A walk ‘round the Obelisk’
TIME was when Drogheda people went for a walk, they usually went up the Rampart and ‘round the Pass’.This is the riverside walk from St Dominic’s Bridge to where the Rathmullen Road drops down to meet the river, with Drybridge and Waterunder on the opposite bank.
This is the riverside walk from St Dominic’s Bridge to where the Rathmullen Road drops down to meet the river, with Drybridge and Waterunder on the opposite bank.
The river is tidal at this point and spring tides still flood the road, hence the name ‘Pass’ (if you can). A return to the town via Rathmullen would bring the walkers back to their starting point in about one and a half hours.
This walk is still recommended for a leisure and scenic view of the River Boyne, especially on the left below Rathmullen heights where the so called green grassy slopes can be seen at their best.
These heights are now topped in nice new houses with Belvedere, Riverbank and the Highlands. Even the Boot Field and Daw’s Hill are all built upon.
Across the river Mell seems to be so high with its new houses, leading up to the end of Toberboice Lane and into the sally banks which stretch up to the riverbank at Pass.
It was at this spot, and not at Oldbridge, that King William, at the Battle of the Boyne, later in the day, crossed the river on a black horse which got stuck in the mud and His Majesty had to be assisted ashore at Pass, having waded waist deep to the river bank.
Another walk for Drogheda people is ‘round the Obelisk’ by proceeding to the ‘Locks’ on the Boyne Canal, at the former Tiernan’s house and on to Coddington’s Gates where there is now a fine bridge over the canal, which was enlarged by the army in 1941. On then to the Obelisk Bridge and home by Mell.
In the 1940s a man working in the post office did this walk every day after his work.
The present Obelisk Bridge is of lattice iron, built by Grendon’s Foundry in Drogheda and placed in position in 1869. It superseded a wooden bridge which was built at the ford sometime after the Battle of the Boyne.
Just north of this bridge is an ivy covered rock about 30 feet high from the water’s edge, on which an obelisk was raised in 1736, which gives the place its name.
This was a tall tapering stone monument commemorating ‘King Billy’s’ victory. According to D’Alton in his ‘History of Drogheda’ it was the first ever monument to the event. It stood on a square Plinth of 20 feet and was about 150 feet high.
It had the following inscription: ‘Sacred to the glorious memory of King William the Third who on the July 1 1690, crossed the Boyne near this place, to attack James the Second at the head of a Popish army, advantageously posted on the south side of it, and did on that day, by a successful battle, secure to us and our posterity, our liberty, laws and religion.
In consequence of this action James the Second left this kingdom and fled to France.
This memorial of our deliverance was erected in the ninth year of the reign of King George the Second, the first stone being laid by Lionel Sackville, Duke of Dorset, Lord Lieutenant of the Kingdom of Ireland. MDCCXXXVI.
His monument was erected by the grateful contributions of several Protestants of Great Britain and Ireland.’
For 187 years the monument was sketched and later photographed from all angles and used in the tourist brochures of the day until it was blown up in 1923.
An obituary notice appeared in the Drogheda Independent in October 1977.
‘The death occurred last week of Mr... at his home in Co Monaghan, who was a captain in the army stationed in Drogheda.
He and five others were responsible for the blowing up of the monument erected to the memory of King William of Orange on the banks of the Boyne, at what is known as the Obelisk Bridge.
Mr... travelled down from Monaghan on August 15 1923, collected his comrades en route, blew up the monument, leaving only a stump to commemorate ‘King Billy’ and in James Bond fashion returned to his regiment to seek out the culprits the following day.
‘They were never caught.’
Such is the Obelisk today.