views updated May 21 2018

Drogheda is 30 miles north of Dublin at the mouth of the river Boyne. It was the first garrison to be attacked by Oliver Cromwell when he invaded Ireland in 1649. Its royalist defenders included many English protestants as well as catholic Irish. They were no match for Cromwell's 12,000-strong army and heavy siege guns. When Sir Arthur Aston rebuffed the summons to surrender, Cromwell blasted two holes in the southern wall and on 10 September ordered his men into the breach. Only after the second assault, led by Cromwell himself on foot, did the parliamentarians overrun the town, at which point ‘in the heat of action’ he ordered ‘any that were in arms’ put to the sword. Dismayed, some of his soldiers let their prisoners escape. Much of the ensuing massacre, totalling 3,500 soldiers, clergy, and civilians, was carried out in cold blood the next day. Cromwell's intention was that the terrible example of Drogheda would bring Irish catholic resistance to a speedy end. Events proved him wrong.

Ian Gentles


views updated May 11 2018

Drogheda a port in the NE Republic of Ireland, where in 1649 the inhabitants were massacred after refusing to surrender to Oliver Cromwell's forces.