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The seventh annual Boyne Swim took place on Saturday, 10th September, with the biggest entry ever of 270 swimmers taking part on the day. It was a beautiful sunny day with excellent weather conditions, and the River Boyne was in excellent condition for the race. Competitive swimmers came from all corners of the country for the 2.7km swim, which is now a race of distinction on the national open water swim calendar. For many competitors, this swim was their ninth qualifying swim for the upcoming Liffey swim and, therefore of huge significance. Some travelled from Donegal the evening before and overnighted in the town before taking part; others were on the road from 6 am that morning!

Ray Donagh of the Boyne Swim Committee said, ‘This swim has now joined the elite group of city swims in Ireland and over the seven years has really become a big deal on the National open water swim calendar, attracting a wider audience each year. It is great for Drogheda and for the sport of open water swimming’.

Huge numbers of spectators, families and friends cheered on the swimmers the whole way from the starting point at mell to the finish line at the Boyne Fisherman’s Headquarters on Marsh Road. The atmosphere was buzzing with everyone waiting for their heroes to come into view.

Swim 2022 Trophy Pic (L-R)  Female Winner Charlotte Reid  Male Winner Donncha O Saidhail  Overall Winner (Junior Male) Finn O’Neill  Junior Female Winner Caoimhe Doyle   Swim 2022 Trophy Pic (l-r) Female Winner Charlotte Reid,  Male Winner Donncha O Saidhail, Overall Winner (Junior Male) Finn O’Neill, Junior Female Winner Caoimhe Doyle

Representatives from Drogheda Port Company and Drogheda Triathlon Club presented each of the overall winners with the iconic Drogheda Port perpetual trophies, and the category winners was as follows;

Overall Winner Finn O’Neill, ESB Swim Club, with a time of 31.30 mins, Finn at only 18 years old, is still classified as a junior. His mother, Edwina Kelly, who was proud as punch is actually a native of Duleek Street in Drogheda.

  • Overall Male Winner Donncha O Siadhail, Meath Master Swim Club with a time of 32.50 min
  • Overall Female Winner Charlotte Reid, Aer Lingus Swim Club with a time of 35.30 mins
  • Overall Female Junior Caoimhe Doyle, Drogheda Swim Club with a time of 35.47 mins

Gold, silver and bronze medal winners were presented in the many individual categories, two of which were a Drogheda Swim Club hat-trick!

The beauty of the Boyne, the stunning Ronan Halpin trophies and the prestige and challenge of the race itself has earned the Boyne Swim the reputation of being one of the best open water swims organised in the country.

The event was organised by the Drogheda Triathlon Club with the assistance of the untiring support from local volunteer groups such as the Red Cross, Boyne Fisherman’s, Drogheda Fire Service, the Coast Guard and the volunteer kayakers.

Published in Drogheda Port

The Mayor of Drogheda, Frank Godfrey, yesterday took to the waters of Drogheda Port to take part in the traditional ‘Hoisting the Captains Clam Diggers’ ceremony.

The ‘Hoisting the Captains Clam Diggers’ is a tradition dating back centuries, certainly predating the Elizabethian era and the tradition was carried on by Mayor Frank Godfrey as Honorary Admiral of Drogheda Port.

Historical records indicate that the maritime tradition of ‘Hoisting the Captains Clam Diggers’ dates back to 1417 when it was the acknowledged symbol from an arriving vessel to Drogheda Port that it wished to engage a Pilot.

Clam diggers were traditional undergarments worn by the vessel crew which allowed sailors to wade without getting them wet, each leg could also be tied at night to prevent rats from scooching up. Specifically, it became the tradition that red and white striped clam diggers would be hoisted when entering Drogheda Port. It is not known which vessel was the first to hoist the captains' clam diggers on the foremast but it requires considerable skill and they were usually hoisted with a fresh northerly or southerly wind for best effect and visibility from the shoreline.

Engaging a Pilot in those days was very much a free for all and it was the first pilot who made it to the vessel, either by swimming or rowing, who was engaged by the captain of the vessel. Up to 10 pilots could be vying for any one vessel, but they could not commence their race to the vessel until the captains clam diggers were hoisted.

The practice was very much in place during the Elizabethan Era when the maiden tower and finger were constructed at Mornington as navigational aids and local legend recalls the story that a young and very beautiful local woman had a lover who left to fight in a war overseas. Each day, for weeks the woman kept her constant and lonely vigil from the top of the tower for her lover to return. Months afterwards she spotted his ship on the horizon. Straining her vision she saw the captains clam diggers being hoisted and mistook them for her lovers and took it as a sign he had been lost. Overcome with grief she is said to have thrown herself off the top of the tower to her death.

Mayor of Drogheda Frank Godfrey said; "I am absolutely thrilled to have the honour this year of ‘Hoisting the Captains Clam Diggers’ and marking a very important tradition for Drogheda Port. The year ahead is a particularly busy and active for both Drogheda and Drogheda Port as it continues to develop, expand and grow.

There to witness the ‘Hoisting the Captains Clam Diggers’ ceremony was Maureen Ward manager of the Drogheda Homeless Aid.

Drogheda Port CEO Paul Fleming commented at the ceremony; “I would like to thank Mayor Godfrey for his participation in ‘Hoisting the Captains Clam Diggers’, a ceremony that celebrates our heritage as a maritime town. Today’s re-enactment is symbolic of Drogheda Port’s continued commitment to preserving, for the town and its people, an understanding of the history that binds the port and the town.”

Maureen Ward accepted a donation from the Port Company after the ceremony on behalf of the Drogheda Homeless Aid.

Published in Drogheda Port
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#Ports&Shipping - A public consultation process launched by Drogheda Port Company wants to hear from the local community before drafting a Master Plan that will secure the future of the Co. Louth port for decades to come.

The master planning process will consider numerous factors, including the Project 2040 national policy context, to ensure that the port is equipped to meet the needs of Drogheda and the wider north-east region well into the future.

“Drogheda Port is a key economic driver for the north-east region, facilitating job creation, international trade and investment” begins Joe Hiney Chairman of Drogheda Port Company.

“But we must ensure that a strategic and sustainable plan is put in place so that Drogheda Port maximises its potential and continues to meet the needs of port users, the local community and the wider Northeast region into the future.”

Drogheda Port Company are undertaking a master planning process. This process will ensure that strategic, economic, community and environmental factors are all considered and carefully factored into the long-term plan for the Port. Once completed, the Master Plan will chart a course for Drogheda Port from 2020-2050, helping to ensure that port meets the needs of the region.

The port company have engaged a top consultancy in Brady Shipman Martin to work with them on the Master Plan. The company are a specialist planning, landscape and environmental consultancy. They have worked on many high-profile projects including the Wild Atlantic Way, Cork City Harbour and Dublin’s Grand Canal Docks.

“We are eager to hear from the Drogheda and wider north-east community and we are encouraging the public to submit their feedback on 8 key themes in our Issues Paper including employment growth, transport links, facilities development, tourism and corporate responsibility” says DPC Chief Executive Paul Fleming.

In addition to the public consultation, DPC will also engage directly with elected representatives, local government, customers and other stakeholders to get their input on these important issues.

Paul Fleming continued “This period of public consultation is critically important to the master planning process. The opinions and ideas of local people and stakeholders will help devise a plan that is well-rounded and will serve Drogheda and the north-east region well, now and for decades to come.”

Joe Hiney concludes “Our ultimate aim is to ensure that Drogheda Port continues to evolve and develop services that will facilitate job creation and economic growth. With the help of the public and stakeholders, we will develop a master plan that will deliver on those aims.”

A copy of the Issues Paper is available from Drogheda Public Library in Stockwell Street or the Port Company HQ at Harbourville. The closing date for submission is 30th April.

Published in Ports & Shipping

One of the musical highlights of the recent Irish Maritime Festival in Drogheda were the two unique sold out concerts held on the deck of the Tall Ship Earl of Pembroke on the historic River Boyne.

The idea for the Stowaway Sessions on board a Tall Ship began over four months ago and the project was co-ordinated by the Drogheda Port Company in conjunction with the Droichead Arts Centre. SJ McArdle and Adrian Taaffe were the inspiration for the musical talent on both nights.

On the first evening Alt-pop pair Heathers brought their beautiful harmonies on board and they were supported by local band the Carolan Brothers.

The vessel provided a unique venue which was appreciated by both audience and artists alike and added so much to the experience.

Steve Wickham and his band brought his unique style of music and fiddle playing on board on Saturday night and showcased a number of new songs which reverberated through the ships timbers. He was supported by another local band, Kern who looked and sounded totally at home on a Tall Ship.

The vessel arrived into Drogheda Port on Friday 9th June and within two hours was transformed into a concert space. A number of logistical challenges were overcome with the help of an enthusiastic crew, the hatch cover over the hold acting as the stage and the hold itself becoming a once off green room for the artists.

The entire experience was a tremendous success and went without a hitch. The Earl of Pembroke set sail from Drogheda on Monday 12th June taking with it the memories of two unforgettable evenings.

Published in Drogheda Port

Drogheda Port Company in partnership with Louth County Council have announced the opening of Fiddle Case Pier, Drogheda’s first official berth for visiting yachts.

Designed to help promote and facilitate maritime tourism in Drogheda, Fiddle Case Pier will be able to facilitate visiting yachts and other small leisure craft and offer a safe overnight berth in the very heart of the town.

Fiddle Case Pier was officially opened on Saturday 10th June by world renowned fiddle player Steve Wickham. The historic name dates back to the 1850’s when the original Fiddle Case Pier was constructed on the north side of the river by Patrick Donor, port engineer, of Donors Green fame.

The new pier presents a fantastic beginning in terms of promoting maritime leisure in the town and has been designed to allow for the further expansion of a marina pontoon. It can currently cater for up to 8 boats and will be regulated by the port company.

Mary T Daly, of Louth County Council welcomed the joint venture project with the port Company and stated ‘it is very fitting to officially open the pier during the maritime festival, now in its fifth year. The new berth will be a draw to bring marine craft to the area and utilise the wonderful Boyne River as a gateway to the town and region.

Paul Fleming, of Drogheda Port Company, at the opening of the pier said ‘It was great and very fitting to have Steve Wickham here today at the opening of the Fiddle Case Pier. The pier is the first of its kind in Drogheda to specifically facilitate leisure craft and open a new maritime access to the entire Boyne Valley, but it is not the first Fiddle Case Pier on the Boyne. The original Fiddle Case Pier was constructed in the 1850’s. We are not sure on the origin of the name, most likely the name may have originated from the shape of the original pier or the engineer may have been a musician but no record remains except for the name.’

Published in Drogheda Port
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The Irish Maritime Festival sails back into Drogheda Port this weekend (Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th June) bringing its largest ever flotilla of Tall Ships including the Russian frigate Shtandart and the Earl of Pembroke.

Keen photographers can see the ships muster at the mouth of the Boyne (Maiden Tower, Mornington) at 11.30am on Friday morning, 9th June. The parade of sail will reach Drogheda’s iconic Viaduct around noon. Donor’s Green on the north strand is the ideal vantage point for photographers at this time.

Maritime highlights for 2017 include:

• The annual Boyne Swim takes place on Saturday 10th June. Starting at 12.50hrs, this challenging 2.7km tidal river swim is a hard fought contest for glory. Cheer on the 200+ swimmers as they race past the Tall Ships docked at the Maritime Festival.

• Perhaps the world’s most iconic fiddle player, Steve Wickham, will officially launch Fiddle Case Pier, a new pier that will allow recreational vessels to sail up and berth on the River Boyne.

• Howth Yacht Club have, once again, joined forces with Drogheda Port to stage the Howth-Drogheda Yacht challenge. Starting from Howth at 10.00hrs on Saturday, yachts are expected to arrive in Drogheda by 14.00hrs. This fun-filled race challenge is always followed by a weekend of fun and festivities for sailors visiting Drogheda.

• The largest ever crew of trainees to take part in the Drogheda Sail Training Bursary. The Bursary provides valuable opportunities for young people (16 and 17 years old) from the Louth and Meath to experience sailing. Exposure to sail training opens up career and leisure opportunities for life.

The award-winning festival, now in its fifth year aims to promote Maritime history and heritage in the north east. The festival also boasts a fabulous on-shore programme including live music, kids stage, food tastings and cookery demos and a whole lot more. Hosted by Louth County Council and Drogheda Port Company, the Festival is proudly sponsored by Virgin Media. Visit for the full festival programme.

Published in Drogheda Port

#TallshipBursary - The launch of the Drogheda Sail Training Bursary from sponsor Drogheda Port Company took place on Friday 28th April.

The launch marked a unique new sponsorship structure between Public and Private enterprise from the locality. Drogheda Port Company and Louth County Council have teamed up with Irish Cement and Fast Terminals to form the new financial driver of this remarkable youth sail training initiative which is going from strength to strength. The four sponsoring partners are very strong advocates of social corporate responsibility and are committed to the growth and longevity of this bursary scheme.

Although Drogheda is a very proud maritime town the reality is most local youngsters have little experience of anything maritime. In 2013 Drogheda Port Company and Sail Training Ireland joined forces and established the Drogheda Sail Training Bursary in a bid to change that but in a unique and self-educating way.

Sail Training Ireland is the National Sail Training Organisation and a charity with youth development at its core, its patron is President Michael D Higgins. The Drogheda Sail Training Bursary was the first of its kind in Ireland, the anchor scheme, which has led to the subsequent development of similar bursaries in Cork, Belfast, Waterford and Derry so far.

Sail training requires participants to confront many demanding challenges, both physical and emotional. It is an activity that inspires self-confidence and the acceptance of personal responsibility. It promotes an acceptance of others whatever their social or cultural backgrounds, and develops a willingness to take controlled risks. For most who undertake sail training it is a positive life-changing experience.

To date the Drogheda Sail Training Bursary has funded 8 amazing voyages for 72 local youths. Going forward the aim is development and progression and to offer international voyages on world class Tall Ships. None of this would be possible without the local bursary sponsors, Irish Cement, Fast Terminals, Louth County Council and Drogheda Port Company, who are all very committed to this initiative.

To date the scheme has been oversubscribed each year with the participation of sponsoring organisations and schools such as St Mary’s Diocesan School, C.A.B.L.E & Foroige youth projects, Greenhills School, Drogheda Grammar School, Scoil Ui Mhuiri Dunleer, Ardee Community School, Colaiste na hInse Bettystown, Louth and Meath ETB, Drogheda Youth Reach, 18th Meath Scouts & Dunshaughlin Girl Guides.

The scheme caters for young adults between the ages of 16 to 21 years and further information can be obtained from;
Nessa Lally, Drogheda Port Company, 041 9838378, [email protected]
Sara Mason, Sail Training Ireland, 01 8559597, [email protected]

Published in Tall Ships

On Monday 13th November 1826, 190 years ago, the new paddle steamer 'Town of Drogheda' arrived at her home port having come from the Clyde in Scotland. The vessel was the very first vessel belonging to the newly formed Drogheda Steampacket Company and for the next 22 years she would sail weekly between Drogheda and Liverpool.

The vessel marked the beginning of a golden age for Drogheda and steamship travel which would last 80 years. The steampacket company operated 16 vessels over the period to both Liverpool and Glasgow.

On its arrival into Drogheda, the Journal of 1826 contrasted the crimson and gold silk lace in the ladies' cabin with the blue cloth upholstery covering the berths reserved for the gentlemen. The holds could accommodate up to 100 horned cattle or 300 sheep.

The 'Town of Drogheda' made her maiden voyage to Liverpool on the 26th November, 1826 and the journey took 14 hours. The master of the vessel on its maiden voyage was Captain Thomas Bishop.
Built by John Scott & Co in Greenock the vessel was 140 feet in length and wooden built. In addition to carrying cargo the vessel also accommodated passengers. The passenger accommodation was extremely luxurious and the vessel state room was mahogany with rosewood pillars and a fireplace. The dining table could accommodate up to 30 persons at a sitting.

The steam engines at the time were state of the art putting out 110 nominal horse power through the two paddles, enough to keep the vessel moving through the biggest of storms on the Irish sea.
There are no know drawings or paintings of the vessel but in order to commemorate the 190 year anniversary, research was undertaken by the port company through contemporary maritime resources, the William Simmons\Scott archives which are held at Glasgow University and the assistance of Brendan Matthews of the old Drogheda Society.

From rare plans and drawings of sister vessels from Greenock ship yard and through a unique collaboration with local artist Raymond Balfe the vessel has been brought back to life in an oil painting to commemorate the vessels 190th anniversary on going into service and the beginning of Drogheda’s golden age of steam ship travel.

Mr Raymond Balfe said “I was delighted to be asked by the port to work on this challenging project. It was something very interesting and different for me as an artist. I tried to make the painting of its time. How amazing it would be today if you could still catch a ship from Drogheda to Liverpool.”

Mr Paul Fleming commented “It was fantastic working with Raymond to bring the historic steamship ‘Town of Drogheda’ back to life just in time for its 190th anniversary. The painting is a fantastic depiction of the vessel arriving at the Drogheda bar in 1826 based on existing maritime resources from the original shipyard and the port archives”

The vessel sailed under the British red ensign and the Drogheda Steampacket Company flag which was a white star and crescent on a lime green background, which was described as a lime green with a white five pointed star between the horns. Its distinctive funnel and steam whistle was jet black, as were all the Drogheda Steampacket vessels.

The vessel was eventually sold in 1848 and was abandoned and foundered approximately 120 miles east of Gibraltar all the crew being saved in 1849.

Published in Drogheda Port

#Blueprint2050 - A masterplanning process was announced by Drogheda Port Company to address the key issues on the future development of the port where this weekend the Irish Maritime Festival (9-10 July) takes place.

The plan, Blueprint 2050, is a vision for the development of Ireland’s largest regional port and which sets outs a logistical and socio-economic role from 2016 to 2050. This in order to promote and support the provision of new port services and employment for the region.

Mr Paul Fleming CEO of Drogheda Port stated ‘In preparing our masterplan we will be consulting with all interested stakeholders in the coming months to fully harness the potential that the port can offer to boost job creation and ensure worthwhile employment opportunities. Our objective is to be a world class regional port and economic generator.’

The Co. Louth port is currently a key contributor to the economy of the north east region, supporting up to 1,000 jobs and to underpin the regional economy. The masterplan requires the ability to adapt and grow to continue in assisting the development of the overall region. In addition as a key driver to attracting new Foreign Direct Investment and high value manufacturing industry.

The masterplan will look at the wider opportunities around and outside traditional port tradeflows by looking into the upstream and downstream supply chains. Also that the port is enabled to handle both larger vessels and increased trade volumes efficiently and competitively.

Published in Drogheda Port

Drogheda Harbourmaster Capt. Martin Donnelly previews this year's maritime festival for Afloat readers.

The Irish Maritime Festival, in association with Maxol, is going from strength to strength. The festival, hosted by Louth County Council and Drogheda Port Company, takes place at the Port next weekend (Saturday 9 and Sunday 10th July) and promises something fun for everyone.

Drogheda has a rich Maritime Heritage and the festival celebrates all that is good about the majestic river Boyne. The quayside is lined with ships of all sorts including The Spirit of Oysterhaven, the Celtic Mist, vintage lifeboats and customs cutters. There is an opportunity, when the tide is high, to board to these ships and to imagine what life is like on the high seas.

Weather permitting, Drogheda will welcome the truly beautiful 112ft long twin-masted Brigantine “The Phoenix”. The 4,000sq. ft. of sail, is instantly recognisable to movie lovers as “The Sancta Maria” from the epic film "1492: Conquest of Paradise", the fictionalised story of Christopher Columbus directed by Ridley.

The Spirit of Oysterhaven will arrive on Friday with a complete crew of trainees and depart with a new trainee crew again on Sunday.

A series of river races will take place including the 14 km long Inver Colpa Rowing Race from Clogherhead to Drogheda, the Howth to Drogheda yacht challenge and the legendary Drogheda Raft Race. Perhaps the most gruelling and personally challenging of all the races is the Boyne Swim, where 200+ swimmers of all ages will take to the river for the 2.5 km past the festival site. This year, the Boyne Swim welcomes a delegation of 25 swimmers who have travelled from Finland just to take part.

One of the festival innovations for 2016 is the addition of live cameras to track the activities on the river. A combination of steady cam and drone footage will be fed to a big screen broadcasting live on the festival site. You will also be able to see the on the water action by tuning in to the Irish Maritime Festival Facebook page where the final stages of all races will be broadcast live.

New for 2016 is the arrival of The Vikings. Watch out for a 45 strong marauding hoard as they take over Drogheda Port and go into battle twice daily. They'll take over and set up their Viking Village and giving visitors to the festival an idea what it's like to live like a Viking. Watch out for their two Viking ships docked at the festival site.

And no Maritime Festival in Drogheda would be complete without the return of our battling pirates. The S/V Vilma and Soteria will once again bring with them the ever popular duelling and duetting pirates who provide fun for visitors of all ages.

And keep your eyes peeled you might just see Captain Jack Sparrow leading the pirate parade.

Speaking of spectacles, keep your eye on the sky - there might just be a surprise in store.

And There’s Lots Happening On-Shore Too …
The festival grows bigger each year and Festival Producer Karen Healy explains "We're trying to grow and diversify the festival each year to ensure that there are new, interesting and exciting activities for all our visitors. We hope that the mix we have created this year will have something for everybody visiting the festival. The festival boasts a fashion, health and beauty zone with fashion shows, make up demos and celebrity bloggers James Patrice and The Make Up Fairy. An artisan food and craft brewing will feature local producers, cookery showcases, brewing and cocktail making lessons. Live music is a huge part of the 2016 festival. There will be 2 live music stages featuring a selection of Ireland's top up and coming artists. Visitors to the festival can chill out and relax in the summer sunshine and listen to these fabulous musicians as they give it their all on stage.”

The family friendly activities are, as always, fun for all.

“And the festival is not just for the grown-ups and teens” continues Festival Director Mary T. Daly of Louth County Council “There is of course a whole host of fun and family friendly activities at the Festival again this year. Kids can join the pirate parade, visit the Viking Village, touch the sea creatures in the marine touch pool, build their own paper boats, laugh at Punch and Judy and marvel at the magic show. They can take part in free art workshops, learn to be an archaeologist in the kids archaeology zone, take a selfie on Simple Simon's throne, build sandcastles on the urban beach, visit the whale and dolphin workshops and watch out for the fly borders on the river. And of course, there is a fantastic funfair to top it all off.

"So that's it, that's our line-up for this year and we hope to welcome both locals and visitors alike to Drogheda port for a wonderful weekend of fun" concludes Mary T Daly. "The festival runs on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th of July at Drogheda Port. Admission for a family is just €10 for the day and that includes two adults and two children. There are special prices for teens, students and senior citizens. You can find out more about the festival by visiting and, on behalf of Louth County Council, we do hope that you will invite friends and family across the country and invite them to join you in Drogheda for a fabulous fun filled weekend."

Published in Maritime Festivals
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