Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
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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… 

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