Visitor Info

Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell — bad PR?

Oliver Cromwell has always suffered from a poor PR image in Ireland, and nowhere is this more evident than in Drogheda. Cromwell visited Drogheda in 1649 -  and he didn't come to view the lovely scenery or do a bit of shopping. 

That fateful morning of Monday 9th September 1649 dawned and Cromwell had risen in time to summon Sir Arthur Aston, the Governor of the town to surrender at 8.00 a.m.

Rumours probably began to circulate that day that the Governor had received a request to surrender and people living in the much smaller south side of the town must have flocked across the bridge to the relative safety of the north side while many others fled from the town with the memory of the 1641 siege fresh in their minds.

Cromwell had 10,000 men, Aston had 2,300. Cromwell was well supplied with stores and equipment while Aston was virtually without cannon or gunners to fire them. So the rejection of Cromwell's summons was merely a formality.

Cromwell ordered his artillery to bombard a church located where the present St Mary's Church of Ireland now stands in an area known locally as "the Mollies" and during the day an incessant hail of solid shot was rained upon the church, the churchyard and the wall surrounding it.

On Tuesday 10th, the second day of the siege, Cromwell turned cannon against the heart of the town with a design to demolish some of the principal houses in which he partly succeeded, beating down the tower of St. Mary's Church, and opening two breaches in the south and east wall. But the garrison redoubling their exertions, prevented him from entering while several of his soldiers fell around him (Alton).

The third day, Wednesday 11th September, Cromwell continued his battering until the afternoon when he gave the order to storm at 5.00 p.m.  The town was taken by storm and over the next days Cromwell's army exacted their retribution on the stubborn garrison, putting many to the sword including the Governor Ashton with many more being transported into slavery in the Caribbean.  It is the most tragic event in Drogheda's long history.