WhereHighlanes Gallery steps St. Laurence Street Drogheda Louth
From Franciscan church to contemporary art gallery
A Franciscan friary was established in c.1240 in the area of the North Mall. This no longer survives, nor does the seventeenth-century Franciscan convent which occupied the same site. What does survive is the church of the early nineteenth-century convent which stands on St Laurence Street. The church now forms the core of Highlanes Gallery.
The building is closely knit into the fabric of St Laurence Street and becomes gradually evident. Walking up Highlanes you see the high stone wall of the east end, and then the pointed arch of the door with a statue above, viewed from St Laurence Street. Inside, elements of the church such as the stained-glass windows and the Gothic reredos are fused with the new gallery spaces. The church was built in stages: main church, 1830; gallery, 1835; bell tower, 1842. The Franciscans gifted the church to the people of Drogheda in 2000. Highlanes Gallery opened in 2006.
The Highlanes Gallery is both the Municipal Gallery of Drogheda and a Visual Arts Centre. On view, among other things, are the prestigious civic ceremonial sword and mace presented to Drogheda Corporation by William III after the Battle of the Boyne, Gabriele Ricciardelli’s informative mideighteenth-century views of the town and the remarkable collection of paintings belonging to the municipality. There is also a regular programme of temporary art exhibitions.
A reminder of Drogheda’s Viking Past
The lane you see to the left, now ‘Highlanes’ was once known as ‘Keyser’s Lane’ (also spelled Kezer or Keizer), it connects Bachelors Lane with St Laurence’s Street. The name is believed to derive from Old Norse keisa, meaning “bend”, perhaps a reference to the steep slope of the hill or the curve of the river, and generally applies to a street which runs from the medieval town centre down to the quays or harbour.