Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Julian Walton on the History of Passage East

Passage East 1784 

This lecture took place in the Ocean Hotel, Dunmore East to a substantial audience. Julian chose to base his talk on an eighteenth century painting of Passage East which showed clearly the extent of the village at the time and the fine fortifications and Blockhouse that were still intact and helping to control traffic on the river. Also in the picture is the Church of St Anne, newly restored at the time. A feature of the painting is the evidence of a busy port with substantial buildings and a military presence.
Having outlined the history of the fort since the 15th century and it’s importance to the protection of the City of Waterford and the building of the Block house in the 16th century, h e also traced the interesting history of St Anne’s Church which is still a prominent landmark of the village. He  noted the significance of a painting by a French Artist being commissioned prior to the building of New Geneva and we were left to speculate whether there was a connection.
 Mr Walton then outlined the impressive history of Passage from the landing of the Normans, Strongbow, Henry 2nd, Prince John and later as King John and the huge army of Richard 2nd in 1394.
Passage East 2014 
The granting of lands to the Knights Templar and their development of the ferry which gives Passage its name (Passagium).  Then we heard of the failure of the pretender Perkin Warbeck whose fleet anchored at Passage from where he later left. Julian spoke of the Commercial and Traveller aspects of the village where boats waited for suitable conditions before heading to sea in convoys protected by warships and of the hotel and inn accommodation provided in the village for travellers.
He also touched on Oliver Cromwell’s attempts to capture Waterford and the need to secure Passage to that end. Passage also figured in the departure of William of Orange and James 2nd following the Battle of the Boyne. Into the 18th century, we were told of the Waterford / Newfoundland connection and the attempted establishment of a New  Geneva in Ratheen near Crooke, followed by it’s use as the notorious “Geneva Barracks” during the 1798 rebellion.
Julian stressed that in one lecture, one could only touch the surface of the abundant history of this remarkable place. As a society, we hope over the coming years, to present lectures on specific parts of that history so that we can better understand how important this part of the South East is to the overall history of Ireland.

Ruins of Castle seen in 1784 painting above  

Above are the ruins of the castle prominent in the 1784 painting. Ballyhack Castle is just visible in the background