Drogheda (/ˈdrɒhədə, ˈdrɔːdə/; Irish: Droichead Átha [ˈd̪ˠɾˠɛhəd̪ˠ ˈaːhə], meaning bridge at the ford.) is one of the oldest cities in Ireland. It is located on the Dublin–Belfast corridor on the east coast of Ireland, mostly in County Louth but with the south fringes of the town in County Meath, 49 km or 30 miles north of Dublin. Drogheda has a population of approximately 41,000 inhabitants (2016), making it the eleventh largest settlement by population in all of Ireland. It is the last bridging point on the River Boyne before it enters the Irish Sea. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Newgrange is located 8 km west of the city.


Droichead Átha
2007 view of Drogheda from the south


Coat of arms
“God our strength, merchandise our glory.”
Location in Ireland
Drogheda (Europe)
Coordinates: 53.714°N 6.350°W / 53.714; -6.350
CountyCounty Louth and County Meath
Municipal districtDrogheda Borough District
Dáil ÉireannLouth
EU ParliamentMidlands–North-West
Founded911 AD
First Charter1194
County Status1412[1] (Abolished 1898)
  Total14.8 km2 (5.7 sq mi)
Highest elevation
24 m (79 ft)
Lowest elevation
1 m (3 ft)
  Density2,776.6/km2 (7,191/sq mi)
  Greater area
DemonymsDroghedean, Boynesider
Time zoneUTC±0 (WET)
  Summer (DST)UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing key
Telephone area code+353(0)41

Drogheda was founded as two separately administered towns in two different territories: Drogheda-in-Meath (i.e. the Lordship and Liberty of Meath, from which a charter was granted in 1194) and Drogheda-in-Oriel (or 'Uriel', as County Louth was then known). The division came from the twelfth-century boundary between two Irish kingdoms, colonised by different Norman interests, just as the River Boyne continues to divide the town between the dioceses of Armagh and Meath. In 1412 these two towns were united, and Drogheda became a 'County Corporate', styled as 'the County of the Town of Drogheda'. Drogheda continued as a County Borough until the setting up of County Councils through the enactment of the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, which saw all of Drogheda, including a large area south of the Boyne, become part of an extended County Louth. With the passing of the County of Louth and Borough of Drogheda (Boundaries) Provisional Order, 1976, County Louth again grew larger at the expense of County Meath. The boundary was further altered in 1994 by the Local Government (Boundaries) (Town Elections) Regulations 1994. The 2007–2013 Meath County Development Plan recognises the Meath environs of Drogheda as a primary growth centre on a par with Navan.

In recent years Drogheda's economy has diversified from its traditional industries, with an increasing number of people employed in the retail, services, and technology sectors. The city also has a community of independent artists and musicians who have been looking to the local economy rather than Dublin for employment. Drogheda was also selected to host Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2018.[4]


Drogheda has a hinterland of 70,000+ within a 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) radius covering County Louth and County Meath. According to the 2016 Irish Census, there are 40,956 in Drogheda town.[5]

Electoral DivisionPopulation
County Louth
Drogheda Town40,956
St Peters9,151
TOTAL 56,466
County Meath
St Mary's (Part)10,769
TOTAL 31,557



The town is situated in an area with an abundance of archaeological monuments dating from the Neolithic period onwards, of which the large Passage Tombs of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth are probably the best known.[7] The remarkable density of archaeological sites of the prehistoric and Early Christian periods uncovered in recent years in the course of development, notably during construction of the Northern Motorway: Gormanston to Monasterboice, or 'Drogheda Bypass', have shown that the hinterland of Drogheda has been a settled landscape for millennia.[8][9]

Town beginnings

Despite local tradition linking Millmount to Amergin Glúingel, in his 1978 study of the history and archaeology of the town John Bradley stated that "neither the documentary nor the archaeological evidence indicates that there was any settlement at the town prior to the coming of the Normans".[10] The results of the numerous and often large-scale excavations carried out within the area of the medieval town in the past ten years appear to have confirmed this statement.[11] The town's name is now often phonetically spelt Drawda[12] in popular culture.

The earliest monument in the town is the motte-and-bailey castle, now known as Millmount Fort, which overlooks the town from a bluff on the south bank of the Boyne and which was probably erected by the Norman Lord of Meath, Hugh de Lacy sometime before 1186. The wall on the east side of Rosemary Lane, a back-lane which runs from St. Laurence Street towards the Augustinian Church is the oldest stone structure in Drogheda.[13] It was completed in 1234 as the west wall of the first castle guarding access to the northern crossing point of the Boyne. The earliest known town charter is that granted to Drogheda-in-Meath by Walter de Lacy in 1194.[14] In the 1600s the name of the town was also spelled "Tredagh" in keeping with the common pronunciation, as documented by Gerard Boate in his work Irelands' Natural History. In c. 1655 it was spelled "Droghedagh" on a map by William Farriland.[15]

Drogheda was an important walled town in the English Pale in the medieval period. It frequently hosted meetings of the Irish Parliament at that time. According to R.J. Mitchell in John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, in a spill-over from the War of the Roses the Earl of Desmond and his two youngest sons (still children) were executed there on Valentine's Day 1468 on orders of the Earl of Worcester, the Lord Deputy of Ireland. It later came to light (see Robert Fabyan, "The New Chronicles of England and France"), that Elizabeth Woodville, the queen consort, was implicated in the orders given.[16] The parliament was moved to the town in 1494 and passed Poynings' Law, the most significant legislation in Irish history, a year later. This effectively subordinated the Irish Parliament's legislative powers to the King and his English Council.

Later events

The town was besieged twice during the Irish Confederate Wars.

On the second occasion an assault was made on the town from the south, the tall walls breached, and the town was taken by Oliver Cromwell on 11 September 1649,[17] as part of the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland and it was the site of a massacre of the Royalist defenders. In his own words after the siege of Drogheda, "When they submitted, their officers were knocked on the head, and every tenth man of the soldiers killed and the rest shipped to Barbados."[18]

The Earldom of Drogheda was created in the Peerage of Ireland in 1661.

The Battle of the Boyne, 1690, occurred some 6 km (3.7 mi) west of the town, on the banks of the River Boyne, at Oldbridge.

In 1790 Drogheda Harbour Commissioners were established. They remained in place until 1997 when the Drogheda Port Company a commercial enterprise replaced them.

In 1825 the Drogheda Steam Packet Company was formed in the town, providing shipping services to Liverpool.

In 1837 the population of Drogheda area was 17,365 people, of whom 15,138 lived in the town.[19]

Town arms

Drogheda's coat of arms features St. Laurence's Gate with three lions, and a ship emerging from either side of the barbican. The town's motto Deus praesidium, mercatura decus translates as "God our strength, merchandise our glory".

The star and crescent emblem in the crest of the coat of arms is mentioned as part of the mayor's seal by D'Alton (1844).[20] In 2010, Irish president Mary McAleese, in a speech delivered during an official visit to Turkey, stated that the star and crescent had been added in the aftermath of the Great Famine as gratitude for food supplies donated by the Ottoman Sultan, which had arrived at Drogheda by ship. Irish press quickly pointed out the story was a myth, with a local historian calling it 'nothing short of sheer nonsense'.[21][22] However, later evidence, including a letter displayed at the office of the European commission, confirms that Turkey came to the aid of the Irish during the Famine.[23]

20th century

In 1921 the preserved severed head of Saint Oliver Plunkett, who was executed in London in 1681, was put on display in St. Peter's (Catholic) Church, where it remains today. The church is located on West Street, which is the main street in the town.

In 1979, Pope John Paul II visited Drogheda as part of his five-stop tour of Ireland. He arrived less than a month after the IRA assassination of Lord Mountbatten, Queen Elizabeth's cousin, in Mullaghmore. On 29 September 1979, he arrived in Dublin, where he gave his first mass. He then addressed 300,000 people in Drogheda, where he appealed "on his knees" to paramilitaries to end the violence in Ireland:[24][25][26]

"Now I wish to speak to all men and women engaged in violence. I appeal to you, in language of passionate pleading. On my knees I beg you to turn away from the paths of violence and to return to the ways of peace. You may claim to seek justice. I too believe in justice and seek justice. But violence only delays the day of justice. Violence destroys the work of justice. Further violence in Ireland will only drag down to ruin the land you claim to love and the values you claim to cherish."[27]

Alcohol brewing and distilling

Drogheda has a long tradition of brewing and distilling, with international companies Jameson Whiskey, Coca-Cola, Guinness, Jack Daniel's all having previously produced or are still currently producing their products in or near the town. Currently, Boann distillery and brewery manufacturers whiskey, gin, cider, and beer in the town. Slane Whiskey, a Jack Daniel's-owned company, distills whiskey just outside the town at Slane. Listoke House distills its own gin. Dan Kellys makes its own cider. Jack Codys manufactures craft beers and stouts. The town formerly distilled Prestons whiskey, a Jameson Whiskey brand; Carines Beer, founded locally and sold to Guinness; and Coca-Cola concentrate, which has since moved to Ballina, County Mayo.

Arts and entertainment

Theatre and performing arts

The town, up until recently, hosted an annual summer Samba festival. Samba bands from around the world converged on the town for three days of drumming and parades.[28]

Brass bands

Drogheda is home to two famous brass bands: Drogheda Brass Band and Lourdes Brass Band. Recently, both bands have been National Brass Band Champions of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Traditional Irish music

Drogheda hosted the national traditional music festival, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, in 2018 and hosted it again from the 11th-19th, 2019.[29]


Drogheda and its hinterland has always had a very strong literary tradition. Oisín McGann is an award-winning writer of children's literature. Angela Greene was the first Drogheda poet to win The Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award in 1988 for her collection Silence and the Blue Night. The poet Susan Connolly has been widely published and broadcast. She was awarded The Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry in 2001 for her life's work. Shearsman UK, published her groundbreaking collection of visual poetry The Bridge at the Ford in 2016. The poet, writer and occasional broadcaster Marie MacSweeney has received the Francis MacManus Short Story Award for her short story "Dipping into the Darkness". Roger Hudson is a performance poet and has published collections of poetry and a CD with the composer Breifne Holohan ' San Francisco Dreaming' in 2016.

Places of interest

Drogheda is an ancient town that enjoys a growing tourism industry. It has a UNESCO World Heritage site, Newgrange, located 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) to the west of the town centre.

Industry and economy

Drogheda has a growing industrial base with several international companies based in the town. The major industries include:

  • Boyne Valley Group, a manufacturer of Boyne Valley Honey, Chivers, Erin, McDonnells, Don Carlos
  • Becton Dickinson (BD), manufacturer of medical equipment. IDA client.
  • Natures Best, a supermarket focused fresh food processor employing 300 people.
  • Yapstone Inc .European Headquarters. IDA client [31][32]
  • Drogheda Port Company, the oldest indigenous employer since 1790
  • Premier RHI AG, or Premier Periclase, produces Seawater Magnesia products at its plant – 115 employees
  • Flogas, a national gas distributor
  • M & L Manafucturing. Electronics
  • Hilton Foods, a meat processor
  • CRH plc, Irish Cement, Ireland's largest cement works at Platin.
  • Bakehouse Biscuit Factory.
  • Water Wipes . Baby Care Products.
  • Boann Distillery and Brewery
  • Dan Kellys Cider Brewery
  • Mobile Technologies Inc MTI. IDA Client

Transport, communications and amenities

Drogheda is located close to the M1 (E1 Euro Route 1) (main DublinBelfast motorway). The Boyne River Bridge carries traffic from the M1, across the River Boyne, 3 km west of the town. It was opened on 9 June 2003 and is the longest cable-stayed bridge in Ireland. The town's postcode, or eircode, is A92.


Drogheda acquired rail links to Dublin in 1844, Navan in 1850 and Belfast in 1852. Passenger services between Drogheda and Navan were ended in 1958, however the line remains open for freight (Tara Mines/Platin Cement) traffic. In 1966 Drogheda station was renamed "MacBride". Drogheda railway station opened on 25 May 1844.[33]

The station has direct trains on the Enterprise northbound to Dundalk, Newry, Portadown, Lisburn and Belfast Central, and southbound to Dublin Connolly.

A wide variety of Iarnród Éireann commuter services connect southbound to Balbriggan, Malahide, Howth Junction, Dublin Connolly, Tara Street, Dublin Pearse, Grand Canal Dock, Dún Laoghaire, Bray, Greystones, Wicklow, Rathdrum and Arklow.

Bus transport

Drogheda's bus station is located on Donore Road. It replaces an earlier facility on the Bull Ring. Past Bus Éireann routes included the 184 to Garristown and 185 to Bellewstown but these were discontinued a few years ago.

Politics and government

Drogheda Borough District members from the 2014 local elections
Local electoral area Name Party
Drogheda Imelda Munster Sinn Féin
Paul Bell Labour Party
Alan Cassidy Sinn Féin
Tommy Byrne Fianna Fáil
Kevin Callan Independent
Oliver Tully Fine Gael
Frank Godfrey Independent
Richie Culhane Fine Gael
Pio Smith Labour Party
Kenneth Flood Sinn Féin

Drogheda Borough Council is an elected local government body which is mandated under the Local Government Act 2001 to provide civic leadership and a forum for the democratic representation of the community. Responsibilities include amenity support, operation of the Litter Act, contribution to tourism development, event licensing, arts support, etc. The Borough Council executive comprises twelve elected Councillors, headed by the mayor. The current mayor is Richard Culhane (Fine Gael).[34]

For local elections to Louth County Council, the town forms part of two local electoral areas – Drogheda East (6) and Drogheda West (4) . This includes both the urban Drogheda area and surrounding rural areas.

For the purposes of elections to Dáil Éireann, the town is part of the five seat Louth constituency which returns five TDs. Following the 2016 general election, the constituency elected two TDs for Sinn Féin (populist), two TDs for Fine Gael party (centre right), and one TD for Fianna Fáil (centre to centre-right).


The local newspapers are The Drogheda Independent and The Drogheda Leader, known locally as The D.I. and The Leader. Both newspapers are published every Wednesday. The Leader a free-of-charge newspaper has a circulation of 24,000 and the Drogheda Independent's circulation is 6,850 (2011 ABC). The headquarters of The Drogheda Independent are on Shop Street and The Drogheda Leader's offices are on Laurence Street.

The local radio station is LMFM, broadcasting on 95.8 FM. The headquarters of LMFM are on Marley's Lane on the south side of the town.

Hospitals and Health care

Drogheda is a regional centre for medical care. Its main hospital is Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, a public hospital located in the town. and is part of the Louth Meath Hospital Group. Facilities include a 24-hour emergency department for the populations of County Louth, County Meath and the North-East of Ireland. The hospital provides 340 beds, of which 30 are reserved for acute day cases.[35]

The Cottage Hospital on Scarlet Street is a former maternity hospital, which subsequently became a Geriatric Unit for a number of years and is now a long stay residential unit.


There are six secondary schools situated in Drogheda. St. Joseph's secondary school in Newfoundwell is an all-boys school, as is St. Marys Diocesan School on Beamore Rd. The Sacred Heart School,[36] situated in Sunnyside Drogheda, is an all-girls school. The Drogheda Grammar school, located on Mornington Road, St. Oliver's Community College,[37] on Rathmullen Road, and Ballymakenny College, on the Ballymakenny Road, are co-ed schools. Our Lady's College,[38] in Greenhills is an all-girls school. There is also Drogheda Institute for Further Education (DIFE), a third-level college situated in Moneymore.


  • Football: In December 2005 the town's soccer team, Drogheda United FC, won the FAI Cup for the first time. In 2006 Drogheda United won the Setanta Cup. In 2007, Drogheda United won the League of Ireland for the first time in the club's history. Drogheda United FC's brother team is Trabzonspor from Turkey. Both of the teams' colours are claret red and blue.
  • Rugby: Local team Boyne RFC was formed in 1997 from the amalgamation of Delvin RFC and Drogheda RFC. As of 2010, the men's 1st XV team plays in the Leinster J1 1st division. Drogheda is also home to many rugby-playing schools, including St. Mary's, who are the under-14 Leinster rugby champions.
  • Gaelic Football: There are five clubs in Drogheda: Newtown Blues GFC, Wolfe Tones GFC, O'Raghallaigh's GFC, Oliver Plunket's GFC, St. Nicholas's GFC.

Town twinning

Notable residents and citizens

Arts and Media

Politics and Diplomacy



  • John Jameson Founder of Jameson whiskey lived in Distillery House, Dyer Street.

Academia and Science


  • Patrick Curtis Archbishop of Armagh, Spymaster for the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War. No 1 on Napoleon's most wanted list.
  • Thomas Lancaster, bishop, buried at St. Peter's Church


International Soccer Players


See also


  1. Johnston, L. C. (1826). History of Drogheda: from the earliest period to the present time. Drogheda. p. 37.
  2. "Population Density and Area Size 2016 by Towns". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  3. "Cromwell back at gates of Drogheda - demanding a city". Independent.ie. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  4. "Drogheda to host Fleadh Cheoil". Irish Independent. 18 March 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  5. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. See www.cso.ie/census and www.histpop.org for post 1821 figures, 1813 estimate from Mason's Statistical Survey. For a discussion on the accuracy of pre-famine census returns see J.J. Lee "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses", Irish Population, Economy and Society, eds. J.M. Goldstrom and L.A. Clarkson (1981) p.54, and also "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700–1850" by Joel Mokyr and Cormac O Grada in The Economic History Review, New Series, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Nov. 1984), pp. 473–488.
  7. Stout, G. 2002 Newgrange and the Bend of the Boyne. Cork University Press.
  8. Bennett, I. (ed) 1987–2004 Excavations : Summary accounts of archaeological excavations in Ireland. Bray.
  9. The Hidden Places of Ireland 190443410X David Gerrard - 2004 -"Two minutes from the centre of Drogheda. in the old townland of Mell."
  10. Bradley, J. 1978 'The Topography and Layout of Medieval Drogheda', Co. Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal, 19, 2, 98–127.
  11. Bennett op cit.
  12. Urban Dictionary: drawda https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=drawda
  13. Archaeology No. 5257: The medieval walls of Drogheda
  14. Bradley op cit 105
  15. NLI. MS. 716, copy of map by Daniel O'Brien, c. 1780
  16. Fabyan, Robert; Ellis, Henry (1811). The new chronicles of England and France, in two parts : by Robert Fabyan. Named by himself The concordance of histories. Reprinted from Pynson's edition of 1516. The first part collated with the editions of 1533, 1542, and 1559; and the second with a manuscript of the author's own time, as well as the subsequent editions: including the different continuations. To which are added a biographical and literary preface, and an index. Robarts - University of Toronto. London : Printed for F.C. & J. Rivington [etc.]
  17. Antonia Fraser, Cromwell, our chief of men (London, 1973)
  18. Cromwell letter to William Lenthall (1649)
  19. "Entry for Drogheda in Lewis Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837)". Libraryireland.com. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  20. John D'Alton, The History of Drogheda: With Its Environs, and an Introductory Memoir of the Dublin and Drogheda Railway (1844), p. 138.
  21. https://www.independent.ie/regionals/droghedaindependent/news/president-sparks-star-and-crescent-debate-27144260.html
  22. Murray, Ken (25 March 2010). "President tells Turks an anecdote of myth not fact". The Irish Times. Retrieved 25 March 2010. "Liam Reilly, an administrator with the Old Drogheda Society based in the town’s Millmount Museum, said last night the comments were incorrect. 'There are no records with the Drogheda Port Authority of this ever happening. Drogheda historians can trace the star and crescent back to 1210 when the British governor of Ireland, King John Lackland, granted the town its first charter,' he said" "Ottoman aid to the Irish to hit the big screen". TodaysZaman. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014."New evidence shows Turkey delivered food to Ireland during the famine". IrishCentral.com. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  23. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/role-of-turkey-during-famine-clarified-1.672383
  24. "Remembering Pope John Paul II's 1979 visit to Ireland (PHOTOS)". IrishCentral.com. 29 September 2016. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  25. Doherty, Christine (6 January 2010). "Drogheda was safe place for Pope to visit". The Independent. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  26. McGarry, Patsy (29 November 2016). "Pope's visit to Ireland will not draw the 1979 crowds of 2.7m". The Irish Times. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  27. "29 September 1979: Mass in Drogheda - Dublin | John Paul II". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Vatican. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  28. Noel Cosgrave. "Drogheda Samba Festival". Droghedasamba.com. Archived from the original on 17 December 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  29. https://www.visitlouth.ie/whats-on/festivals/fleadh-cheoil-na-h%C3%A9ireann-drogheda-2019.html
  30. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g186624-d7688559-Reviews-Augustinian_Church-Drogheda_County_Louth.html
  31. "Contact Us - YapStone, Payment Service Provider". Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  32. "YapStone Names Daniel Issen as Chief Technology Officer". www.businesswire.com. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  33. "Drogheda station" (PDF). Railscot – Irish Railways. Retrieved 5 September 2007.
  34. "Ex GAA star Richie is new mayor of town". Irish Independent. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  35. "Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda - HSE.ie". www.hse.ie. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  36. "Sacred Heart Secondary School - Principal's Welcome". www.sacredheart.ie. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  37. "Home Page". www.socc.ie. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  38. User, Super. "Home". www.ourladys.ie. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  39. "Love story: Courtney Love - Independent.ie". Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  40. ""I've been tortured and scorned since the day I was born"". Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  41. "TK Whitaker recalls his childhood in Paradise - Independent.ie". Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  42. Houterman, J.N. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945 - F". www.unithistories.com.
  43. O'Rourke, Steve. "'Better than Senna' - Tommy Byrne was the greatest racing driver you've probably never heard of".
  44. "Crash and Burn review: Tommy Byrne - Far beyond driven".

Further reading

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