For our last trip down memory lane, we visited the beautiful southern coastal town of Kinsale
in Co. Cork and hopefully we gave you enough information to tempt you to take a visit.
Today we’re going in the opposite direction and alighting at MacBride Station in Drogheda. This is another location named after a leader of the 1916 Rising
, in this case one Major John MacBride who was based at the Jacobs Factory outpost prior to his surrender and later execution.
Drogheda is a lovely town to walk around with part of the Old Town Wall still intact for people to view. As we walk down the hill to the Quayside we can grab a coffee in one of a handful of Café’s in the Scotch Hall Shopping Centre.
It is nice to stand by the bridge at South Quay and think of how the original settlement along the River Boyne might have looked. It is said that in 432 A.D. Saint Patrick arrived at the Boyne in his crusade to convert the Irish to Christianity and records from 937 A.D. claim that 60 Viking ships had sailed up the Boyne as the Scandinavians plundered all before them.
The Role of the Port
The Norman’s arrived in Ireland in 1169, and before long they had begun setting up trading outposts along the East coast, one of them being Drogheda. Many would be surprised to know that during the Famine times it was the second busiest passenger port in the country, with thousands fleeing hunger to start a new life in Liverpool and Manchester. A river once again played a key part in the town’s development. To this day, many goods boats still dock to be unloaded.
A Royal Connection
It was in the Co. Louth town, in 1399, that Art McMurrough (son of the famous Diarmada who brought the Norman’s to Ireland) surrendered to the English King Richard II, who had travelled to Ireland to quell various uprisings that were taking place.
A seismic event took place in the town in 1494 which led to what has become known as “Poynings Law
”. The high and mighty assembled in Drogheda for a session of the Irish Parliament that was held in the town. Named after Edward Poynings, Chief Govenor of Ireland, a Bill relating to Ireland had to be approved by the Parliament in London before it could be formally ratified by the Irish Parliament.
“He who stops being better stops being good”
This quote from Oliver Cromwell, the man who on 3rd
September 1649, led his army in ransacking Drogheda town. A 15 minute walk from the town train station or short 5 minute walk from the Bus Terminal you will be greeted by a most impressive site on Barrack Street, where sitting grandly and imposingly on a hill is Millmount, a building that was once a Fort and is now a major viewing point. This is where much of the slaughter during Cromwell’s attack took place. Beside the Hill are the buildings that form the Museum of Drogheda were various exhibitions tell the tale of the places and people that inhabited the town over the centuries.
Oliver Plunkett and Catholicism
After leaving the Museum we will walk down the windy Barrack Street, passing the impressive mural on the wall, which depicts many famous people associated with the town; Mother Mary Martin (who helped get the Lourdes Hospital built), John Boyle o’ Reilly (who became a prominent politician in the US) and one saint with legendary associations with Drogheda.
Crossing the Bridge onto Shop Street and past Giovanni’s and Sorrento’s eateries, we will then turn onto West Street, were across the road from the Shopping Centre is Saint Peter’s Church.
Ask a person in another part of Ireland as to what they know about Drogheda - and besides mentioning Oliver Cromwell’s misdeeds - many will also mention an unusual artefact that currently reside within this church. For it is here you will find the head – no less – of one Saint Oliver Plunkett. This holiest of men was born in Oldcastle County Meath, into a family who were very wealthy; his father was known as Baron of Loughcrew.
In 1647 Oliver was one of a handful to be selected to make the arduous journey by boat and then horse to Rome, to begin his training to become a priest. Whilst in Rome, Oliver went from living a life of luxury to living as a pauper and would remain there post-ordination until 1669 - when Pope Clement IX anointed him Archbishop of Armagh.
Such was the dangerous situation that faced Catholics in Ireland at the time, his Episcopal Ordination ceremony actually took place in Ghent, Belgium. He arrived back in under cover of darkness and allegedly landed at Ringsend disguised as a Military Officer.
Catholic Masses where still secretly held around the place and Bishop Oliver would travel on his horse to the 11 Diocese under his authority. In 1678 an alleged Plot was revealed upon which it was claimed Catholics were out to kill King Charles II so that his Catholic Brother, James, could take the throne.
In December 6th
, 1679, a spy informed the authorities that the Bishop of Armagh was staying in a house in Naul, North County Dublin and he was promptly arrested.
Plunkett was taken to London and found guilty of “high treason”, due to his attempts at spreading a “false religion”. A few weeks later, he was beheaded in a public execution in Tyburn. In 1975, Pop VI Canonised Oliver Plunkett, who was to become the first Irish Saint in over 500 Years.
St. Lawrence’s Gate
Leaving the church we go back down West Street and past the Tourist Office onto Saint Laurence Street, passing Kirwan’s Fish Shop and Fifty4 Seafood Bar and The Crafty Fox – an old School Haberdashery Shop - we arrive at a most majestic site.
Standing forth in front of our eyes is the impressive and imposing structure that is the still intact, Saint Lawrence’s Gate
. Seeing such a well-preserved former Medieval entrance Gate, truly is a sight to behold.
Modern Day Drogheda
Posted: 09/11/2021 12:12:15