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Tuesday, 7th August 2018

My Streets tours a big hit with visitors

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My Streets tour co-ordinator Cyril Carter with trainee tour guides Padraig and Larry. 

Guided tours of Drogheda led by homeless people proving very popular.

When it was first mooted four years ago the concept of guided tours of Drogheda being offered by homeless people seemed to many as being a bit odd but, as it turned out, the “My Streets” tours has proved to be a big hit with the people that count – visitors to the town.

Speaking of visitors, Drogheda is expecting quite a few of them next week so we thought it would be a good idea to see how the people at “My Streets” are getting on.

The short answer to that question is that they’re doing just fine thank you very much but, like any enterprise, they have had to overcome obstacles and problems along the way.

Last year Extreme Ireland Adventures brought some 7,000 visitors to Drogheda but unfortunately they have since stopped because, according to “My Streets” guide and tutor Cyril Carter, parking their coaches in Drogheda was a big problem.

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Cyril, who is a former homeless person himself, told Drogheda life that the coach drivers know there is a bus bay outside St. Peter’s Church in West Street where they can let their passengers off but, as often as not, they’d battle through the traffic into West Street only to find the bus bay blocked. So Extreme Ireland now go to Mullingar instead.

Despite this setback “My Streets” is still busy both leading tours and training new guides because the whole concept is as much about the guides as the content of their tours.

The aim is to empower and support people who have experienced, or are experiencing, homelessness to take positive action to get their own lives back on track while giving visitors an insight into the issue as well as a unique view of the town

We met Cyril as he was showing two new guides, Larry and Padraig (they asked us not to use their family name) the ropes.

Larry, who is originally from Cavan but worked in the civil service in Dublin for 30 years, battled alcohol for many years and ended up losing his family and sleeping in a car before coming to live in the Drogheda Homeless Aid (DHA) house.

Padraig is from Ballymakenny and worked as a chef but he too fell foul of the demon drink and ended up at DHA.

“I didn’t know there was so much history in St. Peter’s Graveyard when I was drinking their” he quipped.

Both men are now on the AA programme and learning the ropes as tour guides with the “My Streets” programme.

Larry says that the “My Streets” tours place less emphasis on history and dates but instead offer a unique glimpse into the “overlooked stories of Drogheda” and that people really appreciate that.

“These people are visitors and not here for a history lesson, dates are just numbers to them and they’ll be for gotten almost immediately anyway” he said.

“But when I start a tour at Laurence’s Gate by saying: “I know a man who abseiled down that gate”, they all want to hear more!”

You can find out more about My Streets tours and make a booking at


This article was written by Andy Spearman

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