Saratoga Bar, Woodstown

My first time in the Saratoga Bar in Woodstown was about this time of the year many years back when playing rubbers.  Whats a rubber you may well ask.  A rubber is a card game where two teams of three played thirties against each other. The winners progressed to another round, the ultimate aim to win a turkey or ham for Christmas.  
The pub at the time was run by Mrs Coughlan, but eventually it would be sold and eventually my cousin Bill Doherty ran it with great success until he returned Stateside to be close to his grandchildren. The name however was always a conundrum, and not just to me.  So as part of my guest blog series, this being the last Friday of the month, I asked Joe Falvey for his thoughts, and he kindly included extra information from Hilary Coughlan.
The Saratoga Bar and Post Office 1905.  National Library of Ireland

According to Joe “it’s named after Saratoga Springs in NY.  The building was in the ownership of the Coghlan family from 1825 or 1835 as part of Dromina House estate and was leased to two sisters who ran it as a hotel around 1900. Their brother a priest,( Father Fleming), returned home from Saratoga Springs around that time -hence the name”. 

Now Joe had this account from Hillary Coghlan and it coincides with what Addie Coghlan told him for an article he wrote in 1999 following the death of young John Kennedy in a tragic aircrash. “Strangely ironic that the plane he was flying was a Piper Saratoga II…given the local memories of that Summer 1967, fifty years ago”  Joe here is of course referring to the holiday of Jackie Kennedy with her young family at Woodstown following the tragic assassination of her husband President John F Kennedy four years previously in Dallas Texas (and a story he will share with us in the future). Joe goes on “My understanding is that the priest had leased it to provide a retirement income for himself and his two sisters who ran the business. So the name as opposed to the building itself dates from this time.”
Hillary Coghlan added the following “The Saratoga was owned by my Dads family since 1825 – at one stage it was a hotel until early 1900 when the licence lapsed. My aunt ran a post-office and shop until around 1951 when my parents took over. To make ends meet they grew and sold vegetables, had a shop & petrol pump and post office. They opened the Saratoga as a bar on 4th July 1962. At that time two bar licenses were needed (government policy to reduce the amount of pubs in Ireland) and one was bought from Powers in Dunhill and the other from Dunphys in Carrick. My Mam, Addie Coghlan ran the bar and loved every day until she retired & sold it to Andy & Margaret Torrie in Sept 1996.”

My first book on growing up in a fishing village is now published.  Its called Before the Tide Went Out            

Buy the book online if you live outside of Ireland.

Irish orders or clarifications via

The Book is now available to buy off the shelf in the following shops

Ardkeen Quality Food Store Waterford

Book Centre – Waterford

Book Centre – Wexford

Irish National Heritage Park, Ferrycarraig, Co Wexford

Nolans Bookshop, New Ross, Co Wexford

Powers shop Cheekpoint

Readers Choice, Dungarvan

                                              More outlets coming soon

Michael O’Sullivan from the Waterford History Group had the following to add: “In the 19th century the Saratoga was occupied by the Hurley family (John, Mary, Statia,and William).who also ran a farm”.(1) He also raised the point which I had heard before, that it may have been named after an American sailing ship wrecked in Waterford harbour in the early 19th century.  Hilary had also heard a ship wreck origin, that the timbers were used in the roof of the building and speculated that it may have been one of the ships carrying limestone for the lime kilns.

The foundered ship certainly has appeal, both in terms of my normal blog stories and the fact that the reusing of salvaged timbers occurs in stories around the harbour, indeed in harbours and coastlines across the world.  But evidence of such a ship is scarce.  For example the Irish wrecks data base give no mention of a ship called Saratoga.  Yet there are obvious gaps, for example my recent story story of the schooner Cintra is not listed.  As regards timber to be salvaged from ships, there is any number of likely candidates from the list.  The name Saratoga has featured on several ships.

Again from Joe: “There was a critical Battle of Saratoga in 1777 in the War of Independence. Hence there were several US Naval Ships of that name, including the best known of them, no. 5, an aircraft carrier which was heavily involved in Pearl Harbour and the war in the Pacific during WWII”. 

The Schooner Saratoga via

There was also an American privateer of her name, a schooner that was involved in the 1812 war with the British and an American fishing vessel. How many others must have carried the name. I favour Joe’s theory the most.  And I imagine a shipwreck provided timber for construction, which led to this creating an extra frisson to the account. But even if we never know for certain, there is considerable enjoyment from discussing and sharing these theories and I sincerely thank Joe for arranging this for us, and to Michael and Hillary for their input.

The last Friday of each month is offered as a space for a guest blog. If you would be interested in submitting a piece I’d be delighted to hear from you at The only criteria is that the piece needs to be about our maritime heritage, about 1200 words and I can help in editing if required, source photos and add in links etc. I’d also welcome any contributions from younger readers including students. 

 (1) Information from “Waterford’s yesterdays and tomorrows 1967 by JJ Walsh page 29

I publish a blog each Friday.  If you like this piece or have an interest in the local history or maritime heritage of Waterford harbour and environs you can email me at to receive the blog every week.
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