Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
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Dungarvan's Ironwork Heritage Part 13 - Street Name Plaques

What’s in a Name?  -  Street Name Plaques

The oldest street name plaques in Dungarvan can be seen at Barrack Lane and Galwey’s Lane.  They are of carved limestone.  The first and oldest is inscribed ‘Castle Street 1727 B.G.M.’ and the other is inscribed ‘Galwey’s Lane 1740’.

In the 1820s the Duke of Devonshire had new limestone plaques erected on certain streets.  Two of these survive, one still in situ inscribed ‘New Chapel Lane’ and incorporated into the gable end of a house in Mountain Villas.  The other ‘St Patrick Street’ is now on display in Waterford County Museum.

These stone plaques were expensive and time consuming to produce and were replaced in 1885 by cast iron plaques made by Graham of Waterford.  We know approximately when these plaques were erected as the details are recorded in the minute book of the Dungarvan Town Commissioners dated 11 December 1885.  Nineteen cast iron plaques were ordered from Benjamin Graham of Waterford at a cost of six shillings and six pence each.  In April of the following year John Donovan was paid £1.7.6 for painting the lettering in white on a blue background. Almost every street name was changed and renamed after Irish Nationalist figures.

One of these plaques caused much controversy.  In November 1885 Maurice Flynn proposed that Main Street be renamed Parnell Street.  In 1889 the Commissioners proposed that plaster busts of Parnell and William O’Brien M.P. be ordered for the council chamber.  However, certain members of the Council disapproved of Parnell’s relationship with a married woman, Katherine O’Shea, whom he married after her divorce in June 1891.  At their meeting on 3 July 1891 it was agreed to remove the plaque on Main Street bearing Parnell’s name.  Thomas Power proposed that the bust of Parnell should be removed form the council chamber.  Both were removed but the bust resurfaced in 1991 when it was presented to the museum by the then Town Clerk, Bertie White.  On the anniversary of Parnell’s death in 1992 Dungarvan UDC erected new plaques, Parnell Street and Parnell Street Lower.

In the council minutes of 6 October 1900 is the following entry:
‘A deputation of the [Gaelic]League waited on the Council requesting that the names of the principal streets should be marked by a tablet giving the names of each street translated and written in the Gaelic Characters’.

Only three can now be seen, Grattan Square, O’Connell Street and Church Street.  They are made of much thinner metal than those erected in 1885.

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