Tuesday 28 January 2020

Medieval gate closes to traffic after repeated truck strikes put it in danger

St Laurence's Gate in Drogheda
St Laurence's Gate in Drogheda

Cillian Sherlock

One of Ireland's best preserved medieval gates has now been closed to traffic in an effort to preserve it from further damage.

Saint Laurence's Gate in Drogheda, Co Louth has previously been hit by trucks with some becoming stuck in the opening.

The closure of the 13th century monument follows a sustained local 'Close The Gate' campaign.

The popular attraction consists of two circular, four-storey towers connected together by a bridge on top of an adjoining wall.

Before the closure, more than 280 vehicles passed through the archway in the gate every hour between 8.30am and 6pm, according to the CloseTheGate.ie.

The Mayor of Drogheda, Pio Smith, said closing the gate to traffic was "a good decision”.

“Things are going well. A lot of people have expressed happiness and gratitude over the closure. It’s the last surviving gate in town,” he said.

“The Office of Public Works said there was no imminent danger of collapse. What was of concern was accumulated damage from traffic strikes and traffic fumes coming underneath the gate and deteriorating the masonry,” Mayor Smith said.

“The question that arose was what do you do with your heritage? One of the main industries in the town, if you want to call it that, is tourism. And here tourism and heritage combine and it is a visitor attraction for the town,” he added.

A new traffic plan is now in place to divert traffic around the historic monument.

“I think everything is running smoothly with only a few minor incidents and no significant traffic problems. We have to give it another three or four weeks particularly when school comes back into play.

“We may need to tweak certain aspects and it needs to be considered as part of an overall traffic plan for Drogheda considering the growth of the town and its traffic,” he said.

Mayor Smith said that the changes will help with the Fleadh Cheoil coming to the town next year.

“Hopefully, even temporarily, we can have some plan where we will have musicians performing in front of the gate,” he added.

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