Monday 14 July 2014

Dunmore East Heritage Walk Number 1 Guided Walk

Dunmore East Lighthouse 

On behalf of the Society, Ray Mc Grath organised a  “ Summer evening history walk”  in Dunmore village,on Tuesday evening 24th of June.

The walk commenced at the Dunmore East Lighthouse where Ray spoke about Alexander Nimmo the Scottish Engineer who designed the Lighthouse and the new harbour. The harbour was to accommodate  the packet station for ships which carried the Royal Mail between England and Ireland.  In 1814 the work commenced and was completed in 1837 at a final cost of £108,000. By then the arrival of steam boats allowed the mail to be brought directly to Waterford. Dunmore then gradually became an important fishing port. While walking around to the other side of the harbour, the twenty five walkers were informed of the other features of the harbour as well as the history of Shanoon and its promentary fort (now sadly destroyed) that gave the name to Dunmore; Dun Mor; The Big Fort.

The party continued up the “Island Lane” and Barracks Lane,to the Coast Guard’s Houses which were burned during the War of Independence and later restored. We then proceeded up Queen’s Terrace which was built in 1901 and named in honour of Queen Victoria, who had just died that year. It had been called Kerry Lane before that in reference to a number of Kerry workers who had accommodation there.

Queen's Tce aka Kerry Lane

Barracks Lane aka Post Office Lane
While walking around the “Circular Road” and  looking into “Harbour Village “ that used to be knows as Pitt’s field, Richie Roberts spoke about Arthur Westcott Pitt who launched a venture aimed at starting Ireland’s  first commercial Airline and Airdrome. The   Airdrome which witnessed many exciting Air Shows in the 1950s was in the area occupied by Shanakiel and Airfield Point Housing developments. It was also mentioned that A.W.Pitt  flew as a commercial pilot during WW.2. He delivered newly constructed aircraft to the various airfields around Britain on behalf of the RAF

Tír na nÓg Former home of A Westcott Pitt

Continuing on the circular road, we arrived out on the main Dock Road again and Richie spoke about the thatched cottages that are so much a feature of Dunmore East. We also mentioned Thomas Burke’s Grocery Shop He had a boat building yard at the back of the shop and the finished vessels were lowered down the cliff face at high tide to be launched.His business passed on to his daughter Gertrude whose reputation for ice cream cones is still remembered.

Nelty Woods' home and school
    Further on John Burke spoke about Dunmore East Girls school. Although there was a school in the village in 1825, the first school that was recognised by the Board of Education was a girls school begun by Mary Pyne in 1849. Her father was the teacher in Killea. When she left after a few months, she was succeeded by Miss Ellen Woods who lived with her mother Catherine in Glebe, Killea. Over the next six years, she raised the school’s reputation to a high standard but the building was unsuitable and she left in September 1855 and went to Limerick The following year she came back to a better
Harbour Hotel
building outside  which the walkers were now standing. They heard that Ellen “Nelty” Woods continued to teach her 50 children there with a Monitor and later an Assistant Teacher until she retired in 1884. Four years after her retirement the Tragedy of the “Alfred D Snow “ occurred and Nelty Woods wrote the well known ballad that describes the details of that terrible shipwreck and loss of life. The year after her retirement, the Mercy Nuns arrived and occupied the former Harbour Hotel (which became the Mercy Convent) where they educated generations of girls in the village and surrounding country. When the convent closed, the girls moved into the new school. Light of Christ N.S.  John also mentioned the Church of Ireland school beside St Andrews Church which opened in 1848 and closed in 1918. This will be mentioned again in the next walk.

Fisherman's Hall
We then proceeded down to the Fisherman’s Hall, built by the Malcomsons of Portlaw, who also built Villa Marina (The Haven Hotel) as a summer home.. This walk ended at Emerald Terrace where our attention was drawn to a plaque commemorating the fact that Patrick Lafcadio Hearn stayed there from time to time.

Patrick Lafcadio Hearn aka Koizumi Yakumo, was born on Lefkada island in Greece in 1850. He was son of a Greek mother and his father was an army surgeon from Co Offaly. He lived in Dublin for most of his young life and spent holidays in Tramore and Dunmore. He was sent to the U.S in 1869 and became a journalist in Cincinnati. He went to Japan in 1890. and began teaching. His reputation is mainly based on his work there.  He was an international writer, best known for his books about Japan, especially his collections of Japanese legends and ghost stories. He is also know for his writings about the city of New Orleans, based on his ten year stay in that city. There are cultural centres and museums named for him in Japan and the U.S. His work is important as it gives an insight to Japanese culture at a time when Japan was unknown to the Western world. There is also a plaque to commemorate a local hero, Patrick (Paddy Billy) Power, an award winning coxswain of the Dunmore East Lifeboat who lived there for years with his sister Annie.
Lafcadio Hearn  and  coxwain Billy Power plaques 

 While talking of notable people who lived in the village, Richie mentioned “Otto” Norwood who flew for the RAF in World War One. He is said to be the only pilot who flew at the commencement of the war and survived to the very end in spite of having been shot down five times, once it is said by the famous “Red Baron”.  His planes were used mainly to take photographs of the enemy positions and trenches and so provide vital information to the army on the ground.                                                                                                                                                                  
Petra Home of Norwood Family

Ray then thanked the walkers for their attention and many questions and promised that on our next walk in July we will proceed to the lower village. All agreed that although there were no famous battles or national events here, we have a very interesting history….a people’s history.

Coastguard Houses

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