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

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