Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
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Desperate Haven
The story of the famine in Dungarvan & West Waterford. 


The Comeraghs "Gunfire & Civil War"
History of the Déise Brigade IRA 1914-1924. The story of the conflict in the words of the volunteers who fought. 


The Towns & Villages of the Waterford Greenway
A history of Dungarvan, Abbeyside, Stradbally, Kilmacthomas, Portlaw & Waterford City. 

All Waterford County Museum books are available to buy from the Book Centre, Waterford City and Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan priced €20.

To buy them online search for "Waterford County Museum" on Amazon. Profits go towards supporting the museum


Sheare Street Screening at SGC Cinema refunds


The Sheare Street Screening at SGC Dungarvan due to take place on 24th March 2020 did not go ahead due to Covid 19.  We are now offering refunds to anyone who purchased tickets for this event.  Please phone the museum at 058 45960 or call to the museum for a refund.  We would be grateful if you could bring your tickets when collecting the refund.

Alternatively there is an option to donate the money paid for the tickets to Gallowshill Community Archaeology Project.

The Comeraghs - Gunfire and Civil War is now available at the Museum



We are delighted to announce that Seán and Síle Murphy’s new book can now be purchased at the museum, price €20.00.  The book contains additional material and photographs from the image archive.  We only have a limited stock and copies are selling fast. 



Dungarvan's Ironwork Heritage Part 15 - Ironwork Grave Surrounds

 The largest concentration of historic ironwork is often to be found in local graveyards throughout the country. The variety and designs often go unnoticed. They include a mixture of wrought and cast-iron and items made by local blacksmiths.


Many of the railings were made by major iron foundries such as MacFarlane’s Saracen Foundry in Scotland.  An example from this firm can be seen at St Augustine’s cemetery, Abbeyside with the company logo attached.  It surrounds the grave of the Curran family.

The railings in St Mary’s Parish Church and Saint Mary’s Church of Ireland also contain much ironwork made by the Saracen Foundry. These railings would have been painted originally which helps to preserve them.

In St Mary’s Church of Ireland cemetery there are some examples of early 19th century wrought iron railings.

For further information see:
Guidance for the Care, Conservation and Recording of Historic Graveyards in County Waterford, Waterford Co Council/Heritage Council 2011.

Iron – The repair of Wrought and Cast Ironwork. Government Publications, 2009.
Railing around Curran family grave St Augustine's Abbeyside, by Saracen Foundry, Glasgow

Railing around Curran family grave, St Augustine's Abbeyside

19th century wrought iron railing St. Mary's Church of Ireland


Grave railings St Mary's Parish Church

Grave railings St Mary's Parish Church

Perimeter railing St. Mary's Parish Church


Dungarvan's Ironwork Heritage Part 14 - The Mission Cross St Marys Parish Church



This unusual memorial can now be seen placed against the wall on the right as one enters the cemetery.  It consists of a large wooden cross with the symbols of the Passion in ironwork.  The crown of thorns, a heart, pinchers, lance, nails etc., are all attached to the wooden cross.  On the base of the cross is a plaque with a painted inscription:

Mission of the Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate A.D. 1860.

Edmond Keohan in his History of Dungarvan gives the date of the cross as 1879.  However, a historian of the order records the Dungarvan mission which took place from 2 August to 9 September 1860.  The following members of the order were present: Fathers Robert Cooke, Fox, Gibbons, Nolan and Ryan.  There were huge crowds and four recruits to the order. There is also a reference to the erection of a cross, which is presumably the present one.  It is possible that the wood was replaced in 1879.

Who were the Oblate Fathers?  The order was founded in 1816 by Eugene de Mazenod, later Bishop of Marseille.  One of the members who participated in the Dungarvan mission in 1860 was Father Robert Cooke (1821-1882).  He was the author of a biography of de Mazenod.  Robert Francis Cooke was born in Touraneena or Dungarvan on 14 February 1821.  Family lore recalled that his grandmother was the wife of a Mr. Cooke of Kiltinan Castle, Co. Tipperary.  She converted to the Catholic faith and when her husband died, she did not want to remain at Kiltinan as her sons would have been brought up as Protestants.  She settled in Dungarvan working as a teacher.

Robert’s father was a merchant in Dungarvan.  In the early 1840s Robert was sent to Dublin to study medicine and law.  However, he wanted to pursue a different path.  In 1846 he was ordained in France as a member of the Oblate order.  He was sent to England and eventually was appointed Superior of the order at Tower Hill, London where he died on 16 June 1882 and was buried in St Mary’s cemetery, Kensal Green.  There is a memorial to him in the Church of the English Martyrs, Tower Hill, London.

The Protestant Policeman Beholds the Crucifix
Extract from ‘Echoes from the Decies’ by Tom Tobin

In the year 1863, a conversion, marked by the most extraordinary circumstances, took place during a mission which the Oblates of Mary were conducting in Dungarvan.  Philip John Mulligan, a young man from Northern Ireland, a Protestant with a strong anti-Catholic bias, was a member of the mounted Constabulary stationed in the town.  One evening he was induced... by a friend to attend the mission.  He went as he thought to enjoy a good scoff but instead the evening proved to be one he could never forget.  During the ceremonies a penitential procession took place at which the Mission Crucifix was borne around the church.  The procession had not got halfway through the church when the terrified cries and loud sobbing of a man was heard by all present.











Philip Mulligan’s own account of the occurrence is recorded:

As the procession approached the spot where I stood, I noticed that several of those who had not been able to kneel down, owing to pressure of the crowd, tried to do so as the crucifix was passing near them.  When I beheld these marks of reverence being paid to the crucifix, my Protestant prejudices were stirred up to anger, and I said to myself, that if my Commanding Officer were to stand before me with drawn sword and order me to kneel down before the crucifix, I would not obey him.  I had scarcely formed such thoughts in my mind when all of a sudden a ray of the most dazzling light, brighter far than any sunbeam I had ever seen, flashed from the crucifix.  In that light I saw all the sins of my life.  Overwhelmed with a sense of sinfulness, I fell prostrate on the ground... a few friends who stood by me could not account for my emotion and thought I had taken a fit... at last I rose up... It was then that the desire to become a Catholic rose irresistibly in my mind and I repeated aloud to my astonished friends: Oh! what a happiness were I a Catholic!

The Bishop of Waterford was in Dungarvan and the missioners informed him of the remarkable story.  After a lengthy interview with the young man, the Bishop decided that conditional baptism might be given him that day, and he further said that he would be prepared to confirm him immediately after.  Two years later Mulligan became a lay-brother in the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.  He spent forty years on the foreign missions in Basutoland, South Africa where he died in 1915.



The cross in its original location in 1966










Father Robert Cooke (1821-1882)


Dungarvan's Ironwork Heritage Part 13 - Street Name Plaques


What’s in a Name?  -  Street Name Plaques



The oldest street name plaques in Dungarvan can be seen at Barrack Lane and Galwey’s Lane.  They are of carved limestone.  The first and oldest is inscribed ‘Castle Street 1727 B.G.M.’ and the other is inscribed ‘Galwey’s Lane 1740’.

In the 1820s the Duke of Devonshire had new limestone plaques erected on certain streets.  Two of these survive, one still in situ inscribed ‘New Chapel Lane’ and incorporated into the gable end of a house in Mountain Villas.  The other ‘St Patrick Street’ is now on display in Waterford County Museum.

These stone plaques were expensive and time consuming to produce and were replaced in 1885 by cast iron plaques made by Graham of Waterford.  We know approximately when these plaques were erected as the details are recorded in the minute book of the Dungarvan Town Commissioners dated 11 December 1885.  Nineteen cast iron plaques were ordered from Benjamin Graham of Waterford at a cost of six shillings and six pence each.  In April of the following year John Donovan was paid £1.7.6 for painting the lettering in white on a blue background. Almost every street name was changed and renamed after Irish Nationalist figures.

One of these plaques caused much controversy.  In November 1885 Maurice Flynn proposed that Main Street be renamed Parnell Street.  In 1889 the Commissioners proposed that plaster busts of Parnell and William O’Brien M.P. be ordered for the council chamber.  However, certain members of the Council disapproved of Parnell’s relationship with a married woman, Katherine O’Shea, whom he married after her divorce in June 1891.  At their meeting on 3 July 1891 it was agreed to remove the plaque on Main Street bearing Parnell’s name.  Thomas Power proposed that the bust of Parnell should be removed form the council chamber.  Both were removed but the bust resurfaced in 1991 when it was presented to the museum by the then Town Clerk, Bertie White.  On the anniversary of Parnell’s death in 1992 Dungarvan UDC erected new plaques, Parnell Street and Parnell Street Lower.

In the council minutes of 6 October 1900 is the following entry:
‘A deputation of the [Gaelic]League waited on the Council requesting that the names of the principal streets should be marked by a tablet giving the names of each street translated and written in the Gaelic Characters’.

Only three can now be seen, Grattan Square, O’Connell Street and Church Street.  They are made of much thinner metal than those erected in 1885.
  




First visitors to the Museum on reopening 1st July


Our first visitors to the museum on reopening on 1st July were Declan and Joanne Faughey from Borris, Co. Carlow.  Our curator William Fraher presented them with a copy of “The Towns and Villages of the Waterford Greenway” to mark the occasion.  They were delighted to receive the book since they had just cycled the greenway from Waterford. 

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