Where do you get your news? We get ours from the Drogheda Leader, always have. If it’s not in the Leader it’s not news so it’s not. So we’re delighted to be teaming up with the Leader to bring you, the reader, Faa Side stories in print form. Be sure to catch us in the Drogheda Leader every Wednesday. Here’s our first piece from this week’s edition.
The Running of the Meathman
Permission has been granted by Louth County Council for the reintroduction of Drogheda’s most ancient tradition – The Running of the Meathman. The Running ran from the mid-1500s until it was discontinued as a condition of the Louth border extension into Meath in the 1960s.
The Meathman was usually a captive or vagrant granted clemency by the town aldermen. He would be set loose from the old gaol on Scarlet Street and granted his freedom if he could make it through the Butter Gate alive. The event had a survival rate of 37% and in its pomp rivalled the town’s Saint Patrick’s Day and Corpus Christi Parades in the popularity stakes.
Meath based councillors have roundly condemned the return of the festival, calling it ‘ethnically insensitive’ while the Olde Drogheda Society of Migrant Meathmen has called for the Running to be shut down immediately, labelling it ‘outrageous and racist in this day and age.’
Festival organiser Jimmy Pentony responded to such calls by explaining that while the Running had a violent past, there would be no blood shed moving forward.
“I think we’ve all matured as people. That hostilities didn’t break out after the 2010 Leinster Final is testament to that. I’d like to reassure Meath folk that the Running will be a peaceful and purely ceremonial affair. It’ll be like a bull fight sure, but we’ll let the bull go unharmed at the end. The Meathman won’t even be handcuffed this time. ”
Meath born are being warned to be vigilant while in Drogheda over the coming weeks as the festival’s selection committee have voted to include women and children over 16 for the first time. Under ancient and unrepealed town statutes, Meath born can be held for up to three weeks before the Running without legal recourse.
The Running is due to take place on the Saturday before Halloween.