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Drogheda Port

3rd December 2009

Drogheda Port

Drogheda Port is one of Ireland’s premier multi modal ports strategically located on the east coast with direct motorway access to the country’s key industrial and commercial centres. The port is continuing to develop and expand by offering its customers a strategic locational advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace.


We have built a solid reputation on our high levels of customer service, flexibility, and the rapid turnaround of vessels. Few ports boast such a prime position for taking advantage of the ever increasing opportunities in European and Scandinavian trades, in addition to the emerging markets of Eastern Europe and the ever changing patterns of short sea container trade.

Drogheda Port has established itself as Ireland's gateway to Scandinavia with the country’s only weekly service to Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The port is also Irelands major distribution and logistics centre for newsprint.

Drogheda Port Company is a highly successful commercial state port which handles over 1.4 million tonnes of cargo annually in addition to over 700 vessel calls. Throughput for 2005 totalled 1,401,555 million tonnes.

The Company provides port facilities for both general freight and container services, and has a record of continuous growth in both.

The Port has a wide product base and a balance of trade at approximately 75% import and 25% export. We are a natural choice for a wide range of customers and trades, with facilities to handle virtually any type of cargo.

Imports include Containers, Paper, Steel, Timber, Fertilizer, Grains, Petroleum and Liquefied Petroleum Gas. Exports include Containers, Magnesite, Zinc Concentrate and Timber.

Geographically, the Port is situated on the historic River Boyne on Ireland's east coast with direct access to both Dublin and Belfast on the M1 Motorway. The port's position on the east coast of Ireland provides a major geographical advantage for transport links in to and out of Ireland. As a result, the port has very strong short-sea trade links with Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltic states. Regular and frequent general cargo and container services to Norway, Sweden and Denmark have established Drogheda Port as Ireland's Gateway to Scandinavia.

The Port has built its reputation on high levels of customer service, flexibility and the rapid turnaround of vessels. A container service operates from Tom Roes Point Terminal and presently provides a twice weekly service between Drogheda and Rotterdam.



The Drogheda Port Company has two facilities for the loading/discharging of cargoes, i.e. the inner north quays port and the deep-water facility at Tom Roes Point Terminal. In addition there are two private facilities. The approach and estuarial channel is maintained to a depth of 2.2m at Chart Datum to the deep water facility at Tom Roes Point, 5 km from the sea, and at 0.8m at Chart Datum to the inner port 7 km from the sea. The port can currently accommodate vessels up to 120m LOA.

The deep-water facility at Tom Roes Point is the primary container/paper and timber handling facility. The berth is 160m in length with an always-afloat dredged pocket of 6m at Chart Datum over a length of 210m. The berth can accommodate single vessels operations up to 120m LOA or two vessel of 100m LOA. There are on site open storage facilities of circa 14 acres and a paper store of 90,000sq ft. Primary handling is by two Liebherr LHM 250 harbour mobile cranes with additional tracked grabbing cranes. Secondary handling is by a modern fleet of dedicated container handling and general purpose forklifts. The inner north quay port is a general cargo facility catering for bulk grains, steel, timber etc. The 4 berths consist 430m of quay. Three of the berths have an air draft restriction of 27.5m at MHWS.  Primary cargo handling is by a combination of harbour mobile and crawler cranes with appropriate secondary handling.

A private hydrocarbons facility can accommodate vessel of up to 80m LOA, in a dredged pocket of 2.2m at Chart Datum. The oil terminal has a current capacity of 10,000m3 of Class 1, 2 and 3 products, plus, 1,500m3 capacity at the LPG terminal. A private bulk cement/magnesite/coal facility can accommodate two vessels on a 160m berth.



A Brief History of the Port

We can never be certain as to when man first sailed up the River Boyne, but we do know it would have looked a very different place then. The evidence points us to a date around 3,000 B.C. when middle Stone Age man arrived. They sailed their boats into the mouth of the river and progressed as far as Newgrange. The landscape at the time would have been heavily wooded and the Boyne itself much wider and slower moving.

Drogheda provided a natural ford on the river at the current site of St. Mary’s Bridge from where the first houses and quays were built. From that era to the current day the port has progressed into an important commercial highway trading with Europe, Scandinavia, Asia and America.

It is said that Saint Patrick landed at Colpe in 432 AD and in 937 AD it is recorded that there were 60 Viking ships on the Boyne and 60 on the Liffey as they plundered the ancient sites of Ireland. The vikings returned to the Boyne on many occasions and used the port as a base for their plundering expeditions.

In the 1400’s goods were coming from all over Europe to Drogheda Port. Archaeological excavations over the years show Drogheda to have been a very cosmopolitan town due to the ports trading links with the outside world. Pottery from Bordeaux, Gascony and Flanders have been found.

Wine from France was a very important trade at this time with up to two to three ships per week fully laden. Goods such as hides and corn form the local region were exported to places like Gdansk, Lisbon and Iceland.

Moving on through the 16th Century Drogheda had developed a good trading relationship with Liverpool exporting mostly linen and flax. This relationship further developed in the 1800’s when Drogheda had a regular passenger steamer service to Liverpool. The steamers would sail initially 2/3 times a week and were the first in the world to have electric light on board. The service further expanded some years later to become a daily service and include Glasgow on the route.

The journey to Liverpool then took over 14 hours and could be very hazardous and uncomfortable, where today it would just take over 3 hours on the new generation high-speed ferries. The ships carried a mixture of cattle and passengers, and sometimes the cattle were better treated. The first steamer in 1826 was called the 'Town of Drogheda', and many others followed.

Many ships were also build in the port and Grendons foundry which was established in 1835 employed up to 600 people and produced many steel ships which were launched on the Boyne.

In the 19th century Drogheda became one of the ports through which thousands of Irish people emigrated from famine and out to the new world.

The most striking visual feature in the Port is the Viaduct which was build in 1855 for a total cost of only £124,000 and is still as solid and functional today as the day it was built.

Work on the quays in the old days was hard and dirty with cargoes such as coal having to be shovelled out of the ships hold by hand. It took many dozens of men to do this work on each ship. Today there is a different picture with technology and mechanisation, loading and unloading large amounts of cargo from ships has become much quicker.

Ships today are better designed and have more technology allowing them to predict and manage bad weather and as a result a have much safer passage.

The management of the port began a new era in 1997 when the Drogheda Harbour Commissioners were dissolved after over 200 years and the port became a new commercial semi-state company, Drogheda Port Company.

A new deepwater terminal has been constructed at Tom Roes Point which will be capable of handling larger vessels than the inner port was capable of. Vessels carrying up to 5,000 tonnes of cargo and up to 120 metres in length will use the new facility. New short sea shipping routes have developed from the terminal particularly in unitised trade. As ships have been getting larger there has been a slow progression for the port seaward. Up to the 1800’s ships were unloaded as far up the river as St Mary’s bridge. The main working quays gradually moved to the Ballast, Welshmans and Steampacket quays and now new berths are operating at Tom Roes Point Terminal.

Drogheda Port has always been an integral part of the town economy and played a major role in its outward looking nature. The industrial base of the town was established through the port and it will continue to be a vital element in the town’s future growth. 

Drogheda Port, Harbourville, Mornington Road, Drogheda, Co Meath

Sat Nav Co-Ordinates    N 53.43.148  W 6.18.468

Telephone – Ireland: 041 983 8378 • International: +353 41 983 8378

Fax – Ireland: 041 983 2844 • International: + 353 41 983 2844

Email – General: [email protected]

Published in Irish Ports Team

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