Tuesday, 24 March 2015

 The Barony Echo
A Quarterly of the Barony of Gaultier Historical Society
Brownstown Logo

Issue 3                                                                                   February 2015                                                                                                                  

The Wars of the Weirs
The Salmon and Sprat weirs of Waterford Estuary have had a prominent place in the story of Passage and Cheekpoint and  the neighbouring villages across the Estuary.    The first record of a fishing weir dates back to a charter of King Henry 11 given to Juvenis Ailward, an ancestor of the Aylwards of Faithlegg.  By the mid 17th century the Aylward family had 8 weirs in the Cheekpoint/Faithlegg area alone.  By the early 1800s the numerous weirs between Little Island and Woodstown were seen by the salmon men of the upper reaches of the rivers to be killing machines leading to a severe reduction in the number of salmon going upriver by the cot salmon fishermen of the Nore and Barrow.   The weirs were owned by the local landlords and were often leased out to local fishermen.   So there was a double target when the Barrow and Nore fishermen formed a flotilla of 200 cots (small flat -bottomed salmon fishing boats) in 1836, came down river, armada –like, and with axes, hatches, and other weapons of weir destruction  cut down the Scotch weirs and presumably some of the head weirs of Waterford Estuary.  The Dublin Penny Journal reported how the salmon-men from Ross ‘braved the dangers of the high seas, leaving on the tide, cut down the weirs and returned on the incoming tide and were received in New Ross with tumultuous cheers by all the lovers of cheap salmon.’

Were the Vikings in the Barony?
The publication recently of Maria Walsh’s Waterford 914 has prompted a long overdue visit back to the historical sources.   Ms Walsh’s book is a very interesting read as it presents an alternative appreciation of Viking life especially that of the women of that culture.   Ragnall is the Viking leader in this engrossing work of fiction but in some ways it is his wife Daegmar who is the central character as the invading fleet makes its first camp at Woodstown before proceeding upriver to take the existing settlement at the junction of St John’s River and the Suir.
To what extent is Ragnall based on a real life character?  The different Annals contain reference to a Ragnall between 913 and 918 AD.   One of these references has a Ragnall Ua Imair leaving Loch dá Chaech in 917 AD.  (See Clare Downham The Historical Importance of Viking-age Waterford for a more detailed discussion).   Although the name Loch Dá Chaech was in common usage for Waterford Estuary in later times it is found in the Annals only between 814 and 825.  From 826 on it is the earlier name Port Láirge which appears in the Annals.  There are other Ragnalls in the records indicating that the family of Ragnall was prominent and linked to the Dublin Vikings. 
Furthermore it is very interesting that Ragnall of Waterford in Ms Walsh’s novel came from Jorvik (the later York where there is now a Heritage site called Jorvik).  And the records tell us the Waterford Vikings had links to York
Apart from the possible land fall at Woodstown that Ms Walsh includes in her story,  and the tradition of a Viking presence in Ballygunner, the scholars differ as to the extent of the Viking presence in Gaultier.  Further research may supply a definitive answer but my money would be on an important Waterford Viking influence in the Barony particularly along Waterford Estuary.
Gaultier History- WW2 activity – The Brownstown Head Look-Out Post
I was recently made aware of a book dealing with air incidents in the south-east  during the WW2 era.  In the book written by Patrick J Cummins, Emergency Air Incidents: South East Ireland 1940-1945 several incidents near Waterford and Tramore are recorded.   Campile Creamery was bombed on Monday August 26, 1940 with the loss of three lives; on April 24, 1941 a British Battle T.T.1 crash landed at Crobally, Tramore; a German Junkers Ju weather plane was shot down 15 miles south of Hook Hd and all 4 crew were killed;  on August 23, 1942 a German Bomber crashed at Carriglong near Tramore and on February 7  a British bomber crashed at Kilbarry.  
In nearly all of these incidents the Look Out Posts on the Waterford and Wexford coasts were involved.  The Look Out Stations were established as part of the Marine and Coastwatching Service which came into being on September 3, 1939.   These Posts maintained a 24 hour watch and reported on all military or suspicious incidents.  Of the 83 Posts around the Irish coast, four were located on the south Wexford and East Waterford coasts.  These were numbered as follows – No. 14 at Carnsore Pt, No. 15 near Kilmore Quay, No. 16 at Hook Hd, No. 17 at Brownstown Hd and No. 18 near Bunmahon.  The Lookout number  was marked out in white on nearby rocks or cut into the ground and filled with whitewashed stones.  These signs measured 30 feet in length.  The word ‘Eire’ was similarly displayed.
The Posts  were manned by a team of 7 or 8 men some of whom were members of the Defence Force, the balance made up of local volunteers.  The Society would like to know the names of those who took part in this important work. We have some –  John Fitzgerald and Paddy Dunne who were members of the Defence Forces, John (Bulligan) Power.    There was also a man whose surname was Corcoran reportedly from the Newtown area of Tramore.    If you have any further details please get in touch with the Society via woodhouseduo@gmail.com
The huts made of prefabricated concrete and erected by local  contractors were very basic.  The shell of the Brownstown Post survives including the small fireplace which was built into all.  Each Post was equipped with a telephone, a bicycle, a log book, telescope, binoculars, compass card, signalling lamps and flags, a map of the assigned coastal area and aircraft and ship recognition cards.  Eight Coastwatchers were assigned to each Post.  Reports were made to the Coastwatchers of all relevant incidents including ship and aircraft movements, crashes or forced landings, bodies washed ashore.  These reports were ‘placed at the disposal of the British authorities’.
 The Hook Hd Post No. 16 and  Brownstown Post, No 17 were involved in reporting several of the incidents listed at the start of this article.   Coastwatchers  reported the flight of the German bombers after the attack on Campile Creamery and Ambrosetown viaduct.  The plane that attacked Ambrosetown viaduct but failed to destroy it flew out over Waterford Estuary followed 5 minutes later by the Campile plane that was spotted at the Hook Head Lookout Post.  This plane was heading off to the south-east.  In the case of the British Battle, the aircraft  was seen near Dunmore ‘hovering about’  at 1645 on the afternoon of August 26.  It eventually crash landed safely at Crobally but I don’t have a report to hand saying that it was spotted at Brownstown Post No 17.  The Post seems to have been involved in the matter of the Junkers Ju that came down in Carriglong on Sunday August 23, 1942.  At 0925 hours ‘two aircraft, five miles north, circling’ were reported from the Brownstown Post.  These happened to be two spitfires chasing and firing at the German Junkers Ju, on a weather mission from near Paris.   The incident was also seen by people on the Tramore Road who had to dive for cover to escape from the dogfight overhead. The German plane crash landed in Carriglong in a field owned by Owen Power and almost immediately burst into flames.  The jettisoned machine guns were later discovered when the corn was being harvested nearby in September. In the case of the British Wellington Bomber which crash landed at the Six Cross Roads in Kilbarry, the plane was sighted at the Brownstown Lookout Post at 00.20 hours off Tramore Bay and then at Waterford Harbour ( presumably by the Hook HD post) heading north.  It eventually crashed in Kilbarry at 01.30 after circling Waterford several times.
L.O. Post 17 is showing some structural deterioration.  The Society is currently investigating the possibility of contributing to its repair.   The Society would also like to have the Coastwatchers who manned the Post during The Emergency remembered in some suitable way.
 The Society’s Spring Talks
The spring season started with a very well received talk by Noel McDonagh.  The talk was entitled Recent Finds of Flints in Gaultier and it was held at the Saratoga pub on Wednesday February 18.   The talk which was very well attended centred on the dating of Noel’s finds in the Credan Head area.  Professor Peter  Woodman of UCC the leading archaeologist in Ireland on the early Mesolithic period earlier expressed the view that the finds were very significant and  he placed some of the material collected by Noel into the early Mesolithic suggesting that settlement in our area occurred far earlier than previously thought and may in fact go back to 7000 BC.
In March,  Michael Farrell, John Burke and Ray McGrath will each give a 15 minute report on the latest research they’ve been involved in.   John’s talk will be on Bishop Thomas Hussey (1746-1803) and his links to Gaultier.   Ray McGrath’s subject is  Laurence Crotty’s  War:  his 1914-15 diary,   and Michael Farrell’s talk will be on The Ladies Land League in Corbally   The talks will take place in Hayes’s Pub Killea Dunmore East on Wednesday March 18 starting at 8 pm, admission €5.

The Giant’s Grave and Jacquetta Hawkes
Jacquetta Hawkes came to Dunmore in the summer of 1939 to do an archaeological dig at the Harristown  passage tomb ( the Giant’s Grave).  She confidently placed the building of the tomb to the Neolithic period about 4.500 years ago and also discovered cremated remains dating from the Bronze Age.   Also unearthed  were beads,  which along with the structure of the tomb ,  link the Harristown site to the Scilly Isles.  Jacquetta Hawkes is remembered for her mould -breaking work in the post war period in popularising archaeology. 
Hawkes was a friend of Diana Collins who in her book Time and the Priestleys relates an incident told to her by the archaeologist who on the day she made the finds was last to leave after covering the tomb.. ‘as she cycled back to her dreary hotel she was met to her surprise by a long procession of people making their way to the tomb.. rumour had spread that a magical hare, the guardian of the tomb, had been disturbed and that a crock had been discovered, which on the stroke of midnight would prove to be full of gold coins..’
From her childhood she wanted to be  an archaeologist and eventually became the first woman to graduate from Cambridge University in her chosen field.   She immediately went to work with her future husband,  the noted archaeologist Christopher Hawkes,  whom she later divorced and  then married the writer JB Priestley.  Her work was rooted in prehistory and her humanistic approach to the field is captured in an oft quoted remark of hers...’let us have the courage to accept the inner experience that tells us  we are something more and that we may be part of a process much greater still.’

Robert Manning at Springhill,  Ballycanavan
Robert Manning  (1816-1897) made a lasting contribution to engineering science when he published his water flow formula.  The speed at which water flows in open channels and pipes was an important part of any drainage project.  Manning devised a formula to calculate this.  The formula spread rapidly around the world and is still in use.  It is known as the Manning Formula.
Although Manning was born in Normandy he lived in Gaultier in his teen age years.   Ruth Stephens (1792-1854) of Dromina, Woodstown was his mother.  After his father’s death in 1826, the family lived in Springhill, Ballycanavan.  There was a tidal corn mill under Springhill on the Ballycanavan Pill and it is likely from knowing how that worked that he developed an interest in the flow of water.
Coastal Placenames  1  ( Creadan to Dunmore)
The following is an amalgam of a map prepared by Stephen Whittle and the work of Canon Power in his Placenames of the Deises
Creadan Head is derived from the Irish Ard Chriodáin.  Criodán probably refers to a Celtic deity or chieftain.  The Packs is a ledge of flat-topped rocks just west of Creadan Head.   Donegal Hole is cavernous inlet just west of Creadan,  origin unknown.  Wall’s  Cove or Creadan Cove is above Arnanamult Head and was also known as Showery’s after the Power family who lived in Creadan Cottage.  The Dummie’s Garden is shown on the Whittle map just south of Walls Cove.  Others put it between Walls and Credan.  Ardnamult, the height of the wethers, is also known as Middle Head. The Closh is west of Ardnamult.  It’s a name that occurs frequently on our coast and is probably derived from the Irish An Chlais meaning a cleft.  Foillakipeen is next and is the last headland before turning into Dunmore Bay.   Probable meaning is The Cliff of the Little Sticks  ( See local legend).  Laweesh is the rock lying off Foillakipeen;  origin unknown but sounds Irish.  The Gravel Hole  is  a small cleft inside Laweesh Rock.  Cathedral Rocks lie between Laweesh and Councilllors.  Can anyone supply the origin?   Councillors  Strand is probably named for the owner of Nymph Hall who in the 18th century was a city councillor.  Dunmore Strand was usually known as Lawlors in the 1950s and  named for the family who owned the hotel. And Dunmore Bay itself is shown as Whitehouse Bay on the Doyle chart of the 1730’s.    Peg’s Rock at the west side of Dunmore Strand remembers a Peg whose house collapsed onto the rocks below.  Ladies’ Cove or is it Lady’s is around the small headland.  Men’s follows, remembered for its diving board.  Poll na Línte translates as Hole of the Nets and is the cleft after Men’s.   Badger’s is next and the origin is unknown now.  Goosey’s Rock is named An Charraig Liath on the charts and then there is Stony Cove, named no doubt for its gravelly beach.

Comments and material welcomed at woodhouseduo@gmail.com

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