Old Drogheda Society
OLD DROGHEDA GOLDEN JUBILEE CELEBRATION
The Old Drogheda Society, with many members in County Meath, is fifty years old. The Society is a vibrant, energetic organisation dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the history and heritage of the town for the benefit of its citizens and for the entertainment and enlightenment of the many visitors that it attracts from all over the world.
From its foundation a half century ago, it has grown into one of the most active and successful local history societies in the country and is regarded as a role model for community organisations. To mark this milestone the Society will hold a Golden Jubilee Dinner on Thursday April 24th in the Westcourt Hotel.
The inaugural meeting of the Old Drogheda Society was held on the 17th April 1964 when a group of citizens came together, fired by concern for the preservation of Drogheda's historical monuments and determined to collect, preserve, interpret and display historical material relating to the town & surrounding areas.
The formation of the society was initiated by Hugh McCabe, a member of the Old Dublin Society and a military historian with many connections to Drogheda. A meeting was called to form a historical society and the first elected committee consisted of Hon President – Joseph Carr, Hon Vice Presidents – Thomas Markey and Patrick L Cooney. Chairperson – Liam O’Reilly, Secretary – Moira Corcoran, Treasurer – William E Berney.
The general committee consisted of Alderman Peter Moore, Mayor of Drogheda, Cllr Pat Carr, Bernard Anderson, Caithlin Ni Cairbre, Maeve Mullen, Molly Reid, Sean Corcoran, Dominic McQuillan, James Garry and Cecil Pobjoy.
On April 28th 1974 the society achieved one of its key objectives when it opened a museum in a vacant house in Millmount. Though the museum has since relocated across the courtyard in Millmount, it is widely regarded as one of the leading independent community museums in Ireland. Indeed it the first and, to date, the only voluntary- managed museum in the country to be awarded Full Accreditation status by the Heritage Council.
In 1976 the Society published its first journal, which had had just 28 pages with articles by Mary Delany, Sean O’Sullivan, Anne Crilly, Moira Corcoran, Mary Malone and Patrick L Cooney. Publication of the Journal is now an annual event and is one of the highlights of the year.
Today the Society’s activities and events are many and varied. With the objective of “Learning with Fun” it runs a series of Spring and Autumn lectures, evening outings to places of local historic interest during the summer months, an annual day away and weekend away to places of historic interest. It also organises the prestigious John Boyle O’Reilly Autumn School, an annual Traditional Day in conjunction with the Drogheda Arts Festival, an open day under the banner of Irish Walled Towns Day and a Schools Education Programme for local schools.
Over the years the society has published more than 30 books and oversees the running of the museum, which attracts thousands of visitors each year. This year over 2,000 visitors from North America, on CIE International Tours will avail of walking tours of historic Drogheda, provided by museum guides.
The Jubilee Dinner will be an evening of great craic and entertainment, with several surprise guests celebrating the exciting journey so far and looking forward to the future. It will be a trip down memory lane illustrated by music, song, stories and a specially prepared audiovisual display. Among the contributors to the entertainment will be some of those who participated not only at the 25th anniversary celebration but even some who were present at the founding meeting.
All, whether members, past members or not yet members, are welcome to this evening of celebration. Tickets for the event, costing €20, are on sale from Drogheda Museum Millmount and Drogheda Tourist Office.