Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
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Dungarvan's Ironwork Heritage Part 7 - Gates contd.

William Fraher, curator of Waterford County Museum continues with his series on the wealth of ironwork to be seen in Dungarvan and Abbeyside. Following on from last week, this week again features gates in the town.

Railings and gate St Augustine's Church, late 19th century. Image N.L.I.

Railings and gates Friary House, late 19th century. Image N.L.I.

Detail of gate St. Augustine's Church 
Detail of railing St Augustine's Church


St Augustine’s Church and Friary House

The original church was opened in 1829 and had a thatched roof.  It was enlarged in 1853 and the thatched roof was replaced by slate.  In the 1840s the entrance to the church was between a row of old single storey houses.  In the late 19th century these cabins were demolished and a new wall with cast iron railings was constructed.

The railings were from the MacFarlane foundry and the design was published in their catalogue and is reproduced here.

Friary Church railing, MacFarlane's catalogue
Friary House gate post, MacFarlane's catalogue

Friary House railing, MacFarlane's catalogue

Friary House was built in 1873 as a residence for the Augustinians.  It had a simple wooden railing on a brick wall which was later replaced with the current railing and gates also cast by the MacFarlane foundry.  The patterns for the new railings and gates are reproduced here from the MacFarlane catalogue.

These railings and gates make an attractive addition to the streetscape in St Augustine Street and Main Street and are well maintained.

Friary House, gate detail
Entrance gate St Augustine's Church

Friary House Gate
Gatepost detail Friary House
Ironwork railing Friary House

Dungarvan's Ironwork Heritage Part 6 - Gates

William Fraher, curator of Waterford County Museum continues this week with the sixth part in his series on the wealth of ironwork to be seen in Dungarvan and Abbeyside.  Lamp posts, boot scrapers, railings, balconies, post boxes, gates, bandstands, street name plaques, bollards, manhole covers and window guards.


St Mary’s Parish Church

These gates were meant to impress anyone travelling up Mary Street and provide an imposing entrance to the church.  They were erected in the mid-19th century.  What existed before them?  Probably a rubble stone wall and a simple pair of wrought-iron gates between stone pillars.

Who was responsible for the present gates and when were they installed? 
They were built by Dungarvan native, Rev. Jeremiah Halley (1797-1875), P.P. of Dungarvan.  On one of the gate piers is the raised inscription: Revd. Jeremiah Halley 1838.  It was believed that this was the date the gates were erected but the recent discovery of a newspaper article gives the actual date of their construction.  The Tipperary Free Press of 12 September 1849 reported as follows:
The Very Rev. Dr. Halley, is now embellishing the entrance to the truly magnificent Parish Chapel by the erection of splendid gates, and a most extensive enclosure of ornamented cast-iron railing. The massive and beautiful pillars are formed of three unique capped columns of the same material, and the coup d’oeil from the adjoining street, square, etc., of both church and entrance will be truly grand and imposing. The inhabitants of Dungarvan feel justly proud of their commodious and beautiful temple. 

The date on the pillar obviously refers to Father Halley’s appointment as parish priest of Dungarvan and it is interesting that he wanted his name visible where it would be seen by all who entered the church grounds.  He also had his name inscribed on the baptismal font and high altar – he certainly wanted to leave his mark!

Iron bracket 
Unfortunately, there is no maker’s name visible on the gates, so it is not known whether they were cast in an Irish or British foundry.  The railings (which are in a gothic style to blend with the church architecture) rest on finely cut and dressed limestone blocks and there are buttresses at intervals which have elaborate cast-iron scroll brackets supporting the railings.  Part of the railings and limestone wall were badly damaged in 2018 and again recently.

They were expertly restored by Bushy Park Ironworks, Dublin. 

Dungarvan's Ironwork Heritage Part 5 - Bollards

William Fraher, curator of Waterford County Museum continues this week with his series on the wealth of ironwork to be seen in Dungarvan and Abbeyside.  Lamp posts, boot scrapers, railings, balconies, post boxes, gates, bandstands, street name plaques, bollards, manhole covers and window guards.

A Load of Bollards

A distinctive feature of the quay in Dungarvan and the Causeway are the metal mooring bollards which were manufactured in Waterford.  The bollards on the quay are divided into two types – those with the maker’s name and date which are found between Garvey’s Supermarket and the bridge and towards the castle a set of plain unmarked ones.

Dungarvan Quay

Posts and chains on the Causeway early 1900s

In the 18th century there was no continuous quay from the bridge down past the castle. There were two small quays – the principal one George’s Quay was sited around the present Anchor Bar (of timber and rubble stone) and the other, Roderick’s Quay (of stone), was situated where the present castle car park is. 
These quays can be seen in the engraving of Dungarvan published in Charles Smith’s History of Waterford City & County 1746.   Early mooring bollards were probably large timber posts. In the 17th and 18th centuries old cannon were sometimes used.  In the early 1800s the 5th Duke of Devonshire and his son the 6th Duke embarked on a complete rebuilding of Dungarvan.  Part of this work included the construction of a new quay, bridge and causeway which were considered essential for the development of trade.  Jesse Hartley (1780-1860), (later the builder of Liverpool Docks) was employed to oversee the works.  The first phase involved a stretch of quay from the bridge as far as the present Moorings Bar.  The second section in front of the castle began in the 1860s.

The quay had to be rebuilt and repaired at least six times in 1855, 1864, 1869, 1886, 1901 and 1925.  It was probably during the 1901 repairs that the plain bollards were inserted. 

Late 19th century photographs show a line of posts and chains along the quay, just like those on the causeway, but they were all removed over the years.  These and the posts on the causeway are all stamped ‘Graham Waterford’.

Who made the bollards and posts?  Two Waterford foundries, Benjamin Graham, the Quay and James Moir of the Park Foundry.  In 1892 Grahams was described as an old-established firm which had been in operation for a century and started about 1788 by Benjamin Graham who was later succeeded by his son and grandson also called Benjamin.  In the 1890s it was noted in Stratten’s Directory that the factory did general millwrights’ work, heavy castings for mills, ships’ fittings, railways, iron gates etc.  The firm employed forty workers.

In 1884 James Moir established his Park Foundry in Bolton Street.  In 1892 it was noted that his son was also managing the firm.  The factory had an engineering shop, iron and brass foundry, millwrights’ shop, steam engine and boiler sheds.  The firm specialized in ‘heavy castings for the principal railway companies in the region.

Bollards and posts and chains on the quay c. 1910

Dungarvan's Ironwork Heritage Part 4 - The Bandstand, Dungarvan Town Park

William Fraher, curator of Waterford County Museum continues this week with his series on the wealth of ironwork to be seen in Dungarvan and Abbeyside.  Lamp posts, boot scrapers, railings, balconies, post boxes, gates, bandstands, street name plaques, bollards, manhole covers and window guards.

The Bandstand, Dungarvan Town Park

Detail of Bandstand roof with gas lights. Photo by Robert French c. 1900, N.L.I

Dungarvan Brass Band playing in the bandstand c. 1910

This structure is one of the largest ornamental cast-iron features in Dungarvan.  We have a lot of detail about the bandstand and its origins. How did it come to be erected?  In the 1890s Dungarvan was developing into a popular seaside resort.  This was facilitated by the opening of the railway in 1878. It was particularly popular with Tipperary people who were known as ‘Gaybricks’. 

Captain William Gibbons (1827-1893) left a bequest of £1,760 to the people of Dungarvan for the development of a new park and esplanade. Public parks were being developed all over the world and were considered essential for the health of the local population and an important attraction for visitors.  Dungarvan park was opened in 1895 with trees, lawns, pathways and ornamental seating. In April 1897 the Town Commissioners asked the Borough Surveyor, Michael Beary, to produce an estimate for a bandstand.  By June the Commissioners approved of a design to be supplied by the Scottish iron founders, William Macfarlane & Co.  The following week they advertised for local hardware merchants to quote for supplying this model.  

In July a deputation from the local brass band appealed to the Commissioners to go ahead with the erection of the band stand.  The Commissioners invited tenders for a 'metal band stand of octagon shape, with an iron roof but without a ceiling'.  On 5 August Michael Power's tender of £16 for erecting the structure was accepted.  George Stokes ordered the band stand components from MacFarlanes for which he was paid £61.

Bandstand ironwork MacFarlanes catalogue

Bandstand spire
Detail of Bandstand pillar
The band committee picked the following colours for the new band stand: Spire - gold; Roof - light green; Floating - white; Columns - bronze; Railings - light green; Cantilever - white. McFarlane also supplied glass lanterns for the band stand. 

In 1901 Dungarvan Urban District Council advertised Dungarvan as a health resort noting the new park and bandstand:

A new band stand has been erected…to accommodate the splendidly organised and highly trained Reed and Brass Band, whose performances under the efficient direction of Mr Hatton, late Bandmaster of the 13th Regiment, are the delight of all who hear them.  The band plays two evenings each week and from 4 to 6p.m. on Sundays. 

In the 1920s or 1930s the cast iron railings connecting the pillars were removed and replaced by single ugly looking bars and at the same time the floor space was extended.  In the 1990s the band stand was vandalised on a number of occasions in which the ornamental cornice was badly broken, and the remainder was removed.  The ornamental brackets projecting from the top of each pillar were also broken.  It is a great pity that what remained of the original work was not reproduced.  The only original features to remain are the pillars (which are stamped MacFarlane in raised lettering) and the terminal on top of the roof.  One improvement was the replacement of the modern railing with a period style design.

Further detail on the history of the park is available at www.waterfordmuseum.ie

Willie Burke repairing Bandstand 1950s

Repairing Bandstand roof 1980s

Dungarvan's Ironwork Heritage Part 3 - Balconies

A feature of many Irish cities, towns, and villages is the wealth of ironwork to be seen. Lamp posts, boot scrapers, railings, balconies, post boxes, gates, bandstands, street name plaques, bollards, manhole covers and window guards.

William Fraher, curator of Waterford County Museum features balconies in this third part of the series of Dungarvan's ironwork heritage .  


These are rare features on Dungarvan buildings.  The largest is over the main door of Lawlor’s Hotel, there are five under the first-floor windows of the old Post Office (now Willow & Oak) on Grattan Square which date to the late 1860s, and one on the third floor of a house in South Terrace dating from the late 19th century.

Lawlor’s Hotel Balcony 

This balcony was made for the Devonshire Arms Hotel and was originally fixed further down the building, near Grattan Square.  There were a number of Devonshire Arms Hotels in Britain and some in Ireland.  There were three in Co Waterford at Lismore, Tallow and Dungarvan and one in Youghal and Bandon. They are usually found in areas where the Devonshire family have or had property.  The Dungarvan hotel was opened in 1824 and run by Margaret and Richard McGrath. 

The cast iron balcony was added in the late 19th century.  It was made by MacFarlane’s foundry in Scotland and is illustrated in their catalogue.  The central circular panel has a representation of the Cavendish arms with their motto - Cavendus Tutus (Safe through caution).  Beneath the balcony and over the main entrance was a large gas light which is no longer extant.  In recent years the decorative supporting brackets were removed.  Decorative ironwork was also added around the roofline of the hotel which no longer survives but is visible in photographs from the 1950s.


Not only was the balcony ornamental but it sometimes provided a platform from which political speeches were made.  Edmund Keohan in his Illustrated History of Dungarvan 1924 refers to its use by Michael Collins in March 1922. Collins was on a lorry in Grattan Square with other dignitaries when it was driven away by an IRA man.  The occupants of the lorry (including Keohan) survived the ordeal but it was decided that it was safer if Collins delivered his speech from the hotel balcony:

The balcony has a rather historic record.  From it Lord Llandaff, then Henry Matthews, addressed the electors at the end of the seventies, when he contested the borough against Frank Hugh O’Donnell.  And on the same occasion, when Matthews had finished, O’Donnell delivered his first speech in Dungarvan…Michael Collins and his supporters, which included some clergymen, came on the balcony, and they were met by a storm of boos and interruptions, mingled with cheers.  These disturbances came from a number of the I.R.A. stationed at the Court House railings…Michael Collins delivered a very forcible speech… 

Dungarvan's Ironwork Heritage Part 2 - Pillar Post Box

William Fraher, curator of Waterford County Museum continues this week to point out what can be seen in Dungarvan and Abbeyside.  So next time you are out for a stroll look out for these gems hidden in plain sight. Look up, look down, and look around!  

Pillar Post Box

Pillar boxes were first introduced in England around 1853.  The first boxes were introduced to Ireland in 1855 at Belfast, Ballymena and Dublin and most were painted a dark bronze green colour.  In June 1855 the House of Commons established a select committee to enquire into the postal arrangements for the south of Ireland. The chairman was Thomas Meagher, M.P. for Waterford.  The post office surveyor and author Anthony Trollope contributed 100 pages to the report of the committee.

The first record of a post box in Dungarvan is recorded in the minute book of Dungarvan Town Commissioners in February 1861.  Henry Anthony, Chairman wrote to the Postmaster General asking for a second pillar letter receiver to be placed in Abbeyside: ‘That the Municipal Borough of Dungarvan comprises two wards, first that of Dungarvan and secondly the Abbeyside Ward. That in the said Borough there is but one letter receiver…That the Abbeyside Ward contains over 300 houses with a population of over 900 inhabitants…is placed at a considerable distance from the post office in Dungarvan…That there are over twenty shops carrying on extensive business in the  flour, bread & grocery trade, besides several coal merchants, that a large portion of the sea faring population reside therein also several ship owners…there is a Roman Catholic Chapel, also a Police Station the fixed strength of which is ten men – the Parish Priest, the Resident Magistrate & County Sub Inspectors of Constabulary also reside there…That in the opinion of the memorialists one receiver is quite inadequate to supply the wants of a rising town of Dungarvan, and that a second is much required contiguous to Bridge Street’.

There is no further reference to this in the minutes so presumably Abbeyside remained without a pillar box.

The oldest surviving post box in Dungarvan can be seen in Church Street near Merrys.  According to Stephen Ferguson, author of ‘The Irish Post Box’ boxes bearing the monogram of George V (1910-1936) are uncommon.  These boxes were originally painted red, a colour introduced in 1874 as standard.  When the Irish Free State was established it was decided that all post boxes be painted green which was known as ‘Saorstát Green’. In February 1922 the Chief Clerk instructed postmasters around the country that: The Postmaster General of the Irish Free State has decided that in future all Letter Boxes are to be painted emerald green instead of P.O. red. The words ‘An Post’ in Gaelic character should be inserted in yellow over the doors of the Letter Boxes, black paint should be continued to be used for the bases of the Pillar Boxes’. Harrington’s of Cork supplied the green paint for all the Munster letter boxes.  A few months later the government ordered that the letters ‘S.E.’ be added. 

It is important that this rare survivor of our postal heritage be maintained and preserved.

Dungarvan's Ironwork Heritage Part 1 - Boot Scrapers

Many of us are off work due to the Covid-19 virus and are now walking much more.  For those living near or in the town centre this is an opportunity to observe and look at the detail of the streetscape while strolling around.  A feature of many Irish cities, towns, and villages is the wealth of ironwork to be seen.  Lamp posts, boot scrapers, railings, balconies, post boxes, gates, bandstands, street name plaques, bollards, manhole covers and window guards.
Most of what we see today is cast iron made from moulds in the 19th century. 

There is some hand forged ironwork to be seen but this is rare. There were ironworks in many large towns and cities in Ireland: The Perrott and Hive works in Cork, Benjamin Graham and J Moir in Waterford, Mallet, Turner, in Dublin, and Musgrave and Co., Belfast.  Many small local foundries were affected by the growth of larger firms such as Walter Macfarlane and Co. of Glasgow who produced work on a huge scale, exporting all over the world.  Much of the ironwork in Dungarvan was made by this firm.  How do we know this? They printed large hardback fully illustrated catalogues of the products which were distributed to hardware shops.  The customer looked through these and picked out the particular item they required which had a catalogue number.  The order was taken and then shipped from England, delivered probably by train to Dungarvan railway station and from there moved by local carters to the hardware shop.  These catalogues are works of art in themselves with every single component illustrated by engravings.

Walter Macfarlane and Co. of Glasgow catalogue

William Fraher, curator of Waterford County Museum will point out what can be seen in Dungarvan and Abbeyside over the next few weeks.  So next time you are out for a stroll look out for these gems hidden in plain sight. Look up, look down, and look around!  

             Boot Scrapers

This week we are going to look at boot scrapers.  There are references to boot scrapers from the 18th century but these were probably portable ones.  In the 19th century footpaths were more common in urban areas, so people began to walk more.  However, the streets were still dirty with horse dung and other dirt, so it was essential to be able to remove this before you entered your front door.  Boot scrapers were built into the front wall of the house by the entrance door or fixed in place on the front step by the door or sometimes incorporated into the ornamental railings. There were different designs, some plain, others in a classical or gothic style as we can see in front of the Old Bank Restaurant in Bridge Street. Examples of scrapers built into the house wall can be seen in Church Street, for instance on the side of Merry’s Pub.   This boot scraper in Church Street was made by Izons & Co, West Bromwich Works and these are pages from their catalogue c.1840. This boot scraper cost 1/6.

Boot scraper in Church St., Dungarvan

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