Louth locals make a song and dance of launching Drogheda’s St Peter’s Hill space
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honour of a critic." -- Composer Jean Sibelius
There has been a lot of chatter about the new meeting place at St Peter’s Hill, Drogheda, in recent times, with some local people still refusing to embrace the ethos of the space as somewhere to meet and share time with friends or take time out for a few moments alone away from the hustle and bustle of the town.
However, surely even the harshest critics of the design must be silenced at the heart-warming sight of Drogheda’s young people using the space to entertain and spread joy and happiness in warm May sunshine.
The occasion was the official launch of the shared space at Peters Hill on Monday May 8, with a few explanations of the thought process behind the design and sculptures, and the hopes for the use of the public plaza.
"This shared space is an addition to Drogheda which will provide a place for people and communities to meet, will enhance the social fabric of the town and create a new identity for this area within Drogheda’s Heritage Quarter,” said Louth County Council CEO Joan Martin. “It is envisaged that this meeting plaza will act as a cross community and cross-border shared space, providing a significant public amenity for the people of Drogheda and symbolising the reconciliation between the communities on this island.
As invited guests and passers-by basked in fleeting sunshine, they were treated to four inspirational songs by youth group Loving Life Choir, who have informally adopted the area as their performance space, as well beautiful dance from members of Kidkast.
This was one of the visions of the intended use for the multi-functional meeting plaza when it was mooted two years ago.
The public realm design project has been supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special European Programmes Body (SEUPB) and supported locally by Louth County Council and Louth Local Community Development Committee (LCDC). Match-funding has been provided by The Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department for Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
The backdrop for the entertainment was the imposing artwork by sculptor Michael Disley entitled ‘Inspired to Meet’.
The design shows two spires which are set apart with a large bird on top of each one. The birds are seen facing one another as if chatting. The spires echo the large stone pillars of the gateway and reflect the proximity of the two St Peter’s churches – Catholic and Church of Ireland.
The result is a depiction of a meeting between the two birds with the image celebrating both peace and meetings.
"In the context of Drogheda, from the Far Side or not, you're all welcome on this stage. This is everybody's space,” added Ms Martin. “So regardless of whether you're from a council estate or private estate, whether you're from the town or from outside the town, whether you're Irish or whether you're newly arrived in Ireland, this is your space. It's a space for everybody. It belongs to nobody. It belongs to everybody. And that's what the Peace programme is about. It's about bringing us all together, regardless of background, regardless of whether we're Irish or not.”
More seating will be added on both sides of the controversial wall, and it is envisaged that more planting will be carried out, and as it matures, the space will be embraced and enjoyed by everyone in the town and seen as a positive asset and not an eyesore.