Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Sunny Day in Drogheda

We arrived in Drogheda (pronounced DROG-hida with very little emphasis on the last syllable) last night in the pouring rain, having collected our car at the Dublin airport.  We have a "Nissan Qashqai" which is far bigger than we're used to and ridiculous for these small roads.  However it was cheap at the time of booking, and so far is proving a very fuel-efficient diesel (5.3 L/100 km).  Lloyd has made me nervous a few times by being just a bit too close to the edge of the road, and of course we're driving on the left side of the road too....

We said a fond farewell to our English friends Jonathan and Bernadette last night--they went back home to work (High Head Sculpture Valley between Carlisle and Penrith for anyone planning to travel that way...)  Bernadette and I worked together in a restaurant in the Lake District almost 40 years ago.  We have spent the last week with them in South West Ireland.

We're staying at the Green Door Hostel and while we had thought we might only be here one night, we've ended up staying two.  It's definitely shabby and the bed springs sag, however it's quiet and clean.  Our room is at the top of the house and on the back.  We did check out another B&B nearby, and while the room was nicer and the view over the river was great, the person showing us the room warned us that they have live music in their restaurant on Saturday nights until 1AM!  So we declined.

We had a lovely breakfast in the town centre at Stockwell's where I had a fruit scone and a lovely bowl of porridge that would have made my father's heart sing, and Lloyd had yet another Irish breakfast.  This big meal kept us going until 3 PM when we finally ate again, and this time it was at Salthouse when I had a spicy couscous and spinach salad.  Obviously we are enjoying the food and beverages in Ireland!

In between breakfast and lunch we visited the Drogheda museum and the Martello Tower, and learned a lot about the history of this place over the last 800 years or so.  Cromwell devasted this town, and William of Orange defeated King James II in the nearby Battle of the Boyne a little while later.  The Martello Tower was restored as a millenium project--it had been destroyed during the civil war of 1922.  We learned a lot about Irish history and culture, the clashes between Protestants and Catholics, Republicans and Unionists, and the deeply held feelings.  The guide said that violence is deeply rooted in the Irish culture--I hope he's wrong.

Martello Tower on a mound above Drogheda with part of the city wall in the mid-ground.
 This mound has never been excavated--it's thought to be the burial place of Amergin,
a warrior-poet from Spain in 1500 BC.
Another view of the Martello Tower from across the river and above the town centre.
This is also a typical Irish street scene of the many unfortunate "For Sale" and "To Let" signs.
On the pavements (sidewalks) in front of every home and shop are these metal discs.
We thought they must have something to do with utility services.  I googled "WSC-R" and have
determined that they must be the covers for water meters.  
Also near the museum we visited Edmund Mcnulty Knitwear and had a great chat about the state of Irish knitting these days.  He gave yet another explanation for the cheap Aran knits that abound in craft shops--that they may well be designed in Ireland but are definitely knit in Asian factories.  The reason a "made in Ireland" label can be affixed is because the design and administration costs (which take place in Ireland) are larger than the production costs.  Edmund gets many of his garments knit in an Italian factory, and most of his collection is sold in Japan.


  1. Joanne in ArmstrongJuly 7, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    It has become my practice in Europe to photograph the manhole covers - often interesting and historical motifs, as well as identifying the city. I like the celtic motif in your picture. It took some doing in St Petersburg last month to find a cover with Cyrillic letters. We're into hot and sunny here - it would be nice to split the rain with you in Ireland.

  2. Great comments on weather, countryside, and history ... Made me want to return to Ireland and explore what we missed the first time! About the history of violence, I'm afraid your guide was probably right. It's a sad history, as anyone caught in the middle of a polarized conflict that has gone on for centuries can imagine ... Like The Balkans. And the Irish even brought the hatred with them to Canada in the 1800s with the celebrations of the battle of the Boyne and King Billy on his white horse. Perhaps as the people dig deeper into the distant past, long before Catholic and Protestants starting killing each other, it will become apparent that Ireland has an ancient history of human occupation which must have been peaceful at some level to have produced such amazing music, art and poetry!