Minister Dermot Ahern announces €15 million funding for development of the Battle of the Boyne site
Dermot Ahern T.D., Minister for Foreign Affairs, today announced that €15 million will be spent over the next three years on developing a major visitor centre at the site of the Battle of the Boyne at Oldbridge Estate near Drogheda.
The work will involve the development of a visitor and exhibition centres, new walkways and the construction of a peace garden. So far, the Government has spent €15 million on the purchase and improvement works to the Oldbridge House and Estate. Today's announcement will bring that expenditure to €30 million over the next three years.
In announcing the funding, Minister Ahern said:
“The Government recognises and appreciates the immense historical importance of this site; and also the particular significance of the Battle of the Boyne for many in the unionist community.
“In the Good Friday Agreement, the Government committed itself to actively promoting and developing respect, reconciliation and mutual understanding between the different traditions on the island of Ireland. The preservation and appropriate development of this historic battle site is a powerful and tangible expression of that commitment.
“The Battle of the Boyne occurred in the context of the political and religious divisions of 17th Century Europe. While the legacy of the Boyne is celebrated with pride by one tradition, for another it was associated with political loss and marginalisation.
“What is undisputed is that the outcome of the battle had a major influence on the long-term political development of Ireland.
In recent years the two great traditions on this island have, thankfully, advanced towards a political accommodation with each other.
“As we continue on this journey towards a harmonious future for all, it is imperative that the history of the Battle of the Boyne and its political legacy are fully and properly understood by all traditions who share this island.
“The wide-ranging consultation process has ensured that the implementation programme reflects sensitively and appropriately the huge historical importance of the site, particularly for the unionist tradition on the island - and I want to emphasise the importance and centrality of this consideration for the Government.
“I would like to thank most sincerely all of the members of the Committee for their efforts. I would also like to pay a special tribute to both Mr. Cecil Kilpatrick, the Archivist of the Grand Orange Lodge, and the Reverend Brian Kennaway.
“In addition to the peace-building symbolism of the project, I believe that Oldbridge will become both an outstanding tourism attraction, and a rich recreational amenity for the Meath-Louth region. The almost 500 acres of rolling parkland, extensive walkways and scenic riverside vistas located at the edge of Drogheda will most certainly prove to be a popular amenity.
“The wide international recognition of the story of the Battle of the Boyne, and the proximity of the site to the major tourist artery of Brú na Bóinne / Newgrange - which already attracts 230,000 visitors annually - will contribute significantly to this important new visitor attraction.
Note for Editors:
The Government purchased the Oldbridge Estate which contains the core of the Battle of the Boyne site in 1999. The site has been partially developed and has been open to the public each Summer since 2002. Over 20,000 visitors were received at the site last year. Key developments at the site and Oldbridge House will include a visitors' centre, indoor presentation/exhibition centre, building a Peace Garden, outdoor exhibits plus visitor facilities. The projected budget is €15 million within a three year timeframe for planning and construction.
19 May 2005