A brief history of Daisybank House, Bolton, Cheekpoint

Daisybank house, was a derelict three story Georgian mansion when I was growing up.  Its only saving grace to me with its shattered windows and crumbling brickwork was an old orchard at its rear, with some very flavorsome apples.  A visit to those apple trees was one of the mainstays of our summer schedule.

There is a wonderful architectural description on the listing of the buildings of Ireland.  There are additional images here.  Its interesting to note that it considers the property to date between 1750-1780 and speculate that it may have been built as a harbour masters home or a constabulary barracks.  Despite searching, I haven’t yet found any evidence of same.

Photo from Buildings of Ireland (above)

Daisybank opened as a Coaching Inn in 1793, serving the mail packet station at Cheekpoint which originated with the local landlord Cornelius Bolton.  We know the date as the hotelier, J. Sly advertised his new Inn in the Waterford Herald. The advertisement is dated as January 21st 1793  By calling it a new Inn, I think it safe to assume that the old inn is what we now know as McAlpins, Suir Inn.

The next mention that we find is an advertisement from May 12th 1801, The lease is open to be filled immediately, and states that it was lately occupied by one William Jackson.

Jackson we learn elsewhere had only days previously “rose early, went down to the pier, threw himself in the river and was drowned”1

In 1808 James Howley was running the hotel and the venture was expanding.  He was overseeing the erection of new stables for as many as ten horses. 2 

I have read three accounts or reviews of those who stayed at the Hotel, none of them were very positive and one is blunt and to the point “It was dark before we reached Cheek Point – where there is a large dirty inn – for the reception of Packet Passengers”3

The mail Packet moved to Passage East in 1813 and with it the hotelier Howley.4 His reputation must not have been all bad as a hotelier!

Frustratingly there is no record to be found from 1813 to 1848, But in 1848 Patrick Tracy was leasing this property from the Power estate when it was valued at over £18.  He was still there two years later, and interestingly, it was then being used as a hotel.  We can only speculate that it remained so during this period.

Although you might think that there was not a lot of call for a hotel in the village at that time, accounts of shipping and other happenings on the river highlight a vibrant level of trade in and out of the harbour.  A piece from the Waterford News 7th June 1850 gives an example of a Sunday afternoon in the village.  We learn that the quay was “crowded with boats of all kinds and sizes” The monied class of the city were escaping downriver to spend a day boating, walking “beauteous walks”to the Minaun and there views that “could hardly be excelled”  Tracey is running a table d’hote which on the day is “filled to overflowing”  The entire piece is given below.

The Waterford News 7/6/1850

I could only find one other mention of the house, dated 1886.  The Advertisement is below, but in brief a certain Captain Coffey is putting up the lease on his “charming residence”.  The lease is for 8 years and the present owner (Patrick Power of Faithlegg House) has expended £500 on improvements.  The rent is £29 per annum.

Aggie Power came to live in the house in 1888 according to her grandson Deaglán.  she was four months old at the time.  Wonder did the family move in as a result of the above add.  Aggie lived to be a great age and had a lifetime of stories connected to the house.  Alas I never knew the lady but Pat Murphy told me before of her remembering workers employed on the building of the Barrow Bridge staying as boarders in the house.  The Bridge opened in 1906.

In the 70’s it was bought by a Londoner named Bert Almond, a gentleman, who had a holiday home on the road below beside the pub.  Bert could see the potential that others could not, but in the early 1990’s he sold it to a developer named Pat Fitzgerald, who had the skills and the cash to turn it into what it is now, a fully restored and eye pleasing family home.  It’s now the family residence of the Nevin McGuires and long may they happily reside there.

1,2,3&4 All references are taken from I was a day in Waterford edited by TN Fewer from a piece by Julian Walton called Cornelius Bolton and the Packet Service.  pp49 – 53

My thanks to my cousin James Doherty for all the new paper clippings contained in this piece.

Thanks also to Deaglán De Paor and Susan Jacob for information on the Power family.

Jack Meades Commercial Ice House

A few years back a group of scientists were gathered and asked what was the 20th Century’s greatest invention.  Out of an eventual list of 100, refrigeration topped the bill. You might think the kitchen fridge is a relatively modern development, and I guess you’d be right, but the idea that cold could be used to keep food fresher for longer was identified by our distant forefathers. The Egyptians for example used earthen ware jars of water, left out on cold nights, to cool rooms in the daytime heat. Here’s another example of how incredibly intelligent our fore bearers were
In Europe in the 17th Century, a fashion for the building of residential ice houses developed and we have a great example on Faithlegg estate which we have seen before on the blog. (In fact to understand the rest of this piece I’d ask you to look at the previous blog for a context.)
But there is another Ice house in the area, much bigger, yet more accessible.  Lets call it Jack Meade’s Ice House, though we could as easily call it Ballymaclode Ice House as it resides in that townland.  Its circular in build, approximately 20 ft in diameter on the inside and over 30 feet high.  The wall to the South, which would have taken the most sun was six feet wide in the past, and was a cavity construction.  The roof was thatched and entrance was via the door near the roof, and accessed no doubt from the present garden of the Kenny family home.

I’ve long entertained a notion that the Ice house, as big as it was, must have been built with the coming of the Scotch Weirs in the early 19th Century, which gave rise to the Salmon Wars or the weir wars later in the century. The Barony of Gaultier featured an article about it by Ray McGrath in their latest newsletter. Originating in Scotland, the practice exploded with a new approach to the preservation of salmon, the use of flaked ice.


Inside the building
Previous attempts to use ice was found to be problematic, a fish when placed on a block of ice, fused with it and the flesh of the fish was damaged. The new approach which was brought from China in the late 18th Century, saw the ice being chopped or flaked and then the fish being surrounded by it.  The fish were thus preserved without damage…the Chinese had been doing it for centuries 1.

Remains of the cavity on the south face of the structure
This new technique, coupled with developing rail transport, meant that fresh salmon could now be delivered to the rapidly expanding industrial cities, especially London, where fresh salmon had long been prized, but was hard to get.  The new technologies and the new markets saw a rash of weir building, with little or no regard to the centuries old traditions of traditional nets men and “head weir” men such as had existed since at least the coming of the Cistercians to Waterford harbour.

Old entrance point

As a consequence of the demand for Ice a new trade was developed, apparently initially in America but it eventually spread to Europe, who could naturally depend on the Norwegians for a ready supply of cut blocked ice. This was transported on sail boats to harbours such as Waterford and then carried along on lighters to Ice House locations such as at Jack Meade’s.  Straw or sawdust was used as an insulator between the blocks.  I’ve found little enough evidence of Ice House use in Waterford, but it was stored in basements all across England, and I have no doubt it was likewise stored in the city and New Ross.

accessed from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons
I wonder however, did Jack Meade’s Ice House pre-dated this era?  Looking at the design and the fact that it had a thatched roof, it’s possible that it was an earlier build, and if it was, it most probably served the big houses that were in the area.  At a stones throw I can think of Ballycanvan House, Foxmount, Brook Lodge, Mount Druid and Blenihem.  I’m guessing that just like at Faithlegg, the landowners of the area, chose an ideal location to harvest ice from Ballycanvan Stream when the weather was right and to deposit it into the ice house.  It could then be brought to the homes of the rich to impress guests with chilled white wine or sorbets in the height of summer.  It could also be used to store a large quantity of perishable goods.  Meat and fish etc could be suspended from the roof beams above the ice and be preserved long after they would have turned in normal circumstances.

There is a story of Ice blocks coming up the pill in Lighters, so it was to see this trend emerge, and it’s probably that like an “Ice Box” I have located nearby with the assistance of Pat Murphy, that it did play a part in the Scotch Weir developments. 
That it stands today, and is accessible to view is a testament to the vision of Carmel and Willie Hartley.  They should be thanks by all and sundry for their interest and dedication to our local agrarian heritage.  I for one am eternally grateful.

1 Robertson. I.A. The Tay Salmon Fisheries since the eighteenth century.  Cruithne Press.  1998 Glasgow.

For more information on Icehouses: Buxbaum. T.  Icehouses.  Shire Publications.  2008.  Buckinghamshire.

Ballycanvan House and Townland

About forty years ago I went with Michael Duffin and his mother Catherine to have our hair cut by Mandy over in Woodlands Avenue.  We got the hair cut first and then we went off for a stroll while Catherine received the full attention.  Wandering along the avenue we followed a path down towards the river when we came across an old crumbling building,  I had two memories of it, first its ramshackled nature and second that I stood into cow slurry, that stunk to high heaven when we got back to Mandys and meant that Catherine had to lower the windows on the way home.

The house we had stumbled upon was the original seat of power, if you will pardon the pun of the Powers of Ballycanvan, a family directly related to the Powers of Curraghmore and thus direct descendants of the original Le Poer that landed as part of the Norman conquest.  The original tower house, similar no doubt to Ballymaclode castle directly across Ballycanvan Stream (which flows past Jack Meades pub) was later built on and added to.  The following is a brief historical run of the owners or occupiers at one time or another.

Ballymaclode castle on the city side of Ballycanvan stream

In 1537 there is a list of crimes held against one Thomas Power of Ballycanvan including many extortions of travellers, no doubt using to advantage his location.  In 1598 a stone chimenypiece was built with an inscription carved to Richard Power, 4th baron le Poer and Katherine Barry.  In 1697 a Captain William Harrison was leasing the property and this was continued by his son John Harrison.

It came into the Bolton family when Rev Hugh Bolton (1683-1758) acquired the property as Dean of Waterford.  He was succeed by Cornelius Bolton the Elder (1714-1774) who took over in 1758 and extended his ownership to the Mill Farm in 1765. It was here that Arthur Young, the travel writer and chronicler of industrial and agricultural development, visited when he came to East Waterford. We have also met the Mill Farm recently, and the works of Cornelius too.  A Georgian mansion was added to the castle at this point.

the old mill and Ballycanvan overlooking the Suir (Kings Channel)
Photo courtesy of Liam Hartley

Cornelius Bolton the younger, (1751-1829) sold the house to his younger brother Henry around 1792, no doubt to assist in the ongoing investment at Cheekpoint.  Henry however, leased it not long before he died, in 1805, to Samuel Roberts (1758-1834) son of honest John Roberts who did substantial work to the property.  On Henry’s death ownership went to his daughter Elizabeth, a fragile lady who had a nervous breakdown in 1807 and never recovered.

In 1818 Roberts dropped the lease and Thomas Meagher (1764-1837) took on the property.  The Meaghers remained at the property until 1829.  Subsequently the property was leased to Richard Morris and family until 1836.  The next family found on the property is George Kent (bc1786-1866), who made his money in the bacon trade, and was renting from 1848 to his death.

An early map highlighting the house and grounds

Elizabeth Bolton died in Devon in 1852 and Cornelius Bolton the youngers eldest son Cornelius Henry inherited the property.  This he sold in 1857 and it was apparently bought at that time by Patrick Power of Faithlegg House.

The Kent family seem to have continued to live on in the house for some time afterwards, but at some point in the subsequent decades structural problems were found in the building and it fell into disrepair.  What now remains is a sad reminder of a very busy and illustrious past.

The information contained in this piece comes via Mark Thomas in the following article for Abandoned Ireland; http://www.abandonedireland.com/Ballycanvan.html

the life of a Waterford boy sailor

I read recently that some children do not leave home until 27 years of age.  Although this has less to do with protection and more to do with finances, spare a thought for the child sailors of the 18th & 19th C. It will comes as no surprise of course to anyone who read the stories of Horatio Hornblower or watched that fine movie Master and Commander.  But the Royal Navy had very marked shortages in crew, particularly at time of war.

Boys as young as 12 were recruited, often as a means of escaping poverty, others as a means of punishment or reform, to fill various roles aboard ship. These roles included servant boys, cabin boys, carpenters mates, and, what I have read was the worst job in the navy, a Loblolly boy – surgeons mate. The navy was also a career of course and the families of the middle classes also sent their boys to become midshipmen who through study and experience might enhance their opportunities.  A phrase used to capture the lot was Younkers.

Philip Richard Morris – Two Young Midshipmen in Sight of Home

The life of the younkers was a mixed one no doubt, and probably very much depended on their posting and those given charge of them. But there were opportunities for advancement and the greatest Master and Commander of the era, Admiral Nelson started life as a twelve year old midshipman. We also had a midshipman from our locality, Henry Bolton. I’m not sure if we can say his career was typical, but it is certainly interesting.

Henry was the youngest son of Cornelius Bolton. The Boltons were the owners of Faithlegg House, now hotel of the same name, and Henry was born there in July 1796. Unfortunately not being first born put the young lad at a disadvantage and on the 19th March 1809 he joined the Royal Navy, signing on as a First Class Volunteer aboard the 74 gun ship of the line HMS Victorius.  He was a few months short of his 13th Birthday

He first saw action during the Napoleonic wars, when the Royal Navy in alliance with the Austrians tried to cut off the French fleet at Flushing and invade the low countries. The so called Walcheren Campaign was a disaster from start to finish and saw the deaths of 4000+ British troops, the vast majority from illness.  Henry survived however.

example of a fifth rate frigate such as HMS Thetis 
He next saw action in the Mediterranean, and finished off his stint with the ship when during the war of 1812 declared by America against the British. His ship limped back to home following a grounding incident while trying to blockade American ships in the Elisabeth River and he was transferred to the HMS Tiber.  He served on the Tiber from 1814-1815.
He joined the HMS Opossum in Arpil 1815, a Cherokee class Brig which saw service in the Channel and the North America Station.  He served under Commander John Hay, who would later to rise to a position of rear Admiral.
His next ship was the Sloop, HMS Blossom, on which he served between 1818 -1827. The Blossom was involved in extensive surveying of the pacific Islands and extending the British dominion wherever she sailed.  Bolton must have had many adventures and stories to tell.

“HMS Blossom (1806)” by William Smyth (1800-1877) – Transferred from en.wikipedia
to Commons. (15 August 2009 (original upload date)) Original uploader was Shem1805 
at en.wikipedia(Original text: National Maritime Museum online collections). Licensed under
 Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HMS_Blossom_
His last ship was the HMS Thetis, a 46 gun 5th rate Frigate. He joined the ship in 1827 in a senior position and served aboard her until August 1930 at which point he got an appointment ashore at Waterford.  He was fortunate. 4 months later on the 4th of December the Thetis was wrecked at Cape Frio on the South American Coast. The wreck was a major embarrassment to the Navy and both the captain and master faced a naval tribunal due to miscalculating the ships position. The ship was only a day out of Rio when she drifted ashore. She was later lost with 25 souls, (although 275 men and boys survived) but it was the cargo that was the biggest talking point. She was carrying gold bullion and coinage estimated at the then value of $810,000, collected from taxes and trade.
Meanwhile Captain Bolton was most probably looking forward to a Christmas ashore, in his new position of Inspecting Commander of the Coast guard at Waterford. He served two terms and following his marriage in 1839 to Ann, only child of William Kearney of Waterford they settled into civilian life, spending some of it at least at Ballinlaw, above Cheekpoint on the River Barrow.
He died on May 30th 1852, having seen most of the world, despite the fact that he didn’t have a TV or the Internet. He was buried in old Faithlegg Church with his father.

I took all of the information about his Naval career from the following naval biography and a further piece here. For more on Henry Bolton see Julian Walton’s On This Day, Vol II.  published in 2014 pp152-53.

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 connect with me to receive the blog every week.  Simply email me to request to be added to my email list at russianside@gmail.com.

Delahunty’s Mill, Halfway House

For some reason, I have had, for as long as I can remember, this idyllic notion of the workings of a watermill. It includes a gushing stream of water, the clanking of gears turning in a fine stone building, the dust escaping from corn sacks as they are spilled into a hopper and the coming and going of horse drawn carts in country lanes.
Delahunty’s Mill
That idyll was fueled by passing Delahunty’s mill at Halfway House. The rushing stream, especially in times of flood. The network of roads thereabouts, leading off towards even smaller country lanes. Fine solid gate posts on the left hand side of the road, marking the mill site as you come under the bridge on the way towards town. All in all it’s location is a classic in terms of mill sites.
“Tailrace” from the mill wheel, note stream on left. 
Today however its a crumbling ruin, but the old mill and the many outbuildings are still in evidence, Gone is the busy coming and goings of carts, farm labourers and workers, replaced now by motorists hurrying along the roads.  The mill is slowly fading back into the earth, being swallowed by trees and ivy, nature reclaiming her wealth.
Nature has every reason to flex her might.  As the mill itself required a legion of men at some point in the past to tame nature and through sheer might and engineering skills to create the mill in the location it’s in.  The stream that flows past the mill, didn’t actually power the mill you see.
Although the mill wheel was driven from the stream, it was actually impounded by a dam about 300 yards upstream in a man made pond on the Brook Lodge estate.  To get the water to the mill, which is located on ground above the natural stream, a “leat” or “headrace” was constructed by embanking stone and clay in a winding channel. Builders preferred to cut into an existing incline which automatically created one boundary, the other constructed out of the clay and stone that was excavated.  The present stream is fed by a spillway of the dam, to release the excess water.

“Brook Lodge” mill with man made pond
and headrace marked in blue
dam on the stream and pond
The much overgrown headrace, easily mistaken as a country path
Once a head of water was built up, it was released into the headrace and it coursed down to the mill and was directed over the wheel to drive the gears and belts that milled the corn.  Wheels which were fed by water from atop (overshot), were much more economical to run, perhaps 3 times more efficient than undershot wheels.  Another particular feature of the mill was that the mill wheel was actually contained within the Mill, not on the side. The water then ebbed away down the tailrace and rejoined the stream close by the bridge.
how the water was guided onto the wheel, walls about 4ft high
the entrance and where the wheel once turned
Unlike Ballycanavan tidal Mill with it’s many negative running features, Delahunty’s mill had a longer spell of life. Some months back I called to Eddie Delahunty in Kilcullen Lower to see if he had any memories of the mill.  I had mistakenly assumed that it was Eddie’s family who had last owned the mill, but was corrected on this. However Eddie did recall as a youngster being at the mill and remembered the clanking of the machinery and the hauling away of bags of milled corn by horse and cart. Eddie was of the opinion that the mill had ceased working in the 1930s but reopened for a short time during the “emergency” or second world war.
Liam Hartley of Jack Meades could tell me that as youngsters he remembered the wheel still in place but in a poor state of repair.  He also reminded me that it was only part of a very industrious location in the past that included the pub, shop, post, blacksmith and the mill.  His understanding was that it was all part of the Ballycanavan estate at one time, another feature of the Bolton legacy.

Although the mill still stands, it is crumbling and in a poor state of repair.  It wont be long I fear before photographs, some written accounts and old maps will be all that we have of much of  our early industrial and engineering past.

Thanks to Eddie Delahunty and Liam Hartley for information in writing this piece.

Watts. M.  Watermills.  2012.  Shire Publications. Oxford.