Over Ferrybank Way

Ferrybank has always been an interesting place – very much a part of Waterford and yet a place apart. There’s often talk of boundaries and tugs of loyalties but there is no doubting that the greater Ferrybank area falls into Waterford’s natural hinterland. I thought that the Brasscock would flee his perch hereabouts to cross the river and explore the story of our good neighbours over Ferrybank way. I do so with the firm guidance and direction of Daniel Dowling’s wonderful book – Waterford Streets, Past and Present.

He goes on to tell us in fact that that area on the County Kilkenny side of the river Suir formed part of the Northern Liberties (of the City), prior to the enactment of the Municipal Corporation Act of 1840. So references by some to that greater area as ‘North Waterford’ seem to have some basis in fact after all! It is now a populous suburb within the county borough/City Council area.

The last few years have witnessed extensive developments in both retail and residential terms. Ard Mhuire was the first municipal development back in 1930-31 which in turn was the forerunner of a major housing programme at Rockenham in the 1951-53 period. These formed the residential core for the following 40 years until the great expansions of the last ten years or so.

AccessAll Areas

The location here as the name obviously suggests comes from its function as a ferry point giving access to and from the city centre. Therefore it was an area of importance for centuries from that association with the ferry which served the main road systems approaching the city which converged at this location. The road from Dublin and the midlands through Mullinavat entered Ferrybank via Smartcastle, Mullinabro and the Rockshire Road (still a popular traffic dodger!) and the road serving New Ross, Slieverue and The Mile Post.

The opening for traffic of the Lemuel Cox’s bridge in January 1794 completely diminished the importance of the ferry, except for pedestrian usage. It was however to continue in existence for a further 158 years until the service was finally terminated in April 1952. Eventually the main Dublin road entering through Ferrybank was replaced when the new stretch of road from Grannagh (another key ferry point) through Dunkitt, Milltown and Skeard to Ballykeoghan was completed and opened for traffic circa 1840. This in turn linked up with the road from Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir at Grannagh, which entered the city via Sallypark.

As we write that whole area of which we speak is undergoing an enormous transformation as a whole new road infrastructure and river crossing is being put in place, finally replacing a road structure that is well over 170 years (some would argue much longer) in place. About time!!

The Parish of Kilculliheen

Now that is something new I learned today, that the name of the parish at Ferrybank is in fact that of Kilculliheen. Dowling tells us the suburb of Ferrybank is located almost exclusively within the townlands of Mount Misery, Mount Sion, Rockshire and Abbeylands, all of which are situated in the civil parish of Kilculliheen, which also includes the townlands of Ballinvoher, Belmont, Ballyrobin, Christendom, Newrath and Rathculliheen.

And the place has got history – the parish we learn derives its name from the Augustinian nunnery, founded here in 1151 by Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster. After the coming of the Anglo-Normans it was endowed by John Earl of Morton, later King John (who incidentally gave his name to huge chunks of Waterford real estate). After a proud and independent history of 389 years its role came to an end with the Act of Suppression in April 1540. Within 20 years all this property, initially by way of lease, came into the complete ownership of Waterford Corporation.

The nunnery was situated in Abbeylands in the area adjacent to the old abbey church and cemetery. The area where the present Ferrybank is situated was leased by the Corporation in 1640 to one Sir Peter Aylward Knight and its extent comprised 928 acres of which 700 was arable or in pasture while the remaining was described as being ‘furzy and rock’.

A Samuel Lewis described this northern suburb of Waterford thus in 1837: Ferrybank, a village in the parish of Kilculliheen, within the liberties of the county of the city of Waterford, on the River Suir ….the river is here crossed by a long and handsome wooden bridge, connecting the village with the city of Waterford, of which it may be considered a suburb. It contains a large distillery, an establishment for building and repairing vessels, and several store houses, and respectable dwelling houses. Here are also three schools, one of which is under the patronage of Mrs. Nevins.

Up YourStreet

In 1900 the following were the residential streets in Ferrybank and the number of houses situated on each: Church Road(1), Mulgrave Row (20), Dobbyns Square/Cellar Street (6), Rockshire Road (20), Salvation Lane (9) – great name – Dock Road (44), Sion Row (12), Fountain Street (28), Terminus Street (6), Mulgrave Road (4), Wellington Row (22). In addition there were 64 houses situated on the Newrath Road, or Sallypark, at the same time. The area continued to change and evolve by 1943 this area consisted of the following streets or estates: Abbey Road, Fountain Street, Ard Mhuire, Murphy’s Lane, Cellar Street, Rockshire Road, Dock Road, Sion Row, Lower Sion Row, Newrath/Sallypark. Many of these have since been depopulated to make way for road-widening and their once close knit communities have been long dispersed. Others, thankfully, have not only survived but thrived and very much part of the great area it is today. Those who live as well as those who will come to live in the many brand new estates will put down roots and make their contribution to this burgeoning northern territory of Waterford.

It’s church too has an interesting history with the present one being completed in 1906. It is built, Dowling tells us, of rusticated limestone with granite dressings. Very much a building of architectural merit – it left this writer well impressed when attending four funerals and one wedding there in recent years. It was built at the expense of one Henry Page Turner Barron, son of Sir Henry Winston Barron of Belmont Park. He donated the sum of £9,000 in 1900 for that purpose. That amount wouldn’t pay to replace the gates and pillars today!

This new church replaced the earlier church built on the site in 1834 which was demolished in 1903. The gothic tower built back in 1867 was retained and forms part of the present fine structure – the ground on which they were built was formerly part of the Congreve estate.

The nearby (now former) Convent of the Sacred Heart of Mary at Abbeylands dates from 1879. They established a fine Convent School there which served its community well over the subsequent 130 years until they eventually passed on the educational baton, so to speak, to the highly regarded Abbey Community College of today.

I hope my Ferrybank journey today brings back some memories to the older generation among its community and some knowledge of their area to the younger folk, both there and at this side of the river. I certainly enjoyed learning about the long history of this part of our city – I hope you did so too. Come on, the Deise! The Ferry, Ferry Best of Luck!

Go seachtain eile, slan.

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