The Franciscan Order has officially handed over a 160 year old friary to the people of Drogheda to be used as the town's first dedicated art gallery.

Members of the Franciscan Order left their home for the last time as the friary is given to the people of Drogheda. Due to a fall in vocations the Franciscans order could no longer maintain their position in the town. The handover of the building on St Laurence Street marks the end of the Franciscan order's links with the town which were first established almost eight hundred years earlier.

The building has been remodelled and handed back to the local community for use as an art gallery. The Highlanes Gallery will provide a permanent home for Drogheda's art collection, while works from around the country will also be exhibited.

Father Joe McMahon and Father Sean Collins spoke to reporter Sinéad Crowley at the handover ceremony. 

Father Sean Collins says,

Our ideal has always been that if what we have been given by the people over the years is no longer of benefit to us, or we cannot use it, then rather than sell it we would try to make it available to the people.

The whole town of Drogheda was invited to see the official handing over of the keys.

An RTÉ News report by Sinead Crowley broadcast on 4 October 2006.