Cumann Seandalaiochta agus Staire Phort Lairge

Friday, September 22, 2017

Imagine Arts Festival 2017: Decies Journal Launch

Decies No. 73, Saturday 28th October, Parnell Room of the Granville Hotel at 6pm 

As part of the Imagine Arts Festival the local Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society will launch their latest Journal No. 73 which covers many topics from archaeological excavations in County Waterford to the former Waterpark student who established the Irish Air Corps. 

Two of this year’s contributors will give a talk on their respective topics: Richard Tobin, The Cooper, The Racer and the Draper’s Curate: Settling accounts in the Ballyduff National League 1880 to 1891 / Brigid McIntyre, John Cotter - From Aglish to America: a stirring story of a forgotten hero of the Gaelic Revival. Journal for sale at €15.

Upcoming Talk: Waterford district lunatic asylum 1834-1922

Waterford district lunatic asylum 1834-1922
A lecture by Tony Gyves to the Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society

The Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society lecture season for 2017 and 2018 commences on Friday 29th September with an illustrated lecture at 8 pm in the St Patrick’s Gateway Centre, Patrick St. Waterford by Mr. Tony Gyves MA titled ‘Waterford district lunatic asylum 1834-1922’.

Interior of Waterford District Lunatic Asylum (NLI POOLEWP 0131)
There is much contemporary discussion about the provision of mental health services in the community. In Ireland organised treatment for people suffering from mental illness was provided in a network of district lunatic asylums established in the early nineteenth century, these were effectively Ireland's first mental hospitals. The Waterford district lunatic asylum was opened in 1834 on a site on the edge of the city, surrounded by orchards, market gardens and farmland in Lower Grange. At the time of its establishment ten staff delivered care to 54 patients, or inmates as they were called, in a purpose-built modern facility. The original asylum building, designed by the leading architect Francis Johnston, still stands in the grounds of St. Otteran’s Hospital and is a protected structure.

Tony Gyves has researched the history of the Waterford district lunatic asylum from its opening to Independence in 1922 when a new system for administering mental health services was established in the Free State. In his talk Tony will describe the facilities in which the patients received treatment and the types of care they received in the asylum. His talk will also look at the evolution of medical practices and administrative systems for caring for the mentally ill in Waterford in the 19th century, and the people who were involved in delivering that care.

Mallow-born Tony Gyves started his career in health administration working for Cork County Council, this was followed by periods spent working in the Southern, Midland and South-Eastern Health Boards, before ending his career as a senior administrator in St. Otteran’s Hospital. His time spent working in St. Otteran’s stimulated an interest in the history of the place and in the little researched area of the provision of services to the mentally ill in 19th century Ireland. He was awarded a Master of Arts degree in Local History by University College Cork for his ground-breaking research on the history of the Waterford district lunatic asylum.

This lecture will appeal to anyone interested in the history of this well-known Waterford institution, the social history of the City and County in the 19th century and the development of medical services in Victorian Ireland. Admission to the lecture is €5, but is free for members of the Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society. Details of the full programme of monthly lectures can be found on our Facebook page New members are always welcome, the membership application form can be downloaded from

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Exploring Waterford City's Late Medieval Defences

Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society
Exploring Waterford City’s Late Medieval Defences
Thursday 10th August 2017

Our walk will focus on the archaeology and defences of the medieval city suburb of St. John’s. WAHS has been given access to St Martin's Gate, the principal entry point to the medieval city from the southwest, this site is not normally open to the public. On the walk we will also encounter many other upstanding remains that have survived in this historic City quarter, including the medieval John's Bridge and the remains of John's Gate, the city wall and a number of its impressive towers, the sites of St Stephen’s Church and the Leper House and the Elizabethan Aylward House. Our guide Ben Murtagh will not only explain the significance of the upstanding remains but will also reveal what has been learnt about the development of the medieval city from a number of archaeological excavations that have been carried out in this part of Waterford over the past three decades.

Meeting place: Apple Market, under the new canopy (opposite Babycare)
Time: 7 pm

Cost: Members free, non-members €5.00

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Fieldtrip to Lismore

Our first Summer outing of 2017 saw members and guests making the trip to Lismore. We visited the impressive Heritage Centre and then took a walk through the Heritage Town accompanied by Alice, the knowledgeable guide from the Heritage Centre. Among the historic sights we saw were St Carthage’s Cathedral where members were impressed by the well maintained interior which contains among other treasures a 16th century chest tomb of the McGrath family and an exquisite stained glass window by the noted pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones. Other places visited were the gateway to Lismore Castle and the historic ice-houses on the Ballyduff Road. The ice-houses were originally built for the commercial salmon fishery that thrived on the River Blackwater in the 19th century, they have recently been conserved and made accessible to the public by Lismore Tidy Towns Committee in partnership with Waterford City and County Council. Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society members had a very enjoyable afternoon in Lismore and the couple of light showers didn’t dampen our members’ enthusiasm.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Lecture Series, September-December 2017

Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society
Please note all lectures are held at 8pm in St. Patrick’s Gateway Centre, Patrick Street, Waterford, unless otherwise stated.
Lectures are free for members. Non-members €5.00. Students €2.50.

September 29th, 2017 - Topic: Waterford district lunatic asylum, 1834-1922
Speaker: Mr Tony Gyves
In the 1820s and 1830s a network of district lunatic asylums was established. These were effectively Ireland’s first mental hospitals. Waterford’s district lunatic asylum was established in 1834. Mr Tony Gyve has researched the history of this significant Waterford medical facility.

October 20th, 2017 - Topic: Medieval nunneries in Ireland
Speaker: Dr Tracy Collins
Dr Collins’ research focuses on the archaeological evidence for female monasticism in medieval Ireland, with a particular emphasis on the later medieval period. One of the most important late medieval nunneries in Ireland was Kiliculliheen in Ferrybank.
This lecture will be held in the Parnell room, Granville Hotel.

October 28th, 2017 - Launch of Decies No. 73
In conjunction with the Imagine Arts Festival the latest volume of the Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society’s journal will be launched with two guest speakers accompanied by live music.

November 24th, 2017 - Topic: The sinkings of the Coningbeg and Formby
Speaker: Dr Edward Bourke
A special lecture marking the centenary of the sinkings of these Waterford ships in December 1917 and the associated tragic loss of life.

November 26th, 2017 - Annual lunch
Mulled wine reception and lunch, Tapestry Room, Granville Hotel.

Booking details will be circulated closer to the date. 

Summer Outings & Events 2017

Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society

Sunday 11th June – Sunday fieldtrip: Lismore Heritage Centre
Visit Lismore Heritage Centre and take a guided tour of Lismore heritage town, including the historic St Carthage’s Cathedral and the recently exposed Victorian ice-houses.
Meet at the Lismore Heritage Centre at 14:30.

Thursday 22nd June – Evening fieldtrip: The Coastguard in Tramore
Visit to the former H.M. Coastguard Station and a guided walk with Mr. James Doherty around locations associated with the Coastguard in Tramore. This trip is a follow up to a talk given to the society by Mr Doherty in April which highlighted some of the key events in the organisation’s history.
Meet at the Coastguard Cultural Centre, Tramore at 7pm.

Sunday 16th July – Summer outing: The Heart of Medieval Limerick and the Hunt Museums of Treasures
Guided tours of King John’s Castle and the Hunt Museum and other features of historical interest in Limerick’s historic core.
Depart at 08:30am, return at 9pm. Cost 55 euro.

Thursday 10th August – Evening fieldtrip: Waterford’s medieval walls
A guided tour of some well-known and less well-known sections of Waterford’s late medieval walls.
Meet at the Applemarket at 7pm.

Thursday 24th August – Evening Event: People Who Made Waterford Famous
The Society’s contribution to Heritage Week 2017. Join members of Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society who will present a miscellany of short talks about people who put Waterford on the map.
The Tapestry Room, Granville Hotel, Meagher’s Quay, Waterford at 7pm. Free event.



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Prof. Seamus Pender Award 2017

Prof. Seamus Pender Award 2017

At the Mount Sion Project Awards night, 6th class student James Lambert was awarded the inaugural Prof. Seamus Pender Award sponsored by the Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society.

James' project was entitled 'William Lamport is Zoro' and went in to great detail about his family connection to Lamport. A colourful and well-researched project covered the life of Lamport, the tale of Zoro and how it has been retold in film and television.

In addition to the award presented by Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society Chairman Adrian Larkin, James came first place in the overall project awards for the school. Congratulations to James for an excellent project.

Well done to all the students who took part and received prizes last night (Wednesday 26th April) for all their hard work and creativity.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mount Sion Primary School Project Awards 2017

Mount Sion Primary School Project Awards 2017

This year, the Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society will sponsor an award for local history in the Mount Sion Project Awards.

The award will be named in honour of Pro. Seamus Pender, a former student of Cnoc Sion who was made the first chair of Irish History at University College Cork in 1955. 

The Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society would like to thank Mr. Michael Walsh, Principal of Mount Sion Primary School and Dr Declan Pender (son of the late Professor) for allowing us to name the plaque in honour of Prof. Pender.

A great deal of gratitude goes to Margaret Lantry and Ann Egan of the Cork Historical & Archaeological Society, which Prof. Pender was also President of, for their help and correspondence.

The winner of the award will be announced tomorrow evening (Wednesday 26th April) in the Mount Sion Hall at the Project Awards ceremony. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Sentenced to Death: William O'Shea

William O’Shea

By February 1943 William O’Shea had been married to his wife Maureen for three years, although he was aged just 24 and she was 21. At this point the couple were blessed with a baby girl, the young family living together in a nice cottage in Ballyhane, outside Cappoquin. Instead of being at the start of a happy matrimony and enjoying parenthood however, O’Shea seemed to resent his wife. She, in turn, was afraid of him.  

William O’Shea may not have been a devoted husband but he did earn a living by working for Waterford County Council doing odd jobs and was also considered good at trapping rabbits. It was early 1943 that he had begun to spend a lot of time with a 17-year old local youth by the name of Thomas White, despite the significant age gap. White, who it would be later ascertained was mentally subnormal, frequented the O’Shea household and Maureen did not approve of the amount of time he and her husband spent together.

On the 22nd February, Thomas White came to the O’Shea household to enquire about a pair of shoes. William was absent from the house so White conversed with his wife, before leaving several minutes later. The young mother then went to bed with her young infant and was on the verge of sleep when she smelled the unmistakable odour of smoke. The thatch of the cottage had suddenly gone up in flames and the occupants made a hasty exit. Maureen and the child were fortunate to escape with their lives. The young bride’s family did not, however, believe that the fire was a terrible accident. Maureen had already begun to think that O’Shea and White had ideas about killing her and had informed her family of her suspicions. Maureen’s stepfather even accosted William O’Shea, insisting that the fire had not been accidental. O’Shea did not respond but his wife tellingly remarked “Oh well, they want to get rid of me, and the baby, and I suppose they will get me yet.”

William O’Shea and his wife were forced to live in O’Shea’s mother’s house after the fire had made their cottage uninhabitable. On the 15th March, three weeks after the blaze, O’Shea returned home from work at 6pm as was his normal routine. After dinner, he uncharacteristically invited his wife on an evening stroll. She agreed and the pair left the house. As they were walking arm-in-arm in Knockyoolahan, a townland close to their home, a shot rang out without warning.  Maureen slumped to the ground. The gun, a firearms expert would later testify, was only a couple of inches behind the unfortunate woman when the shot had been fired. Instead of staying with his dying wife, William O’Shea left her lying on the road and ran to his mother’s house. He was in the house for several minutes without mentioning the horrific incident that had just occurred. Finally when his mother enquired as to Maureen’s whereabouts he told her that his wife had been shot. When asked why by his panicked mother he hadn’t stayed by her side, O’Shea replied “I couldn’t bear it.”

 By the time she was discovered it was too late, the Maureen O’Shea having died from the shotgun wound. When the deceased woman’s family were informed about the tragedy they were far from being sympathetic, the stepfather openly voicing his suspicions. He said accusingly to O’Shea “You were after spilling blood tonight, my boy,” O’Shea reacted by jumping from his chair and saying “Do you think I shot her?” He made no denial of the charge, however. The Gardaí were quick to act on the suspicion. Later that night, they went to the house were Thomas White was staying and discovered a shotgun under the bed.

On 16th March O’Shea was summoned to the station in Cappoquin. Almost immediately he complained bitterly about his recently deceased betrothed “My wife has been at me since about the first week of our marriage. Anybody that used to come in she used to be fighting with them.” Later in the statement he admitted that White burned his house. “White said that he would do it, but I was not sure he would. He told me he set fire to the back of the thatch...he was disappointed she had not been caught in it.” O’Shea also knew that White had fired the fatal shot. He said in his statement that White had said “If we could get a cartridge we could shoot her…I knew it was Tommy White that had fired the shot because we had arranged that he do it.” O’Shea went on to confess that when he felt his wife going down he whispered an act of contrition gently in her ear. In a later statement, O’Shea admitted that White had told him that the signal he was about to shoot Maureen would be a tap on the shoulder.

O’Shea and White were tried jointly, the case beginning in Green Street, Dublin, on the 7th June. Thomas White’s counsel immediately asked if the jury could rule on the sanity of their client, the judge granting their request. Dr. John Dunne of Grangegorman Mental Hospital told the court that he been examining White in Mountjoy. His conclusion was that the prisoner was suffering from a mental deficiency and that he would be unable to follow the proceedings of the court. The jury retired for ten minutes before returning with a verdict of “not sane.” White was not fit to face the court and instead would be detained at the government’s pleasure. O’Shea thus faced trial for the murder of his wife alone.

O’Shea had already confessed to conspiracy to murder. However, he sensationally withdrew his statement before the court case, complaining “I never arranged to have my wife shot. I don’t even remember saying that. That is all I have to say.” The defence Solicitor, Mr. Nolan-Whelan, said that there was no evidence to suggest a conspiracy between O’Shea and White. O’Shea had no drinking problem and no motive. “A man does not murder his wife without a motive, unless he is insane,” continued the solicitor. He also declared that the statement made by his client was involuntary and made under duress. They also stated that there was a case for an insanity, one doctor declaring that O’Shea’s mental age was about seven years. The prosecution disagreed and contended that he was acting simply to fool the jury into declaring him unfit to stand trial.

After the evidence the jury were given their chance to decide the truth. They needed fifty-five minutes to decide that the defendant was guilty of murder. O’Shea was visibly trembling and did not reply when asked if he anything to say. The judge told the jury he agreed thoroughly with their verdict before donning the black cap and sentencing O’Shea to be hanged. Several appeals were mounted against the sentence and the government cabinet of the day met to discuss a possible reprieve. In this case however, they chose to let justice run its course. Despite not firing a shot, William O’Shea was hanged in Mountjoy Prison on the 12th August, 1943. He would be the only Waterford man to climb the scaffold in the history of Ireland’s independence.

Colm Wallace has written a book “Sentenced to Death: Saved from the Gallows” about thirty Irish men and women who had the death penalty imposed on them between 1922 and 1985. It is available in all good book shops and is also available on
For more information see the author’s Facebook page or contact Somerville Press, Dromore, Bantry, Co. Cork. 028-32873

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Laurence Dominick Dunne & Sport in Cappoquin

And Now for Something Completely Different: Short articles on diverse subjects. The first of which is by Joseph M.V. Conway. 

Laurence Dominick Dunne & Sport in Cappoquin

Joseph M.V. Conway is trying to locate any information on Laurence Dominick Dunne from anyone that may know or have information on him, born around 1920 in Cappoquin, Co. Waterford.

Laurence Dominick Dunne was one of the greatest, but sadly, forgotten athletes in Cappoquin, Co. Waterford. Known for his skill in running, coaching, and massage, Dunne was a natural all-round athlete. He also partook in rugby, tennis, playing and coaching badminton, snooker, billiards, and rowing; all of which came to him so easily.

His coaching and training methods proved to be 40 years ahead their time and were widely used in most sports in the Cappoquin area; where some of the country’s best athletes came from. He certainly was well coached by his School Coach at Blackrock College in Dublin.

Laurence Dominick Dunne coached me and, thus, I won many 100-, 220- yards, and 440- yards races, and one 300-meters race running against top class athletes throughout Ireland. Dunne and I were neighbours and lived only eight doors from each other in Main Street, Cappoquin, which was only100 yards from the local sports field and 30 yards from Jimmy Foley’s bar. As I’ve said previously:

 Dom put me through my paces and thus I won many races running. I give much credit for success to the coaching given to me and my counterparts by Laurence Dominick Dunne.  I know and was in nearly every house north and south Main Street Cappoquin as a boy.  Laurence Dominick Dunne may have his weaknesses and who have not.

Many benefitted from Laurence Dominick Dunne’s methods. Jimmy Foley, a champion cyclist won hundreds of races over many distances.  Thomas O Neill was an Irish Champion at the 5-mile hot pursuit cycling.

Cappoquin Hurling and Football Clubs had six players on the winning 1948 Waterford All-Ireland Hurling Minor Team.

The Cappoquin Rowing Club, coached by Dunne, were known the world over as top sports men and women. Dunne was in the rowing under-age four crew winning a silver medal in the 1928 Tailteann regatta held in Cork.

Any crew or team of which Laurence Dominick Dunne was a member had an edge over most opponents.  His training methods and muscle building techniques proved invaluable and his training methods continue to be used by many clubs in the Cappoquin area.  

We in Cappoquin, a close-knit community, are fortunate to have so many men and women who love many sports. Many of whom may not know their clubs’ success stems from the actions and influence of Dunne.

Note: We also had many types of sportspeople including the Irish Chess Champion Noel Mulcahy living five or six doors from the Dunne’s house on the north side of the street in Cappoquin.

Dunne’s Early Life
L D Dunne was born about 1908 the son of Edward Dunne and Annie Tracey. Edward Dunne was known as Nailed in 1907.
The Dunne family built up by Matthew Tracey [Annie’s father] the main premises are on Main Street, Cappoquin, north side of street and the bar and B&B on the south side.
Edward Dunne married Annie and the name over the door on the north side became Tracey and Dunne.

Dunne’s Achievements  
Dominick went to college in Blackrock, Dublin and when in college led by example. Below is a list of his notable achievements.  
·         He won 1924 220 YDS in 26.4 minutes
·         1926 won 220 YDS and 4x220 with Blackrock
·         1926 won 220 YDS in 34. 2
·         1924 won 440YDS [1/4] in 60.6 seconds
·         1925 won 449 YDS [1/4 mile] in 57 seconds and relay with Blackrock
·         1926 won 440 YDS [no time given] and the relay

In 1928, Laurence Dominick Dunne rowed at position 3 in the Underage in the Tailtean Games for Cappoquin Rowing Club which won Silver medals. The crew were W Cullinan [bow], John Curran, L.D. Dunne [3] W.J. Cahill [Stk] and James Lacey [Cox].

The Stanley Field and Its Namesake
Charles Orr [CO] Stanley born in 1899 and a native of Cappoquin, died in Clonakilty, Co Cork, aged about 90. He was a top-class oarsman and a lover of the Old Dark Blue (see the book The Old Dark Blue: 1862-2002 by Brendan Kiely). Charles was involved in PYE TV and Radio in Australia, South Africa, and the USA. CO Stanley was also very close to Laurence Dominick Dunne.

Jim Moore oversaw building the Red Bridge in Cappoquin over the Blackwater. John Stanley (father of Charles Orr) was the engineer on that project and they became great friends. Stanley knew most rivers in Ireland well thanks to his rowing experience.

I would say Stanley’s intention was to use the western part of the Sports field inch for use as a slip for all the visiting crew. It was an ideal bounding on the Blackwater, south side of the Red Bridge.

A local committee was formed to purchase the field for use by the community. The Dunne family along with others in Cappoquin purchased shares to help fund the project. In later years, it was the transfer of these shares which allowed the trustees to pass ownership of the field to the GAA. The closeness of the railway to the field ensured many sporting events were staged in Cappoquin and, over the years, many world records were broken in this field.

Athletes of Cappoquin
May I add, we had many famous athletes in the town and surrounding area to name but a few:

Captain Jameson of Turin, Cappoquin, Co Waterford won the English Amateur Squash Championship in 1922 and 1923. Also, it is believed he caught a brown trout in Vancouver, Canada weighing over 40lbs, a world record at the time. He was also a top-class cricket player and very much involved in the local club.

The two McGrath brothers from Drumroe Lower, Cappoquin: Danny and Sunny won several Irish Athletics Championships and were also top class rugby players.

We were so lucky to have many top-class athletes and a supportive community who encouraged and continues to encourage them.

Note taken from ad in Dungarvan Observer on the 26th June 1925:
New Sports field for Cappoquin had the distinction of being the field in which the first athletic and cycling sports under rules were ever held in Cappoquin, close on 90 years ago on July 9th, 1804, to be correct.

The crowd was so large that it was impossible to push one’s way through the streets in the evening the cream of all the Southern champions of the time. T.F. Kiely now of Fruithill, Dungarvan (then in the heyday of his promise in all branches of athletics) broke the world’s record in throwing the hammer on that occasion. Jim Wall, the native of Cappoquin, broke the world record in the long jump, while D. Horgan of Banteer, established another in the weigh throwing. Three world records were broken on that day’s sport’s meeting in Cappoquin.

Other famous athletes who competed were John A. Goode, Lismore; C A Ushier, Flowerhill, Ballyduff; W.J. Nolan now of Dungarvan but then Queen’s College Cork. The famous Leahy brothers and a host of other athletic celebrities. Space does not permit to name them all now.

Joseph M.V. Conway

If anyone has any further information for Joe concerning Laurence Dominick Dunne, you can e-mail the Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society at

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society AGM 2017

Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society AGM
The 2017 AGM will be held in Saint Patrick’s Gateway Centre, Patrick Street, Waterford City on Friday 7th April 2017 at 7.30 pm.

All members welcome. 

Monday, January 23, 2017



Please note all lectures are held at 8pm, in St. Patricks Gateway Centre, Patrick Street, Waterford, unless otherwise stated.

Friday 27th January
        Speaker: Mr Glascott Symes.
Topic: Sir John Keane and Cappoquin House in time of war and revolution.
This lecture will cover Sir John Keane’s management of the Cappoquin estate through his service in both the Boer War and World War 1, returning home for the War of Independence. He went on to serve in the first Senate of the Free State only to have his home destroyed in the Civil War. However he personally oversaw the rebuilding of the house.

Friday 24th February
        Speaker: Mr Liam Murphy.
Topic: The life of Dr. Thomas Hussey (1746-1803), Bishop of Waterford and Lismore and first President of Maynooth.

Friday 31st March  
        Speaker: Mr Sean Murphy.
Topic: Stories of The Great War, from mid County Waterford.

Friday 7th April Annual General Meeting – Details beforehand.

Friday 28th April  
        Speaker: Mr James Doherty.
Topic: The Forgotten Force. 
This lecture will look at H.M. Coastguard in pre-independence Ireland. Regulations, Roles and Responsibilities.
It is hoped that this lecture will be a precursor to a summer outing later in the year. The summer outing will consist of a guided walk in the Tramore area visiting the coastguard station and associated cottages and highlighting some of the key events in this organisations history.

Friday 26th May  
         Speaker: Mr Julian Walton.
Topic: The Curraghmore of ‘Squint Eye George’, first Marquess of Waterford, 1736 to 1800.

The Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society, Ireland.
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