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Monday, 20th November 2023

The Twenties Lane – another part of old Drogheda disappearing

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Twenties Lane, 1896 by local artist Baz O’Siordain.

By Sean Collins

It took many years to get the Port Access Northern Cross Route road project across the line but in the past year or two the progress has been startling. The road from Ballymakenny to the Rosehall roundabout is almost ready and many of the new houses along its route are already inhabited.

Darren Bulman a resident of the Twenties once told me how much this part of Drogheda was disappearing.

The late great historian Jim Garry described the lane as providing access to the townland of The Twenties, which contained 157 acres north of Manimore. Local artist Baz O’Siordain painted the haunting scene above. A beautiful figment of the artist’s mind and imagination.

A local poet M.C.  inspired by the lane and it’s memories penned the following verses in 1914. 

“Adown the Twenties Lane” 

There are quiet spots and shady nooks
Well known to those in town
And furry glens and mossy dells
And hills of heathery brown,
And boreens branching off the roads
That shield from sun and rain
But I prefer my favourite haunt
Adown the Twenties Lane

In gentle spring when wildflowers bloom
And bow to passers by
The jaded city working man
To rural seats doth hie
From crowded seats and noisy halls,
No peace his aching brain
Until he walks a mile or two
Adown the Twenties Lane.

When Summer comes with sunlit skies
Some go to Laytown Strand
And some on Donor’s Green will sit
While listening to the band
But no such joy can fill my heart
On river, road or train
As comes from pulling hawthorn boughs
Adown the Twenties Lane

Then autumn comes and brown leaves fall
And lovers meet by stealth
On every road at eventide
{The walk is for their health}
In stormy weather few stir out
But wind or sun or rain
Some forty score of lovers pass
Adown the Twenties Lane.

The historian and modern cartographer of Drogheda Ned McHugh advised that the Twenties is recorded but not named on Newcomen’s Map of Drogheda 1657. It is first mentioned on Morgan’s Rent Roll in 1742.

In 1843, James Gernon Esq of Athcarne Castle, Duleek offered for rent twenty acres under grass in lands known as the Twenties. Gernon was a wealthy Catholic merchant who also owned a brewery in Drogheda.

James Clarke Auctioneer of James St, Drogheda in 1872 offered for sale fields off the Twenties Rd., property of the late James Carroll, 40 acres of rich lands, plus a four-horse steam thrashing mill, with three ricks of hay and one rick of straw.

Thomas Connolly, Auctioneer, advertised in 1887, two fields, one of 9 acres and the other called the “Ballymakenny Field” with access from the Ballymakenny Road.

The last land sale in the Twenties for the 1800s was a “Snug Farm” offered by auctioneer Henry Smith, the property of Mary McGovern.  The 1901 census lists three families, Magees, Caffreys, and Munsters living on the lane, all engaged in agricultural labour.

In the 1911 census Thomas and Kate Kelly are listed as farmers in the Twenties, indeed today Tom [a grandson of Thomas] and  his wife Rhona Kelly still  farm the land there.

Once a quiet country lane, like so many around Drogheda, gone to progress and the ever-expanding town.

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