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Irish: Droichead Átha
County Louth, Meath
View of Drogheda from the south
Grid reference: O088754
Location: 53°42’50"N, 6°21’1"W
Population: 38,578  (2011)
Local Government
Council: Drogheda
Website: drogheda.ie

Drogheda is an industrial and port town on the east coast of Ireland, close to the mouth of the River Boyne. Overspreading both banks of the river, the town is in the county of Louth north of the river and in Meath south of it. This is the last bridging point on the River Boyne before it enters the Irish Sea.

Drogheda was founded as two separate towns; Drogheda-in-Meath (for which a charter was granted in 1194) and Drogheda-in-Oriel (or 'Uriel') as County Louth was then known. In 1412 these two towns were united. Drogheda then became a 'county corporate', styled as 'the County of the Town of Drogheda'.

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.


Defined by its location as the last crossing point on the Boyne before it reaches the sea, Drogheda has seven bridges in its vicinity.

The name of the town is from the Irish language, in which it is named Droichead Átha, meaning "Bridge of the ford".


Commemoration of Borough Charter

The town lies within in an area with an abundance of archaeological monuments dating from the Neolithic period onwards, of which the large passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth are probably the best known.[1] 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.[2]

Town beginnings

St Mary Magdalene Friary

Despite local tradition linking Millmount to Amergin Glúingel, in his 1978 study of the history and archaeology of the town, John Bradley 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".[3] The results of the numerous and often large-scale excavations carried out within the area of the mediæval town in the past ten years appear to have confirmed this statement.[4]

The earliest monument in the town is the motte-and-bailey castle, now known as Millmount Fort, which overlooks the town from a bluff on the south bank of the Boyne, and which was probably erected by the Norman Lord of Meath, Hugh de Lacy at some time before 1186. The earliest known town charter is that granted to Drogheda-in-Meath by Walter de lacy in 1194.[5] In the 1600s the name of the town was also spelled "Tredagh" in keeping with the common pronunciation, as documented by Gerard Boate in his work Irelands' Natural History.

Drogheda was an important walled town in The Pale in the Middle Ages. It frequently hosted meetings of the Irish Parliament at that time. In a spill-over from the War of the Roses,[6] Thomas FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Desmond and his two youngest sons (still children) were executed there on Valentine's Day, 1468, on orders of the John Tiptoft, 1st Earl of Worcester, the Lord Deputy of Ireland. It has later been suggested that the Queen herself was implicated in the orders given.[7]

The Parliament was moved to the town in 1494 and passed Poynings' Law, the most significant legislation in Irish history, a year later. This effectively subordinated the Irish Parliament's legislative powers to the King and his English Council.

Later events

St Laurence's Gate

The town was besieged twice during the Irish Confederate Wars. 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 a massacre of the Royalist defenders. In his own words after the siege of Drogheda, "When they submitted, their officers were knocked on the head, and every tenth man of the soldiers killed and the rest shipped to Barbados."[8]

The Earldom of Drogheda was created in the Peerage of Ireland in 1661.

The Battle of the Boyne, 1690, was fought some four miles west of the town, on the banks of the River Boyne, at Oldbridge. It secured the victory of King William III, William of Orange, over his deposed uncle, King James II, and allowed William to march into Dublin.

In 1790 Drogheda Harbour Commissioners established, later Drogheda Port Company

In 1825 the Drogheda Steam Packet Company was formed in the town, providing shipping services to Liverpool.

In 1837 the population of Drogheda area was 17,365 of whom 15,138 lived in the town.[9]

Town arms

A Norman element on Drogheda's coat of arms is its centrepiece, St Laurence's Gate. The three lions which flank the Norman barbican and the star and crescent, similar to those on the coat of arms of Portsmouth, are taken from Richard The Lionheart's coat of arms who gave both towns their charters. 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".[10]

A local tale has it that the star and crescent were included in the town arms after the Ottoman Empire sent financial aid and ships laden with food to Drogheda during the Great Famine. That there is no evidence of any such a connection, but plenty that the arms long predate that period, does not dissuade one element of opinion.[11] There are newspaper articles from the period referring to three foreign ships sailing up the River Boyne in May 1847, without saying to which nation they belonged.[12]

20th century

In 1921 the preserved severed head of Oliver Plunkett, the Romanist bishop who was executed in London in 1681, was put on display in St Peter's Church, where it remains today.

Arts and entertainment


Theatre and performing arts

  • Calipo Theatre Company
  • The Droichead Youth Theatre.
  • The Little Duke Theatre Company (Drogheda School of Performing Arts)
  • Upstate Theatre Project

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 station in West Street is now a satellite site of the Droichead Arts Centre. This site is called Barlow House.

Visual arts

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. 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".

Drogheda on screen

Drogheda served as the location for film and television, including:

  • Cal, a drama set during The Troubles in Northern Ireland
  • Love Is the Drug (five-part television drama series)
  • 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.

Drogheda today

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 which is to say 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 Dairies 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 and amenities

M1 traffic crossing Boyne River Bridge

Road links and infrastructure

Drogheda is located close to the M1 (main DublinBelfast) motorway. The Boyne River Bridge carries traffic from the M1, across the River Boyne, two miles west of the town. It was opened on 9 June 2003 and is the longest cable-stayed bridge in Ireland.


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 "MacBride". Drogheda railway station opened on 25 May 1844.[13]

Local economy

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. In recent times, business has slowed because of the recession and Drogheda faces an increase in unemployment.

There are still a number of large employers in the town, including:

  • 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.
  • International Flavours & Fragrances (IFF), a producer of perfumes and food fragrances (plant closed 2010)
  • Becton Dickinson (BD), a manufacturer of medical syringes and associated equipment
  • The d hotel, Hospitality

Recent additions to the local economy include:

  • IDA Business and Technology Park: a 61.8 acres (25.0 hectares) 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 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.

Owing to the recession and economic crash, a multitude of business and factories have closed down in Drogheda. As a result of this, Drogheda has an unemployment problem,[14] which has in turn led to a serious rise in social problems, including crime (organised, violent and petty),[15][16] poverty, lack of affordable housing, homelessness, and various substance abuse. As a result, large parts of Drogheda have been designated RAPID areas, which means that areas have been identified by the Government as urban areas of concentrated disadvantage.

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, Laurence Town Centre, Drogheda shopping Centre, Abbey shopping Centre, and 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.


  • Newspapers:
    • The Drogheda Independent
    • The Drogheda Leader
  • Radio station: LMFM, broadcasting on 95.8 FM.


  • Football: Drogheda United
  • Rugby: Boyne RFC
  • Karate: The Drogheda School of Karate
  • Water Polo: Drogheda Water Polo Club
  • Scuba Diving: The Drogheda Sub Aqua Club

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Drogheda)


  1. Stout, G. 2002 Newgrange and the Bend of the Boyne. Cork University Press.
  2. Bennett, I. (ed) 1987–2004 Excavations : Summary accounts of archaeological excavations in Ireland. Bray.
  3. Bradley, J. 1978 'The Topography and Layout of Mediæval Drogheda', Co. Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal, 19, 2, 98–127.
  4. Bennett op cit.
  5. Bradley op cit 105
  6. R J Mitchell: John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester
  7. Robert Fabyan: "The New Chronicles of England and France")
  8. Cromwell letter to William Lenthall (1649)
  9. "Entry for Drogheda in Lewis Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837)". Libraryireland.com. http://www.libraryireland.com/topog/d3.php. Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  10. "Heraldry of the world - Outdated file". Ngw.nl. http://www.ngw.nl/int/ier/d/drogheda.htm. Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  11. Murray, Ken (25 March 2010). "President tells Turks an anecdote of myth not fact". The Irish Times. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/0325/1224267012277.html. Retrieved 25 March 2010. 
  12. "New evidence shows Turkey delivered food to Ireland during the famine". IrishCentral.com. http://www.irishcentral.com/news/New-evidence-shows-Turkey-delivered-food--to-Ireland-during-the-famine-156681255.html. Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  13. "Drogheda station" (PDF). Railscot – Irish Railways. http://www.railscot.co.uk/Ireland/Irish_railways.pdf. Retrieved 5 September 2007. 
  14. "Drogheda News from The Drogheda Independent Newspaper - News from Drogheda, Co. Louth - Independent.ie". Independent.ie. http://www.drogheda-independent.ie/breaking-news/national-news/men-worst-hit-as-unemployment-soars-2346709.html. Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  15. Susan Ryan. "Man dies after double stabbing in Drogheda". TheJournal.ie. http://www.thejournal.ie/man-dies-after-double-stabbing-in-drogheda-2011-01/. Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  16. "Youth held after multiple stabbing in Drogheda". RTÉ News. 10 April 2010. http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/0410/drogheda.html.