Waterford history

Devonshire Arms Hotel and Lawlor’s Hotel, Dungarvan

Devonshire Arms Hotel and Lawlor’s Hotel, Dungarvan

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

 

Today the lower end of Bridge Street in Dungarvan is dominated by the four story high, eleven bay wide, Lawlor’s Hotel. The building has the appearance of being all of one construction phase but the façade shows the marks of older buildings with a rich heritage.

Before Lawlor’s Hotel existed

As many commentators have said before ‘Previous to 1815 this place (Dungarvan) was, perhaps, as uninviting in its aspect as it is now respectable in its general appearance. Its conveniences were few, its trade unimportant and the industrious classes languishing in inactivity.’[1] One of these inconveniences was a descent hotel. To this call for action, the proprietor of much of the town, William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire, applied himself with gusto. He commissioned the destruction of numerous cabins of the ordinary people, the construction of new streets and a market square and a bridge to link Dungarvan with Abbeyside. All these improvements had more to do with increasing the Duke’s number of voter and his political power that to see a better town but then politics can throw up unintended results.

The site of Bridge Street before improvements

Before the improvements of the early nineteenth century the area around modern Bridge Street was a jumble of small cabins with dozens of small lanes worming there way in between. The area lay outside the old medieval town of Dungarvan by the banks of the Colligan River. These cabins were part of the Duke of Devonshire’s estate in the Dungarvan area and like in the Duke’s other towns, such as Lismore and Youghal; the Duke’s property was he most ruinous in the Dungarvan area. The cabins were described as in poor condition, built of mud and covered with straw and most of great antiquity.[2]

IMG_0002

Map of Dungarvan, c.1776, by Proundfoot

showing the maze of streets by the River where the cabins were

The three major improvements in the Duke’s property around Dungarvan were the Devonshire Square-Bridge Street development, the Bridge and the forty-shilling freeholders housing at Blackpool and Boreheenatra. Plans for improvements were first discussed in 1794 before nothing could be done until the fate of the third life of the head lease was discovered. In 1806 work on development Devonshire Square could finally begin.[3]

The first houses were built on Bridge Street in 1807 and the development was aided by the premature construction of the bridge shortly after 1808. The bridge was originally due to be built in about 1810 but when news that Lord Waterford had a bridge scheme of his own did the Duke’s agent press forward he project. But work on completing the bridge was slow and not finally finished until 1816.[4]

Close to the Bridge in the northwest corner of Bridge Street a new five bay, three story hotel was built with three private dwelling houses of two bays each adjoining it on the Bridge side. The development of the hotel was helped by the purchase by the Duke of Sir Thomas Osbourne estate at the rear of the hotel. This helped provide space for stables and out houses.[5] It is assumed that the hotel was built in 1807 or the two or three years after.

The Devonshire Arms name

The new hotel was named the Devonshire Arms Hotel. Apart from the Devonshire Arms Hotel in Dungarvan, other towns partly or fully owned by the Duke of Devonshire also had hotels of the same name such as Youghal, Tallow, Lismore and Bandon.

1824

In 1824 Margaret McGrath operated the Devonshire Arms Hotel on Bridge Street in Dungarvan.[6] Margaret McGrath also operated a timber merchant business on the same street.[7] Also on Bridge Street in 1824 was Rudolphus Greene (attorney), and Arthur Quinn (physician).[8]

The Royal Mail coach stopped outside the Devonshire Arms Hotel at quarter to one each day on its way to Cork from Waterford travelling via Cappoquin, Lismore, Tallow, Youghal, Castlemartyr and Midleton. The returning coach from Cork stopped at the hotel at ten passed one before calling at Kilmacthomas on its way to Waterford.[9]

Devonshire Arms

The Devonshire Arms was the first five bays on the left and three stories high

1834

Like any hotel, the Devonshire Arms has hosted other events than just welcoming guests. It was the scene of meetings, weddings, funerals, social gatherings and dances. A hotel was also a good place to hold an auction such as on 27th January 1834 when the executors of the late William Barron, Esq. auctioned the lands of Knockinpower.[10]

The Devonshire Arms balcony

The original Devonshire Arms Hotel had a cast iron balcony over the door, the length of three bays, with the Devonshire coat of arms. Many notable politicians gave speeches from the balcony including Daniel O’Connell (in 1834), Eamon De Valera, Frank Hugh O’Donnell, (last M.P. for Dungarvan) and Henry Matthews, M.P. When Lawlors Hotel purchased the Devonshire Arms the balcony was moved to hang over the main entrance door of Lawlors Hotel where it is today.[11]

Another notable speaker from the balcony was Michael Collins but more by accident than design. On 26th March 1922 Michael Collins as head of the Provisional Government arrived in Dungarvan. At first he began his speech on top of a lorry in the Square. But during the speech some anti-Government individual, Skins Whelan, took the driver’s seat and drove the lorry down Bridge Street, over the Bridge and onto the Causeway. At that point Collins stuck a revolver in the window and forced the lorry to stop. On returning to Dungarvan Michael Collins completed his speech from the balcony of the Devonshire Arms as nobody could run away with a balcony.[12]

The Devonshire Arms Hotel was often the scene of election rallies with speeches from the balcony and meetings inside. Sometimes these gatherings generated controversy such as in 1867 when a committee of the House of Commons was called in to investigate.[13]

1850

In about 1850 Mrs. Mary McGrath operated the Devonshire Arms Hotel and rented from the Duke of Devonshire. According to Griffith’s Valuation the building was worth £45 with one root and twenty-three perches of land.

1863

George Bradshaw’s Railway guide to Ireland (1863, reprint 2015) reports two hotels in Dungarvan; the Eagle managed by Mary Power and the Devonshire Arms Hotel, managed by Mrs. McGrath. According to recent sources Richard McGrath was proprietor of the Devonshire Arms previous to 1861 when the Hotel was acquired by James Lynch but this conflicts when Bradshaw’s claim.[14]

1867

Certainly by 1867 James Lynch is named as operator of the Devonshire Arms Hotel. Most of the hotel customers came to Dungarvan along the coach routes. At that time Dungarvan was served by a coach to Clonmel at 5.30pm (fare 3s 6d), returning at 7am; a coach to Lismore via Cappoquin at 6.35pm (fare 2s 6d); a coach to Waterford at 8am and 3pm (fare 3s 6d); to Youghal at 8am in time for 11am train to Cork with the return via the 4.30pm train from Cork.[15] The hotel customers included commercial travellers, people attending the monthly fairs on the second Wednesday and sun bathers. In the summer months around 1870 Dungarvan attracted a sizeable number of sunbathers.[16] Some of these visitors stayed at the Devonshire Arms Hotel while others stayed at the other three hotels in the town operated by J. Buckley (Imperial Square), Margaret O’Callaghan and T. &. A. O’Neill (Hibernian Hotel, Blackpool).[17]

In 1867-1870 various reports describe Dungarvan as lately improved by the Duke of Devonshire and having a very neat and clean appearance even if most of the streets were narrow. The majority of the population of Dungarvan (c.8614 in total) was employed in the fisheries trade around hake, cod and herring. The principal exports from the port were grain, cattle, butter and fish.[18]

Visitors to the Devonshire Arms Hotel

Among the visitors to stay at the Devonshire Arms Hotel over the years included William Thackeray, Canon Patrick Power and Cathal Brugha.[19] Day visitor also stayed at the Hotel as in 1895 when members of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland had lunch there before travelling around to see the ancient sites.

lawlor-s-hotel-dungarvan oringal front

The three private houses beside the Devonshire Arms Hotel

occupied 2 bays each and were three stories high –

the mouldings dividing the buildings can be see on the front facade

1881

By 1881 the fishing trade had declined in Dungarvan and much of the town was dependent on the agricultural trade. The recent arrival of the railway was expected to stimulate trade but by 1881 the expectation was still unrealised. Yet by 1884 the Waterford Mail could report that the railway had caused an expansion of the fishing trade. The butter trade also benefited from the railway.[20] In 1881 there were two monthly fairs in the town to attract customers to the Devonshire Arms Hotel. Pigs were sold on the third Tuesday of every month and cattle on the third Wednesday.[21]

In 1881 James Lynch was still operating the Devonshire Arms Hotel on Bridge Street. He also operated a car company. James Lynch needed a car company in order to convey his customers to and from the hotel. The stage coaches didn’t stop outside the Devonshire Arms as in previous times. Instead the Royal Mail coach servicing Clonmel stopped at the Post office in the Square while travellers to Cork and Waterford had to go over behind the present-day Park Hotel to attend the railway station.

Other businesses on Bridge Street in 1881 included two banks (Munster Bank and the Provincial Bank of Ireland), J.W. Denroche operated as agent for the Alliance Insurance Company (he was manager of the Provincial Bank in 1893) and Benjamin S. Harris, also on Bridge Street, was agent for the Life Association of Scotland. Also on the Street was Thomas Slattery (solicitor), Michael Kennedy (agent for Lane & Co. brewers of Cork) and Robert Longan (Commissioner of Affidavits and clerk of petty sessions).[22]

In 1881 there were two other hotels in Dungarvan, the Commercial Hotel in Devonshire Square (Mary Flynn) and the Hibernian Hotel in Blackpool (Thomas O’Neill).[23]

1893

In 1893 Maurice F. Lynch operated the Devonshire Arms Hotel with competition from the Commercial Hotel (Captain Richard Curran) and the Hibernian Hotel (Mrs. Mary O’Neill).[24]

Other businesses on Bridge Street in 1893 beside the two banks (Munster & Leinster and the Provincial Bank) and the Devonshire Arms included James Holland (physician and county magistrate), Danial O’Connell (solicitor) and Edward Williams (solicitor). In O’Connell Street there was a grocer/baker called William Lawlor – not sure if he was any relation to the later hotel owners.[25]

The big change

For near ninety years the Devonshire Arms Hotel enjoyed the sole rule of the roast on Bridge Street. The stage coaches dropped customers at the front door and the balcony overhead drew a crowd when the great and the good wished to speak. Then William Lawlor came from County Kilkenny. In 1894 William Lawlor was named as proprietor of the Devonshire Arms Hotel but not for long.[26] Some disagreement occurred and William Lawlor lost his job but he was not for surrendering without a fight.

Sometime between 1894 and 1901 William Lawlor took a lease on one of the three private dwelling houses adjoining the Devonshire Arms and opened his own hotel, Lawlor’s Hotel. Shortly after, he acquired a lease on a second house from Margaret Coady. The third house, nearest the bridge, remained a private dwelling house until the third quarter of the twentieth century. In 1901 it was occupied by Susan Quinlan.[27]

lawlor-s-hotel-dungarvan oringal front

Lawlor’s Hotel in 1900 occupied first 4 bays with private house at the 2 bays on right

1901 census at the Devonshire Arms Hotel

In the 1901 census (taken on 1st April – the other houses on the street were done on 8th April) Maurice F. Lynch was named owner/operator of the Devonshire Arms Hotel. The Hotel was number five on Thomas F. Meagher Street (the new name for Bridge Street). In the building returns the Hotel had twelve windows in the front façade and there were nineteen rooms with ten outbuildings in the back.[28]

In 1901 Mary Anne Kelly, aged 24 years, unmarried and from County Leitrim, was the manager of the Devonshire Arms Hotel. She was assisted on census night by five members of staff who had little service jobs to do as there were no guests. The five staff were all born in County Waterford and unmarried. They were; Patrick Dunne (aged 18 years), William Dunne (aged 26), Bridget McGrath (aged 21), Declan Brien (aged 18) and Bridget Power (aged 21).[29]

Maurice F. Lynch was not in the hotel on census night but was living at 99 North Main Street in Youghal as a veterinary surgeon and hotel proprietor. He was 31 years old and living with his wife Belia Lynch (24 years) and their servant Ellen Crotty.[30]

1901 census at Lawlor’s Hotel

In 1901 Lawlor’s Hotel occupied two former private dwelling houses on Bridge Street, adjoining the Devonshire Arms Hotel. The corner mouldings of the buildings are still visible on the façade of Lawlor’s Hotel today. The 1901 Lawlor’s Hotel had eleven windows on the front façade and twenty-one rooms within and had six outbuildings.[31]

William Lawlor was born in County Kilkenny in about 1858 even if he initially considered writing Dungarvan as his birth place. Possibly he always had an eye on the Waterford coastal town from the days of his youth. By the ages of his children William Lawlor was living in County Waterford since about 1891. In 1901 William Lawlor described himself as a merchant and was married (c.1890) to Mary Rose Lawlor (aged 33 years and born in County Waterford). The couple had one son and two daughters. They were James Lawlor (aged 10 and born in County Waterford), May F. Lawlor (aged 9 and born in County Waterford) and Angela Lawlor (aged 4 and born in County Waterford). But William Lawlor saw the world far beyond County Waterford and employed Augustina Banquier, born in France, as governess to the children. There was only one visitor registered in Lawlor’s Hotel on census night, 1st April 1901, a Catholic priest named Patrick Power.[32]

This was no ordinary Catholic priest. He had first served as a priest in Liverpool and Australia before returning to Waterford for three years at the Cathedral until he got the curates job in Portlaw. In 1900 Rev. Patrick Power wrote his first book, A Manual of Religious Instruction, but he had previously written a few articles on history. In a short time he would go on to write many more historical articles and in 1907 published his most celebrated work, Place-Names of the Decies. Rev. Patrick Power went on to become Professor of Archaeology at U.C.C. Today he is best known to as Canon Patrick Power, one of the top five historians of County Waterford.[33]

Canon Patrick Power

Canon Patrick Power

1911 census at the Devonshire Arms Hotel

By 1911 the Lynch family had sold their interests in the Devonshire Arms Hotel to William Dunne, one of the workers at the Hotel in 1901 and he was listed as owner/operator in 1911. The Hotel also had structural changes over the previous decade with two additional windows to the front façade to make the fourteen windows that can be seen today. The number of outbuildings was reduced from ten to nine while the number of rooms increased dramatically from nineteen to thirty-seven.[34] The outbuildings consisted of six stables, one coach house, one harness house and one fowl house.[35]

In the hotel on census night were eleven people. They were; William Dunne (proprietor), Annie Dunne (aged 28 and sister of William), James Dunne (aged 39, brother), Patrick Dunne (aged 27, brother), Charles Lynch (aged 18, born Co. Longford and car driver), Patrick Burke (aged 38, born Co. Waterford, car driver), Martin Whelan (age 18, born Co. Waterford and billiard marker), John Whelan (aged 19, born Co. Waterford, porter), Mary Murphy (aged 48, born Co. Dublin, cook), Bridget O’Brien (aged 20, born Co. Waterford, waitress), Nora Riordan (aged 20, born Co. Kerry, bar maid), [36]

1911 census at Lawlor’s Hotel

In 1911 William Lawlor still rented the premises of Lawlor’s Hotel from Margaret Cody. In the previous ten years William Lawlor decreased his number of rooms by one to eighteen and increased the number of outbuildings from six to thirteen.[37] These outbuildings consisted of seven stables, four coach houses, one harness house and one fowl house.[38]

In Lawlor’s Hotel on census night were seven people, namely; William Lawlor, his wife Mary and daughter May along with four visitors; John B. McHugh (priest from Fermanagh), Thomas Maquer (priest from Cork), Donnchadh Turner and Mary Power from County Waterford.[39]

The third house in 1911

The single dwelling house at the Bridge end of the Lawlor’s Hotel was in 1911 occupied by Patrick Dunne (aged 36, single, merchant) and two female servants.[40] The house was rented from Mrs. D. Ryan.[41]

During the Civil War

At the start of the Civil War in 1922 most of County Waterford was under the control of the Anti-Treaty forces. By early August 1922 the Free State forces had gained control on the River Suir between Waterford and Clonmel. This action placed Dungarvan on the front line. But the Free State forces didn’t make a frontal attack just yet. Instead they effective landings at Youghal and Cork Harbour which isolated the Dungarvan garrison. The Anti-Treaty forces evacuated the town, burning the chief buildings as they went. On 16th August 1922 the Free State forces moved into Dungarvan and the commander, Commandant Paddy Paul, established his headquarters in the Devonshire Arms Hotel. During their occupation, the Anti-Treaty forces stayed in hotels, like the Devonshire Arms and in private houses. They issued promises to their hosts that they would pay the fare when the Republic of Ireland was established. It is not known if they ever paid up.[42]

1929

In the 1929 Munster trade directory it was said that there were three hotels in Dungarvan. The Devonshire Arms on Bridge Street with Lawlor’s Hotel next door and the Hibernian Hotel at 70 O’Connell Street.[43]

1937

By 1937 the number of hotels in the Dungarvan area had increased although a writer in the 1940s described the Devonshire Arms Hotel as the only hotel in Dungarvan. The writer also described the service in the dinning room as ‘slow’. Back in 1937 the Devonshire Arms Hotel was still on Bridge Street with Lawlor’s Hotel next door and the young kid next door had a telephone (Dungarvan no. 22). Curran’s Commercial Hotel was now also on Bridge Street. The old Hibernian Hotel at 70 O’Connell Street was now Egan’s Hotel. On Main Street there was Phelan’s Hotel with the Strand Hotel over in Abbeyside and the Ocean View Hotel at Clonea Strand endeavouring to capture the summer tourist.[44]

1955

A photograph of the Bridge Street area in 1955 shows the Devonshire Arms Hotel with its balcony and fourteen windows in the front façade. The ground floor is of cut stone while the first and second floors were covered in plaster. Next door Lawlor’s Hotel was painted white all over and had eleven windows in the front façade. The private dwelling house towards the bridge had five windows on the front and a grey colour.[45] The whole terrace was thus three floors high.

Devonshire_Arms_Hotel__Dungarvan

L-R = Devonshire Arms (5 bays), Lawlor’s (4 bays) and private house (2 bays): Waterford Co. Museum photo

The Kelly family

For many years in the mid twentieth century the Kelly family were owners and managers of the Devonshire Arms Hotel. Michael Kelly was the chief proprietor with his brother Nicholas Kelly as part owner. Nicholas Kelly was a politician on the Dungarvan Urban Council for many years and had another brother, Joe, who operated a grocery shop in Mitchell Street.[46] Following the unexpected death of Michael Kelly in February 1972 the family decided to sell the hotel.

1972

The Dungarvan Leader of 12th December 1972 announced that the Devonshire Arms Hotel was sold by the Kelly family to Terry Creagh-Percy by private treaty. Terry Creagh-Percy had operated a hotel near Heathrow Airport for about eight years and had connections to Lismore.[47] In December 1972 Terry and Pauline Creagh-Percy announced the temporary closure of the Devonshire Arms Hotel as they were renovating the dining room and accommodation area. For thirsty workmen and visitors the bar would remain open for the Christmas season. In the same edition of the Dungarvan Leader the Presentation Convent past pupils advertised their annual dinner and social to be held in Lawlor’s Hotel on 6th January 1973.[48]

1980s

The early 1980s saw a number of hotels operating in and around the Dungarvan area. The Devonshire Arms Hotel and Lawlor’s Hotel now had competition for the summer tourist in the form of Clonea Strand Hotel. To the west of the town, Whitechurch House Hotel had opened its doors and would go on in later years to build the Park Hotel on the Dungarvan By-pass.

The expanded Lawlor’s Hotel and the Burke family

Since the 1980s the landscape has changed very much in the terrace containing the Devonshire Arms Hotel and Lawlor’s Hotel and the remaining private dwelling. In February 1984 the Devonshire Arms Hotel (a disco on Friday and Saturday) and Lawlor’s Hotel (Jimmy Crowley on Wednesday) shared the same advert space to inform the public of their entertainments.[49] They had separate adverts in later editions.

Over time Lawlor’s Hotel purchased the dwelling house, which today (2016) provides a side door into the bar of Lawlor’s Hotel. But the biggest changed was the acquisition of the Devonshire Arms Hotel by Lawlor’s Hotel in March 1984. The main door of the former Devonshire Arms is still in place but is rarely used and the balcony overhead was removed and placed over the front door of Lawlor’s Hotel. William Lawlor who started Lawlor’s Hotel after being removed as manager of the Devonshire Arms Hotel back in the 1890s would be smiling in his grave. In 1984 Michael and Mary Burke of the new Lawlor’s Hotel advertised Zetas night club in a section of the old Devonshire Arms.[50]

In the last few decades the Burke family owned the expanded Lawlor’s Hotel and still do as of 2016. As part of their contribution to the façade of the terrace a fourth floor was built along the full length of the terrace. With this construction this article concludes the tradition of hospitality begun on the then new Bridge Street, sometimes called Thomas F. Meagher Street, with the Devonshire Arms Hotel in the early nineteenth century, and continued today, over two hundred years later, with Lawlor’s Hotel.

lawlors_hotel_exterior_dungarvan_ireland

The 2016 view of Lawlor’s Hotel

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[1] Patrick C. Power, A History of Dungarvan: Town and District (De Paor, Dungarvan, 2000), p. 134

[2] Lindsay J. Proudfoot, Urban Patronage and Social Authority: The Management of the Duke of Devonshire’s Towns in Ireland, 1764-1891 (Catholic University Press, Washington, 1995), p. 78

[3] Lindsay J. Proudfoot, Urban Patronage and Social Authority, pp. 188, 189, 190

[4] Lindsay J. Proudfoot, Urban Patronage and Social Authority, pp. 191, 193, 194

[5] Lindsay J. Proudfoot, Urban Patronage and Social Authority, p. 197

[6] http://www.failteromhat.com/pigot/0041.pdf accessed on 30 July 2016

[7] http://www.failteromhat.com/pigot/0042.pdf accessed on 30 July 2016

[8] http://www.failteromhat.com/pigot/0041.pdf accessed on 30 July 2016

[9] http://www.failteromhat.com/pigot/0042.pdf accessed on 30 July 2016

[10] Waterford Mail, 22nd January 1834

[11] William Fraher & William Whelan, Dungarvan: Historic Guide and Town Trail (Waterford County Museum, 2012), p. 28

[12] Sean & Sile Murphy, The Comeraghs “Gunfire & Civil War”: The Story of the Deise Brigade IRA 1914-24 (Comeragh Publications, Kilmacthomas, 2003), p. 130

[13] http://www.dippam.ac.uk/eppi/documents/15202/page/182897 accessed on 5 August 2016

[14] http://www.europese-bibliotheek.nl/en/Books/Dungarvan_in_old_picture_postcards/100-134450/Article/5

[15] Henry & Coghlan, General Directory of Cork and Munster, 1867, pp. 424, 425

[16] The National Encyclopaedia (13 vols. Wm. Mackenzie, London, 1870), Vol. XIII, p. 747

[17] Henry & Coghlan, General Directory of Cork and Munster, 1867, p. 424

[18] The National Encyclopaedia (13 vols. Wm. Mackenzie, London, 1870), Vol. XIII, p. 747

[19] William Fraher & William Whelan, Dungarvan: Historic Guide and Town Trail (Waterford County Museum, 2012), p. 28; Patrick C. Power, A History of Dungarvan: Town and District (De Paor, Dungarvan, 2000), p. 222

[20] Patrick C. Power, A History of Dungarvan: Town and District (De Paor, Dungarvan, 2000), p. 183

[21] Slater’s Directory, 1881, p. 120

[22] Slater’s Directory, 1881, pp. 121, 122

[23] Slater’s Directory, 1881, pp. 122, 123

[24] Guy’s Directory of the Province of Munster, 1893, Waterford section, p. 19

[25] Guy’s Directory of the Province of Munster, 1893, Waterford section, pp. 24, 25

[26] http://www.lennonwylie.co.uk/1894WaterfordCountyDirectory.htm accessed on 5 August 2016

[27] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001245795/ accessed on 3 August 2016

[28] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001245795/ accessed on 3 August 2016

[29] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001245800/ accessed on 3 August 2016

[30] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1901/Cork/Youghal_Urban/North_Main_Street/1161315/

[31] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001245795/ accessed on 3 August 2016

[32] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001245801/ accessed on 3 August 2016

[33] http://waterfordireland.tripod.com/rev__patrick_power_-_historian.htm accessed on 4 August 2016

[34] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003476884/ accessed on 4 August 2016

[35] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003476886/ accessed on 4 August 2016

[36] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003476900/ accessed on 4 August 2016

[37] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003476884/ accessed on 4 August 2016

[38] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003476886/ accessed on 4 August 2016

[39] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003476898/ accessed on 4 August 2016

[40] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003476896/ accessed on 4 August 2016

[41] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003476884/ accessed on 4 August 2016

[42] Patrick C. Power, A History of Dungarvan: Town and District (De Paor, Dungarvan, 2000), p. 228, 230

[43] Patrick C. Power, A History of Dungarvan: Town and District (De Paor, Dungarvan, 2000), p. 240

[44] Cork & Munster Trade Directory, 1937; Sylvia Couturie, No Tears in Ireland: a memoir (The Free Press, New York, 2001), pp. 109, 111

[45] http://www.waterfordmuseum.ie/exhibit/web/DisplayPrintableImage/K0kEboGQcs6zQ accessed on 4 August 2016

[46] http://www.munster-express.ie/community-notes/dungarvan/dungarvan-18/ accessed on 4 August 2016

[47] Dungarvan leader, 12th December 1972

[48] Dungarvan Leader, 23rd December 1972

[49] Dungarvan Leader, 3rd February 1984

[50] Dungarvan Leader, 21st December 1984

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Pre-Historic Ireland, Waterford history

In search of a cromlech near Mocollop, Co. Waterford, part one

In search of a cromlech near Mocollop,

Co. Waterford, part one

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

 

In the 1830s a group of soldiers and academics travelled the length and breadth of Ireland. Their mission was not of conquest but to record the nation in a great geographical survey. They were the team from the Ordnance Survey with the soldiers mapping the landscape and the academics recording the place-names and the archaeological features within.

IMG

Map of Labbanacallee area

First notice of the Labbanacallee cromlech

One of these academics was John O’Donovan from south Kilkenny. In one of the letters he received from Co. Waterford was a reference to a cromlech in the townland of Labbanacallee in the civil parish of Lismore and Mocollop. This cromlech gave the townland its name.[1]

Unfortunately the soldiers who mapped the north-western end of the parish in which Labbanacallee is situated did not mark down on the first Ordnance Survey map of 1840 the exact location of the cromlech – they didn’t even place an X to mark a general location.

Canon Patrick Power said that Labbanacallee, written in Irish as Leaba na Caillige, means “The Hag’s Bed” and that the Hag alluded to at Labbanacallee and similar places was the legendary “Caille Beara”. Canon Power also noted that the cromlech was not marked down on any old Ordnance Survey map.[2]

The Labbanacallee of Mocollop civil parish is not the only place of that name in the region of east Cork and west Waterford north of the River Blackwater. The most noted place of that name is Labbacallee (spelt with no ‘na’) south of Glanworth where there is a wedge tomb of Neolithic times. The Labbacallee wedge tomb is one of the largest of its type in the country. Excavations in 1934 found a number of inhumation burials with fragments of late Neolithic pottery and a few fragments of bone and stone.[3]

Another “Caille Beara” site in County Waterford is at Ballynamona Lower in the area of Old Parish/Ardmore. This Caille Beara was described by Canon Patrick Power as a dolmen and by archaeologists as a court tomb.[4]

The most common megalithic tomb type in the east Cork/west Waterford area is the wedge tomb. The cromlech at Labbanacallee could be a wedge tomb but Ballynamona Lower is the only court tomb example within 100kms and so the cromlech could be any other the four main types of megalithic tomb.[5]

Labbanacallee townland

The townland of Labbanacallee sits on the high ridge which divides the Araglen river valley to the north and the Blackwater river valley to the south. The ridge line runs along the height marks of 969, 1026 and 1066 feet in an east/west orientation. The land of Labbanacallee on the north side of the ridge falls steeply away down into the Araglen valley.

DSC03478

 

View north down into the Araglen valley

The land of Labbanacallee on the south side of the ridge falls gently down the hill side.

DSC03529

Looking south from the earth bank which divides

Labbanacallee from Barranafaddock

The chief stone type on Labbanacallee is old red sandstone but there is also a scattering of quartz which is sometimes mixed in with the old red sandstone.

DSC03512

 

Labbanacallee 1850-1911

In 1850 the townland of Labbanacallee was owned by Captain James Barry of Mocollop castle. Of the 273 acres in the townland 158 acres was described as mountain land. Daniel Guinevan rented 48 acres of farm land and had a house and outbuildings. Francis Brien rented 51 acres of farm land with a house and outbuildings. David Condon rented 14 acres of farm land without any buildings. In 1850 there were two vacant houses in Labbanacallee.[6] In 1901 there were three inhabited dwelling houses with a population of 19 people. Ten years later, in 1911, there were just two inhabited dwelling houses and a population of 9 people. In 2016 there is just one dwelling house in Labbanacallee townland.

Search for the cromlech 2013

In the spring of 2013 I first went up to the townland of Labbanacallee on the road between Mocollop and Araglen in search of this mystery cromlech. On the way up to the townland I met a local resident on the road and told him of my mission. He had heard rumours of the cromlech but didn’t know where it was supposed to be. The same man also reported that it was suggested by unknown people that the cromlech was not in the townland of Labbanacallee at all but was further down the road, heading south, and on the right hand side of the road, somewhere in the townlands of Black, Lyrenaglogh or Knocknalooricaun – plenty of options there.

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The wind tower blade rests on distant hill, alternative site for cromlech

With this variable knowledge I went on my way to Labbanacallee townland and to the north-west corner where the townland boundary meets the public road. From that point a farmer’s roadway travels eastwards along the northern boundary of Labbanacallee. I followed the roadway to its end and then proceeded onto the mountain land of stones, bog and gorse. The going was difficult as the ground was wet. On the top of the ridge from height point 1026 to 1066 the going was doubly difficult with the wet bog and thick gorse. After a few hours rambling through the wet ground I gave up the search without any sign of a cromlech or any other early human structure apart from the stone and earth bank which forms the boundary between Labbanacallee and Barranafaddock.

On the way home I met another local resident who said there was no cromlech in Labbanacallee and that the idea of a cromlech was one of confusion with the more famous place near Glanworth. After such a fruitless search the local man may have some merit in his comment.

Not the only cromlech to disappear

The mystery cromlech at Labbanacallee is not the only one to seemingly disappear. In about 1840 John O’Donovan was told of another cromlech in the townland of Rath in the Barony of Upperthird. This was described as having a large flat stone supported on three upright stones with another broken upright stone to one side. Canon Patrick Power suggested that this cromlech existed in 1907 but by 1989 all trace of it has since disappeared.[7] Could the cromlech at Labbanacallee have been removed since 1840?

There is another possibly that the cromlech at Labbanacallee was removed before 1840. The Rath cromlech is marked on the first edition of the Ordnance Survey map but the Labbanacallee cromlech is not so marked on the map. The Ordnance Survey soldiers went up to Labbanacallee and marked a height point at 969 to use as a triangle elevation measuring point. The surveyors marked houses and roads that existed in later times and still can be seen today. But they marked no cromlech. This absence may be because the cromlech was removed before 1840 yet the memory of it remained to give the townland its name.

Barranafaddock wind farm

Since 2013 a wind farm was constructed in the townland of Labbanacallee and Barranafaddock and other adjunct townlands on the west side of the public road. Twelve wind towers were built with a number of access roadways. A team of archaeologists were present during construction but they found only an undated house site and an undated cooking site. In June 2016 a local resident told me that when digging the foundations for wind tower number 32, they engineers had to go down nearly 20 feet through the bog before they found solid rock. Could the Labbanacallee cromlech be buried under the bog like the Neolithic stone walls of the Céide Fields in north Co. Mayo?

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2013 and June 2016 survey areas

Search for the cromlech 2016

In June 2016 I returned to Labbanacallee for another search. In this search I returned to the mountain land area of the townland. The going was good on this visit with the dry weather of the previous few weeks making the bog hard under foot. The gorse was not as extensive as in the previous visit and good travelling was possible. Unfortunately after surveying a larger area in June 2016 as in 2013 not sign of a cromlech of any type, be it wedge-tomb, portal-tomb or court-tomb.

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Quarry feature under furze looking south towards tower 21

Two possible sites for further investigation were found. A small quarry type feature was found along the south side of the high ridge on top of the mountain land part of Labbanacallee as marked on the accompanying map. This quarry type feature is not common elsewhere on the hilltop.

The other feature found were two small mounds about five foot high and five foot in circumference. They are located just to the west of the earthen bank which runs north-south and separates Labbanacallee from Barranafaddock.

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The two mounds – umbrella and coat – earth bank to right

These two features do not suggest cromlech site but they are usual features in the landscape.

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Sketch map of the two features – quarry and red dots 

Future survey areas

There are presently (2016) two areas of forestry in Labbanacallee townland which are worth investigating. Unfortunately both forests have young trees and a person needs to bend down to get through them. In a few years’ time the trees will have grown up to allow a person to walk between the trees and see if any features exist. The southern forestry area has had previous crops of trees and any archaeological features within may have been removed to make way for the first crop of trees on the site. The farm land area needs surveying and the 18 acres of marsh land in the south-east corner of Labbanacallee. After that the area down the road to the south is worth investigating as suggested by the local resident. Much more work to be done.

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Farm land and two areas of forestry at Labbanacallee

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[1] John O’Donovan (edited by M. O’Flanagan), Letters containing information relative to the antiquities of the County of Waterford collected during the progress of the Ordnance Survey in 1841 (Bray, 1929), pp. 70, 71, no. 147

[2] Canon Patrick Power, Place names of Decies (Cork University Press, 1952), p. 50

[3] Peter Harbison, Guide to National and Historic Monuments of Ireland (Gill & Macmillan, Dublin, 1992), pp. 81, 82

[4] Michael Moore (ed.), Archaeological Inventory of County Waterford (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1999), p. 4, no. 18; http://www.ardmorewaterford.com/placenames-of-ardmore-waterford/ accessed 7 June 2016;

[5] Michael Moore (ed.), Archaeological Inventory of County Waterford, p. 1

[6] Griffith’s Valuation, Labbanacallee, Lismore and Mocollop parish, Coshmore and Coshbride barony

[7] Michael Moore (ed.), Archaeological Inventory of County Waterford, p. 4, no. 18

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Waterford history

Observations on Villierstown in 1841 and 1851

Observations on Villierstown in 1841 and 1851

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

Introduction

The village of Villierstown was established as a new town in the 1750s as a place to house the linen workers brought in from Ulster to work the newly established linen industry on the Dromana estate. For more on this early period see the article = https://niallbrn.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/villierstown-and-the-linen-industry/

This article examines the village of Villierstown as recorded in the census returns for 1841 and 1851, i.e. before and after the Great Famine, the big watershed in nineteenth century Irish history. In the census returns for 1841 and 1851 there were twenty two townlands listed in the civil parish of Aglish along with two islands on the River Blackwater. The total area of the parish was 6,856 acres and 33 perches. The Poor Law valuation of the parish in 1851 was £5,199 16s. Within the parish were two villages, Aglish and Villierstown.[1]

Aglish parish in 1841

The total population of Aglish parish in 1841 was 3,783 while in 1851 this had fallen to 2,769.[2] In 1841 Aglish was the bigger village with 458 people living in an area of 47 acres (9.7 people per acre). In 1841 Villierstown had 328 people living within an area of 16 acres (20.5 people per acre).[3] Although Villierstown had a smaller population and land area it was more densely populated than Aglish. The present day image of Villierstown with its tree-lined main street and spaced out housing gives the feel of space for its inhabitants. In 1841 Villierstown had the feel of a crowded place. This will be further seen when we see the housing stock in the village later in this article.

The 1841 census gives a further breakdown of these figures. Of the 328 people in Villierstown there were 157 males made up by 137 heads of families and their male children, 17 male visitors and 3 male servants. The breakdown in the numbers for the 171 females was 133 heads of families and their female children, 33 female visitors and 5 female servants. It is difficult to know if these 50 visitors were residents within Villierstown or if they came in from outside and were just there for census night.[4]

Houses in 1841 Villierstown

The number of inhabited houses at Aglish was 73 which gave an occupancy rate of 6.27 people per house. At Villierstown there were 51 inhabited houses and one uninhabited house which gave occupancy of 6.43 people per house. The average number of people per house in Aglish parish was 6.76.[5] Once again Villierstown had the feel of a more crowded place than Aglish although its occupancy rate was lower than the parish average.

In the 1841 census there was four different types of houses called 1st class, 2nd class, 3rd class and 4th class. A 4th class house was a mud walled cabin with only one room. A 3rd class house was still a mud walled cabin but with two to four rooms with windows. A 2nd class house had from five to nine rooms with windows and of stone walled construction. A 1st class was superior to that of second class.[6] Villierstown had one 1st class house and 27 houses in 2nd class along with 13 houses in 3rd class and 10 houses in 4th class. The planned development of Villierstown in the 1750s ensured that the village would have a bigger number of 2nd class houses compared to other towns in rural parts of the county. Aglish village had no 1st class, just ten 2nd class houses with most being 3rd class.

Although most families in Villierstown lived in a 2nd class house type there were more families in Villierstown than houses, i.e. 63 families for 51 inhabited houses. The breakdown was 36 families in the 27 second class houses, 15 families in the 13 third class houses and 11 families in the 10 fourth class houses. The one 1st class house was occupied by one family. Clearly some houses in Villierstown had two occupying families. This was not necessarily a picture of poverty in Villierstown. Most other towns had more families than occupied houses.

Occupations in 1841 Villierstown

Villierstown was originally founded to house linen workers who had come from Ulster to work the newly established linen industry on the Dromana estate. By 1841 the linen industry was long gone out of business. In 1841 twenty-six families worked in the manufacturing and trade occupations while most (32 families) were involved in agriculture and 5 families were involved in other occupations.

When the census return classifies people over fifteen years old according to their occupation we see that 43 men and 28 women were involved in the food business. Eight men and sixteen women were involved in the clothing business while 24 men were involved in causal labour. In total 83 men were employed and 54 women while 8 men and 52 women were in unspecified occupations. These figures tell us that there were 197 people living in Villierstown over the age of fifteen.

Literacy skills in 1841 Villierstown

In the early nineteenth century Edward Wakefield described the Irish as ‘anxious, nay eagerly anxious for the education of their children’.[7] The people in the parish of Aglish and the village of Villierstown were not found wanting in this quest for education. In 1835 there were seven schools operating within Aglish parish. The exact location of these schools could possibly be determined but the author has insufficient resources for such research at this time. Joseph Machesy operated a day school for 57 boys and 20 girls which was established in 1833. The school taught reading, writing, arithmetic and bookkeeping. Patrick Dower’s school was also established in 1833 and had greater numbers attending. In 1835 there were 75 boys and 30 girls. He taught reading, writing and arithmetic.

The schools operated by Walter Hallahan, Martha Finn and Patrick Connell had smaller numbers attending. Walter Hallahan had 35 boys and 17 girls; Martha Finn had 15 boys and 22 girls and Patrick Connell had 30 pupils I summer and 20 in winter. The school operated by Maurice Wilson was closed in winter and taught reading, writing and arithmetic to 60 boys and 10 girls in summer.

The school within Villierstown village was operated by Martin Norris. This school, located beside the chapel, was funded by Villiers Stuart family of Dromana, the local landlords, with £30 per year. There was in addition to the school a dwelling house along with one and a half acres of land. In 1835 the school taught reading, writing and arithmetic along with needlework for the girls. Rev. Philip Homan, the chaplain at Villierstown chapel, supplied the school books. There were 88 boys and 65 girls.[8] By 1851 Rose Anne Norris was in charge of the school.[9] In 1857 a boys national school was opened in Villierstown as part of the national primary school system. In 1860 a girl’s school opened.[10]

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The schoolhouse operated by the Norris family in Villierstown

Of the 328 people living in Villierstown in 1841 there were 284 people over the age of five and 44 children under five which meant there were 87 people between five and fifteen years. Among these 284 people 54 men and 40 women could both read and write (33%); 11 men and 12 women could only read (8%) while 67 men and 100 women (58%) could not read or write. When compared to Aglish village the literacy skills of Villierstown looks good. At Aglish only 36 men and 20 women could both read and write or 13% of the people over five years old. Yet other towns, such as Clashmore, had a better literacy rate where 47% of those over five years could read and write.[11]

Villierstown on the eve of the Great Famine

The village of Villierstown in 1841 stood brightly in the summer sun when compared to the other urban settlement in Aglish parish, namely, Aglish village. It had a better housing stock and literacy level yet there were fewer people living within each house in Aglish. Villierstown had the feel of an overcrowded place. A few years later this planned estate village would experience an unplanned Great Famine along with the rest of the country. The feel of the village would change as would its future performance.

The published histories of the Great Famine in County Waterford seem to overlook Villierstown as a place impacted by the famine. Maybe the famine indeed passed it by as the village was so close to, and associated clearly with, the core of the Villiers Stuart estate at Dromana and thus within earshot of assistance if any was required. Yet the 1851 census shows a big fall of one thousand people in the population of Aglish parish, from 3,783 in 1841 to 2,769 in 1851. This decline is consistent with other parishes across Ireland and reflects the big impact of death and emigration that resulted from the Great Famine.

Aglish parish in 1851

In 1851 the population of Aglish village had fallen to 257 (458) people or 56% of the 1841 figure while that of Villierstown had fallen further to 159 (328) people or 48% of the 1841 figure. The number of inhabited houses in Aglish was 43 which gave an occupancy rate of 5.98 people per house. At Villierstown there were 34 inhabited houses and one uninhabited house.[12] In Griffith’s Valuation (produced in March 1851) there were 32 houses listed for the village of Villierstown along with the caretaker’s house with an additional 29 houses in the surrounding townland of Villierstown. According to Griffith’s Valuation, the only uninhabited house was outside the village but within the townland of Villierstown.[13] The seemingly different method of recording data can make comparisons difficult yet the difference in this case is not that great as to cause a problem.

If we exclude the uninhabited house the occupancy rate within Villierstown in 1851 was 4.68 people per house. This was a big fall from the occupancy rate in 1841. Across the whole of Aglish parish in 1851 there were 2,769 people living in 489 houses or 5.66 people per house.[14] In population density Aglish had 5.5 people per acre while Villierstown had 9.9 people per acre. Although the population density was greater in Villierstown the occupancy rate per house was lower than at Aglish and the number of houses was fewer giving a feeling of space.

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Main street in Villierstown in 2015

Housing stock in 1851

The number of inhabited houses according to the 1851 census was 34. The types of houses was broken down into four 1st class houses (up 3 since 1841), twenty 2nd class houses (down 7 since 1841), nine 3rd class houses (down 4 since 1841) and one 4th class house (down 9 since 1841). The decline in the poorer population as shown in the type of houses in the village is reflected in other data from the 1851 census. Yet for those remaining in the village the atmosphere had improved. Whereas in 1841 there was more than one family living in some houses, by 1851 there was only one family living in each house.

As previously noted, in March 1851 Griffith’s Valuation listed 32 houses within Villierstown. These houses and their plots were divided into 7 different types. There were 8 houses without any land worth between 5s and £1 10s. There were 7 houses with out-buildings known as offices and a garden. The building value of these 7 houses varied from £1 17s to £4 8s. There were 5 houses with a small garden worth between 18s and £1 10s. There were 8 houses with offices and a small garden worth between £1 5s and £4 5s. There were 2 houses that had a garden and these were worth between 18s and £1 10s. Finally there was one house with offices, an orchard and some land worth £2 10s and one house with offices, and a yard where the buildings were worth £3.[15]

The named people of Villierstown in 1851

The individual census returns for 1841 and 1851 no longer exist. We therefore do not have that lovely information we today find in the census returns for 1901 and 1911 telling us the names of individual people, their age, occupation and literacy skills. Some compensation for this loss is provided by Griffith’s Valuation. In this source we get the named occupier of each house in Villierstown in 1851.

The people who held a house included Margaret Curtin, Margaret Brien, Thomas Morrison, Patrick Browne, Margaret Bransfield, Ellen Keon, and Johanna Roe.

The people who held a house and small garden included Jeremiah Whelan, Matthew Corcoran, Margaret Foley, James Roche, Mary Mernin, John Kennedy, James Bransfield and John McCarthy.

The people who held a house and garden included James Collins and Mary Burke.

The people who held a house, office and small garden included William Ryan, Thomas Browning, Thomas Taylor, Margaret Harragon and Honoris Mahony.

The people who held a house, office and garden included William Knight, Maurice Mahony, Roger Mahony, Patrick Connery, Lowther Horne and Daniel Stokes.

The person who held a house, office and yard was Michael Barry while John King held a house, office, orchard and land in 1851 Villierstown.

The people in the 1851 census

Earlier we saw how the total population of Villierstown declined from 328 in 1841 to 159 in 1851. Overall in the parish of Aglish the population fell by nearly one thousand, from 3,783 to 2,769. Yet this decline hides individual increases in population as the townlands of Ballingowan West, Ballynacourty, Ballynaparka, Monagally East and Villierstown recorded an increase between 1841 and 1851. Many of these townlands surround Villierstown village. Could it be that the reduction in the population of Villierstown between 1841 and 1851 corresponded to an increase in the surrounding townlands? Or was this increase in the five townlands caused by people coming in from further out in the Dromana estate? The 1851 census does not give a breakdown of the different types of housing stock to determine if the poor people who left Villierstown before 1851 moved to the surrounding townlands. Only a detailed examination of the Villiers Stuart papers at University College Cork can hope to answer these questions.

It would seem that many men left Villierstown before 1851 as the census records only 67 men as head of the household (137 in 1841) compared to 75 females as head of the household (133 in 1841). Did they leave to seek work elsewhere or did death take more men than women in the Great Famine?

Clearly the Great Famine was not all about death and emigration overseas. People moved around and built new houses as the townlands surrounding Villierstown show. Yet decline was the order of the day and urban centres were not immune from this.

Literacy in 1851

There were 150 people over the age of five in 1851 Villierstown. Of these 47 men and 37 women could both read and write (71%). Only 3 women and no man could read only and 22 men and 41 women could neither read nor write. This would suggest that many of those who left Villierstown between 1841 and 1851 were among the uneducated population. A study by Cormac O Grada on literacy in Ireland before the Great Famine showed that educated people tended to stay while the uneducated emigrated to foreign countries.[16]

Employment in 1851

The decline in the population of Villierstown since 1841 is shown in the reduced numbers of those employed in various trades. The dramatic decline in the number employed in agriculture (from 32 to 7) is a further reflection of the disappearing poorer classes who would have worked as agricultural labourers on the surrounding farms. Other enterprises also suffered decline as the number of those employed in manufacture and trade fell from 26 to 18. Yet alternative employment increased from 5 families in 1841 to 9 families in 1851. In times when the main sources of employment in an area are in decline, some enterprising people will seek out new forms of employment and this is seen in Villierstown after the Great Famine.

Villierstown after 1851

The census data for Villierstown after 1851 gives a mixed picture of this West Waterford village. In the 1861 census the population of Villierstown increased from 159 to 201 whereas Aglish village continued to decline, falling from 257 to 200. This result made Villierstown the largest urban centre in Aglish parish. A further sign of growth is that the only house under construction in the whole of Aglish parish in 1861 was in Villierstown.[17] Yet the increase in population reduced the literacy levels in Villierstown with 60% of the population over fifteen able to read and write, down from 71% in 1851.[18]

By 1871 Aglish village had stopped its decline and increased its population to 206 but Villierstown moved ahead again to 231 from 201. Yet by the time of the census of 1881 Aglish had gone into decline again having 175 people while Villierstown held its ground with 232 people. There were, in 1881, a total of 52 inhabited houses in Villierstown and two unoccupied houses or 4.46 people per house which was less than the 4.68 people per house in 1851.[19]

After 1881 the fortunes of Villierstown went into decline with the population falling to 214 in 1891 to 180 in 1901 and to 155 people in 1911 with seven uninhabited houses in the village in 1911. The surviving individual returns of each household in the census returns for 1901 and 1911 allows for a detailed examination of Villierstown between those years – a project for another day.

Conclusion

The village of Villierstown between 1841 and 1851 showed a complex village on the eve and aftermath of the Great Famine. A crowded village with many simple mud walled cottages surrounding the grander stone built and slate covered houses of the village core. Yet the population had access to education and to the wider world with the adjacent river Blackwater. The Great Famine caused population decline but the surrounding townlands increased their population. After this decline Villierstown increased its population until the 1880s when changes in agriculture (from tillage to pasture farming) forced many to leave the land and seek employment in the larger urban centres or overseas. In July 2015 Villierstown took part in the celebrations of Dromana 800 yet the history of the village since 1750 is a complex one as seen in this short study of the years 1841 to 1851.

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Dromana 800 crest

This article is part of the Dromana 800 celebrations, 2nd to 5th July 2015 = for more information is www.dromana800.com

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[1] British Parliamentary Papers, Census for the year 1851 (vol. XCI, 1853), p. 349

[2] British Parliamentary Papers, Census for the year 1851 (vol. XCI, 1853), p. 349

[3] British Parliamentary Papers, Census for the year 1841

[4] British Parliamentary Papers, Census for the year 1841

[5] British Parliamentary Papers, Census for the year 1851 (vol. XCI, 1853), p. 349

[6] Peter Connell, The Land and People of County Meath, 1750-1850 (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2004), p. 170

[7] Cormac O Grada, ‘School attendance and literacy in Ireland before the Great Famine’, in Irish Primary Education in the Early Nineteenth Century by Garret Fitzgerald (Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, 2013), p. 113

[8] British Parliamentary Papers, HC 1835 (47) 34 1 = State of religious and other instruction now existing in Ireland: second report, 1835

[9] Griffith’s Valuation, County Waterford, Barony of Decies within Drum, Parish of Aglish, Villierstown

[10] Various, At School by the River Bend (Cappoquin Heritage Group, 2007), p. 150

[11] British Parliamentary Papers, Census for the year 1841

[12] British Parliamentary Papers, Census for the year 1851 (vol. XCI, 1853), p. 349

[13] Griffith’s Valuation, County Waterford, Barony of Decies within Drum, Parish of Aglish, Villierstown

[14] British Parliamentary Papers, Census for the year 1851 (vol. XCI, 1853), p. 349

[15] Griffith’s Valuation, County Waterford, Barony of Decies within Drum, Parish of Aglish, Villierstown

[16] Cormac O Grada, ‘School attendance and literacy in Ireland before the Great Famine’, in Irish Primary Education in the Early Nineteenth Century by Garret Fitzgerald, p. 114

[17] British Parliamentary Papers, Census of Ireland 1861: Part 1, p. 349

[18] British Parliamentary Papers, Census of Ireland 1861: Part 1, pp. 588, 589

[19] British Parliamentary Papers, Census of Ireland 1881: Part 2, p. 878

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Waterford history

Villierstown Chapel and Chaplains

Villierstown Chapel and Chaplains

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

Introduction

At the centre of Villierstown today stands the chapel which is now (2015) the local community centre. A survey map of the Dromana estate in 1751 placed the chapel further up the hill and nearer to the entrance gates to the Dromana demesne. The map also placed the chapel of the west side of the street as opposed to the east side that it is currently on.[1] This map was not an actual representation of existing structures in 1751 but a vision of how the full Dromana demesne would look when all the improvements had been made.

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Front elevation of Villierstown chapel

Villierstown chapel

In 1746 there were just sixteen churches in repair in the Diocese of Lismore. This low number had to do with the political and religious landscape after the 16th century Reformation. In England the local landlord and the local community were of one religion after the Reformation. The local landlord would fund the repair of the medieval parish church or help build a new one. In Ireland the landlord and the local community were of different religions. This situation, along with other issues, contributed to the lack of church building or refurbishment in the 18th century.[2]

But there were a few exceptions to this situation. In the 1750s the religious landscape on the Dromana estate had recently changed. At the new village of Villierstown the landlord and the new Protestant community, recently arrived from Ulster to work the linen industry, were of the same religion. In an age where religion was still important, John, Earl Grandison, decided to fund a new church building on a site where no previous church existed to support the religious life of the new community. For more on the linen industry and the Ulster settlers see the article about same at   https://niallbrn.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/villierstown-and-the-linen-industry/

The chapel building dates from 1748 or 1760 depending on which source you read. The chaplaincy appears for the first time in the Visitation Books of 1784.[3] Among the Villiers-Stuart papers are a number of letters from the 1750s which give more certain information. On 22nd June 1755 Christopher Musgrave of Tourin (agent of Earl Grandison) wrote to an unidentified recipient that “My Lord has not yet determined whether he will remove the well at the east end of the church, but says he will if he find it necessary. They have laid the foundations and the piers, and are settling the walk round the church”.[4]

Late in 1755 the interior fittings of the chapel appear to have been installed. In about December 1755 Christopher Musgrave wrote that “My Lord still resolves to have the seats, pulpit and altarpiece, etc. all painted the same oak colour”.[5] This interior woodwork was the most notable feature of Villierstown chapel. The finished chapel could accommodate about 400 people.[6] Another delightful feature of the chapel is the three stain glass windows. The clock over the front door was erected in 1910 by Mary Villiers Stuart for the benefit of the people of Villierstown.

It was also hoped to finish the outside of the chapel towards the end of 1755 but it was impossible to get labourers to settle the earth directly around the chapel. Christopher Musgrave wrote that the usual labourers were “digging out potatoes [where] most people gave them 6½d or 7d (d = pence) a day, and their breakfast and dinner besides, which made it impracticable to get them as my Lord had none of his own to command. The others will naturally go where they are best paid”.[7]

On April 1757 Earl Grandison wrote to Aland Mason about the recent bad weather but hopes that the weather “will not prevent my appearing at church with my weavers” on the following day.[8] This would suggest that work on building the chapel was complete and normal divine services could be held.

The chapel was endowed by John Fitzgerald Villiers, 1st Earl Grandison, in his will of 25th June 1763. The then personal chaplain of Earl Grandison, Rev. Francis Green, became first Chaplain of Villierstown. There was no district assigned to the chaplain and the village of Villierstown remained part of the civil parish of Aglish. Instead the chaplain was to give “divine service” and catechize.[9] In the 1840s we learn that there was an average congregation every Sunday, whatever average is supposed to mean.[10]

It is not known who performed the services in the chapel between c.1757 and 1763 when Rev. Francis Green is recorded as chaplain. As the chapel was within the parish of Aglish and always remained as part of Aglish it is likely that the vicar of Aglish did the business until 1763. The vicar of Aglish at the time is not known for certain. In 1662 the position of vicar at Aglish was united to Affane parish. Henry Gervais was vicar of Affane in 1738 and so also vicar of Aglish but it is unknown if he was still in position in about 1760. Henry Bagge was curate of Affane and Aglish in 1757 and became vicar of Affane in 1769.[11] It is likely that Henry Bagge performed the initial services at Villierstown until 1763.

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North elevation of the chapel

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Chaplains of Villierstown

Francis Green (1763-1768): This person was possibly the Francis Green who entered Trinity College, Dublin on 26th May 1742 and graduated in 1746 with a B.A.[12] Rev. Francis Green was curate at Kilsheelan and Carrick until 1761. It is not known when he took up this position. In 1762 Rev. Francis Green became a member of the Vicar Choral in Lismore which he held until his death. Around this time Rev. Francis Green became personal chaplain to John, Earl Grandison. It was this personal connection that ensured that in 1763 Rev. Francis Green became first chaplain of Villierstown which he served until his death. In 1767 Rev. Francis Green became vicar of Tallow but he didn’t hold the position for long.[13] In February 1768 Rev. Francis Green died.[14]

Years of no chaplain

From 1768 to 1781 there is no record of a chaplain in office.[15]

Michael Greene (1781): Michael Greene first appears in the records of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore in 1778 as curate in Dungarvan. In 1781 he appears as chaplain of Villierstown. It is not clear for how long he served as chaplain as Harris Oldfield was in office in 1796 and so was appointed chaplain before 1796. In 1793 Michael Greene was rector of Outrath which he served for one year until 1794.[16] For a few years before 1782 Michael Green was curate at Dungarvan. Others details of the life of Michael Greene are as yet unknown.[17]

Harris Oldfield (in office 1796): Rev. Harris Oldfield is first noted in the records as curate in 1781 at Whitechurch and Kilronan. By 1796 he was chaplain at Villierstown.[18] It is not known when Rev. Harris Oldfield was appointed to Villierstown or when he left. From 1796 to 1818 Rev. Harris Oldfield was vicar at Seskinan. It appears he died around 1818 as his will is dated to that year. Rev. Harris Oldfield was married to Ann Greatrakes from Affane as her second husband. Ann was previously married to Thomas Fudge of Ballyclanane, Co. Waterford. It may be this local marriage that help his appointment to Villierstown. Rev. Harris Oldfield and Ann Greatrakes had one son (Rev. John Oldfield) and four daughters. One of these daughters, Charlotte married the next incumbent at Villierstown, Rev. Thomas Sandiford. Another daughter, Margaret, married Mr. MacArdell and went first to Newfoundland and then to Tasmania where she left descendants.[19]

Thomas Sandiford (1818): Thomas Sandiford was born in Drogheda as the son of James Sandiford, merchant of that town. He was first educated by Rev. Norris before entering Trinity College Dublin on 8th February 1759. He graduated in 1763 with a B.A.[20]

In 1763 Thomas Sandiford became an Usher at Kilkenny College. In about 1765 he was made curate of Lisgenan and Templemichael in the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore. In 1773 Rev. Thomas Sandiford became rector of Outeragh.[21] In 1785 Rev. Thomas Sandiford became vicar of Whitechurch, which he held until his death, and vicar of Kilronan. In 1786 Rev. Thomas Sandiford became vicar of Modeligo and Kilgobinet which parishes he held until his death in 1820.

In 1818 he became chaplain of Villierstown and in the following year became curate at Seskinan. Rev. Thomas Sandiford succeeded his father-in-law, Rev. Harris Oldfield, in both positions. Rev. Thomas Sandiford was dead by 1833 leaving his wife Charlotte Oldfield and at least two children. One daughter, Ann, married Rev. Samuel Sandiford who was son of Rev. James Sandiford and grandson of Rev. Henry Sandiford, brother of Rev. Thomas Sandiford, and she is buried at Farahy, Co. Cork.[22]

Of all the parishes held by Rev. Thomas Sandiford, it was his position as vicar of Whitechurch which was recognised the most. The memorial tablet in St. Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore, which records the burial of the father and mother and other members of the Sandiford family, mentions Thomas Sandiford as the vicar of Whitechurch for many years.

005

Sandiford memorial 

Philip Homan (1822): It is said that Philp Homan was born about 1799. In 1822 he was made a deacon in the Diocese of Cloyne. In the same year he became chaplain at Villierstown. This appointment seems to be the only clerical job that Philip Homan had in his life before his death on 29th November 1846 from fever contacted while serving his people.[23] His death was as an early victim of the Great Famine. He was buried inside Villierstown chapel near the altar.

The appointment of Philip Homan to Villierstown was due to a family connection.  On 13th June 1797 Sir William Jackson Homan married Lady Charlotte Stuart, third daughter of John Stuart, 1st Marquess of Bute. Lady Charlotte’s brother, Lord Henry Stuart, married on 1st July 1802 Lady Gertrude Emilia Villiers, only child of George, last Earl of Grandison and heiress to the Dromana estate in County Waterford which included the Villierstown chapel.[24]

Sir William Jackson Homan was the second son of Rev. Philip Homan of Shurock House, Co. Westmeath (son of George Homan of Westmeath) by his wife, Mary Ann Thomas, daughter of George Thomas of Rathfarnham of Co. Dublin. Sir William Homan was created a baronet in August 1801.[25] In the 1802 Sir William Homan had a son called Philip and in the 1830s Sir William lived at Clifton, Youghal.[26]

On 16th November 1826 Rev. Philip Homan married, in Lismore Cathedral, the daughter of Colonel Cameron of the 9th Regiment of Foot and his wife, Eliza Covett. From this marriage Rev. Philip Homan had six children.[27] One of the children was Frances Helena who in 1873 married Laurence Patrick Duke of Newpark, Co. Sligo and left issue. This reference to Frances said her father, Rev. Philip Homan was a student of Trinity College, Dublin and had an M.A. and lived at Ballylanigan, Co. Tipperary.[28]

The records of Trinity College Dublin have four students called Philip Homan. The first Philip Homan (b.1748) was the son of George Homan of Westmeath and got an M.A. in 1771. This person became Rev. Philip Homan, the father of Sir William Jackson Homan. The second Philip Homan at Trinity was the son of Isaac Homan, solicitor of Dublin and he got a B.A. in 1820. The other two people called Philip Homan are too late in time to be the chaplain of Villierstown. This would suggest that the Philip Homan of Villierstown chapel was this second Philip Homan. Further records show that Isaac Homan was the son of William Homan, merchant of Dublin.[29] There is a need for further investigation to establish what family connection there was between Rev. Philip Homan of Villierstown and Sir William Jackson Homan.

Other records show Rev. Philip Homan holding two townlands in the parish of Kilvemnon, in the Barony of Slieveardagh, Co. Tipperary in Griffith’s Valuation. The entries in Griffith’s describes Philip Homan was deceased as the property is held by his representatives. This would suggest that Rev. Philip Homan of Villierstown was the owner of these two townlands of Cappoge and Kilvemonon.[30]

Meanwhile back in Villierstown we learn that in the 1840s Rev. Philip Homan was “equally beloved by his Protestant and Catholic parishioners”.[31] His memorial tablet in St. Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore, also records this respect from both sides. The tablet further records that Philip Homan was a fine religious scholar and a great benefactor of the poor in times of distress.

001

Memorial to Rev. Philip Homan in St. Carthage’s Cathedral

Hans Butler (1847): Hans Butler was the son of Francis Butler of Rathmoyle House, Co. Laois. He was first educated by Mr. Martin and entered Trinity College Dublin in October 1824 at sixteen. Hans Butler got a B.A. in Easter term 1831.[32] Hans Butler got married on 12th September 1837 to Mary, daughter of Abraham Baker of Balhealy House, Co. Dublin by his wife Sophia, daughter of Sir John Blunden and granddaughter of 1st Baron Desert. Mary Butler died on 2nd February 1860 after having two sons; Francis Butler, a doctor in Surrey, and Henry Butler, a solicitor, along with a daughter, Jeannette Butler who became the first wife of Frederick Kennedy, solicitor. Another daughter, Mary Letitia, lived for ten years before dying in July 1857. A memorial tablet for Mary Letitia Butler was erected within St. Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore and names Rev. Hans Butler as chaplain of Villierstown.

Sir Barry Drew of Flowerhill near Ballyduff, Co. Waterford married Jane Baker, a niece of Mary and this family connection provided Hans Butler with his first job. Hans Butler was ordained deacon in 1831and priest in 1832 with Mocollop as his first curacy. He served on the Vicar Choral in Lismore from 1839 to 1891 and became chaplain of Villierstown in 1847 until 1886.[33] In 1871 Rev. Hans Butler had a gross income at Villierstown of £102 and a net income of £101.[34] In about 1894 the stipend was worth £130.[35] It is unclear how this increase had arisen. Rev. Hans Butler died on 7th January 1891 at his residence at 12 Ranelagh Road, Dublin.[36]

004

Memorial to the daughter of Rev. Hans Butler

Richard Bartlett Langbridge (1886): Rev. Richard Langbridge was born about 1844 in England. In 1866 he got a B.A. from Trinity College Dublin and in 1870 got an M.A. In 1867 he was made a deacon and in 1869 became a priest. Richard Langbridge’s first job was as curate in 1867 at St. James, Handworth. In 1868 he became curate at Mar and at Dartford which latter place he held until 1870. In 1870 Richard Langbridge became headmaster of the Dartford Grammar School. He remained headmaster until 1876 when he left to become curate at Dukinfield.

But Rev. Richard Langbridge was only a short time at Dukinfield before he left overseas to become curate at Missy in Chile. Rev. Richard Langbridge stayed in Chile until 1882 when he moved to Uruguay. In that year he became consular chaplain in Montevideo. In 1885 Rev. Richard Langbridge returned to Ireland where in 1886 he became chaplain at Villierstown. In 1887 Rev. Richard Langbridge left Villierstown to become perpetual curate at Mocollop.

In 1892 Rev. Richard Langbridge moved again to become vicar of Tubrid.[37] In 1901 Rev. Richard Langbridge was living at Tubrid, Co. Tipperary with his wife, Emily Ada (aged 49) and their daughter, Winifred (aged 20).[38] Rev. Richard Langbridge held the Tubrid living until 1903.

George Gillington (1887): George Gillington was born in 1824 as the son of George Gillington, a smith in Dublin who died when George junior was young. After some education with a private tutor George Gillington entered Trinity College, Dublin on 6th November 1843. He graduated in 1850 with a B.A.[39]

In 1852 George Gillington became a deacon and in 1853 was ordained a priest. He first served as curate of Larne in 1855 followed in 1857-62 as curate in Carrickfergus. While there he met and fell in love with Mabel, second daughter of Hill Wilson of Carrickfergus. On 25th January 1860 they were married at St. Mary’s, Dublin. In 1862 George Gillington was made curate at Ballymena (a position later occupied by John George Disney, see below) and served until 1864 when he became curate of Ramoan and there served until 1877. In 1880 George Gillington became curate of Urney in the Diocese of Derry and served there until 1883. After a break in his career George Gillington became chaplain at Villierstown in 1887 where he served until his death on 21st December 1899.[40]

Arthur Wellesley Chapman (1899): Rev. Arthur Wellesley Chapman was born in England in about 1853. Following some time in England Arthur Chapman went to the United States to further his education. He attended Trinity College Cambridge, Massachusetts and later in Harvard University with a B.D. in 1880. He was made a deacon in 1881 at Huron and a priest in 1882 in Massachusetts. Arthur Chapman was rector of Amesbury in Massachusetts, 1881-82 and curate in charge of Hamstead 1885-87. Arthur Chapman took up a position in the Irish church in 1888 as curate of Cashel and Rathcline. In 1891 he became curate of St. Michael’s parish in Limerick for one year.  After a few years outside the records Arthur Chapman reappears in 1898 as Organisational Secretary of the Irish Society in Liverpool until 1899 when he became chaplain at Villierstown and moved to west Waterford.[41]

In the 1901 census Arthur Chapman was living in Villierstown with his wife, Elizabeth Mary (aged 37 & from Dublin) and four daughters and one son. The four daughters were Lillian (aged 11), Gwendoline (aged 10), Kathleen (aged 8) and Dorothy (aged 7). The one son was Arthur Wellesley Coates Chapman (aged 5). Lillian, Gwendoline and Dorothy were all born in Co. Wicklow while Kathleen was born in Co. Limerick and Arthur junior was born in Co. Dublin.[42]

After leaving Villierstown in 1901 Arthur Chapman moved to a place called Crockford where he was last recorded in 1909.[43]

John George Disney (1901): Rev. John George Disney was born in County Wicklow in about 1867. He entered Trinity College, Dublin where he graduated in 1890 with a B.A. In 1889 John Disney became a deacon and in 1890 became a priest. His first posting was in 1889 as curate of Ballymena in the Diocese of Connor which he served until 1893. In 1893 John Disney became curate of Eighton Banks in Durham which he served until 1898.[44] In 1898 he returned to Ireland as curate of Clonegam until 1901 when he moved to Villierstown. Rev. John Disney held Villierstown and the curate position at Cappoquin until 1904.[45]

John Disney was married to Elizabeth Sarah Clarke from Northumberland in England (born c.1866). They were married in 1899. In the 1901 census they had one daughter, Marion Longridge Disney who was one year old and born in County Waterford.[46]

In 1904 he was elevated from the rank of curate to become rector of Tubrid which he held until 1919. In 1912 he served one year as rural dean of Cahir.[47] In 1911 Rev. John George Disney was living at Tubbrid, Co. Tipperary with his wife and three children. These children were Marion Disney (born 1900), Gervase Atkinson Clarke Disney (born c.1904) and Kathleen Crawford Disney (born c.1905).[48]

In 1919 Rev. John Disney became vicar of Tullameelan. On 30th July 1933 Rev. John Disney died and was buried at Tullameelan.[49]

William Henry Rennison (1904): Rev. William Henry Rennison studied at Trinity College Dublin where he got a B.A. In 1899 he was ordained and in 1900 became curate in Clashmore. In the same year he became curate in charge at Templemichael. In 1901 Rev. William Rennison got married and in 1902 became curate at Kinsalebeg. In 1904 Rev. William Rennison became curate at Cappoquin and chaplain at Villierstown. His predecessor, Rev. John Disney, also held the two positions at the same time. In 1914 Rev. William Rennison was appointed rector of Ardmore.[50]

While in Ardmore he lived in the rectory with his wife Mary Edith Rennison and their daughter Elizabeth Mary (Mollie). Mollie died in 1918 aged 8 years and II months. In 1919, the Rennison’s second child Louisa was born. Her parents called her Elma from the first two letters of Elizabeth and Mary. Elma Rennison says her father was ‘a kind man, a good father, and liked animals’.

Rev. William Rennison was a keen historian and is best remembered as the author of “Succession List of the Bishops, Cathedral and Parochial Clergy of the Dioceses of Waterford and Lismore” (1920) – an invaluable source book for present day local historians and in the writing of this article. Rev. William Rennison also published a series of articles in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society on his transcript of Joshua Boyle’s “Accompt of the Temporalities of the Bishoprics of Waterford” which was taken from the original in the Public Record Office, Dublin before it was destroyed in 1922. This account by Joshua Boyle gives valuable information on the Dioceses of Waterford and Lismore in the first half of the seventeenth century. Rev. Rennison was also a family historian and created a scrap book of all newspaper cuttings related to the family.

In 1921 Rev. William Rennison was transferred to Portlaw and according to the Preachers Book (Ref 6) he took service at St. Paul’s for the last time on Sunday 6th November, 1921. On leaving Ardmore, the parishioners showed their appreciation of his ministry by presenting him with an Address and cheque part of which they desired to be spent on fees for the M.A. Degree at T.C.D. This he subsequently did.

Rev. William Rennison died on 12th October 1937 aged 52 years. The death actually took place in Annestown near Tramore where the family were taking a late summer holiday. He was buried in Ardmore graveyard beside his daughter Mollie. His wife died in 1946 in London where Louisa Rennison now lives.[51]

Charles Geoffrey Nason Stanley (1914): Rev. Charles Stanley was born in County Cork in about 1884. His parents were Charles Henry Stanley and Belinda Mary Stanley of Monoloo, Kilcronet, Co. Cork. Rev. Charles Stanley had a younger brother, Frederick (born c.1888) and a younger sister, Edith (born c.1892).[52] By the time of the 1911 census Rev. Charles had another younger brother, William Henry, born about 1905.

In the same 1911 census the Stanley family had moved to Youghal, Co. Cork and slightly down in the economic scale. Whereas in 1901 Charles Henry Stanley lived off the income from investments, by 1911 he was listed as a fisherman and agent.[53]

Rev. Charles Stanley followed the usual clergy course in education by entering Trinity College Dublin where he graduated with a B.A. In 1904 he was appointed curate of Tramore and in 1907 he was made a deacon.[54] In 1911 Rev. Charles Stanley lived as a curate at Summer Hill, Tramore, Co. Waterford.[55] Rev. Charles Stanley stayed in Tramore until 1914 when he was appointed to the two positions of chaplain at Villierstown and curate at Cappoquin.

In 1916 Rev. Charles Stanley was appointed rector of Kilrossanty which living he held until 1934. In 1934 Rev. Charles Stanley was elevated to the senior church position in the Diocese of Lismore when he became dean of Lismore Cathedral. In 1955 he accepted responsibility for the care of the parish of Cappoquin while remaining as dean at Lismore. In 1957 his duties were increased when he became rural dean for Waterford. Rev. Charles Stanley held all these positions until his retirement in 1960. In February 1977 Rev. Charles Stanley died leaving two sons as clergymen among other issue.[56] One of the sons, Rev. Jeffrey Stanley was in the Royal Navy during World War Two on a mineweeper.[57]

020

Clock over the front door of the chapel 

William J. Skuse (1916-1919): Rev. William Skuse was born in King’s County (Offaly) on 17th December 1886.[58] He was the son of Rev. Richard D. Skuse and Sarah Kate Budd. In 1901 William Skuse lived with his parents at Sranure, Clonygown, King’s County where his father was the incumbent clergyman. William’s father was born in co. Cork while his mother was born in Co. Waterford. William Skuse had a younger brother, James H. Skuse (born c.1887).[59] In 1911 James Skuse worked as a bank clerk in Templemore, Co. Tipperary.[60]

William Skuse became a student in Trinity College Dublin and in 1909 graduated with a B.A. In 1910 he was made a deacon and appointed curate in Kenmare, Co. Kerry.[61] In the 1911 census William Skuse was listed as a boarder in a house on Shelbourne Road, Kenmare. In 1911 William Skuse was single and gave his occupation as Church of Ireland deacon.[62] Later in 1911 he was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Limerick.

In 1912 Rev. William Skuse became curate of Ematris in the Diocese of Clogher but in 1915 returned to Kerry as curate in Dingle for one year. His return to Kerry also had personal reasons as in 1915 he married Mary Elizabeth, 4th daughter of Dr. Maybury of Riversdale, Kenmare. They had two sons. In 1916 he took up the two positions of chaplain at Villierstown and curate at Cappoquin. Rev. William Skuse held both positions until 1919 when he became rector of Kiltallagh in the Diocese of Limerick.[63] The spiritual and administrative activities relating to Villierstown remained united with that of Cappoquin long after the chaplain position ceased to exist at Villierstown.[64]

In 1922 Rev. William Skuse became curate in charge at Kilflyn which position he held until 1932. In 1932 he became rector of Grean and Caherconlish in the Diocese of Emly and held this living until 1951 when he became Diocesan curate in Cashel until 1956.[65]

The end of the Villierstown chaplain position

This position of chaplain at Villierstown ended in 1919 and the chapel needs were overseen by the clergy in Lismore Cathedral.[66] The 1941 Church of Ireland Diocesan report recorded the realisation of £1,070 5s 3d from the sale of the glebe land attached to Villierstown chapel. This money was included in the Diocesan endowment fund to provide an annual income on the interest for the needs of the Diocese.[67] The 1945 Diocesan report recorded the amount raised as £1,070 5s 8d but then who is going to argue about five pence?[68] Another parcel of land near Villierstown was granted to the Diocesan endowment fund for the support of parish clergy by the Villiers Stuart family. This endowment was worth £1,002 16s 6d.[69] In 1955 the chapel ceased to operation as a house of worship. It remained idle for many years before given to the local people in Villierstown to become the community centre at the heart of the community. In 1974 President Erskine Childers visited the chapel and dedicated it for ecumenical use.

============

Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge the help of Julian Walton, Rachael McDouall and the late Robin Bush in the preparation of this article.

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Dromana 800 crest

This article is part of the Dromana 800 celebrations of July 2015. For more information see their website at www.dromana800.com

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End of post

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[1] Hugh Maguire (ed.), An Introduction to the Architectural Heritage of County Waterford (Government of Ireland, 2004), p. 14

[2] R.B. MacCarthy, The diocese of Lismore, 1801-69 (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2008), p. 42

[3] Hugh Maguire (ed.), An Intro to the Architectural Heritage of County Waterford, p. 14; Rev. W. Rennison, Succession list of the Dioceses of Waterford and Lismore, p. 221

[4] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/B/7/36, 22nd June 1755, Christopher Musgrave, Tourin to [Aland Mason?]

[5] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/B/7/36, c. December 1754, Christopher Musgrave, Tourin to [Aland Mason?]

[6] R.B. MacCarthy, The diocese of Lismore, 1801-69, p. 44

[7] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/B/7/36, c. December 1755, Christopher Musgrave, Tourin to [Aland Mason?]

[8] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/B/7/37, 30th April 1757, Earl Grandison, Dromana to Aland Mason, Dublin

[9] Rev. W. Rennison, Succession list of the Bishop, Cathedral & Parochial Clergy of the Dioceses of Waterford and Lismore (Dublin, 1920), pp. 220, 221

[10] J.R. O’Flanagan, The Blackwater in Munster (Jeremiah Hon, London, 1844), p. 40

[11] Rev. W. Rennison, Succession list of the Dioceses of Waterford and Lismore, pp. 138, 139

[12] George D. Burtchaell & Thomas U. Sadlier (eds.), Alumni Dublinenses (Thoemmes, Bristol, 2001), vol. 2, p. 343

[13] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists (Ulster Historical Foundation, 2008), p. 268

[14] Rev. W. Rennison, Succession list of the Dioceses of Waterford and Lismore, p. 221

[15] Rev. W. Rennison, Succession list of the Dioceses of Waterford and Lismore, p. 221

[16] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 269

[17] Rev. W. Rennison, Succession list of the Dioceses of Waterford and Lismore, p. 163

[18] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 349

[19] Rev. W. Rennison, Succession list of the Dioceses of Waterford and Lismore, pp. 207, 221; Llewellyn Jewitt & others (eds.), The Reliquary (John Smith, London, 1865), volume 5 (1864-5), p. 102; Information supplied by Rachael McDouall, descendant of Rev. Thomas Sandiford

[20] George D. Burtchaell & Thomas U. Sadlier (eds.), Alumni Dublinenses, vol. 2, p. 732

[21] Rev. W. Rennison, Succession list of the Dioceses of Waterford and Lismore, p. 133

[22] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 379; Information supplied by Rachael McDouall, descendant of Rev. Thomas Sandiford

[23] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 287

[24] Edmund Lodge, The Peerage of the British Empire (Saunders & Otley, London, 1843), p. 91

[25] http://www.abandonedireland.com/Shurock.html accessed on 1 May 2015

[26] http://landedestates.nuigalway.ie/LandedEstates/jsp/estate-show.jsp?id=3368 accessed on 1 May 2015

[27] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 287

[28] Burke’s The Landed Gentry of Ireland, 1899, pp. xvii, 125

[29] George D. Burtchaell & Thomas U. Sadlier (eds.), Alumni Dublinenses, vol. 2, p. 408

[30] http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation accessed on 1 May 2015

[31] J.R. O’Flanagan, The Blackwater in Munster (), p. 40

[32] George D. Burtchaell & Thomas U. Sadlier (eds.), Alumni Dublinenses, vol. 1, p. 122

[33] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 204

[34] Joseph Hansard, History of Waterford, edited by Donald Brady (Waterford County Council, ND), p. 286

[35] P. Egan, History guide and directory of the county and city of Waterford (Dublin, 1894), p. 425

[36] Memorial in St. Carthage Cathedral, Lismore

[37] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 305

[38] Census 1901 return for house number 5 at Tubbrid, Co. Tipperary

[39] George D. Burtchaell & Thomas U. Sadlier (eds.), Alumni Dublinenses, vol. 2, p. 327

[40] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 264

[41] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 212

[42] Census 1901 return for house number 1 at Villierstown, Co. Waterford

[43] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 212

[44] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 241

[45] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 241

[46] Census 1901 return for house number 10 in Coollin, Kilmeaden, Co. Waterford

[47] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 241

[48] Census 1911 return for house number 6 at Tubbrid, Co. Tipperary

[49] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 241

[50] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, pp. 378, 379

[51] http://www.waterfordmuseum.ie/exhibit/web/Display/article/331/14/The_Ardmore_Journal_Rectors_Of_St_Pauls_Ardmore.html accessed on 27 January 2015

[52] Census 1901 return for house number 1 at Monoloo, Kilcronet, Co. Cork

[53] Census 1911 return for house number 1 at Springfield, Youghal, Co. Cork

[54] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 388

[55] Census 1911 return for house number 9.2 Summer Hill, Tramore, Co. Waterford

[56] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 388

[57] Conna in History and Tradition, p. 340

[58] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 383

[59] Census 1901 return for Sranure, Clonygown, King’s County

[60] Census 1911 return for house number 68 on Main Street, Templemore, Co. Tipperary

[61] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 383

[62] Census 1911 return for house number 8 on Shelbourne Road, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

[63] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 383

[64] Church of Ireland, Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, Report to the Diocesan Council, 1941, p. 23

[65] Rev. Iain Knox (ed.), Clergy of Waterford, Lismore and Ferns: Biographical Succession Lists, p. 383

[66] Rev. W. Rennison, Succession list of the Dioceses of Waterford and Lismore, p. 221

[67] Church of Ireland, Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, Report to the Diocesan Council, 1941, p. 13

[68] Church of Ireland, Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, Report to the Diocesan Council, 1945, pp. 11, 12

[69] Church of Ireland, Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, Report to the Diocesan Council, 1941, p. 13

Standard
Waterford history

The Dromana estate in 1640

The Dromana estate in 1640

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

In 1640 Sir Gerald Fitzgerald of Dromana was lord of the extensive County Waterford family estate centred on the castle and house of Dromana, perched high on a rock on the eastern bank of the River Blackwater. Sir Gerald Fitzgerald was the eldest son of Sir John Óge Fitzgerald of Dromana and his wife, Hon. Eleanor Butler, daughter of 2nd Baron Dunboyne. On 1st March 1626 Sir John Óge Fitzgerald died leaving Gerald Fitzgerald, a minor, as his eldest son and heir.[1]

As a minor, Gerald Fitzgerald became a ward of the crown and was brought up a Protestant. The wardship of Gerald Fitzgerald was held for a time by Sir Edward Villiers, Lord President of Munster. After the death of Sir Edward Villiers, the wardship was purchased by Gerald’s paternal grandmother, Ellen Fitzgibbon Fitzgerald. Eventually Sir Gerald Fitzgerald of Dromana came of age and married Mabel, daughter of Sir Robert Digby of Coleshill, Warwickshire by his wife Lettice, only child of Gerald Fitzgerald, Lord Offaly, eldest son of 11th Earl of Kildare. Sir Gerald Fitzgerald of Dromana died in August 1643 leaving his only son, John Fitzgerald (born c. February 1642), as heir.[2]

The estate of Sir Gerald Fitzgerald in 1640

The Civil Survey of County Waterford, made in 1655, was taken to find who owned what properties in 1640 and to measure the bounds of those properties. The completed survey could then be used to assign land to the adventurers, those who gave money to finance the Parliamentary army during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (1641-1653) as repayment for the money advanced.[3] For our present purpose the Civil Survey gives a good account of the various properties owned by Sir Gerald Fitzgerald in 1640. The measures and valuations of each property will be given below along with any additional information relating to the property.

The Civil Survey adopted the barony as the territorial basis of the survey and this article will follow that course. Therefore the first property of Sir Gerald Fitzgerald that we find was situated at Templemichael in the Barony of Coshmore and Coshbride in the far west of County Waterford.

Barony of Coshmore and Coshbride

Templemichael parish

The civil parish of Templemichael was made up of two land divisions, Ballynatray and Templemichael. The latter was the property of Sir Gerald Fitzgerald of Dromana. Templemichael was bounded on the east by the River Blackwater, on the south by the River Tourig, on the west by Cornifeagh and Ballydonnell and on the north by the River Glendine. There was a “small” castle and fishing weir on the land.[4]

Sometime before 1420 the third Earl of Ormond granted half the lordship of Inchiquin to his niece and unofficial spouse, Katherine of Desmond. About the same time Katherine also acquired the manor of Rhincrew which place became known as Templemichael. In 1443 she granted Templemichael to her nephew, Gerald Fitz James of Dromana, afterwards lord of the Decies. The Fitzgerald family held Templemichael until 1750 when they sold it to Richard Dawson of Dublin.[5]

In 1640 the land of Templemichael measured 7½ ploughlands. There were 907 acres made up by 5 acres of meadow (£2 10s), 602 acres of arable (£125 10s), 150 acres of rocky ground (£12) and 150 acres of scrub land (£10). The total property was valued at £150.

The surveyors described Sir Gerald Fitzgerald as an Irish Papist even though he was brought up a Protestant. They further said that Templemichael was in the jointer of Sir Gerald’s wife and because she was married to an Irish Papist was dispossessed of Templemichael. In addition to this issue of religion there was 3,000 acres of mountain and course land between Templemichael and the neighbouring land of Ballynatray that was in disputed ownership. In 1655 Gifford Stoute held this disputed land and paid rent of £72 to the government.[6]

Barony of Decies within Drum[7]

Aglish parish

Dromanabeg, Ballyngown and Kilmurry: There were 410 acres in the three townlands and this was made up of 80 acres of arable (£12 16s 8d), 150 acres of pasture (£7), 20 acres of red bog (£6), along with 160 acres of shrubby wood (£4). The total property was valued at £29 16s 8d.[8]

Curryheene, Ballycullan and Graige: There were 480 acres consisting of 110 acres of arable (£16 10s), 120 acres of pasture (£6), 220 acres of mountain (£1), 10 acres of red bog (3s 4d), along with 20 acres of rocky ground and shrubby wood (6s 8d). The total property was valued at £24.[9]

Ballynecourty, Coolehisty and Aglish: There were 367 acres consisting of 7 acres of meadow (£1 8s), 150 acres of arable (£7 10s), 200 acres of pasture (£10), and 10 acres of marsh bog (10s). The total property was valued at £19 8s.[10]

Dromore Upper and Lower with Glannassie and Tenescarty: These four townlands contained 1,050 acres which consisted of 10 acres of meadow (£2), 450 acres of arable (£67 10s), 465 acres of pasture (£23 10s), 50 acres of red bog (£1 5s), along with 25 acres of rocky ground (4s) and 50 acres of shrubby wood (15s). The total property was valued at £95 4s. On 16th August 1641 Sir Gerald Fitzgerald gave a lease of the two parts of Dromore onto John Bucknor, English Protestant, for 99 years in recognition of the faithful service given by John Bucknor to Sir Gerald and to his father, John Fitzgerald and to his grandfather, Sir John Fitzgerald of Dromana. Previous to this lease John Bucknor had expended money on buildings, fencing and enclosing the two parts of Dromore.[11]

On 14th September 1642 a gift was made by Sir Gerald Fitzgerald to John Bucknor of the two parts of Dromore with Glannassie and Tenescarty in consideration of the losses sustained by John Bucknor at the start of the 1641 Rebellion. These losses included buildings burnt and his dwelling house demolished. The rent for the four townlands was £10 yearly for the first twenty years, £15 for the subsequent thirty years and £42 yearly for the following fifty years.[12]

Curraghdarragh and Lakensallagh: There were 250 acres here, consisting of 80 acres of arable (£12), 110 acres of pasture (£5 10s), 10 acres of red bog (5s 4d), along with 25 acres of rocky ground (8s) and 25 acres of shrubby wood (8s 4d). The total property was valued at £18 11s 8d.[13]

Lisgriffen: This place was found by the Civil Survey commissioners towards the end of their survey. They described this unprofitable piece of land (value 20s) as containing about 20 acres of shrubby wood and rough pasture in the mountains of Slievegroyne belonging to Sir Gerald Fitzgerald of Dromana. It was the local people who called the place Lisgriffen.[14]

041

A view across the former Dromana estate in Aglish parish

Ardmore parish

Ballycurren: This townland measured 550 acres which was made up by 8 acres of meadow (£2), 160 acres of arable (£16), 180 acres of pasture (£12), 100 acres of mountain (16s 8d), 10 acres of red bog (3s 4d), along with 70 acres of rocky ground (17s 6d) and 22 acres of shrubby wood (5s 6d). The total property was valued at £32 3s.[15]

Ballymccartt: There were 800 acres in this townland made up by 8 acres of meadow (£2), 150 acres of arable (£15), 250 acres of pasture (£18), 200 acres of mountain (£1), along with 120 acres of rocky ground (£1 10s) and 72 acres of shrubby wood (18s). The total value of this townland was £38 8s.[16]

Ballyguine: There were 300 acres consisting of 7 acres of meadow (£1 15s), 30 acres of arable (£3), 120 acres of pasture (£9), along with 100 acres of rocky ground (£1 5s) and 43 acres of shrubby wood (9s 9d). The total value of Ballyguine was £15 9s 9d.[17]

General comment: The Civil Survey commissioners noted for the parish of Ardmore that on 3rd March 1619 Sir Gerald Fitzgerald of Dromana and his wife Ellen made a lease of their Ardmore property for 47 years at a yearly rent of £21 to Pierce Power in consideration of £60. This Pierce Power was a Protestant gent living at Ballygarran near Lismore who owned seven acres at Farrangarrott in Ardmore parish.[18]

Clashmore parish

Craggs, Kilmore, Knockanelarish, Shanniballymore, Abbarta and Coolbagh: These six townlands measured 1,200 acres made up by 10 acres of meadow (£2), 600 acres of arable (£90), 570 acres of pasture (£28), along with 20 acres of mountain (6s 8d). The total property was valued at £24. Craggs was possibly the Le Gregge of 1298 which had one villata held by the Irish (worth £4 13s 6d) and was owned by Thomas Fitz Maurice (father of the 1st Earl of Desmond).[19] For more information on Thomas Fitz Maurice see http://celtic2realms-medievalnews.blogspot.ie/2015/02/thomas-apa-fitz-maurice-of-desmond_28.html

Ballycarran (two divisions): Two townlands of Ballycarran measured 700 acres of which 250 acres were arable (£25), 300 acres of pasture (£7 10s), 90 acres of mountain (7s 2d), along with 20 acres of rocky ground (6s 8d) and 40 acres of shrubby wood (10s). The total property was valued at £33 14s 2d.[20]

Raheen: This townland measured 140 acres made up of 70 acres of arable (£10 10s), 64 acres of pasture (£3 4s), and 6 acres of shrubby wood (6s). Raheen was valued at £14.[21]

Ardsallagh, Tenybiny, Tenknock, Shanacoole and Ballyncrompane: These five townlands measured 1,030 acres which was made up of 450 acres of arable (£67 10s), 525 acres of pasture (£26 5s), 5 acres of bog (2s 6d), along with 50 acres of shrubby wood (£2 10s). The total property was valued at £96 7s 6d. Ardsallagh is possibly the Artsilach in the cantred of Oveagh owned by Thomas Fitz Maurice Fitzgerald (father of the 1st Earl of Desmond) in 1298. At that time it had half a villata held by the Irish and worth £4. Sir Reginald de Dene, a cousin of Fitz Maurice, held the other half villata and rendered 13s 4d while doing suit at the manorial court.[22]

General comment: All the different townlands owned by Sir Gerald Fitzgerald of Dromana in the parish of Clashmore were part and parcel of the manor of Dromana.[23]

Kilmolash parish

Cloghballydonisy, Killree and Killnegibbog: On 1st May 1653 the three places belonging to Sir Gerald Fitzgerald of Dromana and the adjunct lands of Clement Gough were given by the Commissioners of the Revenue to Lieutenant Colonel Francis Foulkes and Cornett Robert Foulkes for seven years at a rent of £33 per year.[24]

Kinsalebeg parish

Ballyheeny: There were 203 acres made up by 3 acres of meadow (15s), 80 acres of arable (£12), 100 acres of pasture (£7 10s), 120 acres of mountain (8s 4d), 20 acres of bog (1s 8d), along with 20 acres of shrubby ground (10s). The total value of Ballyheeny was £20 15s.[25]

Lisgenan parish

Sir Gerald Fitzgerald held eleven of the eleven and a half ploughlands in the parish of Lisgenan. Only the townland of Ballyquin with its half ploughland was owned by somebody else, namely, Sir Peter Aylward of Faithlegg near Waterford City. The property of Sir Gerald Fitzgerald in Lisgenan was governed under the manor of Grange. This manor kept a court leet twice a year and a court baron as often as was thought needed along with all the usual royalties due to a manor except fellon’s goods.[26]

Grange: There were 1,300 acres made up by 50 acres of meadow (£12), 500 acres of arable (£50), 600 acres of pasture (£45), along with 150 acres of rocky ground and shrubby (£1 17s 6d). The total property was valued at £109 7s 6d. On 9th January 1632 Grange was leased to Edward Stoute and William Meagh for 51 years at £180 yearly rent. In 1655 it was held by Nicholas Stoute by virtue of the lease. Grange was possibly the location of Lisgenan with its three quarters of a villata (worth £4) that was owned in 1298 by Thomas Fitz Maurice Fitzgerald (father of the 1st Earl of Desmond).[27]

Knocknegeragh: There was 230 acres made up of 5 acres of meadow (£1 5s), 100 acres of arable (£10), 100 acres of pasture (£7), along with 25 acres of rocky ground and shrubby wood (6s 3d). The total property was valued at £3 11s 3d. John Percivall held this place in 1655 by a lease but by what terms the Civil Survey commissioners did not know.[28]

Ballygangaden: There were 170 acres made up by 4 acres of meadow (£1), 80 acres of arable (£8), 56 acres of pasture (£4 4s), along with 30 acres of rocky ground and shrubby wood (7s 6d). The total property was valued at £13 11s 6d.[29]

Ballylean: Ballylean had 140 acres made up of 4 acres of meadow (£1), 50 acres of arable (£5), 50 acres of pasture (£3 15s), along with 36 acres of rocky ground and shrubby wood (9s). The total property was valued at £10 4s.[30]

Ballyshonikins: There were 720 acres made up of 12 acres of meadow (£3), 260 acres of arable (£16), 360 acres of pasture (£16), along with 88 acres of rocky ground and shrubby wood (£1 2s 8d). The total property was valued at £36 2s 8d.[31]

Rushins and half of Ballyguine: There were 480 acres made up of 10 acres of meadow (£2 10s), 100 acres of arable (£10), 130 acres of pasture (£9 15s), 120 acres of mountain (8s 4d), 20 acres of bog (1s 8d), along with 100 acres of rocky ground and shrubby wood (15s). The total property was valued at £24. In 1298 Rushins was owned by Thomas Fitz Maurice Fitzgerald (father of the 1st Earl of Desmond) and had half a villata worth 100s per year.[32]

Grelagh: There were 700 acres in Grelagh consisting of 6 acres of meadow (£1), 20 acres of arable (£2), 380 acres of pasture (£28 10s), 150 acres of mountain (18s 8d), along with 144 acres of rocky ground and shrubby wood (£1 16s). The total property was valued at £34 14s 8d. Grelagh was owned in 1298 by Thomas Fitz Maurice Fitzgerald (father of the 1st Earl of Desmond) where there were three quarters of a villata worth 28s per year.[33]

Ballyellinan: There were 220 acres made up of 6 acres of meadow (£1 10s), 70 acres of arable (£7), 80 acres of pasture (£6), along with 64 acres of rocky ground and shrubby wood (16s). The total property was valued at £15 6s. Ballyellinan could be the Ballyarlle of 1298 which was owned by Thomas Fitz Maurice with its half a villata held by various tenants and worth 20s. Sir John le Poher, junior, held one villata at Ballyellinan in 1298 with Ballycotyng and rendered 30s to Thomas Fitz Maurice as a free tenant.[34]

Adergauall: There was 100 acres made up of 2 acres of meadow (10s), 60 acres of pasture (£4 10s), along with 38 acres of rocky ground and shrubby wood (9s 6d). The total property was valued at £5 9s 6d. Adergauall was possibly the Eddegaul in Oveagh cantred which was owned by Thomas Fitz Maurice in 1298 and where Adam Christopher held one quarter of a villata worth 26s 8d per year.[35]

Ringagonagh parish

Helvichead, Ballygalemore, Bynegonyny & Knockanepower: These four townlands measured 430 acres which consisted of 3 acres of meadow (12s), 230 acres of arable (£23 10s), 170 acres of pasture (£8 10s), and 27 acres of mountain (12s 6d). The total property was valued at £33 4s 6d.[36]

Moelleorny, Shanakill & Rathnemeenagh: There was here 290 acres consisting of 130 acres of arable (£12 8s 10d), 140 acres of pasture (£7), 3 acres of mountain (1s), 3 acres of red bog (9s), along with 13 acres of shrubby wood on part profitable land (12s 6d). The total property was valued at £20 10s 6d. The townland of Moelleorny paid 5s annual chief rent to the Earl of Cork as part of the manor of Ballynecourty. The farmers of the three townlands had liberty to graze the mountains of Slievegroyne.[37]

Ballynecourty & Gortnedeyhy: These two townlands measured 230 acres consisting of 110 acres of arable (£16), 110 acres of pasture (£5), and 10 acres of shrubby wood in a bog (2s 6d). The total property was valued at £21 2s 6d. The farmers of the two townlands had liberty to graze the mountains of Slievegroyne while 10s annual chief rent was due to the Earl of Cork as part of the manor of Ballynecourty.[38]

Total area of estate for the above lands – table one

Barony & parish Places Ploughlands Acres Value
Coshmore/Coshbride
Templemichael Templemichael 7.5 907 £150
Decies within Drum
Aglish Dromanabeg & two others 1.25 410 £29 16s 8d
Curryheene & two others 1.5 480 £24
Ballynecourty & two others 1.25 367 £19 8s
Dromore Upper & Lower

& two others

3.25 1,050 £95 4
Curraghdarragh

& Lakensallagh

1.0 250 £18 11s 8d
Ardmore Ballycurren 1.33 550 £32 3s
Ballymccartt 2.0 800 £38 8s
Ballyguine 1.0 300 £15 9s 9d
Clashmore Craggs & five others 3.25 + an oxland 1,200 £120 6s 8d
Ballycarran (two parts) 2.0 700 £33 14s 2d
Raheen 0.5 140 £14
Ardsallagh & four others 3.5 1,030 £96 7s 6d
Kilmolash Cloghballydonisy & two others 1.5 300 £23 18s
Kinsalebeg Ballyheeny 0.5 203 £20 15s
Lisgenan Grange 4.25 1,300 £109 7s 6d
Knocknegeragh 1.0 230 £18 11s 3d
Ballygangeden 0.5 170 £13 11s 6d
Ballylean 0.5 140 £10 4s
Ballyshonikins 2.5 720 £36 2s 8d
Rushin & Ballyguine 2.0 480 £24
Grelagh 2.0 700 £34 14s 8d
Ballyellinan 0.5 220 £15 6s
Adergauall 0.25 100 £5 0s 6d
Ringagonagh
Helvickhead & three others 1.33 430 £33 4s 6d
Moellcorney & two others 1.66 290 £20 10s 6d
Ballynecourty & Gortnedeyhy 1.0 230 £21 2s 6d
Total 48.82 13,697 £1,073 18s

Ploughlands

It is to be noted that the ploughland is not as popular opinion would have it. In popular opinion one ploughland should be about 120 acres of arable land or 300 statute acres but that is on the assumption that a ploughland is a measure of area – it is not. A ploughland is a measure of value. It was a measure of land that could be ploughed in a year by one plough drawn by eight oxen. As soil types different from place to place so the amount of ground that a plough team can cover varies. One could compare it to one litre of milk and one litre of beer. They are both one litre but the nutritional value of each is different.

Barony of Decies without Drum

Affane parish

Dromana More, Ballyhanemore & Dromroe: There were 800 acres in these three townlands made up by 20 acres of meadow (£5), 500 acres of arable (£75), 200 acres of pasture (£10), 40 acres of mountain (10s), and 20 acres of red bog (5s), along with 20 acres of shrubby wood (5s). The three townlands were valued at £91. In addition there were two weirs on the River Blackwater worth £5. The chief castle and residence of Sir Gerald Fitzgerald of Dromana was located in the townland of Dromana More.[39]

Dromana (20)Dromana House, home of Sir Gerald Fitzgerald

Colligan parish

Colligan, Garrycloyne & Knockruoe: There were 660 acres consisting of 90 acres of arable (£13), 290 acres of pasture (£14 10s), 100 acres of mountain (£1 6s), 20 acres of red bog (7s), along with 30 acres of rocky ground (15s) and shrubby wood on unprofitable land (£4). In Colligan there were 42 trees fit for timber. The total property was valued at £33 9s. on 20th February 1633 Sir Gerald Fitzgerald leased Colligan and Garrycloyne to Sir Richard Osbourne of Knockmoan for 81 years at £20 annual rent with payment of a great fine. On 31st July 1637 Sir Richard conveyed the two townlands to his second son, Nicholas Osbourne of Cappagh who held them in 1641.[40]

Dungarvan parish

Ballymemauge: There were 460 acres consisting of 5 acres of meadow (£1), 160 acres of arable (£18), 200 acres of pasture (£15), 45 acres of red bog (17s), along with 50 acres of shrubby wood on mountain (£1 3s). The total property was valued at £36. On 20th February 1633 Sir Gerald Fitzgerald leased this place to Sir Richard Osbourne of Knockmoan for 81 years at a yearly rent of £30 with the payment of a great fine. On 31st July 1637 Sir Richard Osbourne granted the land to his second son, Nicholas Osbourne of Cappagh who held it in 1641 and suffered material loss in the Rebellion.[41]

Coolecormucke: There were 90 acres consisting of 30 acres of meadow (£5) and 60 acres of arable (£12). The total property was valued at £17. On 20th February 1633 Sir Gerald Fitzgerald leased this place to Sir Richard Osbourne for 81 years for £15 yearly rent and the payment of a great fine. In 1637 Sir Richard gave it to his second son Nicholas Osbourne and he held it in 1641.[42]

Ballycullenane: There were 140 acres consisting of 4 acres of meadow (16s), 60 acres of arable (£9), 40 acres of pasture (£2), 20 acres of mountain (10s), 6 acres of red bog (6s), along with 10 acres of shrubby wood (£1). The total property was valued at £13 12s. On 23rd March 1631 Sir Gerald Fitzgerald leased this place to James Fitzgerald for 31 years for a yearly rent of £12. In February 1640 James Fitzgerald, in consideration of £22, granted the unexpired term of years to Nicholas Osbourne of Cappagh.[43]

Ballyduff: There were 120 acres consisting of 3 acres of meadow (12s), 40 acres of arable (£6), 70 acres of pasture (£3 10s), along with 7 acres of red bog (2s). The total property was valued at £10 4s. In 1641 Nicholas Osbourne claimed to be the tenant of Ballyduff by the unexpired term of years of a lease held by Lawrence Faghy, a deceased Englishman.[44]

Kilmurry: There were 80 acres consisting of 4 acres of meadow (16s), 46 acres of arable (8s), and 30 acres of pasture (£1 10s). The total property was valued at £8 14s. On 20th March 1631 Sir Gerald Fitzgerald of Dromana leased this place for 31 years to Thomas Fitz Harris of Ballygageen for £12 annual rent. On 13th August 1641, in consideration of £10, Thomas Fitz Harris conveyed the unexpired term of years to Sir Richard Osbourne.[45]

Ballygeyry: There were 160 acres consisting of 3 acres of meadow (12s), 90 acres of arable (£13 10s), 40 acres of pasture (£2), 10 acres of mountain (5s), and 8 acres of red bog (8s), along with 9 acres of shrubby wood on mountain ground (6s). The total property was valued at £17 1s. In addition, Ballygeyry had the liberty of commons on the mountain of Slieve Gua. On 20th March 1631 Sir Gerald Fitzgerald leased Ballygeyry to Thomas Fitz Harris for 31 years at £13 annual rent. On 13th August 1641, in consideration of £10, Thomas Fitz Harris conveyed the lease to Sir Richard Osbourne.[46]

Abbeyside burgery land called Turner’s Land: There were 34 acres consisting of 30 acres of arable (£4 10s) and 4 acres of pasture (6s). The total property was valued at £4 16s. There was chief rent of 5s 6d due out of this property to the Earl of Cork.[47]

Fews parish

Noryleagh, Ballynefinsogy, Ballyboy, Grangewood, Rathnemoyden, Graigerush, and Commons: Sir Gerald Fitzgerald of Dromana owned the entire parish of Fews in 1640. The parish measured 2,000 acres and this consisted of 300 acres of arable (£46), 1,000 acres of pasture (£39), 300 acres of mountain (£8 10s), 100 acres of red bog (£3 10s), along with 100 acres of shrubby wood (£3 10s) and 200 acres of bog for pasture (£9 10s). The total property was valued at £24. All the townlands in Fews parish had free liberty of the mountain on Monevully.[48]

Kilgobinet parish

Garranbane: This townland measured 300 acres and consisted of 10 acres of meadow (£2), 200 acres of arable (£20), 60 acres of pasture (£4 10s), along with 30 acres of shrubby wood and bog for pasture (£1 10s). The townland was valued at £28.[49]

Monerode: This townland was 150 acres consisting of 50 acres of arable (£6), 50 acres of pasture (£3), and 50 acres of mountain for pasture and shrubby wood (£1 10s). The total property was valued at £10 10s. In 1298 Geoffrey Brun was a free tenant of Thomas Fitz Maurice Fitzgerald (father of the 1st Earl of Desmond) and rendered 6s 8d without doing suit at the manorial court.[50]

Ballyconnery: This place measured 150 acres consisting of 100 acres of pasture (£6), and 50 acres of shrubby wood on the mountain (£1 10s). The total property was valued at £7 10s.[51]

Ballynekilly, Scart Idriny and Barrykre: These three townlands measured 100 acres and this consisted of 40 acres of arable (£3 10s), 20 acres of pasture (£1 10s), along with 40 acres of mountain and bog for pasture (10s). The total property was valued at £5 10s. Previous to 1640 Ballynekilly and Scart Idriny were mortgaged to John Hore of Dungarvan.[52]

Kilrossanty parish

Knockehelan: This townland had 80 acres which consisted of 20 acres of arable (£6 10s), 40 acres of pasture (£2 10s), 10 acres of red bog (5s), and 10 acres of bog for pasture (10s). The total value of the townland was £9 15s.[53]

Modeligo parish

Mountain Castle, Glantallagh, Lisleagh and Likowrane: There were 420 acres consisting of 10 acres of meadow (£2), 80 acres of arable (£10), 140 acres of pasture (£6), 80 acres of mountain (£1), 20 acres of red bog (5s), along with 20 acres of rocky ground (5s) and 70 acres of shrubby wood on the mountain (£1 5s). The total value of the four townlands was £20 15s. There was in 1640 a small castle at Mountain Castle which was defensible. In 1618 a deed of enfeoffment by Daniel Fitz Philip McGrath of Mountain Castle said that Daniel had lease of same for 101 years from Sir John Fitzgerald of Dromana (grandfather of Sir Gerald Fitzgerald). When did this lease start and when did it end are as yet unknown. The rent to Dromana was £16 and by 1639 the rent had increased to £50. In 1639 Philip McGrath leased Mountain Castle to his son John McGrath.[54]

Upper and Lower Garrans: These two townlands contained 400 acres and this was made up of 40 acres of meadow (£8), 200 acres of arable (£30), and 160 acres of pasture (£6). The total property was valued at £44.[55]

Seskinan parish

Nire, Blyantisowre, Knockboy, Lacknydarry, Killcuony, Ballynegulkie, Corredoon, Buollenvonteen, Tour, Inymy, Canernelegy and Cloneguggiall with a third part of manor of Mountain Castle: Sir Gerald Fitzgerald of Dromana owned the full area of Seskinan parish with the individual townlands listed. The parish measured 1,600 acres and this consisted of 120 acres of meadow (£4), 500 acres of arable (£50), 700 acres of pasture (£35), 200 acres of mountain (£3 8s), 30 acres of red bog (7s), along with 10 acres of rocky ground (4d) and 40 acres of shrubby wood on the mountain (£1 4s). The total parish was valued at £93 19s 4d.[56]

DSC05592

The land north of Knockboy church on the Dromana estate

Stradbally parish

Carrighelly: This townland had 90 acres consisting of 3 acres of meadow (12s), 40 acres of arable (£5), and 40 acres of pasture (£3) along with 7 acres of shrubby bog for pasture (8s). Carrighelly was valued at £9. The townland contained the stump of an old castle.[57]

Carrig Irea: There were 50 acres here consisting of 20 acres of arable (£2), 20 acres of pasture (12s), and 5 acres of shrubby bog (4s) with 5 acres of bog for pasture (4s). The townland was valued at £3.[58]

Whitechurch parish

Ballyhemelagh with Ballygambon and Killcannan: The three townlands measured 629 acres and this consisted of 32 acres of meadow (£6 10s), 213 acres of arable (£31 19s), 313 acres of pasture (£18 13s), 20 acres of mountain (5s), 20 acres of red bog (15s), along with 31 acres of shrubby wood on the mountain (18s). The total property was valued at £59. Sir Gerald Fitzgerald paid 2s 4d chief rent out of the land of Killcannon to the Earl of Cork.[59]

Knockanedun: Knockanedun had 100 acres consisting of 60 acres of arable (£8), and 40 acres of pasture (£3). The total value was £11.[60]

Killnefarney: This townland measured 85 acres which consisted of 40 acres of arable (£6), 30 acres of pasture (£1 15s), 7 acres of red bog (5s), along with 8 acres of shrubby wood on the bog (4s). The total value of the townland was £8 4s.[61]

Total area of estate in Decies without Drum – table two

Barony & parish Places Ploughlands Acres Value
Decies without Drum
Affane Dromana More & two others 1.66 800 £91
Colligan Colligan & two others 2.0 660 £33 9s
Dungarvan Ballymemauge 2.0 460 £36
Coolecormucke 0.25 90 £17
Ballycullenane 0.5 140 £13 12s
Ballyduff 0.5 120 £10 4s
Kilmurry 0.25 80 £8 14s
Ballygeyry 0.5 160 £17 1s
Turner’s Land 34 £4 16s
Fews Noryleagh & six others 6.25 2,000 £110
Kilgobinet Garranbane 1.0 300 £28
Monerode 0.66 150 £10 10s
Ballyconnery 0.66 150 £7 10s
Ballynekilly & two others 0.33 100 £5 10s
Kilrossanty Knockehelan 0.5 80 £9 15s
Modeligo Mountain Castle & three others 1.0 420 £20 15s
Garrans Upper & Lower 0.33 400 £44
Stradbally Carrighelly 0.5 90 £9
Carrig Irea 0.5 50 £3
Seskinan Nire & eleven others 5.0 + a third part 1,600 £93 19s 4d
Whitechurch Ballyhemelagh & two others 1.66 629 £59
Knockanedun 0.5 100 £11
Killnefarney 0.5 85 £8 4s
Total 27.35 8,698 £651 19s 4d

Total area and value of the Dromana estate in County Waterford in 1640

Ploughlands Acres Value
Table one 48.82 13,697 £1,073 18s
Table two 27.35 8,698 £651 19s 4d
Total 76.17 22,395 £1,725 17s 4d

The acreage recorded in the Civil Survey was given in Irish plantation acres which contains about 7,840 square yards compared to 4,840 square yards in a statue acre. By using a multiplier of 1.62 one can compare the Civil Survey with later surveys such as the Ordnance Survey maps and Griffiths Valuation.[62]

Map

The accompanying map shows the Dromana estate in about 1640 in red colour. This map is of a rough kind as the boundaries of townlands given in the Civil Survey are in some cases different from that of later times for places of the same name. What the map does show is that not all of Decies formed part of the Dromana estate. There were large areas around Dungarvan and between that town and Cappoquin, in what was the Decies barony, were owned by others. Much of this land was formerly owned directly by the Earl of Desmond. Therefore when Decies was given to Garret More Fitzgerald (founder of the Dromana Fitzgeralds) in the first half of the fifteenth century not all of the Fitzgerald land in Decies was included.

IMG

The Dromana estate (in red) in 1640

Chief rents

As well as owning property directly, Sir Gerald Fitzgerald of Dromana also collected chief rents from property which the family once owned directly but which in various times before 1641 had been virtually sold to others. The source of these chief rents and the property owners concerned are mentioned and tabled below.

Decies without Drum

Kilgobinet parish

Killnefrechane: This townland of one ploughland and a third part of a ploughland was owned by Patrick Gough of Kilmainhan, value of £46 5s from which 3s 4d was paid yearly to Dromana in chief rents.[63]

Ballyknockie: This townland measured two parts of a ploughland (value of £25 10s) and owned by Derby O’Brien of Kilcomeragh and paid £1 6s 8d in chief rents to Dromana.[64]

Bohedoon: This townland with Curbehy and Coolenesmere was owned by Derby O’Brien (two ploughlands) was valued at £52 10s and paid £4 yearly chief rent to Dromana.[65]

Inchidrisly: This townland of two parts of a ploughland (value of £12 10s) was owned by John Fitz Matthew Hore of Dungarvan, a transplanted Irish papist. The premises paid £1 6s 8d in chief rents to Dromana but this figure is far from certain as original manuscript is difficult to decipher before the one.[66]

Kilrossanty parish

Barnakill and Curryheenedoty: These two townlands of one and a half ploughlands (valued £19) were owned by Derby O’Brien of Kilcomeragh and paid £3 annual chief rent to Dromana. The Civil Survey commissioners further noted that 40s chief rent on every ploughland was due out of the lands of Derby O’Brien. Court service was also due to Dromana for the lands of Derby O’Brien.[67] The exact location of these lands is not stated but is presumed to be the four ploughlands around Kilcomeragh in addition to the lands about Barnakill.

Buollyattin (half of): Brien O’Brien of Buollyattin owned half of this townland, being half a ploughland, while Turlough O’Brien of Cottin owned the other half. The lands of Brien O’Brien paid 40s chief rent to Dromana. But the Civil Survey commissioners noted 40s per ploughland as the rate of chief rent which would make all of Buollyattin liable for the 40s.[68]

Lemybrien: This townland of one ploughland paid 40s chief rent to Dromana which supports the notion that all of Buollyattin paid towards the 40s due there. Lemybrien was valued at £18 and was owned by Donogh O’Brien of Lemybrien.[69]

Glandallagan & Gortiviccary: These two places were owned by Sir Nicholas Walsh and paid £3 chief rent to Dromana. Glandallagan was of one ploughland and valued at £7 15s while Gortiviccary was half a ploughland and worth £5 5s.[70]

Stradbally parish

Monekirkie: This townland of one quarter of a ploughland (value of £3 10s) was owned by John Sherlock of Gracedieu and paid £2 6d yearly to Dromana in chief rent. About the time of the Civil Survey, Richard Power of Ballymollally, Protestant, claimed the inheritance of Monekirke by producing an old deed on parchment with several acquaintances for the payment of the chief rent.[71]

Whitechurch parish

Ballyhanebeg: This half ploughland was owned by Daniel Conery of Ballyhanebeg, an Irish papist who was transplanted after the war. The property was valued at £13 13s 6d and paid 5s yearly in chief rent to Sir Gerald Fitzgerald of Dromana house.[72]

Chief rents due to Dromana – table four

Barony/parish Place Owner Value of chief rent
Decies without Drum
Kilgobinet Killnefrechane Patrick Gough 3s 4d yearly
Ballyknockie Derby O’Brien £1 6s 8d yearly
Bohedoon Derby O’Brien £4 yearly
Inchidrishy John Hore £1 6s 8d
Kilrossanty Barnakill Derby O’Brien £3 yearly
Buollyattin Brien O’Brien & Turlough O’Brien 40s yearly
Lemybrien Donogh O’Brien 40s yearly
Glandallagan & Gortiviccary Sir Nicholas Walsh £3 yearly
Whitechurch Ballyhanebeg Daniel Conery 5 shillings yearly
Total £17 1s 8d

Chief rents payable out of the Dromana lands

Sir Gerald Fitzgerald also paid chief rents to other people, principally the Earl of Cork. The origin of these payments may be from medieval times where the Fitzgerald family of Dromana paid chief rents to the Earl of Desmond and the Earl of Cork had acquired much of the Desmond property in West Waterford from Sir Walter Ralegh in 1602. These chief rents are mentioned in the various entries of property listed above. The townlands concerned were Turner’s Land in Abbeyside (Dungarvan parish), Killcannon (Whitechurch parish), along with Moelleorny and Ballynecourty, both in Ringagonagh parish.

Conclusion

This article, based on the Civil Survey of 1655, gives the earliest full picture of the Dromana estate in Co. Waterford. The base year of the survey was 1640 and hence the date in the title of this article. But the survey also allows us to plot the Dromana lands before 1640 and back into the medieval time for which surviving documents are few. Yet not all of the medieval lands held by the Fitzgerald family of Desmond and Decies survived in family ownership until 1640. For example the land of Rossmire, containing 6 ploughlands, was owned by Thomas Fitz Maurice Fitzgerald in 1298 but by 1640 the land was owned by James Walsh of Islandbeg with no mention of any connection with Dromana.[73]

In addition to the above lands, there were other lands connected with Sir Gerald Fitzgerald which do not appear among the Dromana estate in 1640. For example, in May 1634 Sir Gerald Fitzgerald leased the townland of Ballynemultnaugh to his third brother, John Óge Fitzgerald (called second brother in Burke’s Irish Family Records) for 999 years, at a fine of £220 and the rent of a grain of wheat. Sir Gerald had Ballynemultnaugh as mortgagee of Walter Mansfield of same. In the Civil Survey, Walter Mansfield held the two ploughlands of Ballynemultnaugh.[74]

We can further see the different farming activity in each part of the estate. For example, Aderguall in Lisgenan parish had no arable ground while Knockanedun and Kilnefarny, both in Whitechurch parish, had no meadow land. Land values of the different land types can also be of interest. For example, the 40 acres of pasture in Knockanedun (Sir Gerald Fitzgerald land) was worth £3 while 40 acres of pasture belonging to Daniel Conery at Ballyhane, in the same parish of Whitchurch was worth £2 and 85 acres of pasture at Mogehye (same parish) owned by Walter Mansfield was only worth £1 15s.[75]

The Barony of Decies gave the Dromana family their title of Lord of the Decies and having all their land, except one, within Decies confirms why that name was chosen. With this base line survey of the Dromana estate it is hoped to explore a detailed history of its individual parts in some future article or articles.

Dromana 800 crest

This article is part of the Dromana 800 celebrations (1215-2015). For more information see their website at http://www.dromana800.com/

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[1] Burke’s Irish Family Records, 1976, p. 1065

[2] Burke’s Irish Family Records, 1976, p. 1066

[3] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford volume VI with appendices: Muskerry Barony, Co. Cork: Kilkenny City and Liberties (part) also valuations, circa 1663-64 for Waterford and Cork Cities (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1942), p. iii

[4] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 21

[5] Kenneth Nicholls, ‘The development of Lordship in County Cork, 1300-1600’, in Patrick O’Flanagan & Cornelius G. Buttimer (ed.), Cork History and Society (Geography Publications, Dublin, 1993), p. 188, 209, note 228; P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/B/20/8, c.1750 Account of the purchase price for Templemichael

[6] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 21

[7] The Civil Survey surveyed the Barony of Decies as one unit but later surveyors made two Baronies out of the one, namely, Decies within Drum and Decies without Drum. This article follows the later division for Decies so as to aid people to find the land divisions in later surveys such as Griffith’s Valuation.

[8] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 61

[9] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 61

[10] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 62

[11] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 63

[12] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 63

[13] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 62

[14] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 62

[15] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 58

[16] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 58

[17] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 58

[18] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 59

[19] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 67; H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, Vol. 4 (1293-1301), p. 261

[20] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 67

[21] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 67

[22] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 67; H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland (Kraus reprint, 1974), Vol. 4 (1293-1301), p. 261

[23] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 67

[24] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 56

[25] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 31

[26] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, pp. 27-29

[27] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 28; H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, Vol. 4 (1293-1301), p. 262

[28] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 28

[29] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 28

[30] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 28

[31] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 28

[32] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 28; H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, Vol. 4 (1293-1301), p. 262

[33] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 29; H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, Vol. 4 (1293-1301), p. 262

[34] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 29; H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, Vol. 4 (1293-1301), p. 262

[35] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 29; H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, Vol. 4 (1293-1301), p. 262

[36] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 48

[37] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 49

[38] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 49

[39] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 47

[40] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, pp. 45, 46

[41] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 33

[42] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 33

[43] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 33

[44] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 34

[45] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 34

[46] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 34

[47] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 37

[48] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 75

[49] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 63

[50] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 64; H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, Vol. 4 (1293-1301), p. 262

[51] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 64

[52] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 64

[53] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 79

[54] Robert Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 60; John F. Ainsworth (ed.), “Survey of documents in private keeping: Mansfield papers”, in Analecta Hibernica, No. 20 (1958), pp. 93, 95

[55] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 61

[56] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 54

[57] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 70

[58] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 74

[59] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 52

[60] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 52

[61] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 52

[62] Catherine Ketch, ‘Landownership in County Waterford c.1640: the evidence from the Civil Survey’, in Waterford History and Society, edited by William Nolan and Thomas P. Power (Geography Publications, Dublin, 1992), p. 199

[63] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 64

[64] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 66

[65] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 66

[66] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 66

[67] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 78

[68] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 78

[69] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 79

[70] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, pp. 80, 81

[71] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 70

[72] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 53

[73] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 75; H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, Vol. 4 (1293-1301), p. 262

[74] John F. Ainsworth (ed.), “Survey of documents in private keeping: Mansfield papers”, in Analecta Hibernica, No. 20 (1958), p. 94; Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, p. 68; Burke’s Irish Family Records, 1976, p. 1066

[75] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford, pp. 52, 53

Standard
Waterford history

Villierstown and the linen industry

Villierstown and the linen industry

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

In the second quarter of the eighteenth century, John Fitzgerald Villiers, 1st Earl Grandison and 5th Viscount Grandison of Limerick, greatly improved the ancient family estate in County Waterford centred on Dromana House, perched on a high cliff overlooking the River Blackwater. John Fitzgerald Villiers was known as the “Good Earl John”. In about 1750 he founded the village of Villierstown as a place of residence for the linen weavers of his newly established linen industry. This article will examine this foundation and the linen industry so established at Villierstown.

Dromana Fitzgeralds 1620-1725

This Fitzgerald estate was once part of the vast Earldom of Desmond but was granted to Gerald Mór Fitzgerald, younger son of the 7th Earl of Desmond about the year 1450. In 1620 John Óge Fitzgerald succeeded his father as Lord of the Decies and the sizeable Fitzgerald estate in Co. Waterford. John Óge Fitzgerald was knighted by the 1st Viscount Grandison of Limerick, Lord Deputy of Ireland (a family with later connections to Dromana) and married the Honourable Eleanor Butler, daughter of 2nd Baron Dunboyne. On 1st March 1626 Sir John Óge Fitzgerald died leaving Gerald Fitzgerald, a minor, as his eldest son and heir.[1]

As a minor, Gerald Fitzgerald became a ward of the crown and was brought up a Protestant. The wardship of Gerald Fitzgerald was held for a time by Sir Edward Villiers, Lord President of Munster. After the death of Sir Edward Villiers, the wardship was purchased by Gerald’s paternal grandmother, Ellen Fitzgibbon Fitzgerald. Eventually Sir Gerald Fitzgerald of Dromana came of age and married Mabel, daughter of Sir Robert Digby and died in August 1643 leaving his only son, John Fitzgerald, as heir.

Sir John Fitzgerald of Dromana was less than a year old when his father died and the burden of keeping Dromana safe during the war of 1641-1653 fell to his mother, Mabel Fitzgerald. Sir John Fitzgerald married twice (firstly to Hon. Katherine Power, daughter of 5th Lord le Power and Curraghmore and secondly to Lady Helen McCarthy, daughter of 1st Earl of Clancarty) but only left one child, Katherine Fitzgerald (by the 1st marriage), as his heir when he died in March 1664.[2]

Katherine Fitzgerald succeeded to the title of Lady of the Decies and the family estates but as a minor she was made a ward of the crown and brought up in the court of King Charles II. On 20 May 1673 Katherine Fitzgerald unwillingly married the son of her cousin, Richard Power, 6th Baron le Power and Curraghmore who in consequence was created in October 1673 Viscount Decies and Earl of Tyrone. This marriage was soon annulled and Katherine Fitzgerald married secondly to Brig-General Hon. Edward Villiers, who assumed the additional surname of Fitzgerald, eldest son of the 4th Viscount Grandison of Limerick. On the death of her father-in-law in December 1699 Katherine received a Royal Warrant to the title of the Viscountcy and thus in January 1700 she became Viscountess Grandison of Limerick.[3]

The assumption of the title of Viscountess Grandison was of some sweet revenge as in a pre-1695 letter to Thomas Keightley she complained of ill-treatment from Lord Grandison and the Villiers family. In 1701 she secured a private Act of Parliament which established her rights to the Dromana estate and provided portions for her younger children. The 1701 rental income of Katherine, Viscountess Grandison was £1,198 of which £601 was set aside to pay creditors and £200 was for her two daughters, Mary (married Brig-Gen Stuart) and Harriet (married Robert Pitt, father of William Pitt, the elder, Prime Minster of Great Britain). In 1695 the entire estate was given as 39,993 Irish acres.[4]

In 1693 Edward Fitzgerald Villiers died leaving his eldest son, John Fitzgerald Villiers as heir. Viscountess Katherine Fitzgerald Villiers married thirdly to Lt. General Rt. Hon. William Steuart, Commander-in-chief of the army in Ireland in 1711. On 26th December 1725 Katherine Fitzgerald Villiers, Viscountess Grandison, died aged 63 years and was succeeded by her eldest son, John Fitzgerald Villiers, 5th Viscount Grandison since 1699.[5]

Viscount Grandison initially accused Lt. General William Steuart of expropriating money out of the Dromana estate and took him to court. But by 1724 relations had improved. In that year Viscount Grandison sent a letter to Steuart saying he was pleased with Steuart’s improvements at Dromana and Steuart replied with a letter of thanks.[6] This reference shows that the improvement in the Dromana estate in the first half of the eighteenth century was not solely under the management of Viscount Grandison after the death of his mother in 1725.

Dromana (20)

Dromana house which would not be too different to early 18th century visitors

John Fitzgerald Villiers, 1st Earl Grandison

John Fitzgerald Villiers was born about 1684 and was educated at Eton and Magdalene College, Cambridge. From May to December 1705 he served as M.P. for Old Sarum in Wiltshire and in February 1706 married Hon. Frances Cary, daughter of 4th Viscount Falkland. On 11th September 1721 John Fitzgerald Villiers was created Earl Grandison.

Earl Grandison had two sons, James Villiers who died in 1732 leaving three children and William Villiers who died unmarried in December 1739.[7] James Villiers had married in July 1728 Jane, daughter and heiress of Richard Butler of London. Following James’s death in 1732, Jane married a second time in April 1734 to the 7th Viscount Falkland (died 1785). Even after her second marriage, Jane Villiers continued to receive £1,500 from the Dromana estate until her death in 1751.[8]

On 12th June 1739, Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald Villiers, only daughter of Earl Grandison, married Aland John Mason of Waterford city and M.P. for County Waterford.[9] In 1746 Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald Villiers Mason became heir to her father with the death of the only surviving daughter of her brother James Villiers.[10]

Earl Grandison before 1730

In July 1724 there were ideas circulating the John, Earl Grandison, might settle and live permanently at Dromana. His agent, Maurice Ronayne, wrote that the Earl could stay at his place, D’Loughtane, until Dromana could be fitted out with furniture and other necessities. Since about 1712, and certainly by the 1720s, Maurice Ronayne acted as land agent for Earl Grandison at Dromana.[11]

It was only in the winter of 1730-1 that Earl Grandison announced his intention of residing at Dromana. Before that time he was an absentee landlord with a house in Grosvenor Street, London.[12] Of course to be an absentee landlord did not mean you were a bad landlord. The nearby Lismore estate had, since 1754, an absentee landlord in the various Dukes of Devonshire but as far as I know the various Dukes never got the name of being a bad landlord.

What is significant is that there was nobody of consequence living at Dromana House in the 1720s apart maybe from a few servants. If the chief house of an estate is neglected and closed up it gives little good example to the tenants to keep their places in good condition.

Yet by 1729 improvements were happening on the Dromana estate. In that year 42,000 trees were planted. Trees like plum and pear along with box hedging and other hedges.[13] A further document made in 1729 describes an old nursery and a new nursery on the estate with over 107,000 fruit trees planted.[14] In 1730 there were plans to build a new cow house the same length as the “new” stables.[15]

The Age of Improvement

The eighteenth century, in which Earl Grandison came of age, has often being referred to as the “age of improvement” when landlords became aware of their role as economic and social improvers. Many landlords also realised that to increase their rents they could no longer rely on gaining forfeited estates to increase their income, as the landlords of the seventeenth century had often done.[16]

Of course estate income could always be increased by an advantageous marriage. In 1706 John, Earl Grandison, married the Hon. Frances Cary. Attached to his new wife was an estate inherited from Robert, Lord Lucas, which estate had an income of £2,000. Getting the money into the hands of Earl Grandison was another matter as previous charges were also attached to the estate. In 1715-20 Earl Grandison was still trying to secure the money.[17]

The Protestant landlords were keen to show that they held the leading role as improvers but among the few remaining Catholic landlords there were also improvers such as Viscount Kenmare in Kerry and Charles O’Conor in Roscommon. For the Protestant landlords, it was not just their ambition to pass on an enhanced rental to their heirs but also to see a prosperous and peaceful Ireland that perhaps could be a Protestant one. The planting of flax and the development of a local linen industry was part of this movement.[18]

Linen promotion in Munster

Flax had been grown for centuries in Munster but the principal linen cloth made from it was a very course fabric of less than a foot wide which was known as “bandle” linen. The weavers of this bandle linen were local craftsmen supplying the local market as there was no export demand for bandle linen. But the culture of growing and processing flax was seen as a foundation to develop a prosperous linen industry as they had in Ulster.

The establishment in 1711 of the Linen Board as a national body to promote and regulate the manufacture of linen was a decisive moment in the growth of the linen trade in the south of Ireland. Any export trade that could be developed with the linen manufactory would not run into objections in England like wool and cattle exports did. Instead the growth of linen would strengthen the national cause as the trade would displace traditional linen producers in Holland, Germany and particularly in France, the old enemy.[19]

Establishing a linen industry at Villierstown

The phenomenal development of the linen industry in Ulster in the 1720s and 1730s inspired many landlords in the south and west with hope that this success could be replicated throughout the country. It was widely believed that development of the linen manufacture would lead to prosperity as it had done in Ulster.[20]

To help kick start and develop the linen industry, landlords in the south and west saw many attractions in bringing Protestant farmers and artisans from Ulster. These migrants would at a stroke help populate underpopulated estates and make good the shortage of Protestant inhabitants. The trigger to bring these northern migrants to Villierstown, and to the Damer estate in Tipperary, was the catastrophic famine of 1740/41.[21] It is estimated that out of a population of about two million some 200,000 to 400,000 died of hunger, typhus and dysentery in just over a year.[22] This catastrophe was even greater than the so-called Great Famine of 1845-1850 in the short duration and thus greater sharpness of the death toll.

One writer accounted the scene in these words; “The great frost last season destroyed almost all their plantations of potatoes which so long been the principal, if not only, subsistence of the poor of this Province; multitudes have perished and are daily perishing under hedges and ditches, some by fevers, some by fluxes and some through cruel want, in the utmost agonies of despair”.[23]

In the aftermath of the famine subsidies were given to encourage liming and marling to increase productivity in corn, flax, hemp and hops.[24] Almost every landed estate in Munster promoted the linen trade in some way. In most cases this simply involved distributing flax seed, spinning wheels or looms obtained from the Linen Board. But about twenty estates went further and sponsored the establishment of a linen industry with weavers, pinning schools, regulating linen markets or providing bleaching facilities.[25] The planting, harvesting and processing of the flax with all the different work involved in making various linen products was extremely labour intensive and so a good source of local employment.[26]

Raising finance for the improvements

In today’s world when financing any investment the two main sources of money for same is from income and/or borrowed money. The third main source of financing, that of selling assets, is not an available option to everyone. In the days of Earl Grandison financing investments and improvements on a large estate was not different in principal.

In October 1728 the finances of John, Earl Grandison, appear to have been in a sound condition. Maurice Ronayne wrote that “Your Lordship may brag that no nobleman’s bills in the three kingdoms are more honoured by the merchants than your Lordship’s … They have good reason, since they have hitherto been paid to a day”.[27] A year later Maurice Ronayne could not get but £1,000 in rents as weeks of rain had destroyed the corn and hay crops.[28]

In 1737 the rental income of Earl Grandison was calculated at £5,300 a year. Out of this amount there were outstanding arrears owed to creditors and dependents of £5,391. Therefore Earl Grandison made a slight loss for that financial year. A good year in 1738 would bring the finances into the positive. Yet there were underlining problems with the estate income. As Captain Matthew Fitzgerald (Grandison’s London agent) explained there were rent arrears of £6,500 that had built up in the accounts over the previous three years and under those circumstances, how could Earl Grandison service his debts?[29]

These debts chiefly amounted to two existing loans of £35,000 and £18,000 upon which the interest charge was £1,935 per year. There was an additional £2,400 a year in the form of an annuity payment.[30] The finances of the Dromana estate in 1737 were therefore in a perilous state.

In addition to the estates in Ireland, Earl Grandison also had estates in England, principally in the Counties of Hertfordshire and Nottingham. Joseph Dobbin managed these English estates until his death in 1753 and some of the rents from same helped fund the Dromana improvements. But even though English estates attracted a better rate of return it was not always easy to get a loan secured on these estates. In December 1747 Joseph Dobbin was unsuccessful in raising a loan of £11,000 on the English estates.[31]

In 1740 John Kennedy was in negotiation for Lord Grandison with Richard Dawson for a loan of £8,000. Dawson wanted 6% interest but Kennedy was fighting for 5 or 5½%.[32] The harshness of the 1739/40 famine had an effect on landed estate for many years. In 1744 John Kennedy told Earl Grandison that “This is the worst of times to dispose of lands. Several estates are going a-begging, but no purchasers”.[33] Instead of disposing land onto a depressed market Earl Grandison invested his money in bank shares. In 1741-42 he purchased £5,650 bank shares and another £600 of shares in 1745.[34]

In about 1746 Earl Grandison calculated that his Irish estates produced an income of £6,164, his English estates £500, and the Mason estates of his son-in-law, Aland Mason, £2,200. Another document gave the half year rent on Grandison’s Irish estates in September 1746 as £4,765, i.e. £9,530 in a full year. The rent arrears in September 1746 were £1,471 but this had decreased to £1,023 by June 1747.[35]

The Mason addition to the Dromana estate was a welcome boost to the overall income. Indeed when Aland’s father, John Mason, died in 1737 he left a personal fortune of £20,000 but of this £16,000 was for the provision of younger children on the Mason estate. The annual expenses of the Grandison estate amounted to £3,400 while the household expenses were £3,190 and with other deductions this left a profit of just £1,134 a year.[36]

In various years, like in 1709, 1721, 1727 and 1731 Earl Grandison borrowed money from various people to finance his lifestyle.[37] Additional money was borrowed to improve the Dromana estate and build Villierstown and other buildings.

Not all the money needed to improve the Dromana estate was got from borrowing money. In 1750 the manor of Templemichael was sold to Richard Dawson of Dublin. The sale was in part to pay off previous borrowings owed to Dawson and raise additional capital. At the time of the sale the Templemichael manor had a rental income of nearly £2,000 which was nearly a third of all the Irish estates in about 1746. Yet the sale price for Templemichael could not be taken as clear income. The sale was subject to an indemnity clause on the failure of the Elizabeth Villiers-Aland Mason marriage and if Countess Elizabeth left issue by a second marriage. It was only with her death in 1782 having produced no issue from her second marriage that the money from Templemichael became true income for the Dromana estate.[38]

The sale price for Templemichael was £46,961 and with other items brought the full sale price to £49,038. Of this amount £6,600 paid off the mortgage from Sir John Hynde Cotton; £11,472 paid off the mortgage from [Henry?] Montague and £12,000 paid off the Richard Dawson loan to Aland Mason.[39] This left £18,966 for Grandison to use on building Villierstown and making other estate improvements.

The birth of Villierstown

The Dublin Society encouraged its members to establish villages as a vital element in the development of their estates. Its promotional literature said that “If gentlemen could once be persuaded to build little towns on their lands … they would in the best manner possible improve the circumstances of their own fortunes. We should in time see those parts of the Kingdom well peopled, not only with Protestants, but weavers, spinners and bleachers like the North”.[40]

Earl Grandison had availed of the support of the Dublin Society previously in the development of the Dromana estate and was open to learning and implementing new ideas on estate development. He therefore brought into the idea of building a village for the soon to arrive linen weavers. This was to be no quick built village of mud cabins with thatched roofs but a substantial village of stone houses with slated roofs.

004

Main street of Villierstown, looking south, in 2015

It is not yet clear if the village of Villierstown was created on land that once formed part of the townland of Dromanabeg or if part of Ballingown West. Charles Smith, the historian, and Thomas Carlyle, the great Philosopher, both referred to Villierstown as the village of Dromana. This could be because of Dromana House was the chief seat of the Dromana estate or it could be because Villierstown was built on land that was once part Dromanabeg townland. If Villierstown was built on part of Ballingown would the village not be known as Ballingown?

In 1726 John Sisson asked Earl Grandison for a lease of 31 years on part of Dromanabeg and the slate house for £23 per year to “get a little bread in his old age”.[41] In 1729 Dromanabeg was leased to several tenants.[42]

On 20th September 1750 the first thirty-six leases and rent charges were made on various plots in the area that would later become the village of Villierstown. Thus this date marks the birth of Villierstown even if the name of Villierstown was not universally used. Charles Smith in his history book of Waterford, 1774 edition, referred to the village as Dromana.[43]

The first linen weavers to arrive

Among these early leases at Villierstown were the linen weavers from Ulster who had come south. Some of these linen weavers who got slated houses were Michael Fennell, Joseph Hudson, Robert Logan, William Moore, James Sands, John Smyth, John Waters, Thomas Wilson, and James Bagge. Other weavers got land in Villierstown but lived elsewhere. These included Daniel Smith, George Rallans, James Becket, John Motte and Samuel Gordon.

The master weaver, Richard Hamilton, lived in Aglish as did another weaver, Robert Gardiner. The linen bleacher, James Wyer, lived in Ballingown.[44]

The slated houses built at Villierstown were in contrast the cabins built for the northern linen weavers who settled on the estate of John Damer west Tipperary town. Local folklore around the Damer estate has it that Damer intended to build a substantial village, much like Villierstown, but the project came to nothing “after his wife ran away”.[45]

Villierstown chapel

At the centre of Villierstown today stands the chapel which is now (2015) the local community centre. A survey map of the Dromana estate in 1751 placed the chapel further up the hill and nearer to the entrance gates of the Dromana demesne. The map also placed the chapel of the west side of the street as opposed to the east side that it is currently on.[46] This map was not an actual representation of existing structures in 1751 but a vision of how the full Dromana demesne would look when all the improvements had been made.

The chapel was endowed by John, Earl Grandison, in his will of 25th June 1763. The then personal chaplain of Earl Grandison, Rev. Francis Green, became first Chaplain of Villierstown. There was no district assigned to the chaplain and the village of Villierstown remained part of the civil parish of Aglish. Instead the chaplain was to give “divine service” and catechize.[47]

The chapel building dates from 1748 or 1760 depending on which secondary source you read.[48] Among the Villiers-Stuart papers are a number of letters from the 1750s which give more certain information. On 22nd June 1755 Christopher Musgrave of Tourin (agent of Earl Grandison) wrote to an unidentified recipient that “My Lord has not yet determined whether he will remove the well at the east end of the church, but says he will if he find it necessary. They have laid the foundations and the piers, and are settling the walk round the church”.[49]

On April 1757 Earl Grandison wrote to Aland Mason about the recent bad weather but hopes that the weather “will not prevent my appearing at church with my weavers” on the following day.[50]

007

Villierstown chapel 

The linen industry in operation

To make linen you need to plant an arable crop called flax. Flax requires well-prepared land with a fine tilth and was usually sown in late March/early April. The flax was harvested in August or earlier. Flax intended for fine linen was pulled early. After harvesting the flax was retted, that is, soaked in water for one or two weeks to separate out the woody central part from the stalk. A slow moving stream is sometimes used but special water ponds are preferred as flax can poison the water for fish.[51]

The flax was then sent to spinners to be spun into linen yarn or linen thread. Women usually did the spinning and could earn money in the process. In a time when men usually controlled most ways of making money, this was a welcome bonus for the womenfolk. The longer flax fibres were intended for linen manufacture. Weavers took the linen yarn and thread and made it into bandles of cloth. The Linen Board regulated the size of the bandle and the quality of the linen thread.[52]

The shorter fibres of the flax were used to make rope and string. The shipbuilding activity at Youghal and Dungarvan would provide a local outlet for the rope as a lot of rope was needed for the sailing ships.

Some linen from Dromana was also possibly sent to Douglas, Co. Cork. There, in 1726, a factory was established by a local partnership in make sail-cloth. A colony of Ulster weavers were settled in the early years but the skill base of the local work force was quickly built up. During the 1740s the Douglas factory produced about 75,322 yards of sail-cloth per year which was worth about £5,000. After a decline in the 1750s, due to English competition, the factory grew again in the 1760s and continued in operation until the 1820s.[53]

Bleaching the linen added extra value to the product and the Villierstown operation had some bleaching element. James Wyer, a bleacher, had a lease on property in Ballingown.[54]

In about December 1755 Christopher Musgrave wrote to Aland Mason that shortly before Henry Shea had gone away with the linens, apparently to the Dublin market, to sell.[55]

In May 1757 Earl Grandison wrote from Dromana that “The grain is backward, and it will be a very hard summer with the poor people. I will spare the oats from the horses as much as I can, to help the poor and I reserve a good quantity of barley for them”.[56]

In 1758 it seems that the local flax crop didn’t produce a good harvest. In fact there wasn’t enough flax to keep the weavers in work. Christopher Musgrave commissioned William Moresy to purchase some linen yarn in the Cork market so that the Villierstown factory could stay open. Musgrave was happy with the purchase as he said it “was the cheapest parcel ever brought”.[57] Musgrave’s comment could also mean that outside linen had to be purchased in previous years to supplement that produced at Villierstown.

Before November 1758 some 262 pieces of linen were sold. Christopher Musgrave directed that £2 12s 6d of the profits from the sale be divided among the weavers who had fourteen children.[58] This reference to children of the weavers suggests that by 1758 the northern weavers had decided that their stay in Villierstown was not after all to be a quick visit to train the locals and then move on. Instead they were settling down for a long stay, getting married and raising families.

Whiteboyism

During the 1760s the growth of Whiteboyism was such that Christopher Musgrave of Tourin, agent for Earl Grandison, wrote to his master that there was a serious problem of depopulation in many parts of the countryside.[59] It is not clear if there was depopulation among the weavers of Villierstown. In March 1762 there was much violence around Affane, Cappoquin, Lismore and Tallow caused by the Whiteboys. After a few days of lawlessness the army from Cork and Youghal brought the situation under control. The army stayed in West Waterford for the following few months.

For the ordinary people around Villierstown, be they weavers or others, the weather had more impact on their lives than Whiteboyism. In December 1763 Christopher Musgrave wrote that a recent hard frost had sparked fears of very high prices for oats but that the potato crop was safe. A month later Musgrave wrote of plans for sowing spring oats and that cattle prices were going well but sheep not so.[60]

In January 1764 the weather was wet and windy with the roads impassable for carriages. Christopher Musgrave feared that the wheat crop would be scarce in summer. More immediately the rain caused a great scarcity of firing for the poor people and prevented merchants from travelling the roads. A merchant from Castlebar, Co. Mayo had reasonably priced yarn for sale for the Villierstown linen industry but could not travel.[61]

Linen industry continues

These conditions of violence and bad weather seems not have stopped the linen industry to any major extinct. In 1763 the Villierstown linen industry produced 1,580 pieces of linen at a cost of £2,346 2s 1d and with a selling price of £2,652 9s. This gave a profit of £306 7s. Christopher Musgrave of Tourin, agent for Earl Grandison, considered this profit figure to be “very well” but warned of trouble ahead as yarn was likely to be “excessively dear”. At the same time Musgrave was perplexed as to why the sale price of linen had not increased in price in response to the increase in costs.[62]

In 1764 the linen industry was still in operation but was not without difficulties. On 24th January 1764 Christopher Musgrave wrote that there were invoices “ready to be sent off” for 122 pieces of linen which should give a profit of nearly 16%. Yet there was a shortage of yarn to keep the weavers in full employment. The shortage of yarn was not confined to Villierstown and some merchants were taking advantage with high prices. Christopher Musgrave could pay these high prices but Earl Grandison did not have the ready cash to do so.[63]

Flax, drying, bundle, sales, Sweden, agr

Flax drying out after harvest time 

On 27th January 1764 Christopher Musgrave wrote that two acres of flax ground will be planted but that seed was scarce in the Villierstown area and would have to be got from Dublin.[64] Flax was usually sown between late March and early April.[65] In November 1764 Christopher Musgrave wrote that the sale price for linen was still hard with some merchants trying to buy at a reduced price. The selling agent for the Villierstown linen, William Morrissey, would not sell to such merchants and hoped for a better price on the Cork market.[66]

In October 1765 orders for 200 pieces of linen were received by the Villierstown manufactory, but William Morrissey considered the prices to be too low and refused to honour the orders.[67]

In March 1766 Christopher Musgrave reported that Morrissey had received over £320 for 200 pieces of linen that was sold to Mr. Higginson. Morrissey could not sell any yarn until the yarn market opened and even then the market price was low. Subsequently Mr. Higginson sold 140 pieces onwards to two separate buyers but for an unknown price.[68]

In May 1766, John Fitzgerald Villiers, Earl Grandison, died. The death of the patron usually spelt the end of the local linen enterprise in many places in the south of Ireland. The linen industry at Villierstown seems to have continued for a few years until 1768 when operations were terminated. In that year Christopher Musgrave wrote to the Countess Grandison that he had sold 359 pieces of linen for £529 11s and still had 1,048 pieces on hand which he valued at £1,600. Christopher Musgrave had ordered 500 pieces of linen to be sent to Dublin to the usual dealer because of “his honesty and skill in disposing linens”.[69]

The Dromana estate under pressure

The financial commitments of Earl Grandison invested in the development of the Dromana estate and the building of Villierstown was pressure enough on the repayment capacity of the estate but Earl Grandison also had financial pressure from his cousins. The eldest son of his sister, Harriet Villiers Pitt, also had financial problems. Indeed in 1735 the financial affairs of Thomas Pitt were described as “chaotic”.[70]

The shortage of money for investment was often blames by Earl Grandison and his successor on the corruption of various land agents. In 1732 Earl Grandison sacked his then land agent, Maurice Ronayne, on a charge of cheating Grandison out of rental income. In the late 1760s the family’s English agent, Cavin Delane, was blamed for the disordered state of the family finances and was even accused of corruption with the finances. The Grandison family was forced to live on the Continent to avoid creditors and Dromana House was leased out to tenants. Even in the nineteenth century the Dromana estate suffered from less than reliable land agents.[71]

Yet despite the building work done by the 1st Earl Grandison and the strained financial situation of his successors, expenses for new building work continued to be paid out in the period 1766 to 1800. At one time £955 was spent on just a few buildings.[72]

Failure of the linen industry

When Dr. Thomas Campbell visited the town of Tipperary in 1775 he wrote that “an effort was made to establish the linen manufacture in the locality and for this purpose a colony of northern weavers was settled there about forty years ago. But this proved ineffectual, for the children of those weavers, like the other natives, neither weaver nor spin, and in everything but religion are indistinguishable from the general mass”.[73] Much the same could be said about the Villierstown linen industry.

There were a number of reasons for the failure of the linen industry in the south and west of Ireland. There was considerable difficulty in obtaining quality flax seed outside of Ulster.[74] Clearly the northern promoters of linen saw little concern in sending a few weavers south to educate the rest of Ireland but were not prepared to allow the prosperity of the northern linen industry to be compromised.

Outside of Ulster employment in the linen industry was unreliable and offered poor wages compared to worsted spinning. Also outside Ulster the linen industry was imposed from the top down, through the activities of the Linen Board and individual landlords. In Ulster the linen manufacture grew from the grass roots that were partly based on a long history of growing flax and making linen.[75]

The Villierstown linen project was not the only one of its type to fail in the south of Ireland in the eighteenth century. In many cases it was the death of the landed promoter which often spelt the end for the fragile linen industry in many places. The linen project started by John Damer of Shronell, Co. Tipperary in the 1740s using northern migrants failed shortly after his death in 1768.[76] Even the most famous linen enterprise in the south of Ireland, that which was at Dunmanway, failed shortly after the death of its promoter, Sir Richard Cox, in 1766.[77]

The reason for this decline after the promoter died was to do with the capital needed to keep the industry going. In order to continue weaving capital would be needed to maintain the existing looms and purchase new looms. The migrant weavers were often too poor to afford the small capital needed.[78] In the early days the Linen Board had subsidised half the cost of the wheels as each spinning-wheel or loom cost about five shillings which was over two weeks wages for an agricultural worker.[79]

The type of linen made in the south of Ireland also contributed to its decline. Many promoters were opposed to bandle weaving for the local market. Instead they preferred the finer cloth as produced in Ulster and supported the statute of 1763 which prohibited the sale of narrow linens at public markets. But the promoters of these finer cloths found it difficult to break into the markets already held by the Ulster traders. When the slump of 1773 came they were exposed to decline. The linens made in West Cork were able to later find a niche market in places like London by making modifications to the old bandle cloth.[80]

In 1773 the linen trade slumped nationally and many linen enterprises of the mid-century that had survived until then, quickly fell away. Many weavers were unable to sell their cloth and changed to weaving bandle linen for the local market while others changed occupation or left the country. In times of harvest failure, which often coincided with a recession in the textile trade, the weaver was especially vulnerable as he had to purchase some of his food requirements in normal times and would be exposed to the shortages more than others.[81]

linen weaving

Linen weaving at home

Where did the northern migrants go?

After the failure of the linen industry in Villierstown, where did the northern migrants brought in to develop the industry, go? The documentary trail is hard to conclusively find answers. The lease for one life given to the migrants suggested that they saw their stay in Villierstown as a temporary one. On the Damer estate in Tipperary some of the weavers continued to live locally as tenant farmers instead of as weavers. Other weavers on the Damer estate moved to the nearby estate of Maude of Ballintemple in about 1771 as he started a linen enterprise. While some weavers returned to Ulster the majority upped and went to settled in America or Canada.[82]

The weavers who came to Villierstown possibly also went different ways like those on the Damer estate. Their legacy and that of the linen industry of 1750-1768 is the present village of Villierstown.

Postscript

As mentioned earlier, the Villierstown linen industry appears to have ended in 1768 or shortly after. Yet the linen connection was not totally severed. On 9th November 1804 Lord Henry Stuart wrote to his agent, Sir William Homan, about the linen manufactory. In 1802 Lord Henry Stuart, fifth son of the 1st Marquess of Bute married Lady Gertrude Villiers, only daughter and heiress of the 2nd Earl Grandison, and thus came into possession of the Dromana estate. Lord Henry’s children by Lady Gertrude assumed the family name of Villiers-Stuart.

In the 1804 letter Lord Henry Stuart asked his agent “Are you of opinion that weavers might be collected from about the county and established there [Villierstown] and the linen manufactory resumed”? Lord Henry said that with such a resumption of the linen industry “we should probably be but small losers … [yet] … be amply repaid in the prospect of being in the neighbourhood of an industrious village instead of a den of thieves”.[83]

This effort to re-establish the Villierstown linen industry came to nothing. Instead the Dromana estate concerned itself with developing agriculture, even buying extra land, and establishing corn mills along with the later development of the Helvick fishery. These stories are items for another day.

Dromana 800 crest

This article is part of the Dromana 800 celebrations. For more information visit their website at http://www.dromana800.com/

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[1] Burke’s Irish Family Records, 1976, p. 1065

[2] Burke’s Irish Family Records, 1976, p. 1066

[3] Burke’s Irish Family Records, 1976, p. 1066

[4] A.P.W. Malcomson (ed.), The Villiers-Stuart Papers: Introduction, Summary List and Detailed Calendar (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, 1982), pp. 5, 6

[5] Burke’s Irish Family Records, 1976, p. 1066

[6] A.P.W. Malcomson (ed.), The Villiers-Stuart Papers, p. 13

[7] Burke’s Irish Family Records, 1976, p. 1066

[8] Burke’s Irish Family Records, 1976, p. 1066; A.P.W. Malcomson (ed.), The Villiers-Stuart Papers, p. 14

[9] Burke’s Irish Family Records, 1976, p. 1066

[10] A.P.W. Malcomson (ed.), The Villiers-Stuart Papers, p. 12

[11] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/5/1, 17th July 1724, Maurice Ronayne to Lord Grandison

[12] A.P.W. Malcomson (ed.), The Villiers-Stuart Papers, pp. 14, 15

[13] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/5/42, 27th July 1729, Maurice Ronayne to Lord Grandison

[14] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/5/49, 1729, Maurice Ronayne to Lord Grandison

[15] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/5/70, 1st November 1730, Maurice Ronayne to Lord Grandison

[16] John Heuston, ‘The weavers of Shronell – 250 years go’, in the Tipperary Historical Journal 2002, p. 98

[17] A.P.W. Malcomson (ed.), The Villiers-Stuart Papers, p. 17

[18] Toby Barnard, Improving Ireland: Projectors, Prophets and Profiteers 1641-1786 (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2008), p. 16

[19] David Dickson, Old World Colony: Cork and South Munster 1630-1830 (Cork University Press, 2005), p. 204

[20] John Heuston, ‘The weavers of Shronell – 250 years go’, in the Tipperary Historical Journal 2002, p. 97

[21] John Heuston, ‘The weavers of Shronell – 250 years go’, in the Tipperary Historical Journal 2002, pp. 97, 99

[22] John Heuston, ‘The weavers of Shronell – 250 years go’, in the Tipperary Historical Journal 2002, p. 99

[23] Publicola, A letter from a country gentleman in the Province of Munster to his Grace the Lord Primate of All Ireland (Cashel, 1741), p. 3

[24] Marie-Louise Legg (ed.), The Diary of Nicholas Peacock 1740-1751: The worlds of a County Limerick farmer and agent (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2005), p. 19

[25] David Dickson, Old World Colony: Cork and South Munster 1630-1830 (Cork University Press, 2005), p. 204

[26] Marie-Louise Legg (ed.), The Diary of Nicholas Peacock 1740-1751, p. 20

[27] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/3/9, 27th October 1728, Maurice Ronayne, Youghal to Lord Grandison

[28] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/5/53, 7th December 1729, Maurice Ronayne to Lord Grandison

[29] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/3/9, 17th July 1737, Capt. Matthew Fitzgerald, London to Lord Grandison

[30] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/3/9, 17th July 1737, Capt. Matthew Fitzgerald, London to Lord Grandison

[31] A.P.W. Malcomson (ed.), The Villiers-Stuart Papers, pp. 15, 16

[32] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/8/2, 23rd February 1740, John Kennedy to Lord Grandison

[33] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/8/43, 13th November 1744, John Kennedy to Lord Grandison

[34] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/11/12, August 1741-December 1742, Hoare & Arnold to Lord Grandison; Ibid, T.3131/C/11/24, Christopher Arnold to Lord Grandison, Dromana

[35] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/F/4/24, 1746 Rental of Lord Grandison’s Irish estates

[36] A.P.W. Malcomson (ed.), The Villiers-Stuart Papers, pp. 24, 25

[37] A.P.W. Malcomson (ed.), The Villiers-Stuart Papers, p. 17

[38] A.P.W. Malcomson (ed.), The Villiers-Stuart Papers, pp. 18, 36, 37

[39] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/B/20/8, c.1750 Account of the purchase price for Templemichael

[40] John Heuston, ‘The weavers of Shronell – 250 years go’, in the Tipperary Historical Journal 2002, p. 104

[41] A.P.W. Malcomson (ed.), The Villiers-Stuart Papers, p. 15

[42] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/5/50, 5th October 1729, Maurice Ronayne to Lord Grandison

[43] Donald Brady (ed.), Charles Smith, The Ancient and Present State of the County and City of Waterford (Waterford County Council, 2008), p. 46

[44] Loose manuscript paper in possession of Barbara Grubb, née Villiers-Stuart

[45] John Heuston, ‘The weavers of Shronell – 250 years go’, in the Tipperary Historical Journal 2002, pp. 101, 103, 104

[46] Hugh Maguire (ed.), An Introduction to the Architectural Heritage of County Waterford (Government of Ireland, 2004), p. 14

[47] Rev. W. Rennison, Succession list of the Bishop, Cathedral & Parochial Clergy of the Dioceses of Waterford and Lismore (Dublin, 1920), pp. 220, 221

[48] Hugh Maguire (ed.), An Intro to the Architectural Heritage of County Waterford, p. 14; Rev. W. Rennison, Succession list of the Dioceses of Waterford and Lismore, p. 221

[49] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/B/7/36, 22nd June 1755, Christopher Musgrave, Tourin to [Aland Mason?]

[50] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/B/7/37, 30th April 1757, Earl Grandison, Dromana to Aland Mason, Dublin

[51] Marie-Louise Legg (ed.), The Diary of Nicholas Peacock 1740-1751: The worlds of a County Limerick farmer and agent (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2005), p. 20

[52] Marie-Louise Legg (ed.), The Diary of Nicholas Peacock 1740-1751, p. 20

[53] David Dickson, Old World Colony: Cork and South Munster 1630-1830, pp. 398, 399

[54] Loose manuscript paper in possession of Barbara Grubb, née Villiers-Stuart

[55] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/B/7/36, c. December 1754 (more likely 1755), Christopher Musgrave, Tourin to [Aland Mason?]

[56] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/10/16, 6th May 1757, Lord Grandison, Dromana to [John Kennedy?]

[57] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/B/7/36, 5th November 1758, Christopher Musgrave, Tourin to Aland Mason, Dublin

[58] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/B/7/36, 5th November 1758, Christopher Musgrave, Tourin to Aland Mason, Dublin

[59] A.P.W. Malcomson (ed.), The Villiers-Stuart Papers, p. 17

[60] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/14/2, 23rd December 1763, Christopher Musgrave, Tourin, to Lord Grandison; Ibid, T.3131/C/14/3, 20th January 1764 Christopher Musgrave, Tourin, to Lord Grandison, Dublin

[61] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/14/7, 31st January 1764, Christopher Musgrave, Tourin, to Lord Grandison, Dublin; Ibid, T.3131/C/14/8, Musgrave, Tourin, to Grandison, Dublin

[62] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/14/6, 29th January 1764, Christopher Musgrave, Tourin, to Lord Grandison, Dublin

[63] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/14/4, 24th January 1764, Christopher Musgrave, Tourin, to Lord Grandison, Dublin

[64] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/14/5, 27th January 1764, Christopher Musgrave, Tourin, to Lord Grandison, Dublin

[65] Marie-Louise Legg (ed.), The Diary of Nicholas Peacock 1740-1751: The worlds of a County Limerick farmer and agent (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2005), p. 20

[66] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/14/10, 4th November 1764, Christopher Musgrave, Tourin, to Lord Grandison, Dublin

[67] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/14/13, 15th October 1765, Christopher Musgrave, Tourin, to Lord Grandison, Dublin

[68] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/C/14/16, 23rd March 1766, Christopher Musgrave, Tourin, to Lord Grandison, Dublin

[69] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/E/1/3, 22nd April 1768, Christopher Musgrave, Tourin to Countess Grandison

[70] A.P.W. Malcomson (ed.), The Villiers-Stuart Papers, p. 19

[71] A.P.W. Malcomson (ed.), The Villiers-Stuart Papers, pp. 14, 20, 27

[72] A.P.W. Malcomson (ed.), The Villiers-Stuart Papers, p. 25

[73] John Heuston, ‘The weavers of Shronell – 250 years go’, in the Tipperary Historical Journal 2002, p. 97

[74] John Heuston, ‘The weavers of Shronell – 250 years go’, in the Tipperary Historical Journal 2002, p. 109

[75] John Heuston, ‘The weavers of Shronell – 250 years go’, in the Tipperary Historical Journal 2002, p. 109

[76] John Heuston, ‘The weavers of Shronell – 250 years go’, in the Tipperary Historical Journal 2002, p. 99

[77] David Dickson, Old World Colony: Cork and South Munster 1630-1830 (Cork University Press, 2005), p. 208

[78] John Heuston, ‘The weavers of Shronell – 250 years go’, in the Tipperary Historical Journal 2002, p. 109

[79] David Dickson, Old World Colony: Cork and South Munster 1630-1830, p. 206

[80] David Dickson, Old World Colony: Cork and South Munster 1630-1830, p. 208

[81] John Heuston, ‘The weavers of Shronell – 250 years go’, in the Tipperary Historical Journal 2002, p. 109

[82] John Heuston, ‘The weavers of Shronell – 250 years go’, in the Tipperary Historical Journal 2002, pp. 109, 110

[83] P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/P/11, 9th November 1804, Lord Henry Stuart to Sir William Homan

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Biography, Waterford history

Thomas Harriot and Molana Abbey

Thomas Harriot and Molana Abbey

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

In 1580 the English courtier and adventurer, Sir Walter Ralegh, was planning his expedition to the New World, specifically to an inlet north of the Carolinas which in 1585 received the name of Virginia and his friend, Dr. John Dee was there to advised. The Welsh magician’s chief advice to Ralegh was that to tackle navigation he needed to get a good mathematician. But Ralegh did little on the matter until in 1583, with his expedition nearly ready to sail, he went in search of his mathematician and found Thomas Harriot.[1]

Desmond rebellions

Between 1579 and 1583 the Earl of Desmond and his supporters waged a fierce rebellion across the Province of Munster against the increasing control of the English government. This rebellion was costly in lives and money for the government of Queen Elizabeth of England. It followed from an earlier rebellion in 1569 to 1572 led by one of the chief supporters of the Earl of Desmond. At the end of this second rebellion the English government decided to take advantage of the death of the Earl in 1583 to forfeit all his lands and those of his chief supporters and give the land to English settlers in what was termed the Plantation of Munster.

Sir Walter Ralegh was initially given the maximum amount of 12,000 acres like the other large undertakers but when two undertakers pulled out of the Plantation scheme Ralegh had the connections to secure their shares and add them to his own. Thus Sir Walter Ralegh came to acquire an estate of 42,000 acres, the largest by far of the any in the Munster Planation.

Sir Walter Ralegh and Molana Abbey

One of the properties Ralegh acquired was the former estate of Molana Abbey. The Molana estate was given by King Henry VIII to the Earl of Desmond following the Dissolution of the Monasteries. After the First Desmond rebellion the estate was forfeited to the crown. On 8th February 1572 it was leased to John Thickpenny for twenty-one years with a renewed lease in 1577.[2] John Thickpenny was victualler for the Munster army in the 1570s and into the 1580s. Following the death of John Thickpenny in 1583 his widow, Ann Holton, acquired his crown lease on Molana Abbey.

But the government believed a woman was unsuited to protecting the English interest in Munster and pressure was put on to get Ann Holton out of Molana. By 1587 the government won and a new lease was given to Sir Walter Ralegh on 2nd July 1587.[3] Like in other places across his vast estate Ralegh leased Molana Abbey to an English settler and his family. The settler who came to Molana was Thomas Harriot.

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Thomas Harriot

Early life of Thomas Harriot

Thomas Harriot was born in County Oxford in 1560 to a family of unrecorded lineage. While his father is mentioned as a commoner and records note a married sister along with relations in Berkshire, virtually no other genealogical information is known. Yet the innate genius of Thomas Harriot was noticed by somebody such that he got a place at Oxford University. There he matriculated as a commoner in St. Mary’s Hall in 1577 and graduated with a BA in July 1580.

While at Oxford Thomas Harriot was befriended by the geographer Richard Hakluyt and the astronomer, Thomas Allen. Hakluyt is said to have introduced Harriot to Walter Ralegh who was then studying at Oriel College, Oxford.[4] From about 1583 to 1595 Thomas Harriot installed his scientific instruments in Durham House where he taught Ralegh’s sea captains the practical mathematics and its application to the problems of navigation. Durham House was one of the great palaces of London and Ralegh got a lease on much of it from the government in 1583.[5]

Thomas Harriot was on the 1585 expedition to Virginia funded by Sir Walter Ralegh and led by Sir Ralph Lane. Raleigh’s expedition was not original. Fishermen were for century’s crossing over to the Grand Banks; Spanish sailors were crossing the Atlantic two or three times a year; there were maps of the North American coastline available and Spanish cities were growing across the Americas. What made Ralegh’s expedition stand out was the work done by Thomas Harriot as he catalogued everything he saw and recorded everything in minute detail.[6]

The colony on Roanoke Island, Virginia

When the fleet of ships arrival in Virginia Thomas Harriot made a study of all he could see. He also learnt some words of the native Indians which further added to his research. Harriot’s inaction with the Indians, playing tricks with lenses and magnets among other things, was vital to the English settlers as they relied almost totally on the Indians to provide food. The leader of the Roanoke Island colony, Sir Ralph Lane, was a military man and most of the settlers were soldiers earning wages. There were few among them who knew farming.[7]

The Indians were not farmers in the European sense, producing a surplus and stock piling food. Instead they just grew enough and lived on shellfish, roots and berries between harvests. The job of feeding over a hundred English was beyond their capabilities. Sir Richard Grenville had left for England at the end of August 1585 and was due to return to Roanoke Island in the spring of 1586 with supplies. But war between England and Spain prevented his immediate return. A fleet under Sir Francis Drake dropped off supplies while heading home from the Caribbean but bad weather also arrived and the ship Drake left for the colonists took opportunity to turn for England instead of going inshore to Roanoke Island. The colonists were unsure if Ralegh would be able to send a relief fleet and so they decided to all return to England in June 1586 with Drake. Two days later Ralegh’s supply ship arrived to find only Indians on Roanoke Island.[8] Although the first English colony in North America had ended the work of Thomas Harriot would prove that the end was but a brief interruption.

Thomas Harriot spent over a year writing a book of his Virginia survey work with illustrations by John White = A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia = which book opened the Americas to the world and inspired future settlement for over a century.[9]

The English speaking New World promoted by Thomas Harriot and others attracted many English and Scottish settlers in Ireland to leave for the New World in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Towards the end of the eighteenth century Irish Catholics began to settle in the area known as the Thirteen Colonies. Following American independence more Irish Catholics headed across the sea. At the start of the nineteenth century increasing numbers of Irish went to the United States of America. Some went of their own means but many were aided by assisted passage by their landlord or from relatives who were already in America.

When the Great Famine forced one million people to leave Ireland, many thousands went to America assisted again by their landlords or relatives or the charity organisations. Without the work of people like Thomas Harriot these immigrants would possible be going to a Spanish speaking America. The exploration, promotion and colonisation by Thomas Harriot of Molana Abbey and others the area now known as the United States of America became English speaking.

In 1589 Thomas Harriot began to survey the Irish estates of Sir Walter Ralegh. Nine years later he was still working on the survey. Unfortunately no records of the survey survive. In between doing the survey Harriot continued his other activities and frequently crossed over to England. Yet Molana provided a peaceful setting to complete his Brief and True report and other studies. He was at Molana in 1593 when the plague struck London. In November 1594 Sir Walter Ralegh granted Thomas Harriot the Molana estates to “hold forever”. In 1598 Harriot mortgaged the property to Sir William Floyer for £220. In 1601 Thomas Harriot sold Molana to William Floyer.[10]

Other activities of Thomas Harriot

Thomas Harriot was a friend of the playwright, Christopher Marlowe, and perhaps provided the intellectual character that was Dr. Faustus.[11]

In the dozen or so years that Thomas Herriot taught Ralegh’s sea captains the mathematical calculations needed for navigation and how to chart the stars he was also teaching himself. Such was his fame that Johannes Kepler, one of the most important and influential astronomers of the seventeenth century, sought advice from Harriot on optics.[12]

In 1608-9 Thomas Harriot used his intellectual appetite for optics to beat one of the greatest astronomers of his time, or of any time, Galileo. In September 1608 Hans Lippershey, a spectacle maker of Middelburg in Zeeland patented a working telescope, then called a spy-glass. Lippershey saw the invention as a device that would be useful for shipping. His patron, Count Maurice of Nassau saw the spy-glass as a good invention for war and wanted to keep the technology secret. But news of the telescope quickly spread across Europe and people started to develop their own versions to circumvent Lippershay’s patent.[13] In England Thomas Harriot saw the telescope as a good device for looking at the night sky. On 26th July 1609 Thomas Harriot was the first person to make a drawing of the Moon through a telescope, over four months before Galileo. Although Thomas Harriot was well known in academic circles across Europe, and corresponded with the leading scientists of the day, he did not become as famous as Galileo. Instead Harriot did his observations and left fame to others.[14]

As an astronomer, Thomas Harriot formulated the theory of refraction, and as a mathematician, he developed algebra. His algebra book Artis Analyticae Praxis (1631) was published posthumously in Latin. But the editors did not understand much of the text and removed the parts they did not comprehend such as the negative and complex roots of equations. Because of this and other reasons a full annotated English translation of the Praxis was not completed until 2007.[15]

Another contemporary mathematician was Robert Hues who studied at Oxford the same time as Thomas Harriot. Over the years Hues and Harriot worked together on astronomical and mathematical studies. Hues was a student of Harriot in Durham House before he went off to circle navigate the world with Thomas Cavendish, another person who had gone on the1585 voyage to Virginia. When Robert Hues was writing his book, Tractatus de Globis, Thomas Harriot was there to help.[16]

Long friendship of Ralegh and Harriot

The friendship developed between Sir Walter Ralegh and Thomas Harriot extended across the good times and the bad times. They both had a strong intellectual enquiry to discover and understand. Thomas Harriot was one of the principal assistants to Sir Walter Ralegh when the latter was preparing his book, History of the World. Thomas Harriot was a frequent visitor to Ralegh’s home in the country, Sherborne House. Thomas Harriot was named as one of the overseers of Ralegh’s estate in the latter’s will.

When Sir Walter Ralegh was sent to the Tower of London, Thomas Harriot didn’t disown him but instead became a regular visitor. In fact Harriot’s friendship with the Earl of Northumberland and Sir Walter Ralegh would cost him some jail time. After the latter two were connected to the Gunpowder Conspiracy Thomas Harriot was sent to jail. But Harriot’s direct connection with the Plot was not proven and he was soon set a liberty. Yet in the winter of 1605-6 Thomas Harriot voluntarily took up residence in the Tower of London to be near Sir Walter Ralegh.[17] During that winter they must have talked about the New World and the future for Virginia among other subjects. Could they have imagined the vast number of people who would eventually settle in Virginia and the wider United States of America and Canada and make two great nations in that New World.

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The view from Molana across the River Blackwater – a view which reminded Harriot of Virginia

The New World and the Gathering

Many centuries after Ralegh and Harriot, one of these settlers who went to America was William Myers from the parish of Kilcockan. He was the son of Denis Myers and Rachel Myers. He was born in May 1854 and went to America in 1871. William Myers settled in Woonsocket, Rhode Island where he married a local girl (Margaret Fitzpatrick) of Irish parents (James Fitzpatrick and Bridget McKenna)[18] and had at least three sons.[19] Away in America, trying to make a new life, William Myers did not forget Ireland and the land around Knockanore. When his mother died on 24th December 1892 William did not forget her but send money home so that a headstone could be erected in the Kilcockan graveyard to her memory and that of her family.[20] William Myers died on 9th January 1933 still living at Woonsocket, Rhode Island.[21]

Conclusion  

This talk [on 2nd August 2013] began the history of medieval Knockanore on a small island in the River Blackwater called Dair Inish which became the site of Molana Abbey. The history of medieval Knockanore ended on that island in the 1580s when Thomas Harriot opened the New World and the modern age. The work of Harriot and others allowed Irish people somewhere to go when Ireland had ceased to bring hope to their lives. At this Gathering Festival, and other such festivals across Ireland in 2013, we gather to bring the diaspora home.

In conclusion I would like to thank the Knockanore Heritage Group, the Gathering Festival Committee, the various landowners for allowing access to the medieval sites and thank you to you the audience for staying on past eleven o’clock and wish everyone a great Gathering Festival 2013.

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[1] Robert Lacey, Sir Walter Ralegh (Phoenix Press, London, 2000), p. 60

[2] Rev. Patrick Power, ‘The abbey of Molana, Co. Waterford’, in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. LXII (1932), p. 145; John T. Collins, ‘Fiants of Queen Elizabeth relating to the City and County of Cork’, in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Vol. XLIII (1938), p. 13

[3] John T. Collins, ‘Fiants of Queen Elizabeth relating to the City and County of Cork’, in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Vol. XLV (1940), p. 130

[4] Donal Brady, Waterford Scientists: preliminary studies (published by author, 2010), p. 11

[5] Robert Lacey, Sir Walter Ralegh, pp. 52, 60

[6] Robert Lacey, Sir Walter Ralegh, p. 61

[7] Robert Lacey, Sir Walter Ralegh, pp. 80-81

[8] Robert Lacey, Sir Walter Ralegh, pp. 69, 81-2, 85

[9] Robert Lacey, Sir Walter Ralegh, pp. 88-91

[10] Donal Brady, Waterford Scientists: preliminary studies (published by author, 2010), p. 16

[11] Robert Lacey, Sir Walter Ralegh, p. 61

[12] Robert Lacey, Sir Walter Ralegh, p. 61

[13] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Lippershey accessed on 5 December 2014

[14] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Harriot accessed on 5 December 2014

[15] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Harriot accessed on 5 December 2014

[16] Robert Lacey, Sir Walter Ralegh, p. 112

[17] Robert Lacey, Sir Walter Ralegh, pp. 61, 180, 182, 246, 314, 319, 320

[18] https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/F8H8-SM8 accessed on 18 September 2013

[19] https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M9W7-F6M accessed on 18 September 2013

[20] Information from the inscription on the grave headstone at Kilcockan graveyard

[21] https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/F8H8-927 accessed on 18 September 2013

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