Snowhill House and Quay

Snowhill was, until recently, a mystery to me.  As a child I assumed it had to do with snowdrops, the late winter/early spring blooms that lift your spirits and reassure you that warmer, longer days are on the way.  Later I was told it’s origins related to an old mansion which was sited there, but infuriatingly no more.  It came as a lovely surprise one day to be in the Waterford County Museum an find the photo below.  Its an old scene of Cheekpoint and it has Snowhill in the distance and the mysterious house.  I was so intrigued by it, I bought a copy and it still hangs from our living room wall.

Recently however I came across some more information that helps me understand it a little more.  Snowhill is on the most south eastern tip of Co Kilkenny, and the townland is known as Drumdowney.  You will often see Drumdowney mentioned on maps and charts and particularly Drumdowney point or as we also call it “the point of the wood” where the Barrow Bridge connects Wexford to Kilkenny

But the Snowhill placename originates from a Cromwellian family, the first of which was a man called John Snow who was described as a “master tentmaker to the army in Ireland”.  I can only speculate that he received the land as a gift, similar to the Bolton’s of Faithlegg, for his part in the Puritan invasion. 

Apparently Snowhill House was built by a descendant, most probably Sydenham Snow who married a Mary Bonham in March of 1764 and they moved into their new home in 1765.  It was described as a “massive Georgian block, 5 bay front, doorway with a very large fanlight.  Impressive hall with columns, splendid oval stone staircase with balustrade of brass uprights”  It was also described thus; “…demesne of 100 acres with a 6ft. wall all round.  A deerpark of 30 acres with a wall of 8ft high”

spectacular front of the house

The last of the Snow family was Elizabeth and she married a merchant by the name of Patrick Lattin1792 but financial problems followed.  It was sold to help pay of the debts in 1808.

A good sense of perspective on the House

In 1808 it was purchased by the Power family who would later have first cousins on the opposite banks in Faithlegg & Cheekpoint.  The purchaser was one Nicholas Power and in much the same way that I think Faithlegg House was bought as a wedding present for Nicholas Mahon Power it would appear his cousin Nicholas purchased Snowhill for his son David and his Cork born wife, Elizabeth Nash.  The Powers retained the house until 1953 but under a new name – Power Hall.  Alas underinvestment had significantly undermined the structure and the house was pulled down in 1955.

Nowadays only the demesne walls and outhouses remain.  And despite the fact that Faithlegg House seems to have been a grander house, it had nothing like the connection with the River Suir.  Snowhill had a very fine quay – L shaped with a find breakwater of poles to the eastern side.  This was a deepwater quay and although the ebb tide meant the dock dried out was still a very safe haven.

Entrance arch to Snowhill Quay
Snowhill Quay and dock, Glazing wood in distance

Snowhill quay still has hints of its once significance and to walk up from the quay towards the house highlights how beautiful it must once have been.  An old boat house remains, roof gone and doors no more, but only begging to be refurbished.  The grand old trees, many fine and rare specimens of oaks and limes still adorn fragments of the old demesne. 

Old Boat house

Now a working farm, it appears to me like some once grand sailing boat now reduced to a sailing hulk, moored away on a redundant quayside.

All of the specifics about the house and history is information supplied from Jim Walsh’s account of Snowhill House and Estate in “Sliabh Rua, A History of its People and Places” p429

Julian Walton mentions another family in connection with Snowhill in his recent book – On this day Vol I pp154-55 which will require further study.

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23 Replies to “Snowhill House and Quay”

  1. Bridget Power told me about being rowed across to snow hill and walking with a Bill Grant to rathpatrick to visit relatives. As they walked they went past snowhill house, it was a shortcut they used to the road. They were always welcomed and she remembers two ladies in long dresses coming out occasionally to greet them. they were given biscuits and offered a drink. she remembers one of the ladies cathing her hand and showing her a wasps nest on one occasion.Coming back at night time they would flash a torch from snowhill quay and Jack Heffernan would row across and bring them back to the rookery quay.

      1. Hi Alan, thats correct…I don’t think anything is left of that house either? Presumably the same family as originally had Snow Hill as they are only a stone throw away from each other

  2. There is a book about Slieverue written by Jim Walsh, which would give you more info and photos of snowhill. Very interesting!!

  3. Amazing. Just wow !
    And now I gave to go through your back catalogue which until now I never knew existed.


  4. Hi Andrew,

    Lovely piece from 2014.
    Have you any idea what happened to the family after 1955? Do they still farm the land or did they move on?


    1. My understanding was that the land and house was all sold, Violet had no children. The house is gone, but the land is still farmed

  5. Re: previous question about the owners of Snowhill.
    Just read your blog about Violet who died in 1965.
    I wonder who the horse breeder in Tipp was?

    1. She married a Hugh Ryan from Emly House, Emyl Co Tipp on the 30th May 1945 i understand Alan. She was then 61 yo

  6. Hi . Fascinated to read about the snow family . I am a direct decendant . And grew up with many stories and the old furniture from Blenham house . Would love to go over to see where it all began . My line of the old family now live in north Wales .

    1. Not much of the estate left now Sean, but the layout and old roads remain and some ruins. The new port of Waterford is now taking in part of the estate too.

  7. The grounds and farmland were purchesed in the 1950`s by Tommy Power who owned Power`s Garage near the bridge. His son Terry,
    ran the farm until he passed away last Summer. We were good friends and spent a lot of time together rallying in the 1960`s

  8. I did not see the Hayden name mentioned in relation to Snowhill above and was curious if you can shed any light on the relationship?
    I am related to Henry Hayden of Snowhill who operated a bank with his partner Bartholomew Rivers between 1777 and 1793. He had a large estate known as Snowhill at the edge of Waterford and Kilkenny. I am attempting to confirm this is the same Snowhill noted above.
    I have located a series of deeds in the Registry of Deeds, Dublin, between Henry Hayden, William Hayden of Croan, Henry’s brother, and Henry and Robert Snow related to the House and lands of Snowhill. The interaction begins in 1769 with the Snows taking out a £3,000 mortgage on Snowhill. The lands are then granted to Henry Hayden in 1772. A section of one of the deeds describes the property as follows “Robert Snow in Consideration of the sum of four thousand one hundred and thirty three pounds two shillings and ten Pence Sterling to him paid by the said Henry Hayden did grant and Convey All that and those the dwelling house outhouses offices and appurtenances of Snowhill together with the gardens and demesne there to belonging as the same as the same was then held by the said Henry Hayden and his undertenants together with the lower part of the marsh then in possessions of the said Henry Hayden and William McDaniel which marsh is bounded on the north by the Strand or road leading from the old bank to said Robert Snows house on the South by the wall of the watercourse on the east by the small wall inclosing a course for letting out the Superfluous water for said water course and on the west by the wall commonly called the bridge wall together also with the piece of Slob and the two weirs which lye to the northwest of said piece of Slob which said Piece of Slob is bounded by the old and new banks and the road leading from the old Pier head to the old Marsh and are Situate in the County of Kilkenny unto the said Henry Hayden his heirs and assigns and also reciting whereas the said lands so sold by said Robert Snow to said Henry Hayden and also the remainder of the town and lands of Drumdowny in the County of Kilkenny…”
    Henry’s bank fails in 1793 and he becomes insolvent. I assuming the Snowhill estate is sold as part of the settlement between 1799 and 1802 but have not been able to locate documents confirming this.
    See deeds:
    272-431-175638, 272-433-175639, 277-393-178572, 295-1-193581, 295-2-193582, 295-4-193583

    1. Hi Kurt, I will reply to this by email as I have an attachement to send with more info. Andrew

      The above is a link to Decies 12, Sept. 1979 and may be of interest. In an article on Bartholomew Rivers, Hubert Gallwey includes a list of properties put up for sale on the collapse of the Hayden Rivers bank. The original list appeared in Finn’s Leinster Journal (27.06.1793). The first two items refer to “Mr Hayden’s house and beautiful demesne of Snowhill, Co. Kilkenny, 160 acres. An estate in fee simple subject to a life annuity of £200” and 65 acres “adjoining Snowhill”.

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