One night in Drogheda

Friday, October 21st, 2005 by Kevin Teljeur

Today I felt like shit in the morning, the cold is really taking off now but, today was beautiful. Really very beautiful, in the special way that it does at this time of the year with the golden light bouncing off everything, the piercing, slightly cloudy sky but at the same time very clearly delineated clouds and sky. It makes the light behave differently. I can’t get enough of it and it made me feel a lot better. I’d have taken a photo for show and tell but the batteries were all flat unfortunately. Still, there’ll be more of those.

It’s Thursday and I’m just starting to tackle writing about last weekend. It’s actually been a trying week; I’m not well, coming down with cold and it makes everything that little bit harder, particularly since I’m still doing that trying commute from Bray and back out. Been hard work in office too, I’ve really been copying and pasting like a bastard recently and I’m getting very good at it. In seriousness, I’m starting to worry about the value of my CV because it’s not looking great at the moment. I really need to get some stuff on it that people will actually value and pay for – programming languages, sites, achievements.

So, Drogheda. I went up on Friday night to visit my friend Martha, see how she is, inspect her new gaff, have a look at Drogheda. Actually, Martha’s been discouraging me from coming up and having a look at Drogheda since last summer, on the grounds that it wasn’t interesting enough to visit but I’ll find anything I haven’t had a look at within the last five to ten years interesting, including Northern industrial towns such as Drogheda, and it couldn’t be less interesting than Bray (which, to be fair, seems to hold some sort of peculiar exotic fascination for most people who don’t go there).

Martha Lodge getting something for me to sleep on
Martha getting something for me to sleep on

The journey up was fun, I was sharing seats with two entertaining nerdy technical types who were both called ‘Bongo’ and we traded comedy on iPods and discussed the huge, all-terrain laptop owned by one of the Bongos. However, by the time I’d gotten there, partly thanks to delays and partly down to me not communicating enough Martha believed I’d bailed out and gone for pints with the lads instead… Oh no! We got a take out, some wine, and had a night of chat. It was good to catch up.

On Saturday morning we tried to get me some tickets to the Dandy Warhols, but no luck there, and then Martha had to head off to Dublin, which meant I could indulge my need to wander about Drogheda aimlessly taking lots of photos…

Martha's amazing new place! In Drogheda!

The grey former warehouses and factories of Drogheda

Kenny had warned me about the Louth culture (for Drogheda is in County Louth, north of Dublin and which borders on Northern Ireland – for those of you who don’t know much about Ireland, Northern Ireland is part of Great Britain, uses British currency, and… It’s a long story.) which he claimed was a bit rough although like most places in Ireland these days how rough you find it really depends on your grasp of Polish etiquette.

Drogheda main street - or one of them

Another street in Drogheda. Check out those sour faces!

It was interesting to me to see a similar kind of Victorian architecture to Dublin, just on a smaller scale; I think this holds true as you go North to Belfast. It has a viaduct, and it’s an outstanding example of “What did the British ever do for Ireland?”.

Old English-built viaduct, taking the train to Belfast

Infrastructure is what they did. They built stuff. If you go south past Dublin, towns are very different to up North. They’re smaller, scattered and very colourful, although relatively poor in terms of long-term planning and that’s probably closer to the native Irish aesthetic for town building, whereas Drogheda is an industrial port town with big grey warehouses and a lot of development these days to replace them since that’s now no longer a viable business for a town. It has a population of about 30,100 or so.

Yeah, I’m a town planning and infrastructure nerd. It’s amazing to me that people here do this for a living, and get it wrong.

The Drogheda market

More grey crusty old Drogheda buildings!

And yet more! With the Presbyterian Church on the left. Very Northern.

Another street in Drogheda

The old Castle gates - likely the last remaining

That whole big grey Northern building vibe

I’d consider living there; right now I live in Bray and even though I complain about it, it really isn’t too bad. But it’s not great. Part of the problem lies in that Bray is being slowly pulled into Greater Dublin. It too has a population of 30,000 or so but no real sense of independence, of being a town in it’s own right and there’s no motivation for anyone to set up shop there because if you need something you can always get the local train into Dublin proper and get it there.

Speaking of places to live, Drogheda now joins Cork and London as places I’d consider in the short term to live in. I’m not trying not hard to find a room right now, but I’ll have another stab at it very soon. The thing is, why bother? It’s Dublin and there’s little love lost between me and Dublin at the best of times:

  1. London
    Big, crazy, a true world capital, it’s all happening there! A cultural melting pot! in the capital of the people who built all the good stuff in Ireland. Plenty of opportunities there for a content migration expert since there’s likely to be plenty of meatheads who can’t get their heads around Ctrl-c, Ctrl-v.
  2. Cork
    Ye Langers! While smaller than Dublin at 200,000 people, it’s lively, young and interesting. Probably not great on the content migration front but at the end of the day, you wouldn’t go to Cork for that. You’d go for the craic! Control Copy and laugh into your Murphy’s.
  3. Brno
    Nazdar! Je to mesto dobre. And so on. It scores by virtue of being Czech and I really like over there. Trams, Tesco, and goulash, what a life! And even though the Ukrainians are cornering the market for moving lots of text from one website to another, there’ll be room for a man who pastes in English and doesn’t try to steal the keys from the keyboard.
  4. Drogheda
    God knows why I’d go there. A change of scene, a small oasis of tranquility in a sea of… Hm. Not that either then. Well, I’ve only just seen it and I’d happily live anywhere other than Dublin the way it’s going. Plus, there is a big train station I can hang out at on weekends. I’m sure there’s room for Copy and Paste merchants there too.
  5. Newcastle
    I’ve never been there, but come on! Newcastle! Ryanair flies there, they have to be doing that for some good reason, right? And the girls are wrapped up in the finest greyhound skirts (if ‘wrapped’ can be applied to something so ephemeral). Well, it seems like fun to me. They don’t even speak English there. And if they can dress like that for the climate they have there then they’ll doubtless need a c&p artist who isn’t off his biccie!

In all seriousness, it’s something I should give thought to, because Dublin isn’t a city worth grovelling for to live in, or to have to commute for an hour every day.

Connolly Luas station - the new Dublin Tram

View of the Irish Financial Services Centre from Connolly Station

After Drogheda I came back via Dublin, where I spent a couple of hours roaming around through the built up areas around the railway line, trying to find out where the railway lines actually went and if they were pulling them up (which it looked like from the train on the way in).

Irish rail repair crew near Royal Canal

If they had been then I would have been pretty upset about it, but in fact they were recycling the tracks; replacing old track with not quite so old track on lines they never use anyway.

Back streets in Ballybough

One of the old railways, along Royal canal, with Croke park in background

Strange but true. Later that night I ended up back in Dublin after having gone home to Bray, to get dinner with Garret and Nora and their friends in Cafe Bar Deli (great pizza, without a doubt) although Garret, delirious from having finished his marathon 5 month DIY effort on their new house (see the previous post for photographic evidence) was more intent on insulting everyone and being off the wall than eating.

By the by, I might have mentioned that I got my Combat Climate Change t-shirt the other week from Owen in the office. It transpires there’s a family connection there so it wasn’t a special gift from them, it was Owen being a super swell guy! Gazorks. Thanks Owen!

[edited for photo inclusion on 21-10-2005)]

9 Responses to “One night in Drogheda”

  1. Dave G Says:

    “the people who built all the good stuff in Ireland”

    Thats a bit n the revisionist side there Kev , how about the infrastructure of oppression and they built to starve and batter the populace into submission.

  2. kevintel Says:

    Well damn, I feel so riled by that statement that I’ll have to write a post about that and quantify my statement!

    Though essentially you are correct and I don’t disagree; along with the mechanisms to engineer social and structural infrastructure on that level comes oppression and the British Empire really wrote the rulebook on oppressing most of the world for it’s own gain. On the other hand, it would take the Irish to look at the second best rail network in the world and say to themselves ‘It’ll have to go’.

  3. Richie Says:

    Being from drogheda, I feel more than a little hard done by in that. There’s a lot more to the town. A vibrant arts scene, very few towns can even compete with our history and the night life is cracking…..

  4. julie Says:

    have to agree with Richie, I’m French and I’ve spent 5 deadly years in Drogheda, and the nightlife is brilliant, really miss the craic now am back home, what with the new shopping centre I’d almost come back!!

  5. kevintel Says:

    You people. I don’t get it. I mean, I didn’t pan the town, and you’re not trying to get with the humour of it. I liked it there, I just wasn’t there long enough to get out and hammer the nightlife. Now that my friend has left there, I’m unlikely to be back there any time soon.

    Read it again, I challenge you.

  6. Bongo Says:

    nerdy technical types? thanks a million!! Glad you liked the comedy. That laptop is breaking my shoulder carrying it still. Regards from one of the bongos

  7. Bongo Says:

    Just for the record, I’m certainly not a ‘nerdy technical type’.

    Take care,

    One of the above mentioned Bongos.

  8. Droghedian Says:

    Whats the copy and paste thing that Im not getting . i know How to copy and paste of course , but what are you getting at with the refereneces to it here ?

    Am I just stuped

  9. Kevin Says:

    Well Droghedian, it’s because back then I was spending my time at work just copying and pasting content from one website to another, which was a very poor use of my skills as a highly-skilled web developer. So you’re not stupid, just mildly aggressive in your questioning.