond any slaughterhouse"[49]

Battle of the Boyne by Jan Wyck c. 1693

The Battle of the Boyne was fought in on 1 July 1690 between two rival claimants of the English, Scottish, and Irish thrones – the Catholic James VII & II and the Protestant William III and II across the River Boyne some 6 km (3.7 mi) west of the town of Drogheda. The battle, won by William, was a turning point in James's unsuccessful attempt to regain the crown and ultimately helped ensure the continuation of Protestant ascendancy in Ireland. Drogheda held for James II under Lord Iveagh but surrendered the day after the battle of the Boyne.[37]

Main article: Battle of the Boyne

King William (III) of Orange, presented the then Corporation of Drogheda with a mace and sword of state shortly after his victory at the Battle of the Boyne, to replace the previous mace, which James II of England had melted down to enhance his depleted exchequer. They are two very fine objects, some of the most impressive of their sort in Ireland. The mace is one of the biggest in Ireland and also one of the finest. It is solid silver, weighs 108 ounces, and is five foot five inches long, mounted on the original wooden pole. It is constructed in eight parts which are laced onto a central shaft and secured at the base by a nut. It is decorated in repoussé and chasing on the shaft, with floral and foliate motifs. Around the head are a crowned rose, thistle, fleur-de-lis and harp, each of them between the letters WR and within the laurel wreaths linked by foliate female busts. Above, on the cap, is the royal arms of William III. The words Honi soit qui mal y pense meaning ‘shame on him who thinketh evil’, the motto of the English chivalrous Order of the Garter, are also engraved on the head. The sword is 3 foot 6 inches long, and the scabbard bears a decoration with the letters CR, meaning Carolus Rex, or King Charles I, suggesting that even if the sword was presented by William, the scabbard may have been reused from an earlier sword from the reign of Charles I. The Mace, sword and Scabbard are precious heirlooms of Drogheda, a reminder of the towns past, they are on show in The Highlanes Gallery in Drogheda.[50]


Joseph Ravell's map of Drogheda during the Georgian period c.1749

During the Georgian Period, the streets of Drogheda were described as "tolerably regular, and many of the houses are well built, especially those in the principal street, and on the quay, which extends along the north side of the river. The total number of houses is 2860, of which 1300 only are assessed to the rates for lighting and watching the town; for the former, which is done by a gas company established a few years since, the whole assessment amounts to £316, and for the latter to £239, per annum. The inhabitants are principally supplied with water from a well at the linen-hall; and the streets are paved and kept in repair, under the management of a committee, at the expense of the corporation, for which purpose about £230 is annually appropriated from the corporation funds."[51]

During this period, a public reading and news-room had been fitted up in the Mayoralty House, and a newspaper, called the Drogheda Journal, has been in publication since 1774.

A bridge of three arches was erected across the River Boyne in 1722.

In 1777 a Riot occurred in Drogheda in consequence of a mob rising to prevent the exportation of cattle to England.

In 1780 five people were killed and three wounded by soldiers of the local corps of Volunteers in Drogheda, during a riot.[14]

In 1790 Drogheda Harbour Commissioners was established, later renamed Drogheda Port Company. "The port of Drogheda carries on a very extensive trade chiefly with Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, and also a very considerable cross-channel trade; the principal exports are corn, flour, oatmeal, cattle, butter, and linen cloth; and the chief imports are timber, slates, coal, rock-salt, iron, bark, herrings, and dried fish, with manufactured goods of all kinds."

According to the returns for the year ending Jan. 5th, 1835, there were shipped from this port, 126,380 loads of meal, 42,500 bushels of wheat, 3000 barrels of peas, 37,000 sacks of flour, 2500 barrels of barley, 22,000 barrels of oats, 13,000 crates of eggs, 600 firkins of butter, 4100 cows, 12,000 sheep, 39,000 pigs, and 500 barrels of ale. The number of vessels in the foreign trade that entered inwards, during that year, was 14 British and 3 foreign, and two British vessels cleared outwards. In the trade with Great Britain and across the channel, 494 ships, including steam-vessels, entered inwards, and 462 cleared outwards; and in the trade with various ports in Ireland, 42 vessels entered inwards and 23 cleared outwards. The gross amount of the customs' duties, during the year 1835, was £9476. 19. 3., and for 1836, £13,382. 13. 2.; that of the excise duties collected in the district, in 1835, was £75,007. 19. 3."[52]

During the Georgian period the Industrial Revolution was in full swing in Drogheda. "The manufacture of coarse linen, calico, and stockings, formerly carried on to a very great extent, has, together with hand-loom weaving, very much declined in Drogheda. A very extensive mill for spinning flax has recently been erected by a company of proprietors, and is principally wrought by steam power. The tanning of leather was formerly carried on very extensively, and is still considerable; and the manufacture of soap and candles is also on a tolerably large scale. There are two iron foundries, several salt works, an extensive distillery, and three large breweries of ale and table beer, one of which, in James Street, belonging to Mr. Cairns, produces ale which is in great repute, and is exported to England and the West Indies; attached to it is a very extensive malting establishment. There are several large flour and corn-mills, of which that belonging to Messrs. Smith and Smythe, with the adjoining stores, was erected at an expense of £20,000; the machinery is impelled by a steam-engine of 50-horse power, and is capable of grinding 40,000 barrels of wheat, and 60,000 barrels of oats annually."[51]


In 1825 the Drogheda Steam Packet Company was formed in the town, providing shipping services to Liverpool. "The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port is 40, of an aggregate burden of 3763 tons. A considerable trade is carried on with Liverpool, between which place, Glasgow, and this port, five steam-packets, of about 350 tons each, are constantly plying. The harbour, for the improvement of which the Commissioners of Public Works have granted £10,000, has been rendered much more commodious, and is in a state of progressive improvement; a breakwater is about to be formed and a lighthouse erected. The river has been deepened four feet by a steam dredging vessel, calculated to raise 1000 tons hourly; it is navigable to the bridge for vessels of 200 tons', and above it for lighters of 70 tons', burden. A patent slip is also in progress of construction, and a large iron-foundry for steam machinery has been erected. The value of these improvements may be correctly estimated from the fact that, within the last seven years, the trade of the port has been more than doubled. The inland trade is also greatly facilitated by the Boyne navigation to Navan, which it is intended to extend to Lough Erne."[53]

In 1832 there was a Cholera epidemic in Drogheda and Dundalk. Dundalk was relieved from its pestilential effects in about three weeks, but Drogheda suffered much more severely.[14]

In 1844 the Dublin and Drogheda Railway was completed.

The Drogheda to Navan railway opened in 1850.

Drogheda during the Famine years was the second largest port of departure for over one million people who were forced to emigrate. Some travelled only as far as Britain while others became known as ‘two boaters’ – travelling onwards from Britain to North America. In 1847 alone, some 70,000 people left Ireland through Drogheda Port, mainly bound for Liverpool on steam ships. Also in 1847 at the height of the Famine the fare to Liverpool rose from 2 shillings to 5 shillings, leaving many people stranded in Drogheda.[54]

Irish Free State Forces after the shelling of Millmount, 1922

In 1855 The Boyne Viaduct Designed by the Irish civil engineer Sir John MacNeill it was the seventh bridge of its kind in the world when built and considered one of the wonders of the age.[55]

"The markets of Drogheda are on Thursday and Saturday; and fairs for cattle of every kind, and especially for horses of superior breed, are held annually on May 12th, June 22nd, Aug. 26th, and Oct. 29th, by ancient charter; and by a recent patent also on March 10th, April 11th, Nov. 21st, and Dec. 19th, when large quantities of wool and various other articles of merchandise are exposed for sale. The corn market is a very neat and commodious building, erected after a design by the late Mr. F. Johnston. There are convenient shambles for butchers' meat, and adjacent is a fish market."[56]

Modern Era[edit]

In 1921 the preserved severed head of Saint Oliver Plunkett, who was executed in London in 1681, was put on display in St. Peter's Church, where it remains today. The church is located on West Street, which is the main street in the town.

In 1922, during the Irish Civil War, Millmount Fort was occupied by Anti-Treaty forces and on July 4, 1922, it became the target of shelling by the army of the Irish Free State. The Free State Forces under Michael Collins had been given extensive support by the British Army at the express wish of Winston Churchill who insisted that the Republican Forces be crushed. Using the same British Army 18 pounder artillery piece which had shelled the Republican H.Q. in the Four Courts in Dublin some days earlier the Free State Forces bombarded Millmount Fort for several hours before the Republican garrison retreated.

In September 1979 Pope John Paul II visited Killineer, Drogheda where he spoke to a crowd of over 300,000 pledging the people of Ireland particularly those involved in the troubles to turn to peace.[57]

Historical Landmarks[edit]

Year Name Image
1206 Hospital of St. Mary d’Urso (Old Abbey)[58] Drogheda StMary'sFriary.JPG
1224 The Magdalene Tower, Dominican Friary[59] Drogheda StMaryMagdaleneFriary.JPG
1280c Saint Laurence Gate Drogheda - St. Laurences Gate (5638818100).jpg
1280c Buttergate
1714 Richmond Barracks
1730 No. 72 West Street
1730 No. 106 West Street
1734 Barlow House[60][61] Barlow House, West Street, Drogheda- 2014-07-08 14-51.jpg
1734[62] Ballsgrove House
1740* Clarke House & Singleton House (Reconstruction) Clarke House, St. Laurence Street, Drogheda - geograph.org.uk - 1282866.jpg
1740 St. Peter's Place (The Alley's)[63]
1750 No. 70 West Street
1752 St. Peter's Church of Ireland [64] St- Peter's Church of Ireland, Drogheda- 2014-07-17 11-42.jpg
1755 St. Peter's Rectory
1760 No's. 20, 21, 23 & 24 St. Laurence Street[65]
1765 Mayoralty House[66]
1770[67] Tholsel[68]
1780 No. 86 West Street
1796[69] Corn Exchange (Borough District offices)
1796 Siena Convent
1807 St. Mary's Church of Ireland (Former)[70] St. Mary's Church of Ireland, Drogheda - geograph.org.uk - 594471.jpg
1807 St. Mary's Sunday School Entrance to St. Mary's churchyard, Drogheda - geograph.org.uk - 594480.jpg
1808 Governors House, Millmount Millmount, Drogheda - geograph.org.uk - 539717.jpg
1808 Millmount Martello Tower Cannon fire at Millmount, Drogheda - geograph.org.uk - 1079077.jpg
1811 Wesleyan Methodist Church (Former)
1816 St. John's Home, Peter's Hill[71]
1818 Former Gaol
1820 Donaghy's Mill
1827 Presbyterian Church[72]
1829 Franciscan Church (Currently The Highlanes Gallery)[73]
1830 West Gate Mill (Donaghys Mill)[74]
1830 Merchant's Quay[75]
1840 Ballsgrove Gate
1852 Drogheda Railway Station (McBride Station)[76] Drogheda railway station exterior.jpg
1860 No. 46 St. Laurence Street[77]
1865 Whitworth Hall[78]
1866 Augustinian Friary[79]
1867 St. Laurence Lodge, Scholars Townhouse. (Former Christian Brothers School)
1867 St. Peter's Glebe House[80]
1874 Cord Church and Burial Ground[81]
1875 Former Convent of Mercy[82]
1876 Bank of Ireland, Laurence Street[83]
1878 St. Mary Magdalene's Dominican Church[84]
1879 St. Mary's Sunday School[85]
1880 St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church[86] Drogheda - St. Peter's Church.jpg
1890 Clarks Bar
1892 St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church[87]
1896 No. 13 West Street (Former Firstactive Bank) [88]
1905 Former Carnegie Library[89]

Town Motto, Coat of Arms and Star and Crescent Emblem[edit]

Historical Drogheda coat of arms
Drogheda coat of arms today


The commerce and trade of Drogheda, and its premier importance, is exemplified in the town's motto Deus praesidium, mercatura decus translates as "God our strength, merchandise our glory".[90]

Coat of Arms[edit]

The Drogheda coat of arms mounted on a blue shield, shows a crenelled St. Laurence's Gate, with battlements and loopholes, of two towers, surmounted by red pennants, tapering flags, with a lowered portcullis at the gate’s entrance gate signifying the security of the walled town.

On the right side of the gate, a ship appears to sail, Historically having St George’s white ensign displayed on the stern. This represents the trade which the town supported from earliest times. To the left of the gate is three lions which are taken from the Royal Arms of England which are traced to King Richard I of England's Great Seal of the Realm.

The Crest, on the wreath on top of the Arms is the unusual one of the Star and Crescent , was taken from the coat of arms of Richard The Lionheart who presented Drogheda with its first charter in 1194AD. The star is an eight pointed star between the two ends of a crescent moon.[91]

Star and Crescent[edit]

The star and crescent symbol was originally used as the flag of Constantinople. According to legend in 339 BC the city of Byzantium won a decisive battle under a brilliant waxing moon which they attributed to their patron Goddess Artemis whose symbol was the crescent moon. In honor of Artemis the citizens adopted the crescent moon as their symbol. When the city became the Christian Roman Constantinople in 330 AD, Constantine also added the Virgin Marys star on the flag.

Arms of Isaac Komenos of Cyprus

Isaac Komnenus was the last ruler of Cyprus before the Frankish conquest during the Third Crusade. He was a minor member of the Komnenus family, a great nephew of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos (1143-1180) and a grandson of the Sebastocrator Isaac. The coat of arms used by Komnenus was a crescent moon and an eight pointed star on an azure background, adopted in relation with his family links to the Byzantine emperor. Emperor Manuel I Komnenos made Isaac governor of Isauria and the town of Tarsus (in present-day eastern Turkey), where he started a war with the Armenians and was imprisoned by them. When Isaac was released in 1185, he hired a troop of mercenaries and sailed to Cyprus. He presented falsified imperial letters that ordered the local administration to obey him in everything and established himself as ruler of the island.

In 1191, Berengaria of Navarre the fiancée of the English King Richard the Lionheart, and also his sister Joan of England, Queen of Sicily, were traveling together when shipwrecked on Cyprus and then taken captive by Isaac. In retaliation Richard conquered the island while on his way to Tyre. Isaac was taken prisoner near Cape St. Andreas on the Karpass Peninsula, the northernmost tip of the island. According to tradition, Richard had promised Isaac not to put him into irons, so he kept him prisoner in chains of silver. At this time Richard adopted the star and crescent symbol, which Issac Komnenus had been using, as his own.[92]

In 1194 it was Richard, who granted the Town's of Drogheda and Portsmouth their first charters. It is believed that the Town's adapted the symbol to use as their coat of arms in tribute to King Richard, for his patronage in granting Town status.

Vernacular narrative[edit]

A local narrative has it that the star and crescent were included in the town arms after Abdülmecid I Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (predecessor to the Republic of Turkey) sent three vessels laden with foodstuffs and financial aid to Drogheda during the Great Famine. Although it has been proven to have no connection to the star and crescent on the Drogheda coat of arms which dates from 1194.

Both the Drogheda Argus and the Drogheda Conservative newspapers reported on 'foreign ships' that docked at the town of Drogheda from 10–14 May 1847. According to the Drogheda Independent, two of the ships arrived from the Ottoman Port of Thessalonica, which is now known as Salonika. The third ship arrived from the port of Stettin. The three ships brought wheat and Indian Corn for local merchants in the area. His generosity to the Irish people was reported in the in the London Times on Saturday, 17 April 1847, as well as in the Nation newspaper in Ireland. A letter found in Ottoman archives, written from the principle dignitaries of Ireland, explicitly thanks Abdülmecid I for his help during the famine.

A plaque in Drogheda unveiled in 1995 by Drogheda Mayor Alderman Godfrey and the then Turkish Ambassador to Ireland, Taner Baytok reads, “The Great Irish Famine of 1847 -- In remembrance and recognition of the generosity of the People of Turkey towards the People of Ireland.”[93] A film is being shot regarding the subject.[94]


Louth Dáil Éireann constituency[edit]

For elections to Dáil Éireann, Drogheda is represented by the five member Louth constituency which takes in the entire county of Louth and two electoral divisions in County Meath.

The Electoral (Amendment) Act 2009 merged the electoral divisions of St.Mary's (Part) and Julianstown (collectively know as East Meath) in County Meath with County Louth to form one Dáil Éireann constituency. The Report on Dáil and European Parliament Constituencies 2007 outlined "by extending the constituency southwards from, and in the environs of, Drogheda and taking in electoral divisions which have extensive linkages with the town. This will allow the inclusion of the town of Drogheda and hinterland areas in a single constituency."[95] This merger allowed the areas of the Greater Drogheda area in County Meath[12] and their combined population of 20,375 to be merged with Drogheda and County Louth. Following the 2011 general election, the constituency elected two TDs for the Fine Gael party (centre right), and one TD each for Fianna Fáil (centre to centre-right), the Labour Party (centre left) and Sinn Féin (left wing).

Louth County Council[edit]

Main article: Louth County Council

Drogheda is a part of Louth County Council. Under the Local Government Reform Act 2014, County Louth is subdivided into municipal districts for which Drogheda is part of the Drogheda Borough District.

Drogheda Borough District[edit]

Drogheda Borough District members from the 2014 local elections
Local electoral area Name Party
Drogheda Imelda Munster Sinn Féin
Paul Bell Labour Party
Alan Cassidy Sinn Féin
Tommy Byrne Fianna Fáil
Kevin Callan Fine Gael
Oliver Tully Fine Gael
Frank Godfrey Independent
Richie Culhane Fine Gael
Pio Smith Labour Party
Kenneth Flood Sinn Féin

Drogheda Borough District (Irish: Ceantar Buirge Droichead Átha)is a second-level local government area in Ireland which came into being on 1 June 2014, ten days after the local elections.[96][97]

The district is associated with the borough of Drogheda which has been in existence since 1412AD and is termed 'Drogheda Borough District' respectively. The 'Drogheda Local Electoral Area' is an electoral area for local government purposes. The Drogheda Borough District corresponds to The Drogheda LEA.

Under the Local Government Reform Act 2014, the Local Electoral Area of Drogheda returns ten Councillors. Those elected in the LEA serves on Louth County Council, and simultaneously on the Borough District executive. The Borough District executive is headed by a Mayor. The current mayor is Kevin Callan (Fine Gael).[98]

Transport Infrastructure[edit]


The Drogheda bypass section of M1 approaching the Boyne Cable bridge.

The Drogheda Bypass is located 3 km west of the town and forms part of the M1 motorway(E1 Euro Route 1) (main DublinBelfast motorway). The Mary McAleese Boyne Valley Bridge know locally as the Boyne Cable Bridge carries traffic from the M1, across the River Boyne. It was opened on 9 June 2003 and is the second longest cable stayed bridge in Ireland.

The Belfast - Dublin Enterprise pulling into Drogheda station.


Drogheda railway station opened on 25 May 1844 which has since provided rail links to Dublin. Drogheda acquired further rail links to Navan in 1850 and Belfast in 1852. Passenger services between Drogheda and Navan were ended in 1958, however the line remains open for freight (Tara Mines/Platin Cement) traffic. In 1966 Drogheda station was renamed MacBride Station.[99]


Drogheda's bus station is located on the Donore Road and a comprises waiting area, information office and toilets. It replaces an earlier facility on the Bull Ring.

As well as a town service, route 173, several local routes radiate from Drogheda and a number of these have had their frequency increased in recent years. Local routes include: 100 (Newry/Dundalk via Dunleer), 100X (Dundalk-Dublin Airport-Dublin), 101 (Julianstown-Balbriggan-Dublin), 163 (Brú na Bóinne via Donore), 182/A (Monaghan via Ardee and Tullyallen), 189/A (Ashbourne via Duleek and Clogherhead/Grangebellew via Baltray & Termonfeckin), 190/A (Laytown via Mornington & Bettystown and Trim/Athboy via Slane & Navan).[100]

On Friday and Saturday nights there is also a Night bus service, route 101N operated by Bus Éireann (Dublin-Dublin Airport-Balbriggan-Drogheda) and return.

Matthews Coaches operate a Drogheda to Dublin route and an East Meath to Dublin route which both serve different areas of the town.[101]

Past Bus Éireann routes included the 184 to Garristown and 185 to Bellewstown but have since been discontinued.


The coaster "Pelikan" moving downstream in the River Boyne, Drogheda, after discharging a part cargo at the quays..

The management of the port began a new era in 1997 when The Drogheda Harbour Commissioners was established in 1790 were dissolved after over 200 years and the port became a new commercial semi-state company, Drogheda Port Company.

Drogheda Port Company is a highly successful commercial state port which handles over 1 million tonnes of cargo annually in addition to over 700 vessel calls. The Port has a wide product base and a balance of trade at approximately 75% import and 25% export. A new deepwater terminal has been constructed at Tom Roes Point which will be capable of handling larger vessels than the inner port was capable of. Vessels carrying up to 5,000 tonnes of cargo and up to 120 metres in length will use the new facility. New short sea shipping routes have developed from the terminal particularly in unitised trade. As ships have been getting larger there has been a slow progression for the port seaward. Up to the 1800s ships were unloaded as far up the river as St Mary’s bridge. The main working quays gradually moved to the Ballast, Welshmans and Steampacket quays and now new berths are operating at Tom Roes Point Terminal.

Drogheda Port has always been an integral part of the town economy and played a major role in its outward looking nature. The industrial base of the town was established through the port and it will continue to be a vital element in the town’s future growth.[102]


Drogheda is severed by Dublin International Airport which is located approximately 40 km or 25 minutes travelling time away.


Defined by its location as the last crossing point on the Boyne before it reaches the sea, Drogheda has eight bridges in its vicinity. From east to west they include,

The Boyne Viaduct

Boyne Viaduct[edit]

Main article: Boyne Viaduct

The Boyne Viaduct is a 30 m (98 ft) high railway bridge wwith a 250 feet span.[103] that crosses the River Boyne in Drogheda, carrying the main Dublin–Belfast railway line. Designed by the Irish civil engineer Sir John MacNeill. Completed in 1855, it was the seventh bridge of its kind in the world and considered one of the wonders of the age. Prior to its construction railway passengers had to make their way through the town, from the stations on either side of the river.

The De Lacy bridge.

During World War II, the viaduct was identified by the British as being of great strategic importance as part of the British plans for a counter-attack following a German invasion of Ireland, for which the British 1st Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment was to be moved into the State to defend the Drogheda viaduct under the joint military operation between Ireland and the United Kingdom.

De Lacy bridge[edit]

The De Lacy Bridge is the newest and one of two pedestrian bridges in Drogheda. It is part of Scotch Hall phase one. It was named after Hugh De Lacy who founded the town in 1194AD.

The Boyne Cable Bridge is part of the Drogheda bypass and carries M1 traffic across the Boyne.

St. Mary's Bridge[edit]

St. Mary's Bridge is the main bridge to the centre of Drogheda, sitting just to the north of the Bullring. It was, for hundreds of years, the site of the 'only' bridge at Drogheda. It is at the meeting of the two major south side roads the N51 and the Marsh Road.

Haymarket Bridge[edit]

The Haymarket bridge serves as an access point to the town centre from the Donore Road, one of the main thoroughfares in the town carrying traffic from junction 9 of the M1 into the centre of Drogheda. It is flanked on the south side by two developments, the Waterfront development which contains a McDonald's restaurant, a petrol station and a 24 hour shop, and the Haymarket development containing an Xtra-vision store and a health center. On the north side the bridge is flanked by the Haymarket car park and an apartment block.

Vie of the Obelisk Bridge c.1890 - 1900

Saint Dominic's Bridge[edit]

The oldest bridge crossing the Boyne River within the town of Drogheda or indeed its vicinity; erected in the year 1863 by the great Thomas Grendon’s Foundry of Drogheda. The bridge, formerly called the Western Bridge, is constructed of iron with limestone piers and buttresses at either end; the engineer of the works was a Mr. John Neville. The bridge is now used by pedestrians only and is located 200 metres west of the Drogheda Bus Depot. It was renamed Dominic’s Bridge after the erection of St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, which was completed in 1878.

Bridge of Peace[edit]

The Bridge of Peace is a dual carriage bridge in Drogheda. It was built as a part of an inner by-pass of the town in the 1970s for which much of the historic south side of Drogheda was demolished. It carries the R132 through the town. The bridge is famous for the graffiti on its undersides. The words longest graffiti festival called "The Bridge Jam" takes place there every summer.

Boyne Cable Bridge[edit]

Main article: Boyne River Bridge

The Boyne River Bridge is Ireland’s longest cable-stayed bridge, located 3.1 kilometres west of Drogheda.

Obelisk Bridge[edit]

The Obelisk Bridge is of lattice iron, built by Grendon’s Foundry in Drogheda and placed in position in 1869. It superseded a wooden bridge which was built at the ford sometime after the Battle of the Boyne. Just north of this bridge is an ivy covered rock about 30 feet high from the water’s edge, on which an obelisk was raised in 1736, which gives the place its name.[104]


Scotch Hall Shopping Centre

Traditionally shopping took place in the central business district of the town centre. The main shopping streets being West Street, Shop Street, Peter Street, and Laurence Street. There are five shopping centres,

  • Scotch Hall Shopping Centre[105]
  • Laurence Town Centre[106]
  • Drogheda Town Shopping Centre[107]
  • Abbey shopping Centre
  • Boyne shopping Centre.

A number of retail parks have developed around Drogheda since the year 2000, mainly on the southern and western side of the town.

  • M1 Drogheda Retail Park, Waterunder, Drogheda, County Louth.[108]
  • Drogheda Retail Park, Donore Road, Drogheda, County Meath.



The local newspapers for Drogheda and district are,

Main article: Drogheda Independent

The Drogheda Independent has been in print since 1884 and serves the people Drogheda, East Meath and mid-Louth. The headquarters of The Drogheda Independent are on Shop Street

Drogheda Leader.
Main article: The Drogheda Leader

The Drogheda Leader,[109] has been in print since 1995 and is free of charge, it serves the people of Drogheda, East Meath and Mid-Louth with 70,000 readers each week. There is an online edition of the paper. The papers headquarters are on Laurence Street in Drogheda.


Main article: LMFM

The local radio station is LMFM, broadcasting on 95.8 FM. The headquarters of LMFM are on Marley's Lane on the south side of Drogheda.[110]


DroghedaLife is an On Line news and advertising service for Drogheda.[111]



Main article: Drogheda United
Drogheda United Crest

In December 2005 the town's soccer team, Drogheda United, won the FAI Cup for the first time. In 2006 Drogheda United won the Setanta Cup. In 2007, Drogheda United won the League of Ireland for the first time in the club's history. Drogheda United FC's brother team is Trabzonspor from Turkey. Both of two team's colours are claret red and blue. Drogheda United's home ground is United Park.


Local team Boyne RFC was formed in 1997 from the amalgamation of Delvin RFC and Drogheda RFC. As of 2010, the Men's 1st XV team plays in the Leinster J1 1st division. Drogheda is also home to many rugby playing schools, including St.Mary's who are the under 14 Leinster rugby champions.


The Drogheda School of Karate was founded in February 1969 and has been providing continued services to the town & surrounding areas for over 40 years.

Water Polo[edit]

Drogheda Water Polo Club has been in existence since 1983. The clubs boasts male and female teams from U12 to senior level competing at provincial and national league level.

Scuba Diving[edit]

The Drogheda Sub Aqua Club is a local non-profit scuba diving club founded in 1974 and affiliated with Comhairle Fó-Thuinn (CFT) and Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS).


The "Drogheda Bullets" are a basketball team based in the town.[112]


Drogheda Wheelers was founded in 1985 when membership in two existing clubs St. Mary's and Na Boinne were getting small, so an amalgamation was the natural route to go. Drogheda Wheelers [mark 1] had been in existence in the forties and fifties but ceased to exist round about the late fifties. So with this amalgamation Drogheda Wheelers [mark 2] was born. The club has gone on to enjoy success at various levels since and on the promotion front is one of the hardest working clubs in the country.[113]

Drogheda Lightening Crest


the Nearest Tennis club to Drogheda is the Laytown & Bettystown Lawn Tennis Club which is located on the Golf Links Road just outside Bettystown, in East Meath. Originally part of Laytown & Bettystown Golf Club the club was established over 100 years ago. All standards of tennis are played in the club and each year teams participate in the Dublin Lawn Tennis Association league matches. The club has a very good record of success in these leagues, amongst others. [114]

American Football[edit]

Drogheda Lightning is an Irish American Football team based in Drogheda. They play in the second tier of Ireland's American football league system. Founded in 2010, Drogheda Lightning competed in the IAFL DV8s Division (now defunct) in 2011 and 2012. Following the restructuring of the Irish American Football League structure ahead of the 2013 season, they now compete in the newly created IAFL-1 Division created in 2013.[115]


The Invercopla Rowing Club

Local economy[edit]

The local economy of Drogheda has evolved over the centuries and in recent decades many of the older industries have declined or disappeared and new industries have emerged. The town is home many indigenous industries as well as several American multinationals including Coca Cola International financial Services, International Fund Services, Becton Dickenson, and Yapstone Inc.

Major Industry employers

  • Drogheda Port Company, the oldest indigenous employer since 1790
  • Glanbia, dairy products factory. (Glanbia Dairies, Drogheda was founded as Ryan Dairies (1957), becoming DDD (Drogheda & Dundalk Dairies) in 1959. Taken over by Avommore Dairies in 1986, which merged with Waterford to form Glanbia in 1997).
  • Premier RHI AG, or Premier Periclase, produces Seawater Magnesia products at its plant – 115 employees
  • Flogas, a national gas distributor
  • Natures Best, a fresh food processor
  • Hilton Foods, a meat processor
  • Boyne Valley Foods, a producer and distributor of olive oil, jams and honey
  • Irish Cement, Ireland's largest cement works at Platin.
  • Becton Dickinson (BD), a manufacturer of medical syringes and associated equipment

Major Financial Services Employers

  • International Fund Services
  • Coca Cola International Finance
  • Yapstone Inc

Major Service Employers

  • Our Lady Of Lourdes Hospital. The North East's regions main hospital with 700 staff.
  • Local Hotels; d Hotel, Boyne Valley Hotel, Westcourt Hotel, Scholars Hotel, City North Hotel.
  • Drogheda Port
  • Anglo Print

Infrastructure and Service

  • The Towns Business Parks are on the main Dublin to Belfast M1 motorway and 20 minutes from Dublin Airport.
  • IDA Business and Technology Park: a 25 hectares (62 acres) area with direct access onto the Dublin-Belfast motorway, developed and landscaped for the needs of both the IT, financial and internationally traded services sectors.
  • International Fund Services, a leading provider of fund accounting and administration services to the hedge fund industry globally, is to establish a hedge fund administration operation in Drogheda, Co. Louth, with the creation of up to 235 jobs.
  • Eight enterprise incubation units for high tech startup companies are provided in the Milmount complex.
  • The Mill Enterprise Hub
  • The town has high speed 100mb fibre broadband throughout the town since 2013.

The opening of the Drogheda bypass has led to the development of two large retail parks adjacent to the motorway, either side of the Boyne cable bridge. On the northside, is the M1 Retail Park and on the southside is the Drogheda Retail Park.



Irish Maritime Festival is held annually in Drogheda during the month of June. A feast of maritime fun including full-scale pirate ships battling on the River Boyne, a coastal rowing race, show-stopping watersports, a Boyne swim, a Maritime Pavilion plus a host of cultural and family entertainment was accompanied by the arrival of five beautifully restored schooners to Drogheda port. Complete with fun fairs’ boat and canoe trips on the river, stunning water-sport displays, the real food village, boat-building workshops, a stand-up paddle boarding race, an urban beach, art and photography zones and a maritime history pavilion[116]

The Drogheda Arts Festival is a 6 day festival of theatre, music, spectacle, visual arts, dance, puppetry, comedy, literature and street performances. It is a multi – disciplinary programme of both national and international acts including artists from all around the world.The Festival takes place over the May Bank Holiday in Drogheda.[117]

The Drogheda Samba Festival began in 1994 as part of the Drogheda 800 celebrations and proved such a hit that it became an annual event. It has become the get-together for Irish samba groups who are joined by others from abroad for a 3-day party of Samba, Latin and African music and dance. There are pub and street gigs, workshops and concerts. Highlights are the 5-hour non stop samba session in the main street and the carnival parade and there is also a special Samba Mass. Bands from as far as Singapore and São Paulo and famous percussionists such as Dudu Tucci and Mestre Esteve have played and conducted workshops at the festival. The festival is run by a completely voluntary committee and is operated on a relatively small budget. Community bands are offered bed and breakfast in exchange for performances during the festival and usually pay their own transport costs.[118]

The Oldbridge County Fair is an annual fair that takes place during the May Bank Holiday weekend at the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre at Oldbridge.

Bridge Jam is the premiere event in Ireland’s graffiti Calender. The Bridge events began in the summer of 1994 with a small gathering of 6 visiting writers from the UK who painted together with their Irish counterparts to produce the first of many murals on the now famous Bridge of Peace site. The event has now been running solidly every summer for each of the following years.[119]

Theatre and performing arts[edit]

Drogheda is home to a number of theatres and performing art societies and companies which include,

The TLT is a purpose built, state of the art 900 seater theatre. Located in Drogheda, we stage a variety of performing arts and commercial events. We also have a school of music and rehearsal rooms to nurture the talents of our local upcoming artists.[120]

The Barbican Centre caters for small to medium scale shows, dance classes, meetings, rehearsals, workshops, business seminars, training days and conferences.[121]

The Droichead Arts Centre was originally founded in 1989 and has bases in the Municipal Centre on Stockwell Street and Barlow House on West Street which established itself as significant venue for theatre, live music, visual arts and community arts in Drogheda and the entire North East.[122]

The Calipo Theatre Company specialises in multi-media productions and has achieved considerable success in Ireland and abroad. It founded in 1994 in Drogheda by Darren and Colin Thornton, former members of Droichead Youth Theatre.[123]

The Droichead Youth Theatre Upstate Theatre Project is a performing arts organisation located in Drogheda. The organisation was founded in 1997, by Declan Mallon, also co-founder of Droichead Youth Theatre.[124]

The Little Duke Theatre Company (Drogheda School of Performing Arts[125]) in Duke Street, in the old Julian Blinds building.

The Drogheda Pantomime Society hold a pantomime in January/February of each year. These productions have been going for roughly 60 years. Many locations have been used for staging productions, most notably the Barbican Theatre.


Contemporary music[edit]

Drogheda has also been the scene for some of the most important contemporary music events in Ireland. Louth Contemporary Music Society invited the US composer Terry Riley to perform in Drogheda in 2007. Arvo Pärt's first Irish commission and visit to the country was in Drogheda in February 2008. Michael Nyman performed in Drogheda in May 2008. John Tavener's Temenos festival was held in October 2008, and the Russian composer Alexander Knaifel was the focus of a portrait concert as part of the Drogheda Arts Festival on 1 May 2009.[126]

Drogheda composers[edit]

The composer and Aosdána member, Michael Holohan, has lived in Drogheda since 1983. His compositions have been performed and broadcast both at home and abroad. Career highlights in Drogheda include 'Cromwell' 1994 (RTECO), 'The Mass of Fire' 1995 (RTÉ live broadcast) and 'No Sanctuary' 1997 (in the Augustinian Church with Nobel Laureate and poet Seamus Heaney). Fields of Blue and White, a CD of his piano music was launched in the National Concert Hall in 2009 and the concert pianist, Therese Fahy, was the recording artist. A keen supporter of the arts, he is also a former chairman of the Droichead Arts Centre.

Live music[edit]

Drogheda has a thriving live music scene.[citation needed]

Brass bands[edit]

Drogheda has a number of brass bands and is home to the Drogheda Brass Band, National Brass Band Champions of Ireland 2007–12, and the Lourdes Brass Band.

Visual arts[edit]

October 2006 saw the opening of the town's first dedicated Municipal Art Gallery and visual arts centre, the Highlanes Gallery, housed in the former Franciscan Friary on St. Laurence Street. The Highlanes Gallery houses Drogheda's important municipal art collection, which dates from the 17th century, as well as visiting exhibitions in a venue which meets key international museum and gallery standards.[citation needed] Drogheda's most famous visual artist was the abstract expressionist painter Nano Reid (1900–1981).


Drogheda and its hinterland has always had a very strong literary tradition. Oisín McGann is an award-winning writer of children's literature. Angela Greene (deceased) was the first Drogheda poet to win The Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award in 1988 for her collection Silence and the Blue Night. The poet Susan Connolly has been widely published and broadcast. She was awarded The Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry in 2001 for her life's work. The poet, writer and occasional broadcaster Marie MacSweeney has received the Francis MacManus Short Story Award for her short story "Dipping into the Darkness".

Screen appearances[edit]

  • Drogheda served as the stand-in location for many scenes in the 1984 film Cal. A drama set during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, it starred John Lynch and Helen Mirren. For her role in the film Mirren was voted Best Actress at both the 1984 Cannes Film Festival and the 1985 Evening Standard British Film Awards.
  • It served as the setting for the five-part drama series Love Is the Drug filmed and broadcast in 2004. It was directed by Drogheda local Darren Thornton.
  • In 2011 Feargal Quinn fronted RTÉ's Local Heroes campaign in Drogheda, which assembled a team of experts to kick-start the local economy. It aired as RTÉ 1's six-part television series, Local Heroes – A Town Fights Back.

Town twinning[edit]

ItalyBronte, Italy


Soccer players[edit]


Freedom of Drogheda[edit]

"The freedom of the town is acquired by birth, or servitude of seven years' apprenticeship to a freeman of one of the seven trading guilds, and by especial grace, or gift of the corporation."[127]

This is a list of people who has been gifted with the Freedom of Drogheda,

  • Fr. Iggy O’Donovan (2013)
  • Sgt. Patrick J. Morrissey (2013)
  • Dr. T.K. Whitaker (1999)(31st Freeman of Drogheda)
  • President Mary Robinson (1993)
  • Cardinal Daly (1992)
  • President Dr Patrick J Hillary (1990)
  • Bishop Lennon (1980)
  • Cardinal O’Fiach (1980)
  • Pope John Paul II (1979)
  • Rev Mother Mary Martin (1966)
  • William Kenny (VC) of the Gordon Highlanders (1915)
  • Charles Stewart Parnell (1884)
  • Eamon De Valera
  • Theobald Wolfe Tone(1790)[128]
  • James Napper Tandy. “Disenfranchised (1798) having landed off the coast of Ireland with the enemy”[129][130]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]