On Monday this week, we had a day off from classes because of the national bank holiday, so I decided to use the opportunity to take a short trip to a little beach town a short distance from Drogheda called Bettystown. A small village in Co. Meath, it was originally called “Betaghstown” before the name was anglicized. My dad’s cousins have a few caravans (basically the same idea of having an RV or camper) there along the famous River Boyne (which, at this location, leads into the Irish Sea), so we were able to meet up with some of my family, who showed us around the area.
While walking around the area, my family pointed out some interesting sites that were really close to the caravans. There is a 60 foot tower known as the Maiden Tower, most likely named that because it was built during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. It’s a landmark to mark the mouth of the river and was once used as a beacon to assist mariners headed toward the Drogheda port. The public used to be able to climb to the top of the tower; but in more recent years, this has not been allowed. There is a strange monument right by the tower that they call “the Lady’s Finger.” I was wondering the story behind this odd name, and I found the legend on the blog for the Drogheda museum.
Supposedly, a young woman who lived in the area a long time ago was in love with a young man who was leaving to fight overseas. He told her that if he survived the war, his ship would return with white sails. If he died in the war, his ship would return with black sails. She watched the water from the Maiden Tower each day, awaiting his return. One day, she saw his ship coming in, only to realize that the sails were black. The legend surrounding the Lady’s Finger is that it represents her finger, missing the wedding ring she hoped for from her deceased lover. Another building stands next to the Maiden Tower called the Boathouse, an iconic little lifeboat station built in the 1800s. In more recent years, it was converted into a private property and is now up for sale again.
We also had the chance to walk on the beach for a little bit, which was very windy and cold, but still very pretty! It was a fun day of visiting with family and exploring another part of Ireland not too far from Dublin, learning about some interesting structures and walking through a nice little town. Read more next week on #WeldonWednesdays as I continue to explore #IrishRoots!