, meaning "Bridge of the Ford") is an industrial and port town in County Louth
on the east coast of Ireland
, 56 km (35 mi) north of Dublin
. Drogheda is the largest town in Ireland, recently surpassing its neighbour Dundalk.
The River Boyne divided the town between County Meath and County Louth until the enactment of the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 which saw a large area of Drogheda south of the Boyne become part of an extended Co Louth. With the passing of the County of Louth and Borough of Drogheda (Boundaries) Provisional Order, 1976, County Louth again grew larger at the expense of County Meath. The 2007 - 2013 Meath County Development Plan recognises the Meath environs of Drogheda as a primary growth centre on a par with Navan.
In recent years Drogheda's economy has diversified from its traditional industries, with an increasing number of people employed in the retail, services and technology sectors. The town also has a community of independent artists and musicians who have been looking to the local economy rather than Dublin for employment.
The town is situated in an area with an abundance of archaeological monuments dating from the Neolithic period onwards, of which the large Passage Tombs
, Knowth and Dowth are probably the best known. The remarkable density of archaeological sites of the prehistoric and Early Christian periods uncovered in recent years in the course of development, notably during construction of the Northern Motorway: Gormanston to Monasterboice, or 'Drogheda Bypass', have shown that the hinterland of Drogheda has been a settled landscape for millennia.
However, Bradley, in his 1978 study of the history and archaeology of the town, stated that "neither the documentary nor the archaeological evidence indicates that there was any settlement at the town prior to the coming of the Normans. The results of the numerous and often large-scale excavations carried out within the area of the medieval town in the past ten years appear to have confirmed this statement.
The earliest monument in the town is the motte-and-bailey castle, now known as Millmount, which overlooks the town from a bluff on the south bank of the Boyne, and which was probably erected by the Anglo-Norman Lord of Meath, Hugh de Lacy sometime before 1186. The earliest known town charter is that granted to Drogheda-in-Meath by Walter de lacy in 1194. Sometimes it was also spelt "Tredagh".
The Irish Parliament moved to the town in 1494 and passed Poyning's Law a year later. The town was besieged twice during the Irish Confederate Wars (see the siege of Drogheda). On the second occasion it was taken by Oliver Cromwell in September 1649, as part of the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland and it was the site of an infamous massacre of the Royalist defenders.
The Earldom of Drogheda
was created in the Peerage of Ireland
The Battle of the Boyne, 1690, occurred some 6 km (4 mi) west of the town, on the banks of the River Boyne, at Oldbridge.
In 1837 the population of Drogheda area was 17,365 of whom 15,138 lived in the town.
The Ottomans and the town arms
In 1845, the onset of the Great Irish Famine resulted in over 1,000,000 deaths. Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid
declared his intention to send 10,000 sterling to Irish farmers but Queen Victoria
requested that the Sultan send only 1,000 sterling, because she had sent only 2,000 sterling. The Sultan sent the 1,000 sterling but also secretly sent 3 ships full of food. The English courts tried to block the ships, but the food arrived at Drogheda harbor and was left there by Ottoman Sailors. Due to this the Irish people, especially those in Drogheda
, are friendly to the Turks. This event was said to have led to the appearance of Ottoman symbols on Drogheda's coat of arms.
Another Norman element on Drogheda's coat of arms is its centrepiece, St. Lawrence's Gate. The three lions which flank the Norman barbican are also taken from King Richard's coat of arms. On the other side of the barbican is a ship denoting Drogheda's status as an important port. The town's motto Deus praesidium, mercatura decus translates as "God our strength, merchandise our glory".
The 20th century
In 1921 the shrunken head of Saint Oliver Plunkett
, who was executed in London in 1681, was put on display in the cathedral.
Arts and entertainment
Drogheda has a thriving arts scene, across many sectors.
'Theatre and performing arts
The town hosts the annual Samba
festival every summer, where Samba bands from around the world converge on the town for a week of drumming and parades. It is also home to the Calipo theatre company which specialises in multi-media productions and has achieved considerable success in Ireland and abroad.
The town also supports one of the largest and most successful youth theatres in Ireland (Droichead Youth Theatre) which has toured to Belfast, London, Italy, and Sweden. The addition of the Little Duke Theatre company in Duke Street, in the old Julian Blinds building, adds to this scene. The Municipal Centre in Stockwell Street acts as a base for most of the town's artists, under the umbrella of the Droichead Arts Centre, and featuring a gallery space and a theatre. The former Garda (Police) station in West Street is now a satellite site of the Droichead Arts Centre. This site is called Barlow House.
Notable venues are The Pheasant on Duleek Street, McPhail's in Laurence Street, McHugh's on Cord Road , The New Central in Peter Street and The Market Bar on Magdalene Street. For traditional Irish music, Carberry's (Teach Uí Cairbre
) pub near the North Quay has regular sessions by amateur and professional musicians alike
A local live music venue which no longer exists, but which was very popular in the 1980s was Johnny Connor's Boxing Club. A tribute page featuring video and pictures of patrons can be found hereThe site of the Boxing Club is now occupied by the Haymarket Bridge and Development.
Drogheda is also home to the National Brass Band Champions of Ireland the Drogheda Brass Band currently situated on George's St. and is also proud to have another brass band Lourdes Brass Band who are located in Bachelor Lane.
Drogheda also has a thriving underground music scene with genres including rock, punk, funk, metal, hip hop and hardcore. This underground music has emerged over the past year or so as local youth have put a lot of work into creating this scene by forming bands and attending local gigs in large numbers.
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 holds 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.
The original Drogheda bypass bridge over the river Boyne, known locally as the "Bridge of Peace", is well-known regionally for its aerosol graffiti murals. Under the bridge, on each side of the river there are two large concrete supports that measure approximately 8 metres high, and 20 metres long. Starting in the 1980s with the breakdance craze, these supports were painted and sprayed with murals by aerosol artists. This activity at the time was technically illegal and frowned upon by the local authorities. Today the murals are frequently updated and limited sponsorship of the artists is provided by local businesses.
The estate in the famous series "The Thorn Birds
" was named after the town of Drogheda.
With the expansion of the Irish economy in the 1990s, during the "Celtic Tiger" years, Drogheda became one of the main secondary locations for people who work in Dublin to buy a house, as property prices in the capital became prohibitive for many first-time home buyers. This was aided by the expansion of transport infrastructure in the direction of Drogheda i.e. the Swords and Balbriggan bypasses, the Boyne River Bridge and the increased number of commuter trains serving the town. Partly as a result, the downtown area of Drogheda has redeveloped, and two large shopping centres have opened, while several national and international retailers have opened stores. In 2007 the partial pedestrianisation of the town's main street, West Street, was completed.
On the south quay in the space of the former Lakeland Daries premises (an old industrial area), the Scotch Hall Shopping Centre and the D hotel was completed in November 2005. A new pedestrian bridge extends from the north quay, at Mayoralty Street, into the complex. Phase two of the development, which will shortly commence construction, will extend further down along the river front, on the site of the former Irish Oil Cake works. It will have an extension to the Shopping Centre and Hotel, new apartments, cinema, and a riverside plaza.
Transport, communications & amenities
The town is located close to M1 (E1 Euro Route 1) (main Dublin
- Belfast motorway
). Drogheda acquired rail links to Dublin
in 1844, 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 "McBride". Drogheda railway station
opened on 25 May 1844
The local economy of Drogheda, like that of many other towns in Ireland, is changing rapidly. The old industries based around linen and textiles, brewing, shipping and manufacturing have now disappeared or are in decline.
There are still a number of large employers in the town including:
- Flogas, a national gas distributor
- Natures Best, a fresh food processor
- Hilton Foods, a meat processor
- Boyne Valley Foods, a producer and distributor of jams and honey
- Irish Cement, Ireland's largest cement works
- International Flavours & Fragrances (IFF), a producer of perfumes and food fragrances
- Becton Dickinson (BD), a manufacturer of medical syringes and associated equipment
Recently additions to the local ecomony include:
- IDA Business & Technology Park: a 25 hectare (63 acre) 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 opening of the Drogheda bypass has led to the development of 2 large retail parks adjacent to the motorway, either side of the Boyne cable bridge. On the south side, is the M1 Retail Park and on the north side is the Drogheda Retail Park.
The local newspapers are the Drogheda Leader, and the Drogheda Independent
. The Drogheda Independent also publishes a newspaper called the Drogheda People. The main newspapers are known locally as "The D.I' and 'the Leader'. Both principal newspapers are published every Wednesday. The headquarters of The Drogheda Independent are on Shop Street and The Drogheda Leader's offices are on Laurence Street.
The local radio station is LMFM, broadcasting on 95.8 FM. The headquarters of LM-FM are on Marley's Lane on the south side of the town.
- Soccer: In December 2005 the town's soccer team, Drogheda United, won the national FAI Carlsberg Cup for the first time. In 2006 Drogheda United won the Setanta Cup becoming the champions of all Ireland. 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.
- Rugby: Drogheda is home to many schools including "St.Marys" who are the under 14 Leinster rugby champions.
Drogheda Star and Crescent Moon Emblem
There is a popular tale, that Drogheda’s Star and Crescent Moon Emblem originates from a gesture of appreciation to "the Sultan Abdul Mecid", who sent three ships full of food to the town during the Great Famine
.. It is recorded that Sultan AbdulMejid
of the Ottoman Empire
did send £1,000 in famine relief aid to the government of the day,
The Civic Arms are also medieval in origin. The gate is St. Lawrence's Gate, a Norman building that still stands in the town. The ship represents the town's status as a major trading port, while the three lions (or leopards) represent the House of Plantagenet.
Colpe is a townland south of Drogheda
. It is the site of Grange Rath, the biggest housing estate in the Drogheda hinterland. There is a farm shop and a creche, and a shopping centre is under construction. There are also sports facilities.
- Pierce Brosnan, actor and film producer. Though he was born in Drogheda he grew up in nearby Navan.
- Eamonn Campbell, famous Guitarist and Music Producer, member of The Dubliners.
- James Cullen, mathematician who discovered what are now known as the Cullen numbers.
- Deirdre Gogarty, 1997 Women's International Boxing Federation (WIBF) Featherweight Title Champion.
- Shane Horgan, Ireland international rugby union player.
- Jonathan Kelly, singer-songwriter.
- Tony Martin, Canadian social democratic legislator
- Michael Scott, architect who designed Busáras and the Abbey Theatre.
- T.K. Whitaker, former Irish economist who wrote the Programme for Economic Expansion went to school in Drogheda.
- Evanna Lynch, actress, appeared in Harry Potter as Luna Lovegood.
- Deirdre O'Kane, award-winning comedian.
- Colin O'Donoghue, actor, appeared in RTÉ productions "Home for Christmas", "Love is the Drug" and "The Clinic" as well as numerous theatre productions. Won best newcomer in the IFTA's for his role in "Home for Christmas".