Inbher Copla; the Gateway to the Boyne Valley

  • Region: Drogheda ,
  • Bettystown

The area just south of Inbher Colpa (the mouth of the River Boyne) has some beautiful beaches stretching from the north of Mornington through Bettystown as far south as Laytown. Typical of the Boyne Valley, each of these coastal towns and villages has their own interesting folklore.

The Maiden`s Tower and Lady`s Finger: Near Mornington, along the Boyne estuary, you`ll find many old navigation beacons gracing the banks of the river. They`ve long been used by sailors throughout the region`s extensive history. Two such beacons are “the Maiden`s Tower” and the “Lady`s Finger.” Local legend has it that the tower was built by a young woman to guide her lover`s ship home to safety. The couple had agreed that when he returned home he would hoist a white flag on the ship`s mast to signal a successful voyage or a red flag if something bad had befallen him. On seeing the tower that the young woman had built on his return he assumed it was the work of an enemy. He responded by hoisting the red flag. On seeing this, the maiden, believing her lover was dead, jumped off the tower to her death. She sustained an arm injury in the fall that left her finger pointing upwards and thus the solid round tower shaped beacon became known as the Lady`s Finger.

The Tara Brooch: In 1850 one of the greatest surviving pieces of Celtic metalwork, the Tara Brooch, was discovered at Bettystown beach. However, its true origins remain a mystery. The discovery was made by a peasant woman or perhaps one of her children. Indeed, many believe that the brooch was found inland, but the woman claimed to have found it on the beach in order to avoid any legal claims by the landowner. She sold the brooch in Drogheda. It found its way to Dublin jeweller George Waterhouse who renamed it the “Tara Brooch” safe in the knowledge that its association with the High Kings of Ireland and the Hill of Tara would ensure it fetched an even more handsome price. It`s not only the origins of the brooch that remain unknown, even the place of its discovery remain mysterious.

The river with no salmon: The once small coastal village of Laytown is home to a rather fishy tale involving St. Patrick. The town is located on the tidal estuary of the River Nanny where eel, trout, mullet and flounder can be caught in abundance. However, the river is said to contain no salmon. According to local folklore St. Patrick banished the fish from the river.

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