WhereThe Bull Ring James Street Drogheda Louth
An extraordinary parliamentary sitting in 1494 is reputed to have been located in the stone castle that was located at the Bull Ring, which had been the Tholsel of the south borough prior to unification of Drogheda in 1412. It was at this sitting that Poynings’ Law was enacted. This law aimed to restrict the autonomy of the Lords Deputy in Ireland and worked to ensure the subordinate position of the kingdom of Ireland until 1782.
Cromwell in Drogheda
Oliver Cromwell arrived in Ireland at the head of the parliamentary army in August 1649. His aim was to defeat surviving royalist resistance to the English parliamentarians in Ireland. In January 1649 Irish royalists had come to terms with the Catholic confederates so that there was a royalist-confederate garrison in Drogheda. The garrison was commanded by the Catholic Sir Arthur Aston, and composed of Irish and English, Catholics and Protestants. The size of the resistance force is still debated.
Siege and massacre
On 11 September Cromwell established a large force and several large cannons in the area of what is now known as Cromwell’s Mount to the south east of Drogheda. He pounded the walls to the east and south of St Mary’s Church for three days until he made two breaches and called on the garrison to surrender. They refused, forfeiting the right to be spared if the attackers took the garrison by assault.
After fierce fighting at the breaches, Cromwell’s army surged into the town and the garrison fled, some seeking refuge in the steeple of St Peter’s Church, others running to the towers set in the town walls. Some of the remaining garrison retreated to Millmount with Sir Arthur Aston. Cromwell’s troops gave no quarter, brutally killing nearly all the soldiers they could find. They sent the heads of 16 royalist officers to Dublin to be displayed on the approach roads to the city. Cromwell reported that the soldiers killed ‘many inhabitants’; the actual number is unknown. It was a ferociously bloody massacre, even by the standards of the time. It is indelibly printed on the collective memory.