The item I did two weeks ago on the “Big Houses” along the Dunmore Road proved very popular to judge by the response and hits on the web-site. I had a more detailed history of some like Waterford Castle, Glenville House, Elva/Ardkeen House, while with some others I just had their care of construction, others again I had no date – of which I would like to learn more. Why not contact me at if any of you readers can add to our pool of knowledge? The Ardkeen library site: www. is also an invaluable resource on all matters local. In my review of these houses I meant to include the information I came across on Ballinakill House which I discovered there, so here goes.

Ballinakill House

Ballinakill was occupied by the Normans and in 1210 King John, on his trip to Ireland, is said to have stopped at the “land of the Thomas Fitzanthony” at Ballinakill (or Ballymackylle). After the Norman Invasion the powerful Dobbyn (or Dobbin) family settled in Waterford.

Ballinakill House, which overlooks the river Suir, Little Island, became the seat of the Dobbyn family until it was sold in 1788 to Nicholas Power whose son, Nicholas Mahon-Power, lived in Ballinakill until he acquired the nearby Faithlegg House in 1819. The house was bought by another branch of the Dobbyns and was inherited by Mrs. Patrica Gossip. I was acquainted with three of her sons, John, George and Randal and daughter Priscilla (who sadly died as a young mother). George ran a restaurant at the house for a couple of years. The house was eventually sold a few years later and remains a private residence.

Ballinakill is a two storey late 17th or early 18th century house and incorporated an old tower house not visible from the outside – the house has spectacular views of the Waterford Harbour. It is described in Egan’s 1894 Directory as “close to the Water’s edge rising as if from the rock, its quaint appearance enshrouded in trees denoting a romantic home”

Royal Visitors

It is said that after his defeat at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 James II stayed in Ballinakill House for a night before making his way to France. King’s Channel – the deep water separating Little Island from the mainland of Co. Waterford – is supposed to be named after him. When I first became acquainted with Ballinakill House years ago I heard this version of events but subsequently I heard that King James had left via Duncannon. Later I was told by George Gossip as we looked at a great portrait of what he said was William of Orange that in fact he was the king who stayed there following the Battle of the Boyne. Maybe Julian Walton could give us the decision on this one! But the house did have other royal visitors.

In June of 1858 H.R.H. Prince Albert, on the last day of his visit to Waterford, called to Ballinakill House on his way back from Duncannon, which was then the residence of Captain Power. The rank of the visitor was unknown to the family although they entertained him and his party well and the Prince thanked them and entered their addresses in his tablet (Waterford News 26 June 1908).

Letters From America

How Ireland has changed so dramatically in so many ways! For over 150 years we were an emigrant nation who travelled all over the globe. Some were driven by a sense of adventure but most in search of a better life away from this Island. Since famine times which witnessed a huge wave of immigration there have been periodic peaks coinciding with periods of economic depression at home. This included the miserable 50’s and again in the 80’s.

Apart from Britain, the United States was a hugely important destination for the Irish and the history of both nations have become inter-linked. The tide has changed of course and now immigration into Ireland has become a significant economic and evolving cultural factor in the Ireland of today. But back to the previous state of being as I wish to introduce a special event being organised by our friends at Ardkeen Library on the theme of Emigration:

Your participation is welcomed in a major exhibition coming shortly.

The EMILE Exhibition, which is based on letters written by emigrants in America, is coming to Ardkeen Library for the month of September.

The EMILE Project, which is funded by the EU, aims to compare and contrast the experiences of emigrants to America from Europe by analysing the letters they sent home during the 19th and early part of the 20th century. See <>

If you have letters, records, advertisements or any documents which you would like to loan to the exhibition they would be much appreciated.

Also, Ardkeen Library will be launching the EMILE exhibition in early September (date to be decided). If you would be interested in reading an old family member’s emigrant letter to an invited audience on the evening of the launch, please contact: Melanie Cunningham, Librarian, Ardkeen Library, Tel: 051 849844, or mobile 087 2088335. E-Mail:

How Roches Was Dunne

The Sale of Roches Stores being in the news last week reminded me of a story which related to both the early trading days of both Roches and Dunnes Stores in Cork. Both companies were founded in Cork City, 1901 and 1944 respectively but there fortunes (in both senses!) were linked beyond that of mere geography. William Roche started his company on Merchants Quay and Ben Dunne opened his first store in a compact-sized leased premises, in Patrick’s Street (William’s grandson was educated in Waterford at Newtown).

Well Ben was originally from Rostrevor in Co Down and was apprenticed to the Drapery trade at an early age. As a young man he moved to Cork on being offered a position in the newly expanded Roches Stores, now also situated in a magnificent landmark retail premises also in Patrick Street. Ben Dunne worked in the Drapery end of the business and acquired considerable knowledge and expertise along the way. Stanley Roche was becoming increasingly involved in the management as well.

By the early1940’s Ben had won some levels of promotion but when the position of floor manager or ‘walker’ as they were known he had full expectation that he would be appointed to this position. He was devastated when he was passed over in favour of a ‘Stanley man’.

Ben was not going to take this lying down, so on the QT he leased a wee shop more or less across the street. Having negotiated a few months credit for his opening drapery stock, he handed in his notice and a few days later he opened his first ever shop. His former customer base remained loyal to him and crossed the street to give him the business. Too late the Roches realized their folly but the great irony is that non- appointment and snub to Dunne was the trigger that sparked off the beginning of the Dunne Retail empire.

By the early sixties Ben Dunne had travelled to the USA on a number of occasions to study modern retail trends. He acquired neighbouring business premises until he owned the block and started the first supermarket in Ireland. The people of Cork flocked there in there thousands, not only was it way cheaper but you could actually serve yourself – this innovation alone amazed people.

The rivalry that had developed over the years between Roches and Dunnes grew keener. Roches can claim to have been the second ever supermarket because immediately in response they cleared out the back area of their store and installed a supermarket also in an attempt to woe shoppers back across the street. There was many a price war to the benefit of the shoppers. Some of these lead to many a story which, if you’re good, I may bring you another time. So another great Irish retail name leaves the national high streets and the other rival is still at the top of its game – Well Dunne!

Bundle of joy

The proud grandparents would like to announce their delight at the birth of Aaron, a beautiful son to Tony and Claire Falvey, on Thursday of last week, weighing in at a bouncing 9 pounds!

Go seachtain eile, slan