The Magdalene Tower stands at the highest northen part of Drogheda and is a landmark for many miles around. It once served as the belfry tower to a large Dominican friary which had been founded around 1224 by Luca de Netterville, the Archbishop of Armagh. The tower itself was constructed in the 14th century and may have been a later addition to the monastery. It is set above a Gothic Arch and consists of two storeys connected by a spiral staircase, with the entrance high up above the ground. The battlements of the tower were badly damaged by Cromwell's cannon during the siege of 1649.
It was within the Domincan friary that Richard II received the submission of the Ulster chiefs O'Donnell, O'Hanlon, McMahon, O'Neill and others. The English novelist William Makepeace Thackery , who visited the Magdalene tower in 1842, described a manuscript at the British Museum 'which shows these yellow mantled warriors riding down to the King, splendid in his forked beard, peaked shoes, and long dangling scalloped sleeves down to the ground. They flung their skenes or daggers at his feet, and knelt to him and were wonder-stricken by the richness of his tents and the garments of his knights and ladies'.
In 1467 Thomas Earl of Desmond was beheaded on the 'north commons of Drogheda' for treason against the King. He had passed an Act setting up a University at Drogheda, but the project died along with him.
St Laurence Gate
The St Laurence Gate was built with the town walls in the late 13th century and is a barbican or outer defence gate. It protected an inner toll gate which existed until the early 19th century and can be seen in old prints from that period. The barbican consists of two round towers of four storeys, connected by a portcullis and a retaining wall to their summits. The Gate was named after the Priory of St Laurence which stood outside the gate until it fell victim to the Reformation.
A portion of the old town wall, complete with buttress and embrasure, can be seen nearby.
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