Situated at the mouth of the River Boyne, Drogheda’s name comes from the Irish ‘Droichead Átha’, which means bridge of the ford. The Anglo-Normans established Drogheda initially as two separate towns on either side of the river in the late twelfth century. Drogheda in Meath was established by Hugh De Lacy. On the northern bank Drogheda in Louth was set up by Bertram De Verdon. Despite the fact that they closely bordered each other, the two towns were in various church dioceses, had isolate enterprises, assessments, taxes and landing charges. This last distinction specifically was to prompt extreme competition and even slaughter as every town looked to undermine the other to pick up a more prominent offer of sea trade.
By 1186 a motte and bailey had been worked at Millmount. The main town barriers which surrounded the settlements date to the 1190s. They were earthen banks finished with wooden palisades and fronted by deep ditches. At the start of the thirteenth century the construction of stone walls started. It wasn’t until the fourteenth century, however, that murage grants stipulating that walls of stone be assembled actually came through. In spite of this, the protections were sufficiently solid to spurn an assault in 1315-16 by Edward the Bruce’s Scottish armed force. The total walled territory makes Drogheda one of the biggest walled towns in medieval Ireland. It was similar in size to Dublin, Oxford, Bristol and Kilkenny.
Fr. Philip Bennet, a Dominican monk, lectured his sermon of peace to the fighting locals and his incredible demonstration of compromise brought about the unification of Drogheda as one city and ward in 1412. A submission was taken to King Henry IV by Robert Ball who brought back another Charter bringing together the two towns to end up one single Drogheda in November of 1412.
Catholic Old English and Gaelic Irish powers ascended in open rebellion against the new English and Scottish Planter classes in Ulster in 1641. On 21st November 1641, under the standard of the Irish Confederation, their armed force under Sir Phelim O’Neill took up positions at different locations north and south of the Boyne, and attacked the town. O’Neill tried three times to take the town by force, however was repelled each time and on March 4th 1642, relief forces under Lord Moore from Dublin, constrained O’Neill to forsake his siege.
After seven years, the town was again under attack when Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army of 18,000 soldiers assaulted the town’s barracks. Three days later they at long last got through the city walls on the south side close to Duleek Gate. They at that point overtook the town, slaughtering a large portion of the army.
Starting in 1689 the walls were modified and reinforced in order to better survive canon shots. In spite of this, the revamped walls were never tried. The Williamite triumph in 1690 at the Battle of the Boyne led immediately to the town’s surrender to Protestant forces the following day. The walls were slowly taken down after this. They had essentially turned out to be unnecessary during an age of artillery on a pacified island. To this day, a few big segments remain, including the spot where Cromwell breached the city.