Thursday 13 December 2018

Town's history is its bright future...

Hubert Murphy

Local historian and tourism expert, Liam Reilly, believes Drogheda's past is the key to its future.

Speaking on Drogheda Day on Sunday, he says heritage could play a big part in the economic future with the development of tourism strategies

'Within a ten mile radius of Drogheda we have the greatest cluster of Christian heritage sites in Ireland,' he stating, added that St Patrick landed at the mouth of the Boyne in 432 while Monasterboice has the finest example of a Celtic Cross in St Muirdeach's Cross, also the tallest high cross in Ireland

'At Mellifont Abbey we have the first of the continental style monasteries built in 1142 by St Malachy, in St Peter's Church we have the National Shrine of St Oliver Plunkett,' he explained.

'In 1690, just three miles upstream of Drogheda , the Battle of the Boyne, the last encounter in which two Kings led their troops into battle , took place. Add some of the many famous people with connections to Drogheda such as the Duke of Wellington, General Richard Montgomery, Admiral Thomas Charles Wright, John Philip Holland, Benjamin Whitworth , John Boyle O'Reilly, Captain William Bligh of the Bounty, King John and many more and we have a rich heritage , which with the proper promotion should make Drogheda a mecca for those with an interest in heritage and history.

'We have the transport infrastructure just 25 minutes from Dublin Airport, close to the M1 and M2 motorways and on the Dublin to Belfast rail line with excellent bus services from both Bus Eireann and Matthews Coaches. Newgrange and the beauty of the Boyne Valley are on our doorstep and we need to get our message to potential visitors,' he stated.

Drogheda Day,' which saw events at Millmount, West St and Laurence's Gate, is the idea of Mayor, Frank Godfrey.

'September has always been significant for major events in Drogheda such as Cromwell's invasion in 1649, Pope John Paul II's visit to the town in 1979, and Louth winning the All-Ireland back in 1957. As Mayor I have chosen this day so that the people of our own city of Drogheda can celebrate their identity, culture and heritage,' he stated.

'The spirit of the people in Drogheda is undefeatable. We have survived assaults on the town, have thrived in business and commerce, importing and exporting through our busy port, and have bred significant people including Boann the goddess of the Boyne, founder of the Argentinian Navy Thomas Charles Wright, economist Ken Whitaker, poet and freedom fighter John Boyle O'Reilly, ambassador to the United States Geraldine Byrne, then there's musicians, writers, business people, even a local character Kate The Navvy .'

He wants the day to become a yearly celebration.

Drogheda Independent