A Brief History Of Dunmore East
Long before recorded history people lived in Dunmore East. For protection from enemies or wild animals small communities would erect their huts on narrow strips of cliff-top which projected out into the sea. On the inland side of this projection an embankment would be erected as a defensive measure. These habitations are known as promontory forts.
People from the Iron Age established a promontory fort overlooking the sea at Shanoon (referred to in 1832 as meaning the 'Old Camp' but more likely Canon Power's Sean Uaimh, 'Old Cave') at a point known for centuries as Black Nobb, where the old pilot station now stands, and underneath which a cave runs. Henceforth the place was referred to as Dun Mor, the Great Fort.
Fish was an important part of the people's diet, and for hundreds of years a fishing community lived here.
In about 1640, Lord Power of Curraghmore, who owned a large amount of property in the area, built a castle on the cliff overlooking the strand about two hundred metres from St. Andrew's Church. The castle must have been a beautiful sight, but by the middle of the next century it was falling into ruin and now just one tower remains.
In 1824 R.H. Ryland, in his history of the county and city of Waterford, describes Dunmore East as follows:
"Nearby at the entrance of (Waterford) Harbour is the village of Dunmore, formally a place of resort for fishermen, but now a delightful and fashionable watering place. The village is situated in a valley, with a gentle
slope towards the sea; the houses are built irregularly, without regard to site or uniformity of appearance, except that they all look at the same point - the Hook Lighthouse, on the opposite coast. Most of the cottages are built of clay and are thatched with straw, and generally let during the summer season from one to three guineas a week. On the hill, which forms the background of the picture, are the ruins of a church"
Nearly two hundred years later the thatched cottages are still there, though the rents have increased somewhat! The ruined church refers to the old church of Killea (Cill Aodha - Aodh's Church) thought to have been built in the twelfth century, one wall of which still stands, opposite the Catholic church of The Holy Cross, at the top of Killea hill.
In 1814, however, dramatic changes took place when Alexander Nimmo, the Scottish engineer (builder of Limerick's Sarsfield Bridge) commenced work on the new Harbour at Dunmore to accommodate the packet station for ships, which carried the Royal Mail between England and Ireland. The work consisted mainly of a massive pier or quay with an elegant lighthouse at the end.Nimmo's original estimate had been £20,000 but at the time of his death in 1832 £93,000 had been spent and the final cost was £108,000. By then (1837) the Harbour had started to silt up, and the arrival of steam meant that the winding river could be negotiated easily, so the packet station was transferred to Waterford.
However the existence of what for that time was a great sheltered Harbour meant that Dunmore East was to gradually become an important fishing port. The Harbour is one of the five designated National Fishery Harbours, and has the second highest figure for fish landings after Killybegs. Dunmore has some notable marine firsts to its credit, with the first Irish woman to qualify for a skipper's ticket in fishing; the first official woman crew member in an RNLI Lifeboat, and the world record holder for the largest tuna caught on a rod.
About The Author
The history of Dunmore East on this website was written by T. N. Fewer. Mr. Fewer lives in Callaghane, County Waterford, Ireland. He is the author-editor of the following two books about Waterford. Both books can be purchased on his website: www.ardkeen.ie/ballyloughbooks
'Waterford People - A Biographical Dictionary'. This book, by means of over 300 entries and an index of over 800 names, introduces the reader to some of the people who have, down through the years, contributed to, represented, or had some effect on the city or county, or indeed the nation, in some way as they passed through.
'I Was A Day In Waterford' is an anthology of writing about Waterford City and County from the 18th to the 20th century, has been described as follows; 'In 'I Was A Day In Waterford,' T.N.Fewer has gathered together a rich compendium of impressions of Waterford; the city, county and people, spanning almost 300 years. Here we see Waterford through the eyes of writers, travellers and residents, ranging from Thackeray to Queen Victoria, and from Thomas Francis Meagher to Robert Kee. Monster meetings in Ballybricken, Waterford waiters, dances in the cottages of Helvick Head, shipwrecks and the best daffodils in the world are among the diverse aspects touched on in this unique collection of writings about one of Ireland's most historic counties.