An Tóstal - Drogheda 1953

Following on from our sporting post, the very same An Tóstal guide offers a look at Drogheda at the time and certainly offers an optimistic view of life in 1953 in the article "Life in Old and Modern Drogheda - A Contrast":

"Coming to more recent times, letters and records of pre-Famine days tell of a busy town and crowded streets, men on horseback, four-wheeled carts, and the sailing ships passing in and out of the River Boyne on their paths of commerce. The town then housed more than 20,000 inhabitants, but in a much smaller area than the present population enjoys. Thousands were herder together in lanes and courts at the back of the main streets, in tenements and cellars, with surroundings dark and drear and sanitation of the most primitive type. Working hours were long, leaving scant time for leisure or play. The rewards of labour were small and scarcely sufficient for the necessities of life. The gulf between the working classes and the upper classes were very wide indeed.

The Drogheda of today has changed in many ways and mostly for the better. The town is prosperous and progressive. The establishment of several large new industries brought an enlarged labour market, and most of the youth of Drogheda can, if they so desire, find employment at home. The population is now about 16,000, an increase of 3,200 in the last twenty-five years, and is steadily rising. The housing of the people has been improved out of all knowledge. Open spaces outside the limits of the old town have been transformed into residential areas where our people live in a comfort undreamed of by their forefathers.

The ordinary citizen in this democratic age can elect local representatives who are prepared to give their time and energy to promoting the general welfare of all sections of the Community. Working hours are shorter and pay much better than formerly. There is more time for leisure and, though much of it is still spent unprofitably, signs are not wanting that many people are beginning to put their spare hours to good use. Most of the new houses have small gardens attached where the raising of vegetables and flowers gives gainful and pleasurable occupation. Evening classes in the Technical School are availed of to increase educational attainments and to attain proficiency in the arts and crafts. Local societies for the promotion of the drama, instrumental and choral music etc are steadily increasing. An excellent public library gives access to the pleasures of reading in all its branches, cultural, educational and recreational. A new Art Gallery and Museum containing the nucleus of a permanent collection has been established; periodic exhibitions of the works of well-known artists are held. A fine public park and the provision of playing grounds for children in the new housing schemes are also much appreciated amenities. Outdoor sports and games of all kinds cater for the physical well-being of the populace. Dancing and whist drives are popular forms of amusement and a couple of splendidly equipped cinemas offer occasional hours of light relief from the daily grind.

Modern advances in science have in a large way revolutionised the lives of the people. The provision of electric power has added immeasurably to the comfort of town and rural life, and to the productivity of our factories. Formerly very few people travelled more than a few miles from their places of habitation unless compelled by the stress of war or similar impetus. The advent of the railroad, the bicycle, the motor car and the 'bus has completely changed this. The workman can now live farther from his work, his bicycle or the bus takes him there easily and speedily. Clogherhead and Laytown are within easy reach on a summer evening after the day's work. A day in Dublin is now no novelty to a Drogheda man, such visits are a regular part of his life. The motorist can range much further afield. Day tours to places of interest are common place and most of our people have progressed beyond the Boyne Valley to the Hills of Donegal or the Glens of Antrim. The town is easily accessible to the rural population, their children can take more advanced educational courses in the larger town schools. Many Drogheda people live at home and travel daily to Dublin to work or to attend University.

In many other ways also the lot of the ordinary person has been improved with the passage of time. Educational facilities are now provided for all children. State and locally administered schemes attend to the health of both the adult and school going population. Drogheda is singularly fortunate in having excellent hospital accommodation, which caters not only for its own citizens but for the people for many miles around. Most of our industrial firms have excellent superannuation schemes for the workers with accompanying medical and health services. Poverty is very much diminished and the ministrations of the St. Vincent De Paul Society and other charitable organisations do much to mitigate its hardships. Undoubtedly in its social services Drogheda is both up to date and progressive.

Yes, Drogheda today is a prosperous, expanding town, its way of life is Christian and edifying; no wonder its people are in the main healthy, pleasant and cheerful."

A somewhat rose-tinted view undoubtedly; what is interesting is to compare then with now and count the differences, most noticeably in the employment and population figures!

Here also is a timely article about An Tóstal from thejournal.ie in April: http://www.thejournal.ie/an-tostal-1953-the-gathering-854877-Apr2013/


Check In and Check out ... what it is ... that the ODS is about

KEEP UP TO DATE with everything that's going on up in Millmount Cultural Quarter, home of the Old Drogheda Society and Drogheda Museum, by checking out our website at www.droghedamuseum.ie.

We now have a fantastic team of Helen Madden and Anthony McIntyre editing and constantly updating our Blog, Facebooks (for both Museum and Society) and Twitter. There's loads of fascinating topics going up daily and you can even interact and send in comments and information yourself. For instance
we recently got a post from an archaeologist in Australia who came across a metal bottle-top in an excavation with the words "J.P. O'Mullane's Whiskey Drogheda" ... (But we can find no trace of an O'Mulllane in 19th century Drogheda ...Any ideas anybody?)


...  Just go to the museum website www.droghedamuseum.ie and click on "Drogheda Museum News and Views" which brings you to the Blog (a sort of online magazine)

OR ...

...run your cursor over the 2 Facebook symbols (the little "f" signs) on the upper right hand side of the page and little pop-ups will appear telling you which one is the link for the Drogheda Museum Facebook Page or the link for the Old Drogheda Society Facebook Page.And if you sign up to Twitter (the little "t" sign is the link) you can get regular notifications of updates and additions to all these pages!


...  of some recent material on the blog. It's an article by Helen Madden on some of the craft-artists in the Millmount Cultural Quarter who are now more famous internationally than they are in Drogheda!

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


Reminder: The Search for Amhairgin

Drogheda Museum / Old Drogheda Society Lecture - The Search for Amhairgin

Looking deep into Millmount’s past by Kevin Barton & Conor Brady is taking place tomorrow night,Thursday 22nd August at 8pm in the Governor’s House, Millmount Cultural Quarter, Drogheda.

Using the latest geophys technology Drogheda Museum began a year-long project to look deep into the ancient mound at Millmount in a search for Drogheda’s Stone Age. It is thought that the mound at Millmount in Drogheda was originally part of the great Megalithic (“large stone”) Culture which flourished in the Boyne Valley from 5,000BCE to 2,000BCE and includes the internationally-famous tombs of Newgrange and Knowth. Its importance in our collective folk memory is underlined by the legend that the mythological figure Amhairgin (pronounced “Aver-gin”) the originator of song and poetry
is buried there.

Because of the huge amount of structural changes on the mound over the millennia normal archaeological excavation is impossible but now through the wonders of modern electronic remote sensing (“geophys”) we can scan deep into Millmount and begin to unlock its secrets.

In Early Irish mythology Amhairgin ("aver-gin") was the inventor of song and poetry as implied in his name ("Amhair"=singing; "gin" = give birth to). The extraordinary poem/song associated with him, Duan Amhairgine (The Song of Amhairgin), was therefore regarded by the Old Irish as the first song ever made and was always placed first in collections of poetry.

The power of this poem in Old Irish is such that a whole array of famous poets in many languages have attempted translations. Among them was the great English poet Robert Graves who said that:

English poetic education should, really, begin not with Canterbury Tales, not with the Odyssey, not even with Genesis, but with the Song of Amergin.

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


Special Heritage Week Lecture


& Old Drogheda Society

Special HERITAGE WEEK lecture




Looking deep into Millmount’s past …



Kevin Barton & Conor Brady

Thursday 22nd August 2013 @ 8pm

Governor’s House, Millmount Cultural Quarter

Using the latest geophys technology Drogheda Museum begin a year-long project to look deep into the ancient mound at Millmount in a search for Drogheda’s Stone Age …

It is thought that the mound at Millmount in Drogheda was originally part of the great Megalithic (“large stone”) Culture which flourished in the Boyne Valley from 5,000BCE to 2,000BCE and includes the internationally-famous tombs of Newgrange and Knowth. Its importance in our collective folk memory is underlined by the legend that the mythological figure Amhairgin (pronounced “Aver-gin”) the originator of song and poetry is buried there.

Because of the huge amount of structural changes on the mound over the millennia normal archaeological excavation is impossible but now through the wonders of modern electronic remote sensing (“geophys”) we can scan deep into Millmount and begin to unlock its secrets.

Leaders of the Project Team,
Conor Brady, Lecturer in Archaeology at DKIT
will launch the research programme with a special lecture in
The Governor’s House Millmount
Bookstall on night.


Family Day

As part of National Heritage Week and Walled Towns Day, Drogheda Museum Millmount, will hold a family day tomorrow, Sunday from 2pm - 5.30pm in the Millmount complex.

There will be free entry to the museum and tower.
A family treasure hunt, where all the answers can be found in the museum and courtyard.
Film footage of Drogheda in the past, showing in the Martello Room.
Short tours to view some of the original town walls conducted by Margaret Clinton.
St Mary's Church of Ireland, and you can see maps of the walls from the 17th Century.
There will be live music and dancing with Sounds Irish, Liam Reilly, The FAA Side and Moonshine
The famous old fashioned dancing doll puppets.
Lock someone in the pillory ( a number of local politicians have volunteered to take part)
There will be traditional dancing dolls, traditional crafts, short talks on Drogheda's heritage from Brendan Matthews, Liam Reilly and Cllr Frank Gallagher.
You can research  where your family was in the 1901 and 1911 cenus.
Check out where your relations were in 1901 and 1911 from the census records.
Drogheda Local Voices Oral History Project will have a stall
Old Drogheda Society Bookstall, Craft Stalls, Ice Cream stand in the courtyard and refreshments will be
available in the Tower Restaurant.
Something for all the family: a great family day out, spread the word

Car parking available at St Mary's Parish Car Park Old Hill

Refreshments available in the Tower Restaurant and Bar or from the Ice Cream Stall or cross the road to the Millmount Bar to see the world's fastest game on TV as Clare play Limerick in the Irish traditional sport of hurling

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


Reminder: Day Away to Derry

Event Date: Sunday, 18 August 2013 - 8:15am - 9:00pm

Annual Day Away to Derry European City of Culture 2013

Walking Tour of City Walls, and visits to Tower Museum & The Guildhall on On Sunday 18th August 2013

Derry is the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples in Europe. The Walls provide a unique promenade to view the layout of the original town which still preserves its Renaissance Style street plan to this day. With the four original gates the city also claims Europe’s largest collection of cannon whose origins are known precisely. Many of them thundered in anger over the two seventeenth century sieges.

The Tower Museum’s permanent exhibitions include The Story of Derry, using a wide range of techniques and artefacts to narrate the story from Monastic times, the Plantation of Londonderry, the Siege of Derry, through to the growth of Derry during the 18th and 19th centuries and the Armada Shipwreck – La Trinidad Valencera which narrates the full story.

The Guildhall is a beautiful building, fashioned in neo-gothic style, containing stunning examples of stained glass windows and visitors will be intrigued by its unique history and appeal. The staircase, main hall organ and corridors give a fascinating insight into this distinctive building.

Cost €50.00 Includes coach travel, tour and admission charges, tea, coffee & scone en route and dinner on return journey

There will be time for Snack/Lunch at own expense

Bus Departs @ Marian Park: 8.15am. Sharp & @ Lourdes church:  8.30am. Sharp

Booking at: Drogheda Museum Millmount, telephone: 041 9833097

Please note members are advised NOT to park their cars on the property of the Lourdes Church.

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


Millmount Cultural Quarter

Millmount Design Store

Millmount Cultural Quarter is well known for the Drogheda Museum and the Martello Tower which stands watch over the town. What may be less well known is the array of other services that are a part of life nowadays in the Square. There are numerous craft shops selling a huge range of quality locally-produced items and the popular Tower Wine Bar & Grill, as well as a satellite Regional Development Center; a joint initiative between Dundalk Institute of Technology and Drogheda Corporation among others, which houses their Incubation Units which offers support to various small enterprises.

The artists housed in the Cultural Quarter are all members of Louth Craftmark, a company set up to "promote creative industries including craft, art and design businesses and practitioners in County Louth." Craftmark products are available to purchase at numerous locations across Drogheda, in the Millmount Design Store, Wogans Furniture Store on Shop St. and The Highlanes Gallery on Laurence St. to name a few.

The Millmount Design Store was set up by local artists Mel Bradley (silk craft design) and Elaine Hanrahan (jewelry) and offers not only their own work but a range of Irish made craft products suitable for all occasions. The shop also incorporates Elaine's design studio so she is always on hand to offer advice and assistance. Visitors are made to feel welcome to peruse the beautiful works on offer and the store and studio stocks glass, pottery, wood, leather framed work, garden ceramics, precious & non-precious jewelry, rugs throws, silks, lamps, cards and candles. The Design Store is open Tues - Sat 10.00am to 1.30pm and 2.30pm to 5.30pm.

There are a number of international and nationally known craft designers that call Millmount Craft Center home; Edmund McNulty, Mel Bradley, Maureen Finn and Elaine Hanrahan.

The Edmund McNulty Knitwear label was established in 1997 and specialises in a range of luxury designer goods, primarily men's knitwear ranges but also women's accessories and soft furnishings (knitted) for the contemporary interior. Based in Studio 7 in the Millmount Craft Centre, Edmund uses a combination of alpacas, kid mohairs, cashmeres and merino lambswool to create garments that have the distinct McNulty stamp of understated luxury. Subtle textures, garment construction and colours all play a key role in the development of each collection. His label is much sought-after in international markets, particularly in Japan, but luckily for Irish buyers his studio is open in Drogheda Mon - Fri 10.00am to 5.00pm. and visitors are most welcome to come in and browse through the rails. There are also many sample items and one-off pieces available at very reasonable prices.

Mel Bradley is a leading Irish textile designer and artist working with luxury fibres and fabrics to create customised interior and fashion products. For over 25 years Mel has been designing and creating everything from silk scarves to one-off art pieces to commissions, and she has also worked with established fashion designers such as John Rocha, Louise Kennedy, Richard Lewis and Jen Kelly. Perhaps a more widely known collection is her work with R.T.E. on the designing and painting of the large 'River God's Cloak' and numerous costumes for 'Riverdance'. Recently, Mel launched her new collection of hand-painted silk velvet & silk satin devoree scarves, evening wraps and cloaks in Temple Bar, Dublin; each piece a uniquely designed, elegant fashion accessory.

Mel also runs professional Textile Workshops for both the beginner and advanced artist/craft designer in her Gatehouse Studio in Millmount during the year. She also holds exhibitions in The Gate Gallery; for more info on upcoming workshops and exhibitions, see links at the bottom of the page.

Mel with her awards for 'Best New Product' & 'Buyers Choice' at the Showcase Exhibition in Dublin, 2006.

Maureen Finn has been based at Unit 10 Millmount Craft Centre for ten years, and works in clay. She produces hand built ceramics inspired by the weathered landscape and its contours, employing a method known as coil building. Her sculptural pots have a very organic influence and explore textures in nature using a mixture of oxides and glazes. Maureen also produces large figurative pieces that would enhance any garden or home. Each piece of work is unique, making them an ideal gift for family, friends or corporate bodies.
An example of Maureen's work, from the Louth Craftmark website 

Elaine Hanrahan has been making silver and gold jewelry at her studio in Millmount Craft Centre for many years. Inspired by the heritage of the Boyne Valley, she makes many pieces incorporating the spiral images found carved into the stone at Newgrange. Other more abstract pieces reflect the golden light of the winter solstice sunrise which fills the center chamber of the mound at Newgrange. Visitors are always more than welcome to call in and see her work at the studio which also incorporates the Millmount Design Store; open Tues - Sat 10.00am to 1.30pm and 2.30pm to 5.30pm.


The square is finished off with the excellent Tower Wine Bar & Grill, which has probably THE best views in town for your money's worth. Opened in 2012 by the brains behind the Salthouse Brasserie, Justin Stubbs and Signe Ozolkaja, it boasts a fantastic seasonal menu and, as one commentator put it, "it balances elegance, intimacy and atmosphere with style and grace". They even have a designated kids playroom and their lovely bar downstairs is also available for functions.

View from the dining room of Tower Wine Bar & Grill

Whether it's fine dining, brushing up on your local history, or picking up the perfect gift for yourself or for someone else, Millmount Cultural Quarter has got something for everyone. So why not call up and visit?


Millmount Design Store: 041 9841960 or visit: http://www.millmountdesignstore.com/

Edmund McNulty: 041 9844199 or 086 371 4094 or visit: http://www.edmundmcnulty.com/

Mel Bradley: 041 9827200 or 086 371 2927 or visit: http://www.melbradleysilks.com

Maureen Finn: 041 9846065 or 086 323 8820 or email: finnmallon@eircom.net

Elaine Hanrahan: 041 98 41960 or email: elainejewldesign@eircom.net

Tower Wine Bar & Grill: 041 9873777 or visit: https://www.facebook.com/tower.winebarandgrill

Drogheda Museum Millmount: 041 9833097 or visit: http://www.millmount.net/ or like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Drogheda-Museum-Millmount/151415731656199

Louth Craftmark: http://louthcraftmark.com/


The Era of the Horse: The Big Fair Day

Our Community Historian Brendan Matthews relates the history of the famous Horse Fair held in Drogheda on 12th May:

The great May Fair of Drogheda, held around 12th May, was an annual event for centuries that was held in the Boyneside town. In the days leading up the fair people would flock to Drogheda from all over the country and from abroad; farmers, labourers, horse dealers, merchants, gentlemen, tricksters, travellers, tinkers, hawkers, musicians, knights of the road, pedlars, etc. would be seen on all roads leading to the town and disembarking from an array of boats and ships along the quay.

The horse stables at the rear of Keapock`s and Symcock`s hotels in West Street would be full to capacity with livestock while the hotel rooms and Inns throughout the town would also be overcrowded, such was the fame of the Great May Fair. Fine horses would be seen galloping at a breakneck speed along West Street to show off their quality, while the parade ring to exhibit and examine the animals was positioned in the vicinity of the West Gate.

Georges St. Fair St. and the Fair Green areas would also be thronged with folk buying and selling sheep, pigs, cattle, fowl and horses, while the hawkers, tinkers, musicians, singers, storytellers, etc., would be seen at various locations from Chesters Lane (Fair Green) to the West Gate to the Tholsel.
During the 19th century and after the introduction of the Irish Constabulary Police Barracks to Drogheda in 1837 the great May fair began to be more disciplined and organised; however drink and fighting was still prevalent and arrests were frequent among the thousands that attended the fair. Great horses were sold at the May fair and there are many references to the fact that buyers came from all over Ireland and from abroad to purchase these animals for the English and French armies, the landed gentry buying for their coaches, horse trainers buying for potential racing champions, the farmer and his labourer buying for their strength and ability to work the land and the gentlemen to purchase the purebred stock.
Another side event of the occasion was the hiring of men, women and children to work on the land and as domesticated servants, which was carried on outside the tholsel. Young milking maids would stand around with a milking stool in their hand to indicate the type of employment they sought, herdsmen stood with a wisp of straw in their mouths, shepherds would hold a crook or a piece of wool, servants would hold mops and so on.
The hirers would then walk up and down viewing the height, weight, appearance, age, ability, etc., of the people for hire and then a deal would be struck up between hirer and employee, which was usually a oneyear contract of employment with the benefits of some monetary wage along with bed and board. In one incident, back in May of 1870, a young lad by the name of Edward Arnold was hired by a farmer from the Twenties area of Drogheda at the tholsel during the fair to work at the milking of cows and to attend to the forthcoming harvest.
A deal was struck between the two whereby the lad was to be hired for the following year with a payment of £5 and ten shillings plus food. However, after only two months the young lad packed in his employment which enraged the farmer because the reaping of the harvest was upon them and so as a result the farmer took a court case against the boy for breach of contract.
The court case went ahead at the tholsel in September of 1870 and during the hearing the young lad told the court that he left because of the small amount of food that was given to him which included bread and water, some herrings and some Indian stirabout at night for his supper. He also told the court that he would go back to his employment if the farmer agreed to improve his food. The court made the decision that the boy should return to his place of employment and that two months' pay should also be deducted from his wages and that if he failed to return they would have no option but to commit him to the jail at Scarlett Street. The Great Drogheda Horse Fair of yesteryear and not a sight nor sound of any tourist board or 'sub-committee'!