Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
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John Betjeman and the 'old Protestant Printer' of Lismore

While staying at Lismore Castle in 1958 Betjeman wrote two poems dedicated to the Cavendish family.  He decided to have them printed in a limited edition by J Browne, Printer & Advertising Agent in Lismore. Because of their rarity two copies sold some years ago at Sotheby’s for over one thousand pounds each. 

Ireland's Own or the Burial of Thomas Moore (image courtesy of Sothebys)

Ireland’s Own – or The Burial of Thomas Moore

Dedicated by permission of/Her Grace the Duchess of Devonshire/ To/The Marquis of Hartington/And/The Ladies Emma & Sophia Cavendish/By their humble servant/ Ian MacBetjeman (Writer to the Cygnet)

Betjeman wrote to Browne about the printing on 21 April 1958:

I am enchanted by the ballad and its paper but there is one slight error. We must say St. Carthage Cathedral’s in order to make the line scan and that is how it should be printed.  I wonder if a slightly larger type and more elaborate might be used for the words ‘Ireland’s Own?  But I leave that to you.  It is most beautifully done and I now suggest that you make ten copies on the green paper you sent me and ten copies on the pink paper…

Browne replied to Betjeman:

I am sorry I have not got any blocks to suit the job – was glad to hear that you were pleased with lay-out of same.

Betjeman wrote to Debo Devonshire on 15 April 1958:

I have not yet had a proof from the old Protestant printer.  I expect Irish Customs will hold it up as dirty readin’ matter.   Betjeman paid Browne for the printing on 6 May 1958: I am most grateful to you for the excellent job you have made of my verses, they are greatly enhanced by your printing.  

Soon after Betjeman offered the poem to the New Yorker but they did not print it. It was included in High and Low published 1966.

A Lament for Moira McCavendish (image courtesy of Sothebys)

The other poem that he commissioned Browne to print was titled:

A lament for Moira McCavendish

By Coras Iompair Eireann

Dedicated by permission to Their Graces/ The Duke & Duchess of Devonshire/The Marquis of Hartington and the ladies/Emma & Sophia Cavendish.

This poem was also published in High & Low.  This poem features one of Betjeman’s other passions (besides women) - trains.  In July 1948 Betjeman became a member of the Irish Railway Record Society.  The poem features the Mallow-Waterford line.

Dictionary of Irish Biography

This was first published in 2009 in a series of large volumes but has now been made available free online.  It contains nearly 11,000 profiles.  It is an indispensable work for the general reader, historian, and student.

Many Waterford people or people with strong Waterford connections are included: Lilly Mernin, Michael Angelo Hayes, Saint Declan, Teresa Deevy, Arland Ussher, Mary Elizabeth Blake, Canon Patrick Power, Margaret Aylward, John Palliser and Tyrone Power to name but a few.

The dictionary can be accessed at www.dib.ie


New Book by Donald Brady

Congratulations to Museum member Donald Brady on his latest book:

“Robert Daborne, Dean of Lismore 1580-1628”.

As well as an essay on Daborne who also wrote plays there are articles on Ethel Charlotte Penrose, author, who was married to the agent at Lismore Castle, James Penrose, playwright Maurice Connolly, author Jim Lusby, and Bill Henebry of Portlaw. 



St. Brigid's Well Brewery Archway

St Brigid's Well Brewery Archway

This archway was erected in 1862 by John R Dower the then owner of the St Brigid’s Well Brewery.  The arch was designed by little-known architect Henry Sinnott who also designed the Infant School at the Convent of Mercy, Church Street and smaller local projects such as a set of bathing boxes on the Cunnigar commissioned by John R Dower.  The arch is composed of rusticated limestone with variegated mountain granite for the arch surround and parapet moulding. On the top of the arch is a sitting lion possibly made of Coade stone (a hard-wearing composite stone). The central key stone is inscribed: J.R.D. 1862.

The Waterford News published a story about the new arch in June 1862:

The face of the blocks of stone are set in the work as when quarried, except the joints which are chiseled with minute exactness, and set in order by Mr James McCarthy, foreman mason.  The whole is executed in limestone and variegated mountain granite, the latter of rare quality.  The finish…is admirable…and speaks in high terms of the of…Mr Henry Sinnott, the architect…and of the tradesmanship of Thomas O’Neill, James and John Lyons…Mr Dower has constructed a passage by this beautiful entrance to Saint Brigid’s Well, where the inhabitants residing in the locality are supplied with a superior quality of water.

In July the paper reported that Mr Dower had purchased in Dublin ‘at a very high price’, a magnificent figure of a lion, to be placed directly over the keystone.

When the brewery was purchased in 1917 by Thomas Power from the Marquis of Waterford a new sign was fixed to the arch with metal letters: ‘Thomas Power & Co’.  Although the brewery site has been redeveloped in recent years, the arch has been preserved.


Happy Easter from Waterford County Museum

We wish all our members and visitors a very Happy Easter.

We are still closed due to government guidelines but look forward to welcoming you back as soon as we can. 

Antique Easter cards from the Museum collection dating from the early 1900s

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