PORT, produced in association with Droichead Arts Centre, is a live show which presents a newly-written song-cycle, born of a year-long research and writing project around the history and stories of Drogheda’s ancient Port.

Here is how Tony Clayton-Lea in the Irish Times described PORT:

“An ambitious project undertaken without the benefit of a safety net, Port sees Droichead Arts Centre artist-in-association SJ McArdle compose a song cycle about the vibrant history of (and “imagined stories” connected to) Drogheda Port. For the performance, McArdle will be joined by members of traditional/folk group Kern, Michael Holohan, John Ruddy, and Josh Johnston, and – for this writer’s pitiful pile of money – one of the best female voices out there, Carol Keogh.”

The show premiered at Droichead Arts Centre in 2019 with support from Drogheda Port Company. In addition to the above, the creative team included IFTA award-winning director Darren Thornton (A Date For Mad Mary) and design by Kieran McNulty and Droichead Arts Centre’s John McGovern. The same creative team is proud and excited to now present a revised, expanded version of the show which will tour in late 2021 and 2022.

The Port has been the epicentre of life in Drogheda for a thousand years and more, providing culture and communication and food and employment. It is tied to everything in the town and has played a role in every part of its history. But a port, by its nature, is also a link to other places, and the research for this project provided subject matter from Europe and the US to the North Atlantic and the South Pacific. The land-based stories of the Port are just as rich, almost a converse of the stories of life at sea, and I met with several agencies who provided me valuable reading material and audio recordings to aid my research. This allowed me to start bringing the stories of Drogheda Port out into the world in song form, exposing and sharing the living history of the area.

“Songs in the Quay of Life” featuring SJ McArdle’s PORT

Live images by Jenny Callanan: https://www.jennycallananphotography.com/