Celebrations as Frank’s Country Cottage re-opens
Former Drogheda Mayor has welcomed thousands of visitors including John Hume, Ian Paisley, Bertie Ahern to iconic Donore cottage painstakingly restored 15 years after devastating blaze
Fifteen years after the iconic Frank Godfrey's Country Cottage at Donore almost perished in a blaze, the cottage has been painstakingly restored and a new folk museum added in the grounds of the historic building.
The cottage, which dates back to around 1780, has been home to the former Mayor of Drogheda, Frank Godfrey, for 40 years and has welcomed thousands of visitors including John Hume, Daniel O'Donnell, Ian Paisley, Bertie Ahern and other dignitaries.
Frank has collected and been gifted many historic artefacts over the years and he has now opened the Little Folk Museum of Donore in one of the outbuildings of the farmyard that adjoins his cottage.
Inside and outside, it has wonderful items of national and local interest, including a sword from the Battle of the Boyne and an unexploded bomb from the night the Germans bombed Duleek in early 1941.
There are photographs and cannons, a cannonball found in Drogheda where Cromwell breached the walls, tractors, old farm implements and many other artefacts.
Among the exhibits is what is believed to be the head of the controversial racehorse and Aintree Grand National winner of 1947, Caughoo.
Caughoo's jockey, Edward ‘Eddie’ Dempsey was accused of cheating by Daniel McCann, jockey of the second horse home, Lough Conn who claimed Dempsey concealed Caughoo in the fog, near the twelfth fence, and finished without running the full course.
Frank has also created a ceili house in what was an old cow-house adjacent to the cottage.
"It can accommodate around 600 people and the stage is the area where the three cows would have been milked," says Frank.
Frank's thatched home in Donore had always captured the imagination of visitors to the area, who would stop and visit to see the cottage and meet the man who lived there.
Its fame spread far and wide and it welcomed visitors from across the globe.
"I think the cottage is unique in Ireland and that's why people love it," he says.
Frank suffered a major blow back in 2008 when his home was very badly damaged by fire. Years of memories and hard work were gone.
While he had lost many items of interest, what didn't go up in smoke was his passion and he vowed to restore the cottage.
"I was devastated. People told me to forget about it, to walk away, but I vowed to restore the cottage, rebuild it, because I simply love it.”
He had always seen the potential for a tourism project for the cottage and in the years since that night of destruction, he has put every penny he has into it.
Two years ago the cottage was completed.
"It has come back from the ashes, like the Phoenix," he said.
Now he has added his museum and ceili house and since the recent official opening which was attended by the local community, visitors have been flocking to the museum and enjoying the unique atmosphere of Frank's Country Cottage.