Droichead Átha

2007 view of Drogheda from the south


Coat of arms

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 (Census 2011)[2]
  Rank 6th
  Urban 30,393
  Rural 8,185
  Total 38,578 (with environs)
Demonym(s) 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") is one of the oldest towns in Ireland, known for its tourism and as a centre of industry, and medical care. It is located in County Louth on the Dublin-Belfast corridor on the east coast of Ireland, 56 km (35 mi) north of Dublin. It is the last bridging point on the River Boyne before it enters the Irish Sea.The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Newgrange is located 8 km to west of the town.

As the River Boyne divides the dioceses of Armagh and Meath, 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 and Drogheda became a 'County Corporate', styled as 'the County of the Town of Drogheda'. 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 Boyne, become part of an extended County 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 boundary was further altered in 1994 by the Local Government (Boundaries) (Town Elections) Regulations 1994. 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.


Drogheda has a hinterland of 70,000+ within a 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) radius covering County Louth and County Meath. According to the 2011 Irish Census, there are 30,393 in Drogheda town.[3]

Electoral Division Population
County Louth
Drogheda Town 30,393
St Peters 9,151
Termonfeckin 3,294
Mullary 1,723
Monasterboice 1,342
TOTAL 41,925
County Meath
Duleek 5,177
Grangegeeth 594
Julianstown 9,606
Killary 502
Melifont 561
Painstown 1,175
Slane 1,861
St Mary's (Part) 10,769
Stackallan 4,696
TOTAL 31,557


Commemoration of Official Charter


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 of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth are probably the best known.[5] 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.[6]

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".[7] 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.[8]

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 sometime before 1186. The wall on the east side of Rosemary’s Lane is the oldest stone structure in Drogheda. [9]It was completed in 1234 as the west wall of the first castle guarding access to the northern crossing point of the Boyne. The earliest known town charter is that granted to Drogheda-in-Meath by Walter de lacy in 1194.[10] 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 English Pale in the medieval period. It frequently hosted meetings of the Irish Parliament at that time. In a spill-over from the War of the Roses, according to R.J.Mitchell in John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, the Earl of Desmond and his two youngest sons (still children) were executed there on Valentine's Day, 1468, on orders of the Earl of Worcester, the Lord Deputy of Ireland. It later came to light (see Robert Fabyan, "The New Chronicles of England and France"), that the Queen herself was implicated in the orders given. 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 an assault was made on the town from the south, the tall walls breached, and the town was taken by Oliver Cromwell on 11 September 1649,[11] 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."[12]

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

The Battle of the Boyne, 1690, occurred some 6 km (3.7 mi) west of the town, on the banks of the River Boyne, at Oldbridge.

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.[13]

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 are supposedly a reference to the seal of King John, who gave the town its charter. 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".[14][15]

A local narrative 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.[16] There are no records of this with the Drogheda Port nor the Irish National Library, due to the fire that occurred in the 20th century. However, Newspaper articles from the period refer to three foreign ships sailing up the River Boyne in May 1847.[17]

20th century

St Oliver Plunkett's Head

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.

Industry and economy

Alcohol brewing and distilling

Drogheda has a long tradition of brewing and distilling with international companies Jameson Whiskey, Coca-Cola, Guinness, Jack Daniel's all having previously owned or are still currently producing their products in or just outside the town. Currently, Boann distillery and brewery manufacturers whiskey, gin, cider, and beer in the town. Slane Whiskey - A Jack Daniels owned company, distills whiskey just outside the town at Slane. Listoke House distills its own gin. Dan Kellys makes its own cider. Jack Codys manufactures craft beers and stouts. The town formerly distilled Prestons whiskey - a Jameson Whiskey brand, Carines Beer - founded locally and sold to Guinness, and Coca-Cola concentrate was also made in the town but has since moved to ballina, county Mayo.

Arts and entertainment

Theatre and performing arts

The town hosts an annual summer Samba festival, where Samba bands from around the world converge on the town for three days of drumming and parades.[20]

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 has the Droichead Youth Theatre.

The addition of the Little Duke Theatre company (Drogheda School of Performing Arts[21]) in Duke Street, in the old Julian Blinds building.

The Calipo Theatre was founded in 1994 in Drogheda by Darren and Colin Thornton, former members of 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.

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.

Drogheda also has a long tradition of its very own pantomime, which is usually held 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 on the site of the old Parochial Centre.

Places of interest

Drogheda is an ancient town that enjoys a growing tourism industry. It has a UNESCO World Heritage site, Newgrange, located 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) to the west of the town centre.

Drogheda today

Aerial view of Drogheda
De Lacey Bridge, 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 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. There is many schools

Transport, communications and amenities

M1 traffic crossing Boyne River Bridge.

Road links and infrastructure

Drogheda is located close to the M1 (E1 Euro Route 1) (main DublinBelfast motorway). The Boyne River Bridge carries traffic from the M1, across the River Boyne, 3 km west of the town. It was opened on 9 June 2003 and is the longest cable-stayed bridge in Ireland. The town's postcode, or eircode, is A92.


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.[22]

The station has direct trains on the Enterprise northbound to Dundalk, Newry, Portadown, Lisburn and Belfast Central, and southbound to Dublin Connolly.

A wide variety of Irish Rail commuter services connect southbound to Balbriggan, Malahide, Howth Junction, Dublin Connolly, Tara Street, Dublin Pearse, Grand Canal Dock, Dún Laoghaire, Bray, Greystones, Wicklow, Rathdrum and Arklow.

Bus transport

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).[23]

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 also operate a Dundalk to Dublin route serving the town.[24]

Past Bus Éireann routes included the 184 to Garristown and 185 to Bellewstown but these were discontinued a few years ago.


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

Politics and government

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 Independent
Oliver Tully Fine Gael
Frank Godfrey Independent
Richie Culhane Fine Gael
Pio Smith Labour Party
Kenneth Flood Sinn Féin

Drogheda Borough Council is an elected local government body which is mandated under the Local Government Act 2001 to provide civic leadership and a forum for the democratic representation of the community. Responsibilities include amenity support, operation of the Litter Act, contribution to tourism development, event licensing, arts support, etc. The Borough Council executive comprises twelve elected Councillors, headed by the mayor. The current mayor is Richard Culhane (Fine Gael).[25]

For local elections to Louth County Council, the town forms part of two local electoral areas – Drogheda East (6) and Drogheda West (4) . This includes both the urban Drogheda area and surrounding rural areas.

For the purposes of elections to Dáil Éireann, the town is part of the five seat Louth constituency which returns five TDs. 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).


Shopping mostly takes place in the medieval streeted historic quarter of the town, where the main shopping streets are West Street, Shop Street, Peter Street, and Laurence Street . West Street is the main street and is known as the 'Golden Quarter Mile', it is home to large and small retail shops and several cafes and restaurants. The town centre has five shopping centres, Scotch Hall, Laurence Town Centre, Drogheda Shopping Centre, Abbey Shopping Centre, and Boyne Shopping Centre. An out of town shopping centre Souhtgate is located at the southern entrance to the town. A number of retail parks have been developed around Drogheda since the year 2000, mainly on the southern and western side of the town. On the northside, is the M1 Retail Park and on the south side is the Drogheda Retail Park.

Railway bridge over Boyne
Scotch Hall Shopping Centre


The local newspapers are The Drogheda Independent and The Drogheda Leader, known locally as The D.I. and The Leader. Both newspapers are published every Wednesday. The Leader a free-of-charge newspaper has a circulation of 24,000 and the Drogheda Independent's circulation is 6,850 (2011 ABC). 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 LMFM are on Marley's Lane on the south side of the town.

Hospitals and health care

Drogheda is a regional centre for medical care. Its main hospital is Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, a public hospital located in the town. and is part of the Louth Meath Hospital Group. It is managed by the Irish Government's Health Service Executive (HSE) and provides acute-care hospital services, including a 24-hour emergency department for the populations of County Louth, County Meath and the entire North-East of Ireland. The hospital provides 340 beds, of which 30 are reserved for acute day cases. [26]


The are currently six secondary schools situated in Drogheda. Saint Joseph secondary school in Newfoundwell is an all boy school. Saint Marys diocesan school situated in Beamore road which is an all boys school. Sacred heart school which is situated in Sunnyside Drogheda which is an all girls school. Drogheda Grammar school which is situated on Mornington road and is a mixed school. Saint Oliver's community college[27] which is situated on Rathmullen road and is a mixed school. Our lady's college which is an all girl school is situated in Greenhills. Drogheda institute for further education(DIFFE) is a third level college situated in Moneymore


Drogheda United F.C. members of the League of Ireland First Division.

Town twinning


Drogheda has a long list of famous citizens. It also has several famous residents who were born in the town but raised elsewhere, and other noted residents that were born elsewhere but came to live in Drogheda.


International Soccer players

See also


  1. Johnston, L. C. (1826). History of Drogheda: from the earliest period to the present time. Drogheda. p. 37.
  2. "Latest News". Airo.ie. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  3. http://www.boundarycommittee.ie/reports/2013-Report.pdf
  4. See www.cso.ie/census and www.histpop.org for post 1821 figures, 1813 estimate from Mason's Statistical Survey. For a discussion on the accuracy of pre-famine census returns see J.J. Lee "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses", Irish Population, Economy and Society, eds. J.M. Goldstrom and L.A. Clarkson (1981) p.54, and also "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700–1850" by Joel Mokyr and Cormac O Grada in The Economic History Review, New Series, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Nov. 1984), pp. 473–488.
  5. Stout, G. 2002 Newgrange and the Bend of the Boyne. Cork University Press.
  6. Bennett, I. (ed) 1987–2004 Excavations : Summary accounts of archaeological excavations in Ireland. Bray.
  7. Bradley, J. 1978 'The Topography and Layout of Medieval Drogheda', Co. Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal, 19, 2, 98–127.
  8. Bennett op cit.
  9. Archaeology No. 5257: The medieval walls of Drogheda
  10. Bradley op cit 105
  11. Antonia Fraser, Cromwell, our chief of men (London, 1973)
  12. Cromwell letter to William Lenthall (1649)
  13. "Entry for Drogheda in Lewis Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837)". Libraryireland.com. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  14. "Heraldry of the world - Outdated file". Ngw.nl. Retrieved 20 November 2014. "The star and crescent are the royal seal of King John, who gave the town its charter."
  15. Murray, Ken (25 March 2010). "President tells Turks an anecdote of myth not fact". The Irish Times. Retrieved 25 March 2010. "Liam Reilly, an administrator with the Old Drogheda Society based in the town’s Millmount Museum, said last night the comments were incorrect. 'There are no records with the Drogheda Port Authority of this ever happening. Drogheda historians can trace the star and crescent back to 1210 when the British governor of Ireland, King John Lackland, granted the town its first charter,' he said."
  16. "Ottoman aid to the Irish to hit the big screen". TodaysZaman. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  17. "New evidence shows Turkey delivered food to Ireland during the famine". IrishCentral.com. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  18. http://www.yapstone.com/contact/
  19. http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20150413005192/en/YapStone-Names-Daniel-Issen-Chief-Technology-Officer
  20. Noel Cosgrave. "Drogheda Samba Festival". Droghedasamba.com. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  21. "Little Duke Theatre". Littleduketheatre.com. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  22. "Drogheda station" (PDF). Railscot – Irish Railways. Retrieved 5 September 2007.
  23. "Bus timetable : Louth". buseireann.ie. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  24. "Matthews Coach Hire - Coach Tours, Corporate Hire, Private Coach Hire, Commuter Service Dublin Drogheda Dundalk". Matthews.ie. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  25. "Ex GAA star Richie is new mayor of town". Irish Independent. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  26. http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/3/acutehospitals/hospitals/Lourdes/
  27. Saint Oliver's community college
  28. http://www.thepeerage.com/p36002.htm
  29. http://www.famousjamesons.com/familygroup.php?familyID=F200&tree=Whiskey_Jamesons
  30. http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/love-story-courtney-love-26652337.html
  31. http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/music/2.681/i-ve-been-tortured-and-scorned-since-the-day-i-was-born-1.662130
  32. http://www.independent.ie/regionals/droghedaindependent/localnotes/tk-whitaker-recalls-his-childhood-in-paradise-27109582.html
  33. http://www.independent.ie/regionals/droghedaindependent/lifestyle/time-to-honour-the-great-thomas-wright-30612377.html
  34. http://www.irishships.com/famous_irish_mariners.html


Further reading

External links

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Drogheda.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Drogheda.
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