Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
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New Exhibition - Co. Waterford during the Revolutionary Period - 1914-1923

We are happy to present a new exhibition for our reopening – 

Co. Waterford during the Revolutionary Period – 1914-1923

This exhibition is planned to mark the Decade of Centenaries and uses photographs of the period from our extensive image archive.  The Banners were designed and printed by local firm Printmaster.

We also have another exhibition on a similar theme: The Phil O’Donnell Collection.  This presents a selection of documents assembled by Dungarvan native Mr. O’Donnell when he was working for the Bureau of Military History from 1954-56 and interviewed Co Cork Republicans.  He was also an internee at Spike Island in 1921 and there is a roll book of all internees held there and other documents relating to a planned hunger strike and the death of one the internees.

Waterford County Museum to reopen on Wednesday 1st July

We are delighted to reopen to visitors on Wednesday 1st July.

We would ask intending visitors to read the notice in the foyer before entering as it will explain new procedures and about some reduced facilities.  Please note there will be a one-way system in operation. Only ten people will be admitted at any one time.

The opening hours will now be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Dungarvan's Ironwork Heritage Part 11 - Wrought Iron Gates

Wrought Iron Gates - St. Mary's Church of Ireland

These gates are the oldest pieces of wrought iron remaining in Dungarvan.  We are fortunate that we have details of their construction from the Vestry minutes dated 8 July 1795:
The several sums of Twelve pounds for an Iron-gate to the church-yard, and the sum of Eight pounds for finishing the flagging of the Ayles of the church, and completing the railing in of the Chancel & a new Communion table, and repairing the Church-yard wall & completing the Bulwark..

The cemetery contains one of the oldest remains of a non-domestic building in Dungarvan.  A surviving gable of the pre-Reformation parish church of St Mary the Virgin, records of which exist from the 1300s.  In the 17th century this church was mostly destroyed during the Cromwellian occupation of Dungarvan. The Dungarvan historian Charles Smith noted in 1746:
Formerly the Parish Church was a large building with a high steeple, but the whole was demolished by Cromwell. It is at present rebuilt on the ground where the chancel of the Old Church stood.

This 18th century building was replaced or rebuilt in the 1830s with a Gothic style church designed by James Pain and built with a grant from the Board of First Fruits.  The plans and elevations dated 1835 can be viewed on:  archdrawing.ireland.anglican.org However, planning for the church began in February 1825 when the vestry meeting approved a plan by James Pain to enlarge and improve the existing church.  It is possible that Pain did not start from scratch and in fact remodeled the existing structure.

The main gates have lost their central curlicue ornament which should be replaced.  There is also a smaller side gate of the same pattern.  The main gates hang from fine sandstone pillars. Unfortunately, this fine period piece is marred by poles and signs at present and their repositioning should be considered.

The iron railings with two gates which flank either side of the path through the cemetery were the subject of much controversy when they were erected in 1910.  This path was viewed as a right of way by locals, but the cemetery was being used to graze donkeys, horses, goats and mules and card playing on the tombs was a regular occurrence!  It was all the subject of a court case.

Drawing by W. Fraher

Dungarvan's Ironwork Heritage Part 10 - Stairway to Enlightenment

Pupils on cast iron stairs of C.B.S. School, Dungarvan. c. 1910.

Stairway to Enlightenment

One of the most elaborate pieces of ironwork in Dungarvan is the unusual external staircase on the old Christian Brothers School.  Along with much of the cast ironwork around Dungarvan it was made by MacFarlane’s of Glasgow.  The pattern for this design can be seen in the companies’ catalogue.

The CBS school was built in 1834 to cater for the increasing number of pupils.  The original school at Shandon and another temporary one in Main Street were too small.  Fundraising for the school and for a new catholic parish church began in 1829 and was organized by the curate Father Patrick Fogarty.  Money was raised in Ireland, England and in France for both projects.  However, most of the money to erect the school was donated by Rev. Nicholas Foran, (P.P. of Dungarvan 1828-37) and created Bishop of Waterford in 1837.

Why is there an external stairs on the building?  The original staircase (built within a two-storey projection in the centre of the front facade) and parts of the building were in bad condition by 1895 and the brothers employed E. Flynn, a builder from Cork to survey the entire school.  He concluded that ‘the present unsafe stairs be entirely removed and that the upper schools be approached by one of cast-iron as in most two-storey schools’.  Work did not commence until the end of 1897 and was completed early the following year. 

The stairs became the perfect location for school photographs and there are several in the Waterford County Museum image archive showing pupils posing on and beneath it.

For further information on the history of the school see The Christian Brothers in Dungarvan 1807-1992- A Tribute by Tom Keith, 1996.

Engraving of the stair design from Mac Farlane's catalogue

Sketch by W. Fraher

Dungarvan's Ironwork Heritage Part 9 - Lamps

Dungarvan’s Ironwork Heritage – Part 9

Another in the series on the wealth of ironwork to be seen in Dungarvan and Abbeyside by William Fraher, curator of Waterford County Museum - lamp posts, boot scrapers, railings, balconies, post boxes, gates, bandstands, street name plaques, bollards, manhole covers and window guards.  

Drawing by W. Fraher of lamp in Dirty Lane

Gas light outside Maurice Flynn's, Main Street,, c. 1910


The establishment of the Dungarvan Gas Works saw the erection of cast iron lamp posts throughout the town.  In January 1857 William Morley Stears, Gas Engineer and Contractor, London, wrote to the Town Commissioners offering to establish a gas works in the town.  The following month the Commissioners decided to form a committee to ascertain from the shopkeepers and ratepayers if they would buy shares at £5 each.  In March, Frances E. Curry, agent to the Duke of Devonshire in Lismore wrote to the Commissioners suggesting they hold a public meeting and he would attend and inform them to what extent the duke would contribute towards the project.  He did not recommend Mr. Morley Stears.

By 1 February 1858 there was a list of 35 shareholders.  Andrew Carbery had twenty shares, the highest number.  The shareholders consisted of the most prominent Dungarvan citizens such as: John R. Dower, Patrick Cody, Richard Garde Hudson, Henry Anthony, Rev. Father Halley, P.P., Benjamin Purser, etc.

The actual Gas Works was not established until November 1859 when the Commissioners noted that permission was to be given to John Hollwey, Gas Contractor, ‘to open the streets of the Town for the purpose of laying down his Gas Mains etc’.

Patrick McCarthy, Secretary of the Dungarvan Gas Consumers Company Ltd., wrote to the Town Commissioners on 12 January 1860 as follows:
‘Sir, the Directors of the above Company propose to the Town Commissioners to light, extinguish, and keep clean, 50 or if required 60 street-lamps for 9 winter months…at the rate of £3 per lamp.  The gas to be produced from equal parts of the best Newcastle and Cardiff coals’.

The Gas Works became defunct with the establishment of the Dungarvan Electric Light Company in 1921.  These cast iron lamps can be seen in old photographs of the town.  The last remaining post could be seen at the top of St Brigid’s Terrace up until the 1980s when it was sadly removed. Smaller versions of these lamp posts can still be seen on top of the bridge and are stamped with the mark of a Dublin iron foundry.  A very decorative gas light base still survives on the perimeter wall at St Mary’s Parish Church. It was made by MacFarlane of Glasgow.

Detail of lamp pump base, Dirty Lane

Base of lamp and pump, Dirty Lane, originally in Grattan Square

19th century lamp on Dungarvan bridge

Cast iron lamp by MacFarlane, St. Mary's Parish Church, Dungarvan

Lamp and pump, Grattan Square, 1890s. Image: N.L.I.
The St. Mary's Church lamp standard from MacFarlane's catalogue
The last lamp post, Mitchel Street

Dungarvan's Ironwork Heritage Part 8 - Personhole Covers and Drain Grates

 What lies beneath?

Personhole Covers and Drain Grates

These are the most overlooked heritage ironwork items as we pass by them every day without giving them a second glance.  In Dungarvan there are still old examples to be found around the town centre, particularly around Church Street and the surrounding lanes.  Most of these examples are stamped with the iron foundry brand where they were cast.  These include the Park Foundry, Waterford, Hive Foundry Cork, Perrott Hive Works Cork, and Graham of Waterford.

There are three covers with the names of local plumbers, William Barr, William Power and George Stokes, but no foundry name.  Could these have been cast by Coward’s Foundry in Dungarvan?  The Coward foundry was situated in Stephen Street, but we have no accurate information on when it operated.

Drain Grill - Hive Foundry, Cork

Coward's Iron Foundry

William Power was based in Mary Street and advertised in the Dungarvan Observer in 1919 as a plumber and gas fitter.  George Stokes (1839-1914) plumber and gas fitter, was based in Main Street in the 1870s and later moved to Grattan Square.  The family also ran the baths near The Lookout from 1894.  A 1909 advert notes that they were also builders, hardware merchants and grocers.

George Stokes Advertisement
William Power Advertisement from Dungarvan Observer 1919
B Graham Drain cover

Drain Grill Hive Foundry Cork

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