Councillors in Drogheda approved plans on Monday for a new tourism initiative to be rolled out in Drogheda this year, part of an wider promotion of Drogheda as a Destination Town.
The March meeting of the Drogheda Borough Council heard plans for the Visitor Signage & Orientation Plan, which using new signage will seek to link the historic features of Drogheda while improving the way-finding experience for tourists.
In December of last year, Failte Ireland announced €15.5 million of funding to local authorities throughout Ireland, available to assist in the promotion of one identified ‘Destination Town’ in each county. Louth County Council can avail of up to €500,000 worth of funding under the scheme, which is partly match-funded up to 25%.
As part of the council’s plans, new information, directional and interpretation panels for tourists will be erected on various streets in the town – telling Drogheda’s story on two different axes; north to south and east to west.
Executive Planner Declan Conlon told the meeting it “would represent a significant enhancement of the public realm in the town” and would offer the opportunity to create a “bespoke look for Drogheda.”
The signs will be erected within the town centre, with the east-west axis running from Old Abbey Lane to St Laurence Gate and the north-south axis running from Magdalene Tower to Millmount.
Councillors unanimously supported the move, passing the Part 8 planning proposal at the meeting having listened to a total of six submissions received by the council during the statutory consultation period.
“It’s a big step in the right direction. Kilkenny and Sligo are ahead of us. It’s a great move from the council,” Labour councillor Pio Smith said.
Fianna Fáil councillor James Byrne queried whether or not there was scope for covering adjacent streets, off the axes, as part of this project. In response, Senior Executive Officer Colette Moss said, “As part of the application, there were two axes. We felt these covered a sizeable area. Maybe in future, with more funding available, we can look further afield.”
Labour councillor Michelle Hall queried what would happen to obsolete, out-of-date or unlicensed signage that would be removed as part of the overall process. While the council confirmed they had no concrete plans for what would become of removed signage, Director of Services Paddy Donnelly said that any signs of intrinsic value could be conserved in the County Museum or via the local authority’s archive service.
Cllr Eileen Tully welcomed the move and suggested that further down the line, multi-lingual walking guides will be made available to visitors in Drogheda.
“It would be nice. It is such a historic town. Even if was just for two or three months in the summer, just to have them based in the tourist office even. It is in Wexford and all these places, too.”
Sinn Féin’s Tom Cunningham said, “The south end of Louth can attract the same number of tourists as the north side of the county if it is given a proper chance,” while he also suggested linking the new signage into the new Louth Seafood Trail project, saying signs could point towards participating restaurants.
Submissions were made by six individuals and organisations, including Drogheda BIDS and the County Louth Archaeological and Historical Society. Among the issues raised were the upgrade and improvement of street name signage and the removal of the zebra crossing at the bottom of Palace Street.
However, the council confirmed that neither of those outstanding issues as raised in submissions fall under the remit of this project.
Mayor Paul Bell, concluding, said, “I really look forward to getting troops on the ground and getting the work done.”