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

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