Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
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National Heritage Award Winner

Our exhibition on Gallowshill won the National Heritage Week award for Waterford.  Well done to Museum curator William Fraher for assembling the artefacts and panels documenting the work of our Community Archaeology project which explains the history of Gallowshill, Dungarvan Caves, Vikings and Medieval Dungarvan over the last few years.

Our thanks to the Heritage Council for the grant aid under the Community Heritage Grant 2021 for the new case and panels in the exhibition.


Verso Art Exhibition - Lismore Castle

St. Carthage’s Cathedral in Lismore is a building of great architectural and historical importance.  However, funds are required for conservation and upgrading of the interior.

Lismore Cathedral CLG set up a charitable initiative called Verso Art.  The aim of the project is “to sell original works of art donated by artists, all in the same postcard size format, on a single day, without revealing the identity of the artist”.

Over 800 works were submitted and these are on display for a limited period at Lismore Castle Art Gallery from 23 – 31 October 2021.

On 6 November 2021 all art works will be available for sale from 10 a.m.  For further details and to register see Versoart.ie.

Museum curator William Fraher is one of the contributing artists. 

Historian Julian Walton has written a fascinating article on the history of the Cathedral which can be seen in the current issue of “The Irish Arts Review”.

Well done to all concerned, artists and organisers.

Lismore Castle

Stories from Old Newspapers


Waterford News 4 May 1900

The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire in Lismore

Every Sunday when residing at their beautiful Irish seat, Lismore Castle, on the Blackwater, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire attend morning service at Lismore Cathedral.  They occupy the front pew, and it is amusing to see how the Duke, during the Psalms, turns around and takes a long look and leisurely survey of the congregation.  He follows the service with an old quarto prayer-book, which has belonged to his family for more than a century, and he wears very large double-eyeglasses, framed with brown wooden rims.  The Duchess who is rather High Court, is extremely reverent in her demeanor.  Each invariably puts a sovereign into the collection plate.

The Duke is a very keen fisherman.  When staying at Lismore he is generally out trying for salmon by six o’clock every morning.  The fishing on both banks of the water is strictly reserved for his own use whilst he is in Ireland.  His skill and luck are not equal to his enthusiasm, and his efforts this season seem to have only been rewarded with one fish.  The Duchess who often used to handle a rod herself, seems to have tired of the sport; but the Duke now prefers it even to racing.

The Duke, in the opinion of his Irish neighbours, is hardly so robust as he was two years ago.  Whilst his face is as massive and as impassive as ever, he does not seem to walk with the same vigor as of old, but he is marvellously alert for his sixty-seven years.  It was once said of him that he forever looked mildly astonished at a world which had thrust much dignities and responsibilities upon him.   All the world knows the long and idyllic romance which culminated in the marriage of the Duke of Devonshire and the widow of the late Duke of Manchester.  The pair are inseparable.  She sits on the bank whilst he fishes, and together they ramble on foot over the neighbourhood, perpetually talking, and with the light flashes of amused laughter illuminating their conversation.  The Duchess speaks English with a strong German accent, and the Duke’s eye frequently follows her about the room, with a tenderness in his gaze which is very strange in so impassive a politician.

The Duke of Devonshire

Spencer Compton Cavendish 8th Duke of Devonshire (1833 - 1908), leader of Liberal Unionist Party (1886 - 1903).  He succeeded as Duke of Devonshire in 1891.  He was nick-named "Harty-Tarty".  For many years he had a mistress, Catherine Walters (Skittles).  In 1892 he married Louisa Frederica Augusta Von Alton, widow of 7th Duke of Manchester.



We were saddened to hear of the passing of museum member John O'Brien.  John donated the penny farthing bicycle on display in the museum which he used to cycle each year in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.  John kindly made two display stands for the two bicycles which are on display in the museum.

We would like to extend our sympathies to John's family and friends. 

Ar dheis Dé go raith a anam.

Brenan family relatives visit Museum

Geraldine Stenson presenting the antique christening robe to Willie Fraher, curator

We were delighted to welcome Geraldine Stenson and her husband Rod who travelled from Scotland.  Geraldine is a descendant of the noted Brenan family of Dungarvan who were cyclists, photographers and local historians.  The curator showed them the recent donations of Brenan “memorabilia” and the cup for the first challenge cycle race which took place in Dungarvan in 1869.

Geraldine presented the museum with an antique christening gown which has been in the Brenan family for generations.

Willie Fraher, curator with Geraldine Stenson and her husband Rod

Stories from Old Newspapers


Fair Green Lismore, c. 1916

Waterford News 1 June 1900

Lismore Bazaar

The Bazaar and Fancy Fair, held in the Fair Field, on Tuesday and Wednesday, proved a great success and must have proved very satisfying to the Rev. T. McGrath P.P., and his zealous curates, Rev. F. Coughlan C.C., and Rev. T. Mockler C.C…  The object of the Bazaar was a most deserving one, namely, to help to wipe off the debt of over £4,000 which is still due on the beautiful Catholic church of St. Carthage here.  Ideal summer weather favoured the Bazaar on both days and the attendance, which was mostly local, was of a large and highly fashionable character.  Return tickets at single fares were issued from Cork and Waterford, and all intermediary stations...but…very few attended from any of the outlying stations.  Father McGrath has every reason to be proud at having such plucky and generous people as his parishioners…[He] has brought about wonderful improvements in the chapel and in the parish generally since he was appointed Parish Priest…two years ago.

The Bazaar opened each day at 11 o’clock and remained open until 10.30 each night.  The pretty grounds…were beautifully decorated with flags, bunting and evergreens which converted the place into a veritable fairyland.  The programme of amusements was extensive…Shooting Galleries, Variety Entertainments, Palmistry, Horse Jumping and many other attractive items.  The Stalls were very prettily fitted up…and stocked with useful and valuable articles and the graceful and handsome stallholders did a roaring trade, as few could resist their lovely and seductive smiles….The pretty young ladies who had no permanent stalls but who hawked their goods around the field…were a perfect dream of loveliness in their dainty and charming costumes, and if anyone doubted…that Lismore abounded with pretty girls with rosy cheeks and rogish bewitching eyes, they only had to visit the fair.

A military band from Fermoy performed in the grounds each day…the Variety Entertainment…was very capably managed by Mr. J. Geary. “Mick Enright”, the popular comedian and banjo and mandolin player kept the house in roars…A number of the young boys from the Christian Brothers School appeared on both days and gave some splendid exhibitions of Dumb Bell practice, Physical Drill and Marching.  They next sang several songs in choral…also Irish Step Dancing.  Mr. W. S. Whale, organist of the Protestant Church presided at the piano on both days…it must be said that the Protestant element around Lismore gave the Bazaar their warmest support both physically and financially.

Pupils Of Ballymacart National School


Pupils of Ballymacart National School. Circa (1925)

Back row, l - r: Eileen Nugent, May Morrissey, Alice Daly, Peg Flynn, Eileen Nugent, Sheila Hoare, Bridie Mansfield, Jocie Power. 2nd row: B. Kiely, Mary Dee, Eileen Leahy, Maggie Fitzgerald, Nell Galvan, Hannah Galvan, Baby Jo Morrissey.    3rd row: May Nugent, Kathleen Nugent, May Carey, Joe Hennessey, Minnie Mansfield, May Roache, Nellie Hoare, Kathleen Hoare, Alice Roache, Kathleen Cronin. 4th row: Eileen Cummins, Hannah Fitzgerald, Kitty Ryan, Mary Ryan, Nellie Tobin, Joan O'Brien, Bernie Leahy, Babu Nugent, Patty Carey, Bridie Ryan, Bridie Cleary.


Stories from Old Newspapers


Dungarvan Observer 19th Jan. 1918   

Concert at Ballymacart

On New Year’s Night a very enjoyable and successful entertainment in aid of the deserving poor of the locality was given in the Ballymacart School by the pupils of the evening classes aided by friends.  It took the form of a grand instrumental and vocal concert, and the large audience evidenced their appreciation in a very marked manner by their early attendance and by the enthusiasm they showed throughout.

Miss Eileen Mansfield (Piano); and Mr. James Mansfield (Violin) delighted the audience with their different directions at the intervals during the performance.  The concert opened with a chorus song, “Cailin Deas Cruidre na mbo” by the members of the evening school. The committee were fortunate in securing the services of that popular comedian, Mr. Ed. Kiely, for the occasion.   Though Mr. Kiely had retired from the stage, yet being in the neighbourhood on business, the object of the concert appealed to him and he consented to lean a hand… Mr. E Curran, Kilossera, was equally happy in his songs and dances, and was loudly applauded… Miss H. Lacey also danced a hornpipe and a double jig and showed excellent training. 

The play “Uncle Pat” – was the event of the evening, and kept the audience in unbroken attention and delight. Dramatic personae: - Uncle Pat ( Mr. D. Conway), Norah (Mr. Ml. Foley), Norah’s husband (Mr. James Hourigan), Kitty (Mr. Ml. Power), Willie Phelan engaged to Kitty ( Mr. Mattie Walsh), Miss Glynn( Mr. W. Ryan) and Bob O’ Connor ( Mr. P. Hourigan)… hopes are entertained of further histrionic exhibition in the future.  The four-hand reel was danced by the messers Chas Mansfield, Ml. Mansfield, Frank Murphy and Michael Byrne, in a very graceful style.  Mr. D. Conway in his humorous recitation” Terry Mulligan’s Banshee”, showed rare powers of elocution while Mr. Wm. Ahearnes “Incident of 98” made a great impression.  Mr. William Walsh was delightfully captivating in his song “In Fair Westmeath”.

The entertainment came to a termination with the chorus- “A Nation Once Again”.  Mr. Mce. Lacey, Mount Mellary, proved a capable stage manager.

Poor Law Union Records


In 2020 the findmypast website uploaded the Board of Guardians minute books for the Waterford Poor Law Union, which comprised of 163,000 records.  If your ancestor was an inmate, a supplier of goods, etc you may find them listed here. The original records are held by Waterford City and County Archives.

The book Desperate Haven, originally published in 1996, is the definitive study to date of the Great Famine (or Irish Potato Famine) and its effects in the towns and villages of West Waterford, Ireland.

This long out of print and much sought after volume was the product of more than 5 years of research by Dungarvan Museum Society (now Waterford County Museum). It provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the poor in mid 19th century Ireland, the response of the authorities to the unfolding tragedy and the conditions which saw many Irish people create new lives for themselves in America, England, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. It is available for the Museum, local bookshops and Amazon.  Dungarvan Workhouse Board of Guardians 1890 (EK140) image was recently donated to Waterford County Museum image Archive.

Irish Museums Association

Waterford County Museum recently submitted a report to the Irish Museum Association “survey of Irish Museums 2021”.  Representatives of the Irish Museum Association met recently with the joint committee for Tourism, Culture, Arts and media to discuss the long term impact of Covid-19 on the museum sector and National Cultural Institutions.  According to the associations website: “Among the topics raised were concerns over the lack of a joined-up national strategy for museum development and the absence of museum’s being specifically addressed in the national cultural  policies, further exacerbated  by their now falling within the oversight of different government departments and agencies”. 

The committee heard from the museum representatives that more than two-thirds (68%) of museums in the republic are not directly funded by the government and are independently run, usually on a non-for-profit basis.  These museums rely not only on entry fees but also on generated income through their commercial spaces.

Gina O’ Kelly of the IMA, noted that “Museums have a pivotal role to play in social and economic recovery and resilience of the nation.  Support of their activities is in need of review and re-energising”. [IMA] representatives also spoke to the active role of museums in leading dialogue around decolonisation and commemoration.




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