Drogheda On The Boyne

From the train,
riding high across the valley
on which the town is built,
it looks very grey and industrial.
Dusty stone and concrete warehouses,
silos, oil tanks
jostle for space by the riverside.
Ships loading, unloading
from the quays,
derricks and cranes,
trucks delivering, collecting.
We ride on through to other places,
though fingers of medieval ruins,
poking skywards,
suggest another story.

Descend into the town,
Drogheda on the Boyne,
and walk the hilly streets,
a different townscape round every corner,
elegant Georgian and Victorian shops, houses,
along narrow streets
that slow the cars
to a walker-friendly pace.
Churches and ancient ruined fragments
of abbeys, convents
tell of a time when this town
was the biggest in Ireland,
a centre of religion
and the religious life
and later a bustling trading port,
focal point for the surrounding towns and country.

But industry declines.
The town changes, modernises, absorbs immigrants.
Shopping centres replace defunct factories, aged buildings,
new restaurants of many flavours, new cafes, teashops.
Bustle of busy main street
damped by revamp for pedestrians.
Downturn.
Recession.
But a paint job glamourises
to attract tourists
New hope
for town on the ever-flowing river.

by Roger Hudson

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