Orange links could turn golden
GARDAI ENFORCE RING OF STEEL
THE Battle of the Boyne site is set to become a multi-million euro 'Orange' goldmine for the entire region.
The Orange Order is working hard to encourage a generation of its members to come to Drogheda and Oldbridge in a tourism drive that will plough a fortune into the flagging local economy.
'It is our aim to bring a lot of people into this area and we are working on that,' the Worshipful Master of the Boyne 1690 Lodge, Jack Leetch told the Drogheda Independent.
He was speaking exclusively at a top security Orange Order march last Saturday at Oldbridge.
He also revealed that the dream to rebuild The Obelisk, the 174ft monument to King Billy's victory in the battle, is still alive.
'It will provide a focal point for tourists and it is still something we are planning to do. It is a long term goal but we are going for it,' he declared.
It was believed the proposal was shelved last year after planning issues but he confirmed it was still on the table. The original monument was blown up in the 1920s.
Before any work could start on it an archaeological dig would have to take place, another prospect the lodge members are keenly interested in.
He said he wants people to come south to visit the 'Crossing Field' and then go on to Oldbridge House and into Drogheda and to see the Mace and Sword in the Highlanes Gallery. He also said the war memorial on Mary Street is another spot visited.
'It is a beautiful area and we want people to come and enjoy it. We want to enhance what the OPW have done at Oldbridge House which is marvellous. There can be a real historic tourist trail, even taking people up to Drybridge as well.'
Last Saturday up to 50 members of the Boyne Lodge marched from the Obelisk Bridge to the 27acre 'Crossing Field' (where King William's army crossed the river in 1690), and now owned by the Orange Order.
Gardai mounted a massive security operation with up to 40 members posted in the vacinity of the march.
A number took up positions on high ground overlooking the main site, others from the water unit along with armed detectives manned road blocks.
Air support was also called in and dogs specially trained to sniff out explosives were used in nearby fields. The ring of steel was locked in from Friday evening and ran until Saturday afternoon.
'The Orange Order own the site and in line with the peace process, they expressed a desire to march last Saturday and our task was to police that. It's something we do for St Patrick's Day parades or Easter parades,' Supt. Gerry Smith stated.
Jack Leetch also revealed that a bigger celebration is planned for 2012. He also thanked the local gardai for all their assistance.