Living in Drogheda –
Drogheda is an industrial centre and has a (though not immediately obvious) port that once contributed to the town’s prosperity, but now is in a not very picturesque state. The latter might be said for many areas of the town centre, as fine Georgian buildings are allowed to fall into disrepair next to new commercial developments and medieval ruins are crowded by non-descript vernacular buildings. Walking through Drogheda, especially on a grey, rainy day, can be something of a slightly depressing experience. But there are some highlights that make visiting the town worthwhile to those willing to seek them out.
Drogheda’s name is derived from the Irish “Droichead Átha”, literally “bridge of the ford”, a name that encapsulates the reason for the settlement – here was a ford and later a bridge that formed part of the main North-South route on the Eastern coast. A place for trade and defence. No wonder that two towns sprung up: Drogheda-in-Meath and Drogheda-in-Oriel. Finally in 1412 the two Drogheda’s became one “County of the Town of Drogheda”. In 1898 the town, still retaining some independence, became part of Co Louth.
A stroll through Drogheda’s centre will take less than an hour and take in most attractions – the Millmount Museum being the exception. Parking can be a bit problematic at times, follow the signs and take the first opportunity (town centre traffic being maddening here). Then explore on foot:
- St. Laurence’s Gate (corner of Laurence Street and Palace Street) is an almost complete part of the medieval town wall and still imposing – traffic flows through it though and the built-up surroundings somehow detract from the gate. From here you are still able to trace the town’s former boundaries by following the roads that replaced the ramparts.
- St. Mary Magdalen’s Tower (between Magdalen Street Upper and Patrick Street) is all that remains of the friary of that name on one of the highest points in the town, a splendid medieval belfry.
- St. Peter’s Church (Church of Ireland, Peter Street) is interesting for its churchyard – set in a wall behind the church you will find a medieval grave slab that depicts the departed as skeletons barely dressed in funeral sheets. This realistic image, serving as a memento mori for those left behind, was in vogue for a short period and contrasts with the more sumptuous imagery an more conventional medieval graves.
A busy Dublin Road in Drogheda outside the Scotch Hall Shopping Centre.
The Millmount Museum in Barrack Street on the site of a former castle, the museum towers over Drogheda, albeit from the far (southern) side of the river. The exhibitions on local history and industry are worth a visit.