Monday 23 October 2017

Don't leave future of town to a few, let's all work at it


I STOOD in front of the giant church holding my mum's hand tightly. If I craned my head backwards, I could just about see the top of the pointy spire, which seemed to stretch endlessly upwards, scraping the clouds. We had set out from our home in Swords that morning, and I remember thinking what an amazing place we were visiting, as we drove across a wide river that was spanned by a huge bridge in the distance.

'That's called a viaduct,' my dad said from the driver's seat, ' and comes from the Latin to lead by a road.' (My parents both had a passion for the English language which I share to this day).

We swept through streets lined with ancient walls, and saw oddities like the Cup and Saucer, the castlelike St Laurence's Gate, and the churches, I'd never seen so many churches in one place. We pulled up in front of St Peter's and parked right outside. There was a huge shop across the road I remember, with a bright yellow sign that said ' The Savoy.'

Dashing across the wide, busy street filled with other inviting-looking shops, we entered the Aladdin's Cave of goodies, and along with a beautiful book called 'Flower Fairies', I got one of the most delicious ice-cream cones I'd ever tasted.

When we entered the church, the cool air added to the shiver I felt because of the sheer size of the place. Where we went to Mass in Swords was small and cosy, and here the echo of your footsteps bounced around the roof for a few seconds.

'Come and see St Oliver's head,' my mum whispered. And what a wonderment that was to a six-year-old child. Ghoulish, fascinating and infinitely memorable.

'He's got very good teeth,' I remarked, which caused my dad to laugh, still audible in the silence, though he tried to hold it in.

We drove up a hill nearby when finished, and as we took a left turn, my mum said, ' here we are, this is where we're going to live.'

Everyone else in the car seemed to know to look to their left as we drove past Albany Terrace, a majestic terrace of Georgian houses in William Street.

I of course looked to my right (in those days, traffic drove the opposite way), and thought we were moving into Harpur House. ' This is the best day ever,' I thought to myself. It was soon to be the start of my own childhood in Drogheda. My mum was a Watson from Dyer Street. Granda Comyn was the local garda detective. I'm as Drogheda as they come.

Looking around the meeting in the Barbican last Wednesday night, I saw faces from other families who have made the town their home for generations.

Mcallister, Monaghan, Eustace, Kierans, Tully, Mccloskey... people who have invested lifetimes in the town, and whose passion, dedication and faith in Drogheda will never fade.

But there were new faces too. The girls from Stockwell Artisan Foods, Marcella from Droichead Arts...hundreds of ' blow-ins' who have made Drogheda their home and want to see her shine once more.

Good residents associations are usually down to the hard-work of a few people, while the rest of the estate are more than willing to reap the benefits. But they tire, and the work stalls.

Don't leave the future of the town to a few, but make it the work of everyone.