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Monday, 19th August 2019

Colourful Heritage Day under the viaduct at Ship Street

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Ship Street is one Drogheda's oldest streets and one of its widest too but in recent decades it has been neglected and many of the houses have fallen into disrepair.

Yesterday, to coincide with National Heritage Week and of course the Fleadh Cheoil, residents past and present, some of them in period costume, gathered to recall the rich heritage of the street which was once the home to many fishermen and their families and a plaque was unveiled to honour the street’s past residents.

The street was turned into a gallery and performance space for the afternoon and people enjoyed memories from previous and current residents from recordings which were placed in several of the houses.

Organised by the Ship Street Residents Association, in collaboration with Upstate Theatre Project and Frank Godfrey, there was dancing and musical performances and a picnic on the green and more.

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Welcoming everyone Frank said the event was about celebrating all that is good about Ship Street which dates back to 1836.

“A working class community with utilitarian houses with neither front nor back gardens, where fishing nets hung side by side with work shirts on washing lines on the green” he described it.

“Today we celebrate the phenomenal community spirit which has regenerated this street. Ship Street is looking good” he said, referencing the rehabilitation work that has been carried out by the Residents Association.

“We acknowledge the support of the council in providing footpaths, lighting and signage and ask for their continued support for this project in terms of road works and other infrastructure in addition to further work on the flooding issue.”

He also urged the owners of the remaining houses to renovate and restore them to their former glory so that they can be occupied and once again become part of a vibrant community, particularly in this time of housing shortage.

“I would like to pay tribute to Roma Rozenekwho, who, as an artist saw the beauty and potential in Ship Street and was instrumental in bringing it to public attention and determined to preserve its heritage and the history of its people” he said.

John O’Connell, the Chair of Ship Street Residents Association told Drogheda Life that there are just 12 people living on the Street these days but that three houses are in the process of being refurbished by builder John Cassidy and he was looking forward to more people moving in.

He said however that ten of the houses had been sold to one buyer a few years ago and the new owner had done nothing since to make them habitable.

Pointing to the ugly and now empty tank farm that these days looms over the back of the small stone built cottages, John said it was on the site of a former boatyard from which rubble was removed to reclaim marshland on which Ship Street was built.

Referring to the problems affecting the street such as regular flooding, the near dereliction of a lot of the houses and the road surface itself, John said that the future of the Street depends very much on the attitude of local politicians.

He said that the association had contacted most of the politicians in the area but the only ones that had helped them or shown any interest were Frank Godfrey who had raised the problems of the street at Council level and Labour’s Ged Nash who had organised to get no return valves placed on two storm drains which had stopped the street flooding which had sometimes resulted in raw sewerage coming up though the drains.

The formal part of the afternoon’s proceedings involved the unveiling of a memorial to those who lived on Ship Street, kindly sponsored by former resident Andrew Cassidy.

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