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

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