Tuesday 15 October 2019

Highwayman's final resting place marked

Hubert Murphy

A memorial stone has been placed on the spot where notorious highwayman Michael Collier is reputed to have been buried 170 years ago.

Collier died from cholera in 1849 while living on West Street and his body was brought in the middle of the night and buried in the ancient Cord cemetery.

The stone was erected there last week.

Mayor Frank Godfrey says it will be a great tourist attraction, but admits 'Collier the Robber' has always been controversial.

'Some people said he robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. Others say he was an outlaw,' he said.

He now intends to mark the new memorial stone with an event at the Cord and hopes to have a rider on horseback, depicting Collier.

"From the Nanny to the Boyne - A Local History" compiled by Margaret Downey & the Meath East Co-Operative Society tells the story of Collier. 'There are conflicting reports as to where Michael Collier was born, some say he was a Bellewstown man, others say it was at the foot of a hill on the banks of the river Nanny, but there is strong evidence to support the fact he was from Lisdornan, Julianstown, Co. Meath,' it states.

He was born in the 1780s and went on to rob the local stagecoaches, with a gang of 24 men.

In the end, at least half of them were executed, while Collier once escaped from prison the night before he was due to hang.

After that, he was deported to Australia, but returned to Ireland.

He ended his life in Drogheda.

The mayor said he hoped people would appreciate the new addition to the Cord.

'I have been part of clean ups of the Cord for decades and credit to the Civic Trust for the way they have the cemetery at the moment.

'Back in 1966, I was asked by a relation of his to erect a gravestone for Collier and I'm glad it is now up.

'He was our own Dick Turpin and part of our history and folklore.'

Drogheda Independent