Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
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Our Heritage in Stone - Dungarvan Town Hall and Catholic Young Men's Society Rooms / Bank House


Old Photo of Bank House c 1890

The Dungarvan Catholic Young Men’s Society was established in November 1856 to be ‘facilitators for developing the moral and intellectual abilities of their members through the stormiest days of manhood, and at an age when impressions are most susceptible of good or evil’.

They acquired a prominent site opposite the bridge.  The architect was Henry Sinnott and the stonemason was James McCarthy, and the foreman carpenter was Michael McCarthy.  The façade of the building is mainly built of local sandstone with limestone mouldings around the windows. The Cork Examiner of 22 May 1861 reported on the progress of the new Town Hall:

The Catholic Young Men’s society of Dungarvan, deserve well of the community among whom they reside.  Some four years ago…a few young men with a zealous and efficient priest at their head, formed the nucleus of the institution. The site of a new Town Hall…has been purchased in fee-simple from the Duke of Devonshire by father Mooney…and the plans & specifications of the projected building have already been designed and executed…In point of architectural splendour it will be fit to rank with the splendid church, the magnificent convents etc.  A noble Grecian building with a front 74 feet in length and 26 in height.

The foundation stone of the new Town Hall was laid on 23 May 1861 by Henry Villiers- Stuart of Dromana.  The Cork Examiner reported on the occasion:

The event appeared to create a considerable stir amongst the townspeople, numbers of whom had collected near the site of the new building long before the hour fixed for the commencement of proceedings had arrived.

A very excellent amateur band from Clashmore attended, under the superintendence of Mr Barrett, who, while waiting for the principle persons who were to take part in the ceremony, paraded the town playing various popular airs and thus lent an éclat to the proceedings.

The new building besides its great utility as a place of public assembly, of which the town may be said to be altogether deficient, will be very ornamental.  It is to be a handsome Grecian building, with a portico in front.  It will contain two rooms to be specially reserved for the use of the Young Men’s Society, who with the aid of their spiritual director, the Rev. Mr. Mooney, raised the funds for the undertaking, a museum and library, and over these will be a long room 74ft long by 34 wide, which will serve for concerts, lectures, balls, or any of the other purposes of a public assembly room.

The Waterford News also covered the event (31 May 1861).  It noted the layout of the interior which consisted of: a ground floor, to be divided into five large comfortable rooms, - a large news room in front, and two guild rooms in rere of same…On the opposite side of the hall – which shall run through the centre of the building to the stairs – will be two rooms of good proportions, one for a library and the other for a museum, and the space to the rere of said two rooms, shall be for a kitchen and room for a caretaker.  The entire upper floor shall be one splendid apartment…and will be exclusively set apart for lectures, amusements, etc...you will have an admirable opportunity, if you think fit, of cultivating, in concert, the sister art of music.

What happened to Dungarvan’s first cultural centre?  Edmond Keohan in his History of Dungarvan published in 1924 explains:

[By 1875] The old Young Men’s Society was a thing of the past, and the fine premises they had built was disposed of to the Provincial Bank’.

Bank House Facade

The façade has recently been beautifully restored by the Bank House owner and shows off the fine craftsmanship of James McCarthy and his apprentice stonemasons

Bank House Stonework

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