Workers removing the railings from Laurence's Gate this morning.
There was widespread welcome from Councillors for the removal of railings from the base of St. Laurence’s Gate which happened today.
Labour Councillors say that one of the key pillars for growth in Drogheda is the development of the local tourist industry and investment in our historic structures has been lacking for too long.
"As a Labour Group representing Drogheda on Louth County Council we have an opportunity at the November Budget meeting to argue for investment in our historic town structures” Cllr Pio Smith said. “Our heritage is our great selling point and it needs to be developed.
“The Old Abbey Lane area needs significant funding to achieve it's potential. We are requesting that Louth County Council seek funding from the Historic Towns Initiative in 2020 to carry out much needed works in the laneway. This will require money being allocated in the County Budget specifically for this initiative.
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Mayor Paul Bell added: "I have campaigned for a number of years to have Laurence Gate open to the public. Both I and my Labour colleagues will be seeking to ringfence money at the Budget meeting for works to enhance the public realm on either side of and below the barbican gate.
This, he said, would include the creation of a ‘performance space’ on the ‘town’ side of the gate, in an area already used informally for this purpose.
“This area will be capable of supporting the erection of a small, temporary stage, with a demountable cover made of a waterproof fabric, supported by poles based in heavy concrete seating units.
No works will be carried out on the monument itself, which is owned by the local authority but in the guardianship of the Minister (OPW).
Cllr Michelle Hall said " There will be a lot of competition for funding for projects from other areas in Louth, however I feel confident that we can secure funding from the Capital Budget that will be allow us to apply for grant aid from the Historic Towns Initiative and Irish Town Wall funding streams. Drogheda has more to offer than Kilkenny or Sligo and it's time we made our move."
The Labour Councillors are looking for €500,000 euro to be spent on Laurence's Gate and €350,000 for the Old Abbey. These figures include funding from both Louth County Council and the Historic Towns Initiative.
Meanwhile, Independent Councillor Kevin Callan has said the removal of railings from Saint Laurence’s Gate is a fantastic move in the right direction in improving the area around the gate for visitors and local people alike.
Cllr Callan, who first raised the issue of removing the railings and signage around the gate back on the 19th of June of this year, said that this was the first step of many in improving the greater area to form a plaza for visitors to the gate where they can assemble in safety from traffic and to be able to get up close to the structure without the 5 foot railings which were introduced to protect pedestrians from traffic travelling through the arch.
Speaking to Drogheda Life Cllr Callan said that for many years serious efforts were made to protect the gate from traffic but the key point is not only to protect your heritage but to make this very historic monument in the heart of our town more accessible.
"This will eventually happen In time on an ongoing basis however in the short term this is one of the steps that are required to improve the area around the gate" he said.
“Like most people in Drogheda I see St Laurence‘s Gate as a very important part of my town and our heritage and it’s something that I will continue to work on. This process has involved the Council, the Office of Public works and also An Post who had to remove one of their boxes from the railings to allow for the works to be carried out.”