The Arms of Drogheda explained

Published 14/08/2003 | 00:11

In the final part of his look at the history of the municipal regalia associated with Drogheda Borough Council, Jim Garry explains the history behind the Corporation minutes, and two other items.

In the final part of his look at the history of the municipal regalia associated with Drogheda Borough Council, Jim Garry explains the history behind the Corporation minutes, and two other items.

The Silver Chalice and Cups

The Chalice stands 17 inches high with the following inscription: ‘Ex dono prenobilis Henerici Comes Drohedagh, 1665’ with the crest of Laurence Gate and family crest.

There are three Silver Cups in the strong room – the first, with crest, weighing 60 ounces. There is no inscription. The second one has the coat of arms of Drogheda and the following inscription: ‘This cup partly made of an old one unfit for use, given to Mr Thomas Percival, Merchant, to the Corporation of Drogheda, in the year 1672’. The third one has a coat of arms and the inscription: ‘This cup restored and given by Mr Thomas Willis, to the Corporation of Drogheda’. There is no date.

The Arms of Drogheda

The device, mounted on a blue shield, shows a crenelled gate, with battlements and loopholes, of two towers, surmounted by red pennants (tapering flags, with a lowered portcullis at the gate’s entrance gate signifying the security of the walled town. On the right side of the gate, a ship appears to sail, having St George’s ensign displayed on the stern. This represents the trade which the town supported from earliest times. To the left of the gate is the three lions of England, and the commerce and trade of Drogheda, and its premier importance, is exemplified in its motto; ‘Deus Praesidium Mercatura Decus’ - ‘God Our Strength, Merchandise Our Glory’.

The Crest, on the wreath on top of the Arms is the unusual one of the ‘Star and Crescent’, taken from the arms of King John who presented Drogheda with its first charter in 1210. The star is an eight pointed star between the two ends of a crescent moon. They also appear in this fashion on all the triangular coins of John struck in this country, and also appear in sculpture over the thrones in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, which were erected during his Lordship of Ireland. The crest has nothing to do with the mistaken belief that it was adopted by the townspeople from the Turkish flag.

The arms of Drogheda appear in colour on all Council maintenance transport, on the Fire Engines and Rescue vehicles and on the official letterheads of the council.

Minutes of the Corporation

It would appear from numerous references in the Minutes that the great bulk of Drogheda’s municipal records were lost ‘in ye storme of the towne of Cromwell’ in September 1649. The present Minute Book commences on October 5 1649, only a matter of days after the passage of the Cromwellian forces from the town. There is a brief reference to a meeting, followed by the comment ‘The midsummer assembly following was adjourned until Michaelmas following, in regard of the then troubles’. Apart from this the Cromwellian massacre and the problems the aftermath must have posed for the Council, is never mentioned.

The minutes are available in the ‘Council Book of the Corporation of Drogheda, Vol. 1 1649-1734’ which were transcribed by Fr Tom Gogarty when he was Curate in Termonfeckin and was printed and published by the Drogheda Independent in 1915. The County Louth Archaeological and Historical Society reprinted this book in November 1988. It is still available.

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