Cairnes Ltd. - A Romance of the Brewing Industry

A message from Cairnes Brewery from 1939:

"Beside the storied River Boyne, in the historic, but progressive town of Drogheda in the County Louth, stands the extensive Brewery of CAIRNES LIMITED, far-famed for its ales and stouts.

Old in years, but modern and up-to-date in its methods, this brewing business has truly "moved with the times". One of the original pioneer firms of the brewing industry, the beginnings of "Cairnes Limited" date back to 1772 with the foundation of the Castlebellingham Brewery amidst ideal rural surroundings in the County of Louth. In 1825 Mr. Cairnes, who was related by marriage to the owners of the Castlebellingham Brewery, founded the brewery at Drogheda, though not until 1889 were the interests of the firms pooled. For years subsequent to this date the two breweries were worked independently, each supplying its own customers throughout Ireland and abroad.

The ale was very popular in America as this poster shows

In 1923 it was considered advisable to concentrate brewing operations at Drogheda owing to its more advantageous position, commercially, and as the brewing plant and premises there were more extensive. Actually the brewing plant of Cairnes Ltd. is one of the most up-to-date in Ireland and compares very favourably with that of breweries in the neighbouring island. The premises have grown with the years, they have been extended and modernised, yet combining in their "romance of industry" the mellowness of Yesterday with the progressiveness of today.

There are two supplies of water to the brewery. One is from the famous Tubberboice Spring, the property of the company, situated about two miles from the town of Drogheda. The other is from a deep Artesian well, bored some years ago at great expense, in the Brewery yard. The special properties of these springs help to produce the Company's far-famed Ales and Stouts, and with the best ingredients in finest of malted barley and hops, they combine to give to CAIRNES ALES their particular "sparkle", "verve" and "body" in a word, their charm and their strength.

Cairnes Ales have been the subject of hosts of testimonials as their qualities, at home and abroad, and they are worthy upholders of the great name Ireland fitly earned in the word of brewing.

the famous Stingo Ale
It s wonderful to see pioneers in any industry still "going strong" in these days of keen competition, amalgamations, monopolies - and, not least, heavy taxation - more particularly when unaided by tariffs and quotas as is the case of the Irish Brewing Industry. So one must admire this long-established concern. What changes it has seen in the 167 years since its inception at Castlebellingham! Today it goes forward, proudly, to add fresh laurels to the name of CAIRNES LIMITED and the fame of their products, those ales and stouts of which even Charles Lever and Thackeray wrote and enthused in the long ago, and which, now, as then, fill the connoisseur with the joy of having found perfection."

The brewery on the Marsh Rd, Drogheda


Reminder: ODS Lecture Tonight 26/02/2014


Don't foget tonight's Old Drogheda Society lecture: A Trip Down Memory Lane by well known Drogheda photographer, Des Clinton, in the Governor's House @ 8 pm.

This illustrated lecture will show a selection of photographs of Drogheda and it's people over the last hundred years and.

Des will also demonstrate the various cameras used over the years.

There will be a bookshop on the night and all are welcome.

Drogheda Museum
MillmountGovernor's House,


The Nugents of Delvin

Tomorrow, Wednesday 26th February @8pm The Nugents of Delvin by Dr. Benjamin Hazard at the Lismullin Institute

Admission: €5 Including refreshments. 

The Nugents settled in Ireland during the Norman conquest and, by the end of the 16th century, branches of the family held sixteen strategic strongholds in Westmeath. 

This lecture will offer a brief survey of the Nugent family's role – in its defence of the old faith - as protectors and benefactors of the Franciscans at Multyfarnham abbey. 

Benjamin Hazard has already published research on this topic in the journal Ríocht na Midhe (2011) and he will take account in the lecture also of more recent historical scholarship about the Nugents.

Drogheda Museum
MillmountGovernor's House,


ODS Lecture: A Trip Down Memory Lane

The next Old Drogheda Society lecture will be A Trip Down Memory Lane by well known Drogheda photographer, Des Clinton, in the Governor's House, Millmount on Wednesday February 26th @ 8 pm.

This illustrated lecture will show a selection of photographs of Drogheda and it's people over the last hundred years and.

Des will also demonstrate the various cameras used over the years.

Des Clinton is a Fellow of both the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain and the Irish Photographic Federation. In 2010 he gained the Master's distinction in photography with the world body of photography FIAP.

He has won many accolades and awards at national and international level over this time. He was recently presented the prestigious Fenton Medal of the RPS for his photography.

Des loves to share his own and other photographers' images collected over the years.

There will be a bookshop on the night and all are welcome

Drogheda Museum
MillmountGovernor's House,


The Field Names of County Meath

Tomorrow, Sunday 23rd February @ 3:30pm The Field Names of County Meath with Joan Mullen and John McCullen.

This is a Kells & District Tourism Forum event at Rockfield House, Kells, Co. Meath.

Entry €5.00 (Refreshments provided).

Due to changing farming and ownership patterns in rural Meath, the need to record the field names, folklore and features of our fields has become a matter of urgency. Much of the information is being carried in folk memory and is at risk because of the diminishing population of farmers and rural dwellers. The idea of collecting all the field names in Meath originated with a small group of people. This group took local soundings, canvassed interest, organised a meeting and set up a group of people from varying backgrounds and locations in the county to oversee the project.

Drogheda Museum
MillmountGovernor's House,


A Drogheda Harp: Instrument & Icon

With the recent bid for Drogheda to hold the Fleadh Cheoil, the subject of local traditional music comes back to the fore, and the town has always had a long history of excellent traditional musicians. One such person was the harper Ackland Kane or Echlin O'Cahan who was by all accounts a musical genius but was a rogue to go along with it.

He was born in Drogheda around 1720 and had such a taste for adventure that, not withstanding his blindness, he traveled throughout Europe, mainly Spain, France, Italy & Scotland. He visited Rome where it is said he played before 'the Pretender', then resident there. In his subsequent travels through France and Spain he met many Irish exiles, and was introduced to his Majesty the King of Spain. He was so much acclaimed by the court that he was almost awarded a pension by the King, but due to certain indiscretions he exhausted the patience and patronage of his fellow countrymen and had to leave Madrid. He set out for Ireland on foot, and by all accounts was a physically strong man, and so reached his destination unscathed.

He didn't stay in Ireland long but set off for Scotland where he stayed for the remainder of his life. His behaviour once again landed him in trouble, with one noted incident being, after being presented with an antique silver harp key by the Lord McDonald of Skye, subsequently sold it in Edinburgh and drank the proceeds. At one time his patrons in the Highland gentry cut his fingernails to curb his behaviour, thereby putting him out of business for a while. Kane died in Scotland around 1790.

Ackland Kane was widely seen to be a musical prodigy and was highly regarded by the maestro's of the day. His execution and proficiency were a credit to his teacher, Cornelius Lyons, harper to the Earl of Antrim. Had he conducted himself throughout life with a degree of decorum he might have been one of the most famous musicians of his day.    

Drogheda harper at Tara monster meeting 1843
The Drogheda Harp Society was set up in 1842 and was aligned with the temperance movement and the Catholic faith, believing that if young boys were occupied with learning to play the harp they would certainly reject the temptations of alcohol. It was a successful venture by all accounts, and was the only surviving institution to teach the Irish harp. Its founder Fr. Thomas Burke, OP appointed Hugh Frazer as a teacher, himself a graduate of the then defunct Belfast Harp School. It's claim to fame was the fact that five pupils of the school played for Daniel O'Connell at his monster meeting in Tara in August 1843. One of the harps, played by the student William Griffiths, still survives today in the possession of the a Drogheda family.

Drogheda harp
Harp detail

The surviving Drogheda Harp is notable not only for its historical significance but for its interesting artistry & construction. It was locally made, with the timbers for Drogheda harps supplied by Mr. Ball of Ballsgrove House. Local craftsman Francis Flood oversaw their construction and decoration, with the boys painting their own harps. The surviving harp is decorated with scenes from Irish history, Catholic and Nationalistic imagery.

Traditional music, such as harp playing, lives on today and if the town's bid for the Fleadh is anything to go by it will continue to do so for a long time to come.

An excellent article on harpers and the Drogheda Harp from History Ireland:  http://www.historyireland.com/18th-19th-century-history/a-drogheda-harp-instrument-and-icon/

'Drogheda Harp Society' by Patrick Cooney, O.D.S Journal 1976    


The Body Snatchers

Community Historian Brendan Matthews snatching something eerie from Drogheda's past

On Monday evening, March 1st 1875, a group of Fishermen were hauling their nets in from the north bank of the River Boyne, just to the east or downstream of Green hills in Drogheda, when one of them tripped over a piece of wood that was protruding from the river bank.

The fisherman proceeded to pull the wood out from the bank and, finding it a little difficult to remove, he began to clear away some of the marl that surrounded it, only to find to his astonishment, that the outline of a coffin appeared.

With the help of the other fishermen the coffin was taken from the bank, which was described by the Drogheda Argus newspaper as being `very roughly made with thin boards and, presumably placed in this secret ghostly grave in haste.'

Sergeant Collum was at the scene in a short time and when the coffin was opened it was found to contain the skeletal remains of an adult.

Dr. T. J. Moore, Louth County Coroner, who later attended the scene, said that the remains were that of a young adult male, who had died within the last twenty years or so. The police began to make enquiries locally about the mysterious find and the following story emerged.

According to the people of Drogheda, the body was that of a local man who was highly suspected of being involved in Body Snatching back in the 1850`s and who suddenly disappeared from the town. They also said that this same man was shot whilst attempting to retrieve a body from a grave in Newtown cemetery, which is only a short distance from where the skeletal remains were found at Green Hills.

From the late 18th Century right through the 19th Century the interest in anatomy had grown and the number of bodies legally allowed to anatomists was insufficient and so dead bodies became a commodity, where people were paid to exhume them from their resting place in the dead of night.

Watchmen were frequently employed to guard the grave plots of loved ones who had recently passed away and, quite often; it was the poorer graves that were plundered, with many of them containing more than one body.

Women were often also paid to pose as relatives and claim bodies from the Workhouses, while vagrants and beggars also disappeared without trace.

The people who carried out the body snatching were hated and, if and when they were caught, they often met with horrific deaths themselves, particularly if they were caught by the relatives of the deceased. The body snatcher or snatchers would then be buried in a make-shift coffin and placed in unconsecrated ground, in the belief that they would never make it to the afterlife.

The remains of the man found at Green Hills, if indeed he was a body snatcher, did not necessitate an enquiry, according to Dr. Moore and it was subsequently interred in the Drogheda Workhouse burial ground.

Next time you pay a visit to some of the older cemeteries, take a look at some of the grave plots that are surrounded by high iron railings and perhaps a locked gate: the original reason for this may not necessarily have been for ornamental purposes!

Drogheda Museum
MillmountGovernor's House,



Some interesting notes from the County Louth Archaeological Journal from 1944:

                                                     Names of Horses & Dogs

My curiosity has been aroused by the fact that dogs and horses in Ireland seem always to have purely English names. In the case of dogs - Jack, Rover, Prince, Nellie, Spot etc, and of horses - Nelly , Daisy, etc. I imagined that cows, where named , follow the horse fashion.

Since Co. Louth has been so long part of the Pale, I enquired from Mr. O'Sullivan of the Irish Folklore Commission as to other and Irish-speaking parts of the country.

He replied that so far as his experience goes, this fashion is very widespread and especially so with regard to dogs. "Even in Irish-speaking areas, dogs are given English names. Horses are not given names of any kind for the most part, except ponies or pets. Where they are named at all, it is in English (Nellie, Purty, Jenny, etc). Animals are generally spoken to or called in English also...Cows were always given Irish names (generally referring to their colour or horns) in districts where Irish was known, every cow got a name. It is curious that this should be so, when horses follow a different rule of nomenclature."

One might suggest that in this country animals were not supposed to be fit for any name but one in Beurla (sic), but this theory would be disproved by the case of the cows. Could it have come about because special breeds of dogs and horses were imported from England bringing their names with them, which have spread not only to their progeny but to dogs and horses generally.

It would be interesting to hear what the practise is in other parts of Louth and the surrounding counties. I have known of one "Bran" in Dundalk within the last 5 or 6 years, but he was far from being like his great namesake.


                                                    Irish Racing Calender, 1800.
                                                    Rules & Orders for Cocking

"If any man lay more money than he hath to pay, or can not satisfy the party with who he hath laid, either by his credit or some friend's word, the which if he cannot do, than he is to be put into a basket. to be provided for that purpose, and to be hanged in that basket in some convenient place in the cockpit, that all men may know him, during the time of play that day; and also, that the party so offending, never to be admitted to come into the pit, until he hath made satisfaction."


Ashbourne Talk on William Johnson

On Wednesday 19th February @ 8.30pm the Ashbourne Historical Society host a talk William Johnson - the Most famous Meathman in Colonial North America.

The talk will be given by Mr Jack Irwin and will take place upstairs in Kelly’s Lounge, Ashbourne.

All welcome.

Admission €3.00

Drogheda Museum
MillmountGovernor's House,


Period Costume in Laurence Street Today

A number of Old Drogheda Society members will be dressed in period costume today in Laurence Street, to support Drogheda's bid to attract Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann to the town.

The street will be transformed into 'Fleadh Street, to coincide with the visit of the Ard Chomhairle of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann to Drogheda in advance of the town's bid to bring this huge event to the Boyneside.

The Old Drogheda Society will also have a stand in the indoor market in the former Methodist Church from 11 am to 3 pm.

Drogheda Comhaltas branch musicians and dancers will perform the length and breadth of Laurence Street and there will be plenty of indoor activity in the indoor market and the Highlanes Gallery, there will also be food tastings, a traditional session in McPhails and the historic street will be decorated and blocked off to traffic.

If you get a chance drop down and join in the fun it starts at 11am and finishes at 3 pm.

  • Old Drogheda Society - History, Archaeology & Heritage Millmount, Drogheda, Co. Louth, Ireland. Tel. 041-9833097


Fleadh Street

Tomorrow, Saturday the 15th February, will see a festive type carnival of street entertainment on Laurence Street from 11am until 3pm with all the street traders taking part alongside street characters, etc, in costume dress. For a four hour period Laurence Street will become a 'Fleadh Street'.

The festivities are to run parallel with the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2015 adjudicators' visit to Drogheda. This visit is part of their search for a suitable venue to serve as host town to the national Flèadh in 2015 which, apparently, could bring in as much as 35k to the local economy.

Drogheda Mayor Richie Culhane has invited the citizens of the town to join in the festivities and get the buzz. The Drogheda Independent reported that 'Drogheda Comhaltas branch musicians and dancers will perform the length and breadth of Laurence Street.'

A number of staff from Millmount Museum along with members of the Old Drogheda Society will be going down, some dressing up in period costume, etc.

Old Drogheda Society - History, Archaeology & Heritage Millmount, Drogheda, Co. Louth, Ireland. Tel. 041-9833097


Meath Folly

Outside Kells, Co. Meath stands an unusual landmark; what appears to be a lighthouse 30 miles inland on a hill. This is the Tower, or Spire of Loyd, built in 1791 by the 2nd Earl of Bective (known as the First Marquess of Headfort), Thomas Taylour. It is built in the form of a giant Doric column with a glazed lantern on top and stands 30m (100ft) high. From the top there are spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, with views as far as the Mourne Mountains in Co. Down on a clear day.

Tower of Loyd
There are numerous theories as to why the tower was built; the main theory is that it commemorates the First Marquess' father also called Thomas Taylor, 1st Earl of Bective. It has also been called a folly as some think it was built to provide emploment at a time of economic hardship, but is not related to the Famine follies around the country as it pre-dates the Famine by 60 years, even though there is a paupers graveyard located nearby. It was also used to view horse racing and the hunt in the nineteenth century and also to admire the surrounding views. 

image courtesy buildingsofireland.ie

The nearby Paupers Graveyard also on the Hill of Loyd dates from May 1851 and many paupers were buried here either as direct or indirect victims of the Famine. There was a need at the time for a new graveyard for the town of Kells as the main cemetery was full at this stage, and the site at Loyd was chosen as it was just outside the town. It would also avoid the removal of bodies from the Workhouse without 'parading' them through the town centre and possibly further spreading cholera & other diseases to the inhabitants. The area encompassing the tower and cemetery is now used under happier circumstances as a People's Park with playground facilities, picnic tables and a ring fort walk. It is also only open to the public during Heritage Week so if you get to go up on a clear day it's a great treat!  


Night of the Big Wind.

Community Historian Brendan Matthews taking us back over the centuries to the days when the weather was just like ... it is now

On Sunday 6th January 1839, a strong wind began to whistle through the streets of Drogheda, which was accompanied by heavy rain. By 11pm, on that, Little Christmas, day, a hurricane was lashing through the town which was to last until 6am the following morning. Almost every building within the town suffered some structural damage, with hundreds of houses having their roofs blown away, along with chimney stacks, slates and other debris toppling over onto the streets.

Such was the damage caused to the roofs of the buildings, that the Slaters of the district refused to work for less than ten shillings a day following the storm.

In the suburbs of Drogheda many of the wretched cabins of the poor were burned as a result of tily lamps falling over and chimneys collapsing, setting the thatch ablaze.

Amazingly, it was reported that few of the ships on the Boyne River suffered any material damage, but there was grave concerns for those unfortunate enough to be out at sea. Large quantities of agricultural produce, such as flax, hay and corn were also blown away from their respective stack-yards in the vicinity of the town and scattered across the streets, roads and fields of the neighbourhood.

The `Newry Lark` coach also had to return to Drogheda late on the Sunday evening having proceeded on it’s way to Dublin only to make it as far as Julianstown, where the road became impassable due to fallen trees on the road.

The roof over the home of Mr. Robert Algar Esq. of Laurence’s St. came crashing in as the large chimney stack collapsed. At the time, Mr. Algar, his wife and two infant children, along with a nurse, were all huddled together in the nursery room and while the tall ceilings fell in around them their, cries for help were heard by people on the street, who placed their own lives at risk and brought the five occupants to safety.

The roof of the Mayoralty House was also extensively damaged, as was the extensive stores of Mr. Ennis in Scholes`s lane, Mrs. McDonnell’s in West St., the infirmary at the West gate, McCann’s mills on the Quays, the premises of Messrs. Smith & Smyth and the many flax, linen, cotton and other manufactories throughout the town were also badly damaged as a result of the horrific storm.

Hundreds of mature trees were also destroyed in the Ballsgrove demesne, while the damage estimated to have been caused on the Oldbridge estate was put at a whopping £2000 and the structural damage to Beaulieu House was put at £500, along with hundreds of mature trees having been uprooted. Hundreds of mature trees were also blown down on the estate of Viscount Gormanstown in east Meath.

After the storm had abated on Monday 7th January, it was feared that the price of food, which had already been steadily increasing beyond the means of many, would now increase even further, due to the huge destruction of the agricultural crop.

The hurricane had left untold damage, not only across Ireland, but also throughout much of Wales and England.

In the years that followed, it was often believed that, the demise and disappearance of many of the humble little cabins was due to the effects of the great famine and the `callous landlord.` Although there is much truth in this, it must also be remembered that, during the first week in January 1839, hundreds if not indeed thousands of homesteads were wiped from the landscape during the `Night of the big wind`.

  • Old Drogheda Society - History, Archaeology & Heritage Millmount, Drogheda, Co. Louth, Ireland. Tel. 041-9833097


Ríocht na Midhe In Meath

The latest from our colleagues in The Meath Archeological and Historical Society.

Thursday 13th February:  Launch of Ríocht na Midhe 2014 in the Ardboyne Hotel, Navan at 7.30pm. Tea and coffee will be available from 6:30pm.

The recently published bound volume series Ríocht na Midhe Vol. II, Nos. 1-4 (1959-62) will be available for sale at the launch, special launch price of €20.00.

Professor George Eogan will launch the 2014 issue of Ríocht na Midhe on Thursday 13th February.
This year marks a major change as the Society's Editor, Seamus MacGabhann, is stepping down from the post after 20 years during which time he steered Ríocht na Midhe to be one of the prominent local history and archaeology journals in Ireland. Seamus will introduce his successor at the launch and the evening will close with an illustrated talk on the Book of Kells by Dr Bernard Meehan, Head of Research Collections and Keeper of Manuscripts at Trinity College Library who will provide some background to the Book of Kells and focus on newly identified narrative scenes identified and discussed in his 2012 publication.

Dr Meehan is a graduate in history of the University of Edinburgh. He became Keeper of Manuscripts at TCD Library in the 1980s, looking after manuscripts and archives, which range from Egyptian Books of the Dead (the earliest 13th c BC) up to modern political and literary papers (including substantial papers of Samuel Beckett, John Banville, John B Keane and many others) and the College archives over 400 years. Two years ago he took on a new position, bringing four separate depts together: manuscripts, early printed books, maps and music together.

  • Old Drogheda Society - History, Archaeology & Heritage Millmount, Drogheda, Co. Louth, Ireland. Tel. 041-9833097


Local Sporting and Community Legends

Community historian Brendan Matthews with another retrieval from Drogheda's past.

At an Executive meeting of the GAA, held in Thurles, in 1886, two Drogheda delegates who attended the meeting expressed their concerns about the games not being extended to the counties of the north. And the Drogheda men, not only flew the flag of the Boynesiders, but were also greatly responsible for the initial extension of the Gaelic games into Ulster.

The delegates who attended the meeting were, Francis Wade and James Weldon and the first thing Mr. Weldon complained about was the inconvenience of delegates coming from the Boyneside all the way to Thurles, and he asked the Executive to consider holding future meetings nearer Dublin.

Mr. Wade then proposed that:

Ulster should be given two vice-presidents. And as Drogheda was the gap of the North and the first to take up the Gaelic cause, he would move that it be given one of the vice-presidents and that Alderman Mangan, who was the most popular man in that part of the country, be elected to the honorary position of vice-president.

The people in the North and in the district that he represented were of the opinion that you here in the South want to keep the Gaelic Association amongst yourselves and that you did not wish to give the North a look in at all. By giving two vice-presidents to Ulster it would show that you were not actuated by selfish motives and it would be a strong inducement to Ulster to join the association.

Mr. Bracken, a member of the Executive, denied this statement by Wade, saying that:

When they started the association in the South, Ulster refused to join and, not only did they stand idly by, but sneered at the movement and under that circumstances he would oppose the election of the vice-president for Ulster. 

Mr. J. O`Crowley, another member of the Executive, took exception to the remark made by Mr. Bracken, stating that:

As far as Drogheda was concerned, they had joined the association in early 1885. Drogheda had taken up the movement earnestly and never in any town in the South did he see so much enthusiasm displayed for the success of the Gaelic as that which he witnessed amongst the people of Drogheda`.

Mr. Weldon said that:

It was all very well for Mr. Bracken to talk of the great headway that had been made in the South; they had matters there pretty much their own way. They had no enemy to fight in the South, as they had in the North and they had many difficulties to contend with in Drogheda. The Gaelic association never intended that it should be a provincial association and, to make it a national association, they should endeavour to win over Ulster; it was a country worth fighting for (hear, hear). There was as good Irishmen in Ulster as in any part of the country. He believed that if the vice-presidents were elected for Ulster it would be the means of bringing all Ulster into the association. 

Mr. O`Crowley said that:

The men of Drogheda had firmly planted the association along the Boyne and that the movement in Drogheda was making gigantic strides in the North, while the fact that two delegates had come all the way from the Boyne to attend the convention was a strong argument that the people of Drogheda had thrown themselves heart and soul into the movement. 

Several other delegates then expressed themselves in favour of conceding two vice-presidents to Ulster; however, the proposal was then deferred until the annual general meeting at the end of the year. As a result of this meeting, the seeds of the G.A.A. had now been planted in Ulster. But what would have happened if the two Drogheda men hadn’t made that faithful trip to Thurles in September 1886 and stated the case for their fellow countrymen in the North?

Raise a glass to the memory of Mr. Francis Wade and Mr. James Weldon.

  • Old Drogheda Society - History, Archaeology & Heritage Millmount, Drogheda, Co. Louth, Ireland. Tel. 041-9833097


Dirty Old Town.

Community Historian Brendan Matthews showing 19th Century Drogheda through the eyes of an English visitor.

In August 1842, an Englishman, by the name of William Makepiece Thackeray, (writer of Vanity fair), made a visiting tour of Ireland and he made the following observations of Drogheda.

"As the coach arrives near Drogheda and, in the boulevards of this town, all resemblance to England is lost. Up hill and down, we pass low rows of filthy cabins in dirty undulations. Parents are at the cabin doors dressing the hair of ragged children; shock-heads of girls peer out from the black circumference of smoke and children, inconceivably, filthy, yell wildly and vociferously as the coach passes by.

One little ragged savage rushed furiously up the hill, speculating upon permission to put on the drag-chain at descending and hoping for a halfpenny reward. He put on the chain, but the guard did not give him a halfpenny.

I flung him one and the boy rushed wildly after the carriage, holding it up with joy. `The man inside has given me one,` says he, holding it up exultingly to the guard. I flung out another (by the by and without any prejudice, the halfpence in Ireland are smaller than those of England), but when the child got this halfpenny, small as it was, it seemed to overpower him — the little man’s look of gratitude was worth a great deal more than the biggest penny ever struck.

The town itself is smoky, dirty and lively. There was a great bustle in the black main street and several good shops; though some of the houses were in a half state of ruin and battered shutters closed many of the windows.

The quays were grimy with the discharge of the coal vessels that lay alongside them and the numerous factories and chimneys were vomiting huge clouds of black smoke. Of one part of its manufactures, every traveller must speak with gratitude – of the ale namely, which is as good as the best brewed in the sister kingdom.

Drogheda ale is to be drunk all over Ireland in the bottled state: candour calls for the acknowledgement, that it is equally praiseworthy in draught. And while satisfying himself of this fact, the philosophic observer cannot but ask, why ale should not be as good elsewhere as at Drogheda: is the water of the Boyne the only water in Ireland whereof ale can be made?

Three boys were running past the Linen hall with a mouse tied to a string and a dog galloping after.

Two little children were paddling down the street, one saying to the other, `Once I had a halfpenny and bought apples with it`.

There is a very large and ugly Roman Catholic chapel in the town and a smaller one of better construction: it was so crowded, however, although on a weekday, that we could not pass beyond the chapel yard; where were great crowds of people, some praying, some talking, some buying and selling.

There were two or three stalls in the yard, presided over by old women, with a store of little brass crucifixes and beads for the faithful to purchase.

By this time, that exceedingly slow coach, the Newry Lark, had arrived at that exceedingly filthy inn, where the mail had dropped us an hour before.

An enormous Englishman was holding a vain combat of wit with a brawny grinning beggar-woman at the door. `There’s a clever gentleman, says the beggar-woman; `sure he’ll give me something`. `How much should you like? `, says the Englishman with playful jocularity. `Musha, `says she, `many a littler man nor you has given me a shilling`.

The coach drives away: the lady had clearly the best of the joking match: but I did not see, for all that, the Englishman gave her a single farthing."

  •  Old Drogheda Society - History, Archaeology & Heritage Millmount, Drogheda, Co. Louth, Ireland. Tel. 041-9833097