Wednesday 24 January 2018

Historic medieval abbey now in a 'shameful state'

Graffiti at the former abbey of St. Mary d’Urso.
Graffiti at the former abbey of St. Mary d’Urso.

THE SORRY state of the area around the Old Abbey has been highlighted once more at the recent Louth County Council meeting, with a call for urgent action to preserve this 'fine piece of medieval architecture'.

Cllr. Frank Godfrey said the remains of the former abbey of St Mary d'Urso, was now in 'a shameful state', and was just one of many unsightly buildings in the town.

However local businessman John Callan, whose business backs onto the land, says it would be 'reckless to expose the structure without putting a major plan in place first'.

'It is a shame that this iconic building, which should be another stop on the tourist trail in Drogheda is in such a sorry state,' Cllr. Godfrey told the Drogheda Independent after the November meeting.

'I have written to Minister for Arts Jimmy Dennihan about the Old Abbey, and his office replied saying the responsibility for the restoration rests with the landowner'.

Mr. Callan agreed, as the land is owned by Drogheda Borough Council, but said the time has passed for anything major to be carried out.

'The entire restoration plan for the Old Abbey hinged on Decentralisation, and the regeneration plans for the area connected to it, but as soon as they were shelved, so was our project too.'

In fact, the Narrow West Street trader said the hoarding and overgrown weeds afford a small amount of security protection for the local businesses.

'The lane is a nightmare for antisocial behaviour as it stands, but if the hoarding is removed and the weeds cut back, it will leave a free-run for burglaries, as well as vandalising the Old Abbey tower.'

All that remains of the 13th century former hospital in Old Abbey Lane is the central belfry tower, surmounting a Gothic archway, however another local trader said this alone attracts hundreds of visitors.

'I am always surprised at the number of tourists who come down here to take photographs, and I would really like to see it tidied up, especially to the rear,' said Tracey Martin, who opened Old Abbey Dance Studios in 2006. 'We do our best to keep our end looking well, and whenever the council does paint the hoarding and tidy it up, it looks well, but it needs ongoing maintaince.'

Drogheda Independent

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