The Faithlegg “dungeon”

We often fear what we don’t know, have never experienced or what is new and different. As free ranging children of the 1970’s one of the more mysterious and fear inducing encounters must have been in what was then called the “Oak Woods” but what is now part of Faithlegg Golf Club.
The Oak Wood was part of the Cornelius Bolton’s Faithlegg estate planted in the late 18th C. It was partially felled when the estate was sold to the De La Salle brothers in 1936 and they in turn cleared the last of it during the Emergency. A plantation of pine trees had grown thick and dense over the area by the time I was a youngster.
Part of the old roadway network in the community took you through the woods, which traversed the Marsh and the Glen. It continued via a laneway, skirting the boundary on the right of the present Park Rangers football club, into the woods. The road twisted and turned through a canopy of densely planted pine, that allowed precious little light in and the broken dagger like lower branches tended to keep you on the main tracks. As you emerged out, you came to the pill that separated Faithlegg from Ballycanvan which was crossed by a flat, functional and nondescript bridge and we could walk to Woodlands avenue and on as we pleased.
The Ice House as it is today, Blenheim (L) and the Island is the background
On one such venture we came across a strange squat building that was off the path, but was situated in a clearance that allowed the sun to shine down and ferns, briars, moss and furze to grow. Such discoveries generally filled me with a sense of excitement and curiosity. But this building was something beyond my normal experience, beyond my comprehension and it made me cautious. As we walked around the structure we came to a dark and foreboding doorway, into which you could peer, but no light penetrated. Stealing close there was pushing and shoving, jerring and jostling, dares and nervous laughter.
Faithlegg Ice House looking east
At the doorway a dank smell filled our nostrils.  Ivy clad and with cobwebs abounding we tried to clear these to allow more light to penetrate.  What we could now faintly make out was an arched tunnel which led to a square hole in a back wall. Discussions were had, dares were made, until eventually one by one we stepped inside. Within the edges of  red brick were smoothed with age and they curved in an arch. Stealing forward towards the end wall we were grough to a halt by the chill and darkness.  Should we enter this? Feeling inside we touched nothing but cool air, a void, a black hole if ever there was one.

the passage way and the chamber door at the rear
“What the hell is it lads?” And from there our imaginations ran riot and with it the fears again.  Was there something or someone lurking within?.  How deep was it?, how far did it go on? and then a shout and a mad scramble with hearts thumping and our heads filled with irrational fears we barged towards the safety of the daylight.

Community notice

Once calmed by the freedom of the fresh air we began speculating again and of course our imaginations ran riot.  The very familiar topic of the Faithlegg tunnels came to the fore, surely it was a secret tunnel connecting to the old church, the castle or the big house.  Maybe it even ran the whole way to the Hurthill or the Wexford side of the harbour.  
My father of course had another twist on it, a dungeon where the bold children of Faithlegg were kept or servants that were found to be not doing their job right at the big house. The story when related to the lads got serious consideration and it had great appeal.  Eventually when we got back there, it was with matches and newspaper and more familiar now, we marched up to the building and entered without hesitation.  However we were struck dumb by the pit that was exposed when the paper was lit, and the depth and extent of a pit was exposed. If any of us had been foolhardy to go through the hole previously we might have easily broke a limb in the fall, and we certainly would not have made it back out without a ladder. I often shuddered at the thought of being stuck in that pit.
I’m not certain when I first learned that it was an Ice house used by Faithlegg House. The purpose of the Ice House was to store perishable food and to have ice available in the presentation of food and chilled wines. In effect if the larder was the fridge of the time, the ice house was the freezer. Items such as fish, poultry and game could be suspended from the ceiling. These would not freeze as such, but be chilled to prolong their freshness. They are uncommon, an intriguing design and the Faithlegg structure is beautifully preserved and an excellent example. I’ve written about the workings of it before.

Today the Ice House is a feature on Faithlegg golf course.  And most recently it has been added to the story of the hotel as it is used as a brand for their in-house larger brewed by Metalman Brewery. When asked recently in an interview for a corporate video, shot by Hi-Lite TV, which will be used to showcase the Faithlegg Hotel internationally what my favorite feature of Faithlegg was, I had no hesitation.  Still a boy, filled with a wild imagination and curiosity, even the reality of it does not detract. The Ice House is and will always be my own personal favourite part of Faithlegg.

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Lime kilns of the harbour

A lime kiln is a structure used to break-down limestone rock using heat,
into limestone powder. The kilns sites we have remaining in the harbour are based on a similar
design and probably date from the mid 18th century.  Most are double kilns, ie two separate fire
chambers, which assisted the burning process, as the heat from the first burn
was retained by the brick and stone, which aided a more efficient burn in the
next chamber.  We have two examples of the triple that I am aware of.
Double kiln at Jack Meades, 1 of 2 on the property

The kilns are sited close
to water, as the limestone which was burned, was generally ferried by river.  In the Suir and Barrow, the boats used to carry the stone were termed Lighters.  These had a
three man crew; one held the tiller and two pushed the flat bottomed craft
along using poles.  The crew also loaded and unloaded the craft. 

second double at Jack Meades.  Note: appears as if it was initially
constructed as a single, and a second was added.  
An internal view of the firing chamber

A double kiln then, would have two firing chambers.  Chambers were egg shaped, with the top cut off.  The chamber was loaded with a charge initially – something flammable such as furze or very
dry timber which would get the fire going.  Onto this the layers of
limestone were added with an extra layer of firing material to keep the
chamber burning (three to five layers of stone to one layer of firing
material).  The fuel could be more timber but also used was coal
slack or calum.  The fire was lit from the base through a draw hole. 
As the lime was burned down by the heat in the chamber it was drawn off through
these holes. 

A draw hole at the base, for lighting and controlling the fire, and
drawing off the lime powder

Double at Cheekpoint, below the lower quay
photo by Brendan Grogan

There
could be more than one draw hole, which seems to have been a technique to avoid
ash being mixed with the lime. It also allowed more air into the
chamber.  I imagine these holes could be blocked if required to
adjust the burning. The Lime was drawn off into barrels or carts for delivery to farms or homes.  

Triple at Woodstown

Lime had a variety of uses and
these could include spreading on grass for fertiliser, whitewashing houses,
building material, cleaning wells, used in dry toilets and probably many
others.

A lime kiln at Dunmore harbour early 1900’s
photo courtesy of Tommy Deegan WHG

In recent weeks I’ve tried to catalogue the kilns that are/were in the Gaultier area.  Starting at Jack Meades and working my way around.  This is what I could locate, with the help of the OSI Historic Maps.

Double x 2 Lime Kilns at Jack Meades, both photographed
a triple below Jack Meades pill, on private property
a single at Faithlegg, again on private property
a double at Cheekpoint, photographed
a triple at Woodstown, photographed
a single (based on the OSI maps/open to correction) at Dunmore.  Since demolished.  Photographed

Here’s an interesting account/reenactment of the lime burning in action. No job for the faint hearted

I haven’t sourced any others in the area.  Its surprising to find nothing in or around Passage East,, and again west of Dunmore.  Any corrections or further information gratefully received. Thanks to Brendan Grogan, Tommy Deegan, Waterford History Group and Michael Farrell of the Barony of Gaultier Historical Society for assistance.

Previously, I wrote two pieces about the local kilns in the Cheekpoint area
Part I: http://russianside.blogspot.ie/2014/05/limekilns-in-cheekpoint-faithlegg-area.html
Part II: http://russianside.blogspot.ie/2014/05/limekilns-in-cheekpoint-faithlegg-area_23.html

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Faithlegg’s ancient holy well

Many readers will know that we have a holy well in Faithlegg dedicated to St Ita.  January 15th is her feast day, (she reputedly died on this day in 570AD).  We looked at St Ita around the same time last year, and I left it with a question in terms of why the well is dedicated to her.  I still haven’t answered this to my personal satisfaction and have a few more thoughts on it, but to begin, here’s an overview.
 

 

Various sources state that Ita was born Princess Deirdre, to King Kennoelad and Queen Necta  of the Deise tribe in Waterford circa 470AD.  Her birth place is not certain but the majority of written accounts speculate that it was in or around Ballyduff, Kilmeaden.   A few online sources have claimed she was born in Faithlegg. 
 
via www.holyimagesicons.com
Ita travelled throughout the Deise area and appears to have studied in Ardmore, Clashmore and Lismore, and eventually she settled down in Killeedy in East Limerick where she founded her monastery.  There she ran a school which was responsible for the teaching of many early churchmen and women, including St Brendan the Navigator.  So many passed through her hands that she earned the nickname “foster
mother of the saints of Erin”. St Ita is often described as the Bridgid of Munster, highlighting her position in the pantheon of Irish female saints, a close second to Bridgid of Kildare.  
 
Last year I speculated on several theories about the well being dedicated to her at Faithlegg. However this year I wanted to highlight what for me is an inconsistency. You see when Canon Power was doing his famous work on the Placenames of the Decies (published in 1907), he actually mentions several wells in the area, but omits any mention of St Ita.
 
For him, the well we now know as St Ita’s, is known as Tobar Sionnaig or the Well of the Fox.  What he actually says about it is this: “…though it is possible that the latter member of the name is personal.  This well, which is nearly opposite the church and on the west side of the road, had a reputation for sanctity.  Rounds or stations were said here, but have been discontinued for nearly a century”
 
I find it puzzling that Power would have no mention of a christian saint, if such a name was associated with the well at the time.  Maybe he was going with the earlier work of another renowned placename researcher John O’Donovan and the staff of Ordnance Survey Ireland who between 1829 and 1842 completed the first ever large-scale survey of an entire country. Acclaimed for their accuracy, these maps are regarded by cartographers as amongst the finest ever produced.   We’ve seen the lengths these early map makers went to for accuracy with the name of Faitlegg previously. 
OSI 6″ B&W with Tobarshorork opposite Faithlegg Church
Canon Power was well known for doing his research, and would seek out older members of the community or those with learning to seek further information.  He does decry the lack of native Irish speakers in the parish at the time, but surely Ita or Idé would be a name that even the corruption of it would have giving him a clue.  The
fact that Power was a local (Callaghan), would have surely strengthened his knowledge of the area.
 
Deena had a suggestion that Foxes were associated with saints and perhaps that would explain a connection.  She found stories associated with St Moling, St Kieran, St Patrick and even St Bridgid but none for Ita.  
 
I can draw no conclusions on this except to express the possibility that St Ita was a name of more modern origin, and one which O’Donovan and Power refuted, or at least ignored.  Is it possible that the Power’s of Faithlegg brought it with them, when
the moved into the area in 1819?.   Or is it an older name, that came to light after the efforts of the OSI and Canon Power.  Again, only more research will possibly tell.
 

T.F.Meagher; four graves and no body

I often had to correct visitors who believe that Thomas Francis Meagher’s body is interred in Faithlegg. Yet the family tomb is there, as are three other family plots, that I know of, around the world. But Thomas alas is in none of them.  He’s the man with four graves you see, but no body.
Thomas was born at what is now the Granville Hotel in Waterford 3rd Aug 1823. He went on to get a first class education and to study at the bar, but the plight of his fellow countrymen and the control of Ireland from London led to his political activities that would see him design and fly the first Irish tricolour and culminate in 1848 with the Young Irelanders rebellion.
TF Meagher image via
http://www.1848tricolour.com/
Tried and convicted of high treason, he was transported to Tasmania where he married a lady named Catherine Bennett.  In 1852 he escaped (but had to leave the pregnant Catherine behind) and via whaling ship eventually arrived in New York to a hero’s welcome. Catherine and Thomas’ first son Henry died during his escape and the infant was buried in Australia.  This is the first grave.
Catherine was eventually reunited with her husband in New York, but she returned to Waterford where a second son, Thomas, was born. She was a popular advocate for her husband’s political activities and was in much demand for rallies and other speaking events.  Poor health followed however, and Catherine died in Waterford in 1854 and was buried in the family tomb at Faithlegg. This is the second grave, and the one most commonly associated with him in Ireland.
Meagher tomb in Faithlegg
At the outbreak of the American Civil War Thomas joined the union side and in 1862 he founded the Irish Brigade which fought with distinction. He would later go on to become governor of Montana and would be an unpopular man because of his strong convictions and public stance on issues such as slavery. 
On 1st July 1867 while travelling on the Missouri river by paddle boat, Meagher disappeared over the side of the ship.  The cause of his fall is a matter of intense speculation even to this day.  
No grave, but remembered nonetheless
His second son Thomas Junior was raised by the family in Waterford and emigrated to America age 18 in 1872 to find his fortune.  He died in 1909 in Manila, Philippines and there he is buried.  A third family plot.
And the fourth.  Well Thomas married for a second time in 1856 to Elizabeth Townsend  and she was a devoted wife to him.  Following his death she returned to New York where she died on July 5th 1906.  She was buried in Green-wood cemetery.

And of Thomas. Well as already said, he was lost overboard in the Missouri River in 1867, and despite months of searching, his body was never recovered. However, in 2008, a headstone was erected beside the grave of his second wife, Elizabeth.

So all told TF Meagher is a man who despite having four family graves around the world is found in none of them.  But then again his reputation lives on in a much more meaningful way and is celebrated in Waterford each year to remember the raising of the first Irish tri-colour in Ireland at 33 the Mall, Waterford.
Thanks to my cousin, James (Jim) Doherty who supplied me with some essential information that made this blog possible.  Jim is a founder member of the 1848 Tricolour Celebration, a festival that has gone from strength to strength.  This years programme starts today more details on the 1848 Tricolour Celebration website.

Sailor Doyle and the voyages of James Cook

Faithlegg Graveyard always raises mixed emotions in me.  I still find it hard to read my brothers headstone for example, without being carried back in time to the afternoon he drowned. Then I look at “Big Patsy” Doherty’s headstone, with its carving of the “Portlairge” the treasured dredger of Waterford, and can’t help smiling with the memory of fishing yarns and tall tales.  But then there are others such as the one I will write about today, that are intriguing, historic, but rarely visited, much less prayed over but meriting a pause nonetheless.

Beside the old church is a family grave, part of which is to mark a seaman named Doyle.  What makes it intriguing is that it records that he sailed around the world with none other than Captain James Cook and was present at his death at Hawaii.

The actual stone (pictured above) records that; This stone was erected by | MARY DINN of Passage | as a mark of her burial ground and in memory | of her father NICHOLAS, her mother HONORA, her | brother MARTIN, her sisters and | particularly of her brother WILLIAM DINN | alias DOYLE, who sailed round the Globe | with Captr COOK, and was present at the death | of that great circumnavigator at Owhyhee. | and who died respected and regretted at Stoke | near Devonport in England, in June 1840 |having spent a long life as a Warrant Officer | in the Services of his Country. | “May they Rest in Peace. Amen”.

James Cook was born in 1728 to a farm hand and apprenticed himself to a coal merchant in Whitby to learn his trade as a mariner.  In 1755, after nine years at Whitby, he left and joined the Royal Navy and within two years was appointed Ships Master, in charge of navigation.  He excelled at this and also developed a particular skill in map making, something of immense value to the navy and the empire builders at the time.

Captain Cook

In 1769 he departed for his first and probably his most successful voyage on HMS Endevour to chart the southern seas and it was a voyage that would see him “discover” New Zealand and Australia and claim them for Great Britain.  Discover is of course a disputed term now, after all Polynesian explores had previously settled New Zealand, and the Aboriginal peoples of Australia had lived happily for thousands of years before.

He returned home in 1771 and received a heroes welcome.  At that stage he had remapped almost 1/3 of the known world.  (Worth remembering however he had the assistance of a Tahitian priest and navigator) He was also renowned as he had not lost a single man to the affliction of scurvy – caused from poor diet and lack of vitamin C – which was more common a reason for sailors to die on long voyages than accidents, drownings or other misadventures which probably include keelhauling!

Such was his success, and enthusiasm, he was dispatched in 1772 to the south seas again, this time to try discover the great southern continent – which to the seekers of new lands and opportunities for expansion turned out to be a great disappointment – Antarctica.

Sketch of the three voyage routes

His final voyage departed in 1776 with two ships; HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery.  One of the other officers on the trip was a chap named William Bligh – who would later become infamous in his own right, if for very different reasons.  This voyage was to discover the North West Passage, a fabled route to the China tea plantations over North America and Canada.  The trip seems to have been a disaster from he outset, with Cook becoming more erratic and less tolerant which probably led to his death.

Arriving in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) in 1779 they were initially treated as guests.  Once provisioned they departed but returned a few days later to repair a broken mast.  This time the islanders were lees hospitable.  Apparently the cause of his death is subject to intense academic debate, but he was essentially hacked to death after he and a party of ships marines went ashore with guns to take a king of the tribe hostage.

Of Doyle, I could find little enough except for his his epitaph, in Faithlegg.  I could not find him on any crew lists for the trips.  But then again these recorded the officers, and gentlemen who traveled, not the ordinary seamen.  Each ship would have had a compliment of at least 100.  If you want to look for yourself here’s the link.

Michael O Sullivan of the Waterford History Group has previously sent me on information about Faithlegg Graveyard amongst which is a mention of Doyle.  “Resolution muster on Cook’s Third Voyage”, a WILLIAM DOYLE (138) can be found listed. He joined 16 May 1776, served as AB Boatswain’s Mate from 28 May 1776, born Waterford 1756.”

From reading his epitaph it could be speculated that he had been on more than one journey.  Indeed many sailors did sign up time and again to serve under Cook, such was the respect he appears to have been held in.   Doyle was 20 when he joined the last voyage based on the info above.  He would certainly have been old enough to have made the second voyage also.

Why is he mentioned in Faithlegg Graveyard.  Again, just speculation but Mary Dinn lived in Passage.  Were she a Passage woman I would assume she would be buried there.  More likely a Cheekpoint or Faithlegg woman in the past who returned to a family grave to be buried.  The record suggests that William Doyle was born in Waterford.  But as I have often found and recorded here, in the past the word Waterford was used to record all manner of event in relation to the harbour area. Just as likely then that William was also born in the area.

The third great voyage of Cook may have ended in death and failure for the man, but both ships returned to Britain in 1780 and no doubt warrant officer Doyle continued to have many more adventures before the mast.  Spare a thought for the man, and maybe even a visit, for the sailor lying in the graveyard who in his own small way contributed to a greater understanding of the world.

Many thanks to Michael O Sullivan of the Waterford History Group for assistance with this piece.