Saturday, 7 June 2014

Update June 2014 & Secretary's Report

We have been somewhat remiss in keeping this website  up to date. However the society has been active in other areas. This was outlined in the secretary’s report to the AGM earlier this year , a copy  is attached below.

 Secretary’s Report for year 2013

This was another very eventful year.
Planning for the 2014 Calendar was begun earlier than usual and was well received. Thanks especially to Richie Roberts, Michael Farrell, Margaret Brookes and Geoff Power for all their work in this regard.

The Threshing and field day was held  on August 5th, having been delayed due to dreadful weather. It was very successful and raised  much needed funds for our chosen charity for this year…Waterford Hospice Movement.

The single biggest event was the commemoration of the publication of Matthew Butler’s “History of the Barony of Gaultier in 1913. In conjunction with Waterford News and Star,  Ray McGrath on behalf of the Society supplied a series of 48 articles to the News and Star based on Butler’s work entitled “Rambles in Gaultier Revisited”. The articles were much enjoyed and have been highly praised. Many people made a point of collecting them all and they succeeded in their purpose of alerting local people to the legacy of Matthew Butler and to the richness of the Barony’s history. Our thanks to Ray for a great job done.
The series of articles was launched on January 12th in Jack Meade’s and featured a talk on Butler by Julian Walton.

A welcome addition to the years activities was a group trip on August 25th, 'Heritage Sunday' ,to visit  the “Caiseal”– The Knockroe Passage Tomb in  Co Kilkenny.  It included a talk at the site which is in wonderful condition and is an example of what can be achieved when the proper authorities cooperate with the local community. The passage tomb has been under going several years of excavation, led by Muiris O Sullivan from the Dept of Archaeology at UCD. 

Andrea Waters from UCD speaking at Knockroe Passage Tomb

Eastern Tomb in foreground, Western Tomb  in background

The nearby village of Tullahough was bedecked with bunting  and in celebratory mood. Refreshments were served in the old school house which also contained an exhibition of photographs and documents. We  also visited the Old Slate Quarries which were abandoned in the early 1900’s  and  the famed Crosses of Ahenny to round off an enjoyable day. Hopefully we can organise more such trips in the future.

There was an effort to move the Harristown project forward at a meeting at the Giant’s Grave during the Summer, but it has become clear that we do not have the resources to proceed without a significant commitment from National or Local Government.

Continuing our series of lectures as well as organising historical trips seem to be the best way in which we can keep our membership (which now numbers 52), engaged and interested.

 Other Events 
 In addition to the lecture on Passage by Julian Walton, we also had the following speakers ;

22/1/14   Michael Farrell  on ‘The History of the Gaultier Cooperative Movement’
19/2/14   Noel McDonagh ‘ A Virtual Tour of The Pre Christian Sites in Gaultier’
19/3/14   James Eogan on ‘Discovering Prehistoric Gaultier'

As mentioned above, the series of articles ‘Rambles in Gaultier’ was very well receive , even beyond the Barony. A sample is included below and there is a proposal that the complete collection should be published in booklet format. We have selected the Leperstown extract as we have been contacted by a reader in America whose ancestors came from that area and his interest was aroused by the report of Dr Niall Byrne's lecture on the Knights Templar.

Rambles in Gaultier Revisited 26. Leperstown and Leckaun

This is an example from a  series of articles by Ray McGrath and published in the, Waterford  News & Star newspaper covering the Matthew Butler book 'The History of the Barony of Gaultier'

This extract is from Matthew Butler’s book ‘The History of the Barony of Gaultier which was published 100 years ago and the centenary of which we are celebrating with this series.
Edmond Payne had a school here in a thatched mud cabin which cost £2 10s to build, and in which 19 pupils found accommodation.   He derived an annual income of £4 for his labours.  There was another scholastic establishment conducted here by J. Barry, which had an attendance of 70 pupils, for teaching whom Mr Barry received about  £2 10s yearly.  The school was usually conducted under a shed or in a ditch, the state of the weather probably deciding its location.  Here (Leperstown) also lived another flax  and wool spinner named Judith English. She was 60 years of age at this time (Census of 1821).  Then there was John McCarthy  who describes himself as a ‘dog teacher’, but the enumerator (Census of 1821) has a note to the effect that he met him some time before at Jeffrey Murphy’s in Dunmore and that he is much better known as a ‘dog stealer.’ The latter is a more usual occupation, but it is possible that in order to induce the dogs to come to him for their instruction it was necessary to use a little compulsion.  This may have given the idea that he was stealing them. Mary Power, 65, was also a flax and wool spinner, while John McCarthy ( not the one mentioned already), 54,  was a piper.

City Infirmary built  as the  Leper Hospital in 1785
This replaced the old Leper House in Stephen Street

Leckaun  ( Butler spells it Likcane)  It is a neighbouring townland between Leperstown and Killea and Butler is referring to the census of 1821.    There was a school here, with an attendance of 32,  and Bridget English, aged 30, as  teacher.  Among the other inhabitants was Eleanor McNamara, a spinner.


 This is all Butler says of Leperstown in his History.  The townland lies on either side of the Dunmore road on the high ground starting just  beyond the Creamery Crossroads and about 2 miles from Dunmore.    In the Civil Survey of 1654 which followed the Cromwellian confiscation the owner of the townland  at that time was  given as ‘the poor of Waterford’.  The townland which measured 419 acres in 1641, all of which was profitable, was named Loopartstown in the Survey and it was given to Lazar’s Land.  The Lazar was the St Stephen’s Leper Hospital in  Waterford.  Leperstown was a source of income to maintain the hospital and in an inquisition ( enquiry) held in Waterford in 1666 there is confirmation that the Leper Hospital owned the townland.  The revenue from the ‘ploughlands’  ( a variable measure of profitable land common in the 17th century and earlier) was considerable-  valued at £106.   The original grant by charter from King John  and subsequent construction of the Hospital  dates from 1210 but it  was not clear to the Inquisition by what charter the lands at Leperstown were attached but  it was nonetheless acknowledged that in 1641 they were owned by ‘the poor of Waterford’.   It is very interesting to read in the report of the Inquisition which was discovered in the Franciscan monastery in Clonmel that leprosy was present in the city and surrounding countryside  at that time and if a leper did not get a licence  ‘to go abroad’  the victim’s lands could be confiscated and given to the Leper Hospital.  Moving to another area of interest,   an interesting book about the Sheehan family of Leperstown was publishedt in British Columbia in 2004 written by an emigrant to Canada in the 1950s Catherine Sheehan.  It is a fascinating account of life and especially farming in Leperstown in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

 The series is a contribution of the Barony of Gaultier Historical Society and the Waterford News and Star and is  edited by  Ray McGrath.  .