WhereMagdalene Street Corner of Rope Walk Drogheda Louth
St Mary Magdalene Friary
The Unification of Drogheda
At one time, two distinct (and mutually hostile) towns were located north and south of the Boyne.
The St Mary Magdalene Friary dominated this area and in 1412 a friar, Fr Philip Bennet, overcame the historic divisions between the two towns north and south of the River Boyne. Bennet invited both sides to hear him preach on the 133rd psalm: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” Then he confronted his congregation, he demanded three times “Will you be united in the body of Christ?”. Finally, Alderman William Symcock replied “We will!”
Bennet seized the moment, and a petition was sent to King Henry IV in London who issued a Charter unifying the town of Drogheda.
In 1467, the St Mary Magdalene Friary witnessed one of Ireland’s most brutal falls from grace, that of 41 year old Thomas FitzGerald the seventh Earl of Desmond, Lord Deputy of Ireland and victor of the Ireland’s only War of the Roses battle. However, he’d also made powerful enemies. These included John Tiptoft, first Earl of Worcester, the Bishop of Meath and even King Edward IV’s queen, Elizabeth Woodville, who is said to have taken offence at some remarks by Thomas, which drew attention to her obscure birth, a subject on which she was understandably sensitive, as her husband had been ridiculed for marrying one who was “not the daughter of a Duke or Earl”.
While attending a parliament in Drogheda, Thomas was seized by Tiptoft who, confirming his nickname of the ‘Butcher of England’, had him beheaded.
Information provided by Fáilte Ireland