Welcome back to our Visitors

We are delighted to be able to reopen the museum on Monday 10th May and welcome old friends and new visitors.  The museum will be open Monday to Friday from 11 to 4 each day.

During recent months we have reorganized sections of the displays and will gradually expand this work to include the entire museum.  So, bear with us as sections may be closed from time to time in order to complete this work. 

Museum curator Willie Fraher has introduced a splash of colour to the walls and display stands.  A new gallery section has been created for the display of our paintings, drawings and prints.  Next to this is a display on the history of photography and printing in Dungarvan, and a selection of items relating to Co Waterford authors which will be expanded in time.  We are also introducing a series of new illustrated text panels to replace the existing ones.  We are trying to make the maximum use of the small space available and our limited selection of exhibition cases to showcase existing objects and display more of the artefacts in storage.

Recent Deaths

 The Museum would like to extend its sympathies to the families of Austin Flynn, the great Waterford hurler, and Father Robert Arthure who was the author of a biography of Rev Patrick Fogarty (1791-1866) published in 1998.

Old Dungarvan Newspaper - The Dungarvan Gazette

This paper was established by Joseph Hansard and was published at his printing works at Lower Main Street (Now King Solicitors).  It was the second paper to be printed in Dungarvan, the first was the Munster Citizen which had a brief run of six months in the 1850s.

Joseph Hansard came to Dungarvan c. 1860 from Tipperary and set up as a bookseller and printer in Main Street.  In 1862 he married Mary, daughter of Robert Jones, a cabinet maker of Main Street, Dungarvan.  His most notable work was his History of Waterford City & County published in 1870.

The first issue of the Dungarvan Gazette appeared in December 1871.  It contained four pages and cost two pence.

Hansard left Dungarvan in 1879 and settled in Killarney where he ran an antiquarian bookshop in High Street.

The issue reproduced here is number 4 printed on 13 January 1872.  This front page contains some interesting adverts for local firms such as White Budd & Co, Thomas McCarthy, William Orr, Anthony & Co, George Stokes, etc.

Dungarvan Gazette printed on 13 January 1872

New Country - New Life by Simon Lyons, Grand Forks City, Dakota

This account from the Dungarvan Journal 1883 by Simon Lyons of Ballinamuck Mills, Dungarvan, gives some detail about what life was like for emigrants in their adopted home.

The summer here is very warm, but not so hot as it is down South or East. Don’t you think the following scale of wages will make many a hard-worked, badly-fed, miserably housed, broken spirited man look across the Atlantic with longing eyes? – and small blame to them, God bless them: - Brick-layers, 16s to 20s per day; carpenters, 10s. to 14s.; painters, the same; labourers, 7s. to 10s. per day (a week’s wages often at home): servant boys with farmers, 1 per week, for nine months of the year, and all round the year, £35 to £40; girls, £20 to £30 per year; washerwomen, 5s. to 6s. per day; tailors, £2 for making a suit of clothes.

Now, against all these fine wages, there are six months of winter here. All through the winter there is not a day that passes but you hear of some one’s fingers, or feet, or ears being frozen, and when you part a friend for a day or two, you must not be surprised, when you see him again, if he has lost his nose. Many are frozen to death. The thermometer is 47 degrees below Zero – this is 79 degrees of frost. Men and women…have to pay £1 per week for their board, all this time, work or play. We have no hospital of any kind in this new frontier town.

The government of this country will give three farms of land for almost nothing, to all over 21 years old...in all, 480 acres to each individual. Well, you go to one of them [Land Offices] and make oath that you will become a citizen of the USA. The official will draw up a declaratory paper…Then you hand him two dollars. The farms are named as follows: Homestead claim 160 acres; a pre-emption claim 100 acres; and a tree claim of 160 acres. You will have to break or plow the five acres on each farm the first year. The second year you will have to put a crop in and break five acres more. The third year you are bound to sow the 10 acres on tree claim with tree seed or quicks. As to the Homestead claim: Build a small house, sink well or pump, live six months on it, and, if it meets your pocket…pay 200 dollars to the government, and it becomes yours. 

I ask all who are thinking of emigrating, to carefully study the foregoing. To some it may represent a brilliant future, to others it may be a warning off.



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