Drogheda Port Company celebrated the 225th anniversary of the company in 2015. On the 19th of April 1790 the very first board meeting was held in the Tholsel. The company is the oldest remaining indigenous industry in the town having employed over 1,700 workers over the period and remains as vital now as then in the economic well-being of the region.
The company, or commissioners as they were then titled, were established by Act of King George 111 for the ‘improvement of the Port and Harbour of Drogheda, and the better regulation of the Police of said town.’ It was recognised at the time that a separate company would be the best vehicle for the future management of the commercial port and would contribute considerably to the advancement of trade and prosperity.
Fifteen commissioners were selected and the first key appointments to the company were, Chairman Mr. Graves Chamney and CEO Mr Thomas Collins. In addition to swearing solemn oaths of appointment the first meeting considered borrowings and debentures to invest in the development of the port and the replacement of the coping and walls of the bridge on the track road at Greenhills.
The average vessel visiting the port in 1790 was capable of carrying up to 300 tonnes of cargo as compared with the average size vessel which now accommodates up to 7,000 tonnes. The port has had to expand and develop over the period to accommodate the growth in vessel sizes and water depths have been increased regularly through a number of capital dredging programmes, the most recent being in 1999.
The company celebrated the anniversary with a special evening at the Tholsel on the 19th of April with a theatrical presentation of the inaugural board meeting which was specially commissioned and performed by the new local drama group Rí Rá who are developing new theatrical writing for performance.
The contemporary performance incorporated a little bit of flavour about the world and what was happening globally, nationally and locally in 1790 and the minutes of that first meeting held in the Tholsel. The wonderful Drogheda Orchestral Collective performed an intimate concert for the event with an appropriate programme which included maritime themes from the pirates of the Caribbean. The collective which was only formed recently continues to grow from strength to strength with their innovative performances and interpretations. They rounded off a wonderful evening.
The very historic event was attended by the current company directors, employees, the Mayor and County chief executive. The original board meeting minutes book of 1790 was on display in the Tholsel for the evening making a return after 225 years. The oldest document held in the port company archives, a pilots licenced issued to Laurence Deaz of Mornington in 1777 was also on display.
Click on the thumbnail to read the 225th Celebration by Rí Rá Drama Group