Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
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Our Heritage in Stone - Decorative Exterior Plasterwork


Windows in O'Connell St

Decorative Exterior Plasterwork

In the 19th and early 20th centuries an inexpensive way to give a building architectural presence was the addition of decorative plaster mouldings.  Designs were made around windows and doors or pilasters and architraves to form a shopfront in a hard-wearing cement render.  Often, we have no details on the craftsmen who carried out this work.  One of the most notable Irish craftsmen who specialized in decorating the exterior of buildings was Pat McAuliffe of Listowel.  The only example of this style is the Dungarvan coat of arms on the upper façade of what is now James Mans Shop at 2 Main Street.  In Dungarvan craftsmen we know of include Butler, Markley and Riordan. Michael Markley is described in the 1911 census as aged 58 and living at 13 Nicholas Street and his profession is noted as ‘Slater & Plasterer’.  He may have been responsible for one of the most decorative plaster facades in Dungarvan - now Browne’s Townhouse in Mitchel Street.  The design incorporates a semi-circular arch with a honeysuckle design over the entrance door and bold shouldered architraves to the windows and pilasters with rusticated quoin stones to either side of the façade.

John Butler and family carried out internal decorative stucco work such as the ceiling and cornice in the Friary church in the 19th century and also the exterior work on the façade of the old Town Hall in St Augustine Street c.1910.

Elaborate decorative window surrounds can be seen on the upper floors of buildings in O’Connell Street.  Later plasterwork in a robust style can be seen on the façade of the house built at the corner of Main Street and Friary Street by the Moloney family in 1903.  The contractor was Dan Stokes. It is a tribute to the craftsmen that much of this decorative work still survives in good condition on buildings throughout the town.

Priory House

Drawing by W. Fraher of window details Priory House

Priory House Doorway

Drawing by W. Fraher of Brownes House, Mitchel St.

Plaster Consoles Mary St.

Our Heritage in Stone - Spur-stones, Stone Doorcases and Sea Walls


These stones were once very common in Irish towns and villages.  They are usually circular in shape (like a bollard) but sometimes they can be square in shape.  They are usually fixed in the road against the angle of a building or on either side of an archway and protected the base of corners from the wheels of carts rubbing against the corners.  

Spur-stone at The Anchor

Spur-stone at the Lookout

Stone Doorcases

There is a fine entrance doorcase in limestone at Friary House in Main Street.  The building designed by George Ashlin was started in 1871 and completed in 1873. It is contrasted with the surrounding red bricks.  The principal windows of the building are also in limestone. 

One of the oldest surviving doorways (of sandstone) in Dungarvan can be seen in Barrack Lane on the building known as ‘St Garvan’s Church’.  The building is now believed to be a merchant’s house, and dates to the 16th century.  Across the street some of the oldest stonework in the town can be seen in Dungarvan Castle. It includes some fragments of Dundry stone from Bristol in the keep, which was normally reserved for decoration around windows and doors.  More early stonework can be seen in the ruins of the Augustinian Abbey in Abbeyside.

St. Garvan Church Doorway

Castle Gateway

Friary House Doorway

Sea walls

There are some fine examples of limestone walls around the town at the Youghal Road, Shandon, Quanns, and Duckspool.  These were constructed in the 19th century and are so well-built that they have survived to the present day without major repairs.  It is believed that these walls were built as part of relief work during the Great Famine.

Wall at Shandon, 1859

Illustrated History of Dungarvan


Edmond Keohan exhibit

Illustrated History of Dungarvan by Edmond Keohan

Waterford County Museum is delighted to announce the publication of our third book this year.  Edmond Keohan’s “History of Dungarvan” was first published in 1924.  This new edition has much new material including a biographical account of the author by William Fraher, his brief history of Dungarvan which was published in 1919 and his history of Abbeyside Castle published in 1916.  We have also added additional photographs by Keohan.  This will made an ideal Christmas present.  The book is for sale in David Walsh’s shop on Main Street.  Cost of the book is €20. 

We will have a small exhibition on Edmond Keohan and his work when the museum is allowed to reopen.  Included in the display will be a recent donation of three of Keohans’ original publications.

Our Heritage in Stone - Town Park Archway 1895


Town Park Archway 1895

On 3 September 1894 a special meeting was held by Dungarvan Town Commissioners to consider adopting the 'Parks Act'. 'We the Town Commissioners in special meeting assembled do determine to establish a Public Park for the use and enjoyment of the people of Dungarvan, that we take steps to acquire land and that we apply portion of the grant of the late Captain William Gibbons towards carrying out the subject matter of this resolution’.  Captain Gibbons lived nearby in Church Street and died on 14 December 1894 age 67.  In his will he left a bequest of £1,750 to the townspeople for the creation of a park, improvements at the lookout and for a park at Ringnasilloge (the latter project was never carried out).

On 6 September 1894 John Walsh proposed at a meeting of Dungarvan Town Commissioners that they:  'establish and maintain a Public park'.  At a meeting some weeks later, the commissioners agreed to the establishment of a park.  On 18 October the clerk was ordered to write to various landowners to enquire what sum they required for six to nineteen acres of land.  A deputation was appointed to visit one of the sites for the proposed park. This was situated at Jacknell Street, now called Park Terrace, on an elevated site overlooking the bay.  The Commissioners appointed Michael Beary, the Borough Surveyor to design the site.  On 2 November 1894 the Commissioners decided to place an advert in the Waterford Star indicating their intention to establish a park.

An archway was erected as an entrance to the park. It had an inscribed plaque with decorative limestone surrounds. At the commissioner’s meeting of June 1895, the following inscription was ordered to be placed over the arch:

These grounds were acquired and ornamented, and the bathing place adjoining improved by the Town commissioners with portions of a bequest of £1,760 left them for specific improvement on the 13th December 1894 by William Gibbons, Dungarvan.

Trustees:  Rev.Denis Whelan, St.John's College; Edmond Keohan, Chairman Town Commissioners; William Evans, National Bank, Dungarvan; Contractor: George Stokes, Dungarvan; Engineer: Michael Beary B.S., Dungarvan; Thomas McCarthy, Town Clerk.

In June 1895 the commissioners commissioned a plaque and surround from E. O'Shea of Callan, Co. Kilkenny. In June J.F. Williams, solicitor served notice on the Town Commissioners to attend at the High Court on 2 July 1895 'at the suit of the executors and executrix of the will of the late captain Gibbons, verses the beneficiaries of the will - Mrs Mary Gibbons, Cork; Helena Gibbons, Dungarvan; James Gibbons, Dungarvan, and  the Town Commissioners’. 

A dispute arose about the names and information which the Commissioners had placed on the plaque. In July 1895 the Rev. Whelan and Mrs Gibbons asked the Commissioners to omit the executor's names. They agreed to this but insisted on retaining their own names explaining that - 'as we believe, in doing so we are only following a custom which as regards historical records are beneficial, advisable and instructive’.

In early September 1895 the Commissioners enquired when the work on the park would be completed. The following month Mrs Mary Gibbons contacted the Commissioners asking them to remove the plaque on the arch into the park or she would take legal action. 'I have been asked to give your Town Commissioners another opportunity of complying with my request regarding that objectionable tablet.' On 14 November the Borough Surveyor reported that he had removed the slab as ordered. Before its removal the plaque had been crossed out in paint and was photographed by Edmond Keohan.  He titled the picture ‘The Condemned Slab’.  In November the stonemason Mr O'Shea was paid £28-5-1 for the plaque and related work.

A smaller plaque in marble was also erected to commemorate the creation of ‘The Esplanade’ or Lookout in 1896 as it was more commonly called which was also funded by the Gibbons bequest and this was later moved to its present site on the sea wall opposite the park.

Plaque on the archway

Plaque on the sea wall

The Book of Lismore

The Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement and the Duke of Devonshire have donated an important medieval manuscript known as The Book of Lismore to University College Cork.  This manuscript is considered to be one of the great books of Ireland.  It has been in the possession of the Dukes of Devonshire since the 1640s and was originally kept in Lismore Castle.  It will eventually be displayed in a Treasures Gallery in the Boole Library in University College Cork.

Our Heritage in Stone - Edmond Power Memorial


Unidentified children at Power's Memorial with St. Mary's Church of Ireland
in the Background. c 1900

Edmond Power Memorial

The Power family are said to have lived at Ballygagin to the west of Dungarvan, where Edmond's father held a large amount of land. Edmond's father may have been John Power.  John Power of Ballygagin is named as one of the executors in the will of Pierce Britt of Ballynalahessary in 1784.  His father was said to have been comfortably well off.  This John Power made his will on 15 August 1787.  In it he directs that he be buried in the family burial place at Kilgobnet, he refers to his wife Mary Walsh and his children.  Edmond had a brother John and two sisters, one of whom is said to have married an O'Keefe of Mountain Castle near Modeligo.  Edmond became involved with the local branch of the United Irishmen. Power and a companion, Francis Hearn, were arrested by the authorities. According to Canon Power, Edmond was betrayed by Michael McGrath from Ballynamuck.  Another account written by Mary Ellen Barron (whose grandmother, Mary Power, was a great - grand niece of Edmond Power) in the 1950's states that the informer was Seamus A. Gabhann, (James Duggan) the Blacksmith. Edmond was arrested in September 1799 and taken to Waterford where he was court martialled in October of that year and sentenced to be hanged.

A monument in the form of a Celtic cross by Molloy of Callan was erected to his memory in the Park.  (This is the only 1798 memorial in Co. Waterford).  It was officially unveiled by the Rev. Richard Henebry in 1903, six years after it was first planned.  Henebry gave a speech in which he stated that Power was hanged from a window of the Old Market House.  Power's body is said to have been removed to Kilgobnet for burial.  The cross incorporates shamrocks on the tops of the pillars which are of polished stone, a panel contains an Irish harp and the date 1898. The shaft of the cross shows two pikes and intertwined shamrocks on one side and Celtic interlacing on the other.  There is a raised inscription ‘Remember 98’ and on the base in Irish and English is the following inscription:

In memory of Edmond Power Who was hanged in Dungarvan for his love of country in 1798.  Also in memory of the heroes of 98 who fought and shed their blood for Ireland.

May God bless the cause they fought.

Details of pikes on Edmond Power Memorial

Our Heritage in Stone - Stone Plaques in Dungarvan contd.


Christian Brothers School Shandon plaque

Christian Brothers School, Shandon.

The plaque commemorates the opening of a school at Shandon in 1811 by the Christian Brothers.  The brothers moved here from a school they had opened at Main Street in 1807. They also built a single-story house where they lived which still survives at the rear of the Park Hotel.  The brothers moved to a new larger schoolhouse at Mitchel Street in 1835.

This limestone plaque was unveiled by Rev. Brother Keane, Superior, C.B.S., Dungarvan on Sunday 1st July 1956 with Richie Walsh and Tom Kyne in attendance.  The plaque was blessed by Rev. Dan O’Byrne, Curate.  The plaque was designed by architect Mr. Aylward and the contractor was John Hearne and Sons, Waterford.  It was placed on the roofless outer wall of the schoolhouse.  When the site was acquired to build the Park Hotel the ruin of the school was demolished, and the plaque was re-erected on the boundary wall at the front of the hotel.

More information about the C.B.S. can be found in “The Christian Brothers in Dungarvan 1807 – 1992 A Tribute” by Tom Keith

 Unveiling of C.B.S. plaque by Rev. Brother Keane, Superior, at C.B.S. on Sunday 1st July 1956.  The plaque was blessed by Rev. Dan O’Byrne, Curate.  The plaque was designed by architect Mr. Aylward and the contractor was John Hearne and Sons, Waterford.

Carvings at Saint Augustine’s church, Abbeyside.

We don’t know what the original Augustinian abbey looked like and the cloisters and living accommodation are long gone.  However, fragments of carvings can still be seen set into the 19th century parish church.  The most detailed is a square limestone plaque with a griffin and three scallop shells.  Three shells are the symbol of St James.  It has been suggested that this is the arms of the abbey, but it does not seem to be the case.  It is possibly part of a family tomb but what family still remains a mystery.  Next to it on the side of one of the church windows is a sandstone head of a bishop carved in a naive medieval style.  It is doubtful if it is old but was probably carved by one of the 19th century stonemasons building the church.  It may represent Saint Augustine.  High up on the gable wall of the church next to the entrance door there are ancient fragments of possible capitals from the tops of pillars.

On the north wall of the ruined abbey church is a fine limestone doorway or tomb recess with vine leaf decoration.  Beneath it lies the tomb of Donal McGrath dated to 1470.

Carvings at St. Augustine's church, Abbeyside

McGrath Tomb Archway

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