Behind every door is a story. And, every window a perspective.
Way back in 2009, there was a brief discussion between Mary Moloney as chairperson of Ardmore Tidytowns and Michael Reilly. This then led to an email exchange about the history of Main Street in Ardmore with James Quain. James then wrote a lovely draft piece on Main Street that we include below. We also include news of an exciting project and a little warning from a poem about protecting our Main Street.
Like so many villages in Ireland, Ardmore Main Street lies at the heart of our community. Behind each doorway is an untold story of the generations who were born, worked, and even died here. All these stories from our shared history that has gently evolved through the years. As you explore our beautiful Main Street remember that the street also stores the names if all that transverse it. Whether these names are past or present, resident or tourist they all combine and continue to shape our community.
MAIN STREET, ARDMORE
James T Quain 29 / 7 / 09
A street may be defined as a broad road within a settlement and lined with houses on both sides. The word street is derived from the Latin strata meaning a paved way. Main Street is the principal street in Ardmore and defines the linear form of the village. It is in fact the only street – all the other ‘ways’ are roads and lanes.
It seems that the term main street was an accepted statement of fact as there is no evidence that it was ever officially named. In Slater’s Directory of Munster (1895) the address of Michael Ahearn’s Hotel, Quinn’s Bakery, and the various grocers and publicans are all given as Main Street. The arrival of public utilities such as Water Supply and particularly Electricity in 1954 led to the appearance of many familiar items of street furniture including water pumps & troughs and street lighting. This all served to consolidate and enhance its position as the main street.
The history of Main Street is not simple, made up as it is of individual householders. It is however bound up with the history of Ardmore in general and farming in particular down through the centuries. A few examples will explain this:
Main Street may originally have been a road linking St Declan’s Road / Botahr na Trinse to the sea and perhaps to the early settlement consisting of a crannog/lake dwelling – around 500 AD in early Christian times, to put a very rough date on it. Being on the low ground i.e. to the north of the ‘great height’ of Ardmore, making it suitable for building on later.
The first stone-built house on Main Street was probably ‘Straw Cottage’ – Mgt Murphy’s thatched house. The house and garden are part of Farrangarret but are detached from the main part of the townland and instead form an island within the townland of Duffcarrick. Farrangarret means Garret’s farm so this may have been the farmhouse residence of Garret Fitzgerald who was farming here in 1654. Most of the villagers however were tenant farmers living in very poor conditions. In 1841 Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall described Ardmore as ‘a miserable village containing no houses but that of the rector, above the rank of a cabin’.
The ‘open field’ system of farming allowed for crop rotation and was practiced in Ardmore from medieval times up to the 19th century. Strips of land were allocated within very large open fields to ensure that each farmer/villager had a share of good and bad land. When the Odell Estate was put up for auction in 1893 many houses in the village were still held in conjunction with land in Dysert – the last traces of the system. Johnny Fitzgerald’s house (now owned by Paddy Carleton) was an example of this and threshings were held in the backyard into the 1950s. So the village of Ardmore was a farming community during all that time.
For well over 100 years Main Street has been a mix of residential and commercial properties. Various places of interest can be noted as one wanders down Main Street:
Thatched Houses incl. Straw Cottage
Post Office (4th location)
White Horses Restaurant – site of former RIC Barracks
Community / Village Hall
Ardmore Hotel (Mick Ahearn and later Wm Harris
Old Forge & Banding Stone (former Post Office & restaurant)
Some Exciting News
Jumping ahead to 2016, we are fortunate that Ardmore Tidy Towns are engaged in a great project to celebrate the 1916 commemorations. They are seeking to publish the names of all the residents of Main Street during 1916. With the help of John Tierney of Eachtra and a member of The Ardmore Grange Heritage Group, local historians Tommy Mooney and Noel Rooney, and under the dutiful coordination of Sheila Rooney, this project sounds like it will be a great success. Waterford Council also grants aiding this initiative.
Family names now associated with the Main Street include:
Power, Harty, Fitzgerald, Dywer, Moloney, McCarthy, Keever, Quain, Carlton, Stilwell, Reilly, Quinn, Murphy, Hassett, Grady, Ahearn, Harris, O’ Brien, Mockler, Veale, Ward, Hanrahan, O’Shaughnessy, Gallagher, Crowley, Rooney, Mansfield, Moloney’s, Wolsey’s, Griffin, etc so if anyone has any knowledge relating to families who may have resided there at the start of the 20th Century. Please do pass on any information to Tidytowns.
We end with a warning from a poem by Sir John Betjeman about not preserving our past that we should all consider. Our beautiful main street has been fortunate to have not suffered at the hands of …
The Planster’s Vision
Cut down that timber! Bells, too many and strong,
Pouring their music through the branches bare,
From moon-white church-towers down the windy air
Have pealed the centuries out with Evensong.
Remove those cottages, a huddled throng!
Too many babies have been born in there,
Too many coffins, bumping down the stair,
Carried the old their garden paths along.
I have a Vision of The Future, chum,
The worker’s flats in fields of soya beans
Tower up like silver pencils, score on score:
And Surging Millions hear the Challenge come
From microphones in communal canteens
“No Right! No wrong! All’s perfect, evermore.”