Drogheda Port is an industrial town on Ireland’s east coast. Located about 56 kilometers north of Dublin Port, it is Ireland’s biggest town. Drogheda Port is on County Louth’s southern border on the River Boyne over six kilometers from the river’s mouth to the Irish Sea. The local economy of Drogheda Port is changing quickly. Traditional industries like textiles, Irish linen, breweries, and shipping are either declining or have disappeared. Today, Drogheda suffers high unemployment.
Despite these problems, the local economy is diversifying, and businesses are growing in the retail, technology, and service sectors. It is also home to a vibrant community of artists and musicians. Drogheda Port is home to several important industries, including a national gas distributor, fresh food and meat processors, a perfume maker, a medical equipment manufacturer, and Ireland’s biggest cement works. Drogheda Port is an important center for salmon fishing on the River Boyne and for ocean-going trade of agricultural products and coal. In 2006, almost 29 thousand people lived in Drogheda Port.
The area surrounding Drogheda Port is filled with archaeological sites dating as early as the Neolithic period (from about 3000 BC). The most famous of these are the Passage Tombs at Newgrange, Dowth, and Knowth. There are also many prehistoric and early Christian sites that show continuous human habitation in the area for at least a thousand years. Despite the many sites in the area, there is no evidence of occupation of Drogheda Port until the Normans arrived.
Locals believe that Stone Age men sailed the river as far as Newgrange at a time when the area was thickly wooded and the river moved slowly. Legend claims that Saint Patrick there in 432 AD. In 937 AD, Viking ships landed there, and they used Drogheda Port as a base to plunder Ireland’s eastern villages through the 11th Century.
By the 12th Century, Drogheda Port had become a busy stronghold and trading post for the Anglo-Normans. Two towns arose on either side of the river. Each town was incorporated in 1228, but they were combined in 1412 by charter. In the 14th Century during the reign of Edward III of England, Drogheda Port was a royal trade and export center. Several medieval parliaments met in the town during that era.
By the 15th Century, Drogheda Port was a trade center for goods from across Europe. Its trading links made it a cosmopolitan town. Archeological excavations have uncovered pottery from Bordeaux, Flanders, and Gascony. Wine imports from France were frequent, and local goods like hides and corn went to Lisbon, Iceland, and Gdansk. Healthy trade continued to develop through the 16th Century when exports of linen and flax moved often to Liverpool. In 1649, forces of Oliver Cromwell invaded Drogheda Port, and they massacred its population, killing as many as 2500 men, at Millmount.
By the 1800s, a regular passenger steamer moved people and cattle to
Liverpool and eventually to Glasgow. The first steamer, the “Town of Drogheda,”
embarked in 1826. Drogheda Port’s steamers were the world’s first to have
In 1835, Grendon’s foundry was established, and Drogheda Port produced many steel ships. During the 19th Century, Drogheda Port was an important exit point for Irish emigrants fleeing famine to go to the New World. The port’s Viaduct was built in 1855, and it still operates today. Before modern equipment and technology was introduced, work on the docks was dirty and hard as dozens of men shoveled coal from the ships by hand.
Modern Drogheda Port management began in 1997 when the 200-year-old Drogheda Harbour Commissioners were dissolved and the semi-state-owned Drogheda Port Company was formed. Drogheda Port has always been a staple of the town’s economy and its industrial development. It will continue to be an important element in future growth.