Industrial heritage along the greenway

Ireland’s industrial heritage along the greenway

We cycled the new Waterford greenway, which runs for 46 kilometres along the Dungarvan to Waterford old train line.  One of the stops on the greenway, is the quaint small town of Kilmacthomas, where this impressive 7 arch stone rubble rail viaduct which spans over the River Mahon, dominates the local landscape.  It opened in 1878 for the Great Southern railway line and was in operation for 100 years before closing in 1982 and today you can take in the views when you cycle or walk across it as part of the greenway.

Waterford viaduct
Kilmacthomas Viaduct over the River Mahon

We stopped for lunch in Kilmacthomas and passed a large building which caught my eye, it is a 3 storey, 19th century warehouse stone building with red brick windows.  According to the local information board, the building which is located along the Mahon river, was a former woollen factory.

During the famine in 1846, Lady Louisa Beresford, the wife of the local landlord, Lord Henry Beresford, 3rd Marquess of Waterford, helped to setup a weaving and clothing industry for the women of the village.  She imported cotton from Lancashire and encouraged her society friends in England to buy the finished products.  Lady Louisa was a Pre-Raphaelite watercolourist and philanthropist, she had married Henry in 1842 and lived in Curraghmore House in county Waterford.

Lady Louisa Stuart
Lady Louisa Beresford

Much of this was a cottage industry, with women using spinning wheels in their home.  It was decided that a woollen industry would be more suitable.

Spinning wheel
Photochrom of old Irish lady using a spinning wheel in the 19th century

Thirty women were employed, who wore a uniform, similar to Lady Louisa’s dress.  They worked the old primitive spinning wheels and hand looms under an old weaver called Anthony Thomas.

Weaving loom
A Lady circa 1864 weaving at a loom

By the 1850’s the enterprise was so successful, a factory was built and was powered by the Mahon river.  Woollen blankets were manufactured and the blankets won a medal in the Great Exhibition in Dublin in 1853.

River Mahon bridge
River Mahon which powered the Woollen Mills

In March 1859, Lord & Lady Waterford visited the woollen factory in Kilmacthomas and promised to up-date all the equipment there.

Lord Henry Beresford stated as he left “We will have it done this day three months”.  The following day, he was killed from a fall from his horse at Dowlan Hill in South Kilkenny.  The factory remained in operation after Lord Beresford’s untimely demise and Lady Louisa returned to England and continued her philanthropy work, helping the tenants on her estate in Northumberland by building a school and she founded a Temperance society.

Henry Beresford
Henry Beresford – 3rd Marquess of Waterford

A newspaper report of 1910 stated, the 6th Marquess of Waterford, another Lord Henry, “is giving the woollen factory a good overhaul and installing new machinery.  The factory produces woollen blankets and cloth.  The weavers are paid 1 shilling per day from 6.30 am to 6.00 pm.”

Woollen Mills Waterford
Kilmacthomas Woollen Mills Waterford

By 1925, the Beresford family sold the property to a Mr Stephenson, who closed the mills and transferred the machinery to the Ardfinnan Woollen Mills.

The factory building was taken over by Flahavans Porridge who operated it as a grain store and drying facility.  They enlarged it in 1959 under Mahon & McPhilips of Kilkenny.  During harvest time it was scene of great excitement with tractors lined up, drawing in corn to the factory.  Flavahan’s ceased using the building in 1999, there new modern factory can be seen from the Kilmacthomas viaduct and the smell of oats lingers in the air.

Flahavans Porridge factory
Flahavans Porridge modern premises

The building and the viaduct is of importance as a reminder of the industrial legacy in Waterford and of Ireland’s industrial revolution past and the memory of the men, women and children who worked on the railway lines, in the factories, mills and copper mines throughout the country.

 

Text source: Local information board in Kilmacthomas

Irish Spinner lady:  Photochrom archives http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002717414/

Lord Waterford the 3rd Portrait - By Robert Thorburn (1818-1885) - [1] The Amica Library, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=216278

Lady Louisa sketch from the book - The story of two noble lives : being memorials of Charlotte, Countess Canning, and Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford by the Author, Hare, Augustus J. C. (Augustus John Cuthbert), 1834-1903 - Published 1893 - https://archive.org/stream/storyoftwonoblel01hareuoft#page/362/mode/2up

Background information on Lady Louisa Beresford https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisa_Beresford,_Marchioness_of_Waterford

Lady weaving on loom: British Library Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/i5dXNy

Henry Beresford Portrait: By Robert Thorburn (1818-1885) - [1] The Amica Library, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=216278

Background Info: Viaduct: http://www.buildingsofireland.ie/niah/search.jsp?type=record&county=WA&regno=22805032

Background Info: Woollen Mills: http://www.buildingsofireland.ie/niah/search.jsp?type=record&county=WA&regno=22805046

Background Info: http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/ireland-s-industrial-heritage-the-past-you-might-not-know-we-had-1.2324451

All other images and text: melcoo.com

Deise Greenway

We were both looking forward to the official opening of the Waterford Greenway so once it opened we booked a Friday off work to try it out.

With Richard hailing from Clonmel we stayed the Thursday night in his homeplace and set off early Friday morning for Dungarvan.

Since the Deise greenway opened, a host of bike rental shops have opened, so you will be spoilt for choice, we rented our bikes from Waterford Greenway Bike Hire who are based in Abbeyside, Dungarvan.  There is free parking available in the Eurospar nearby and you can hop on the Greenway close by at Strandside.

It costs €20 per bike to rent for the day and that includes a lift back from one of their depots in Kilmacthomas or Waterford – pretty good bargain. You can also rent an electric bike for €45 per day, ideal if you haven’t cycled in years.

Alternatively, if you have your own bike a good place to start is just outside Dungarvan, the townland of Garrnageragh (click on link to see google maps). There are good parking facilities here and there free!!

As you leave Dungarvan, you have some nice views of Clonea Strand but a little further, you are met with the views of Dungarvan Bay below:

Copper Coast, Waterford
Dungarvan Bay

Next up is the Ballyvoyle Tunnel.  Cyclists are advised to dismount going through this – good advise because it’s pitch black and I nearly collided with another cyclist in there!! Next time I’ll have a front light on as a warning. The approach to the tunnel looks like something from a rain forest as a colleague commented on seeing the picture!!

Waterford train tunnel
Ballyvoyle Tunnel

After 10 km you have the opportunity to stop for a breather at O’Mahony’s Pub and Shop, we were feeling fresh and fit so kept on the move.

You pass over Durrow viaduct soon after and around 12 km later you arrive at Kilmacthomas viaduct.

We decided to hang to the right and head towards the village and were rewarded with a stunning view of the Viaduct:

Waterford viaduct
Kilmacthomas Viaduct

After a quick feed in a cafe in Kilmacthomas we cycled back up onto the Viaduct.

Just outside Kilmacthomas is the bike hire’s depot, a substantial looking coffee shop and a Famine Workhouse museum. We didn’t stop here and continued on our merry way.

As you’re cycling along towards Kilmeaden, there are some nice views of the Comeragh mountains on your left.

Mountain range Waterford
Comeragh Mountains

Next stop was Suir Valley Railway in Kilmeaden.

Waterford train
Kilmeaden Suir Valley Railway Train

This is a voluntary run, family friendly railway that travels along the picturesque banks of the River Suir.  It’s located 1 km outside the village of Kilmeaden and you’ll pass it on the Greenway.  It’s good for a stop as they have an old railway carriage that serves refreshments.

Old Irish train carriage
Kilmeaden Suir Valley Railway

We headed for Waterford which is about 17 km of a cycle from here.

Close to Waterford City the Greenway finishes and we cycled a few kilometres on local roads to get to Rice Bridge in Waterford.

There was some roadworks taking place on these roads so hopefully they’ll have some segregated bike lanes to bring cyclists safely into the city.

We dropped our bikes back to the depot on Hanover Street and waited for our lift back to Dungarvan.

The Greenway is a top class facility and a very enjoyable day out.

There’s some slight inclines and I’d recommend using a hybrid bike for a bit more comfort on parts of the Greenway.

We’ve cycled the Old Rail Trail and the Mayo Western Greenway but the Waterford Greenway leads the way because of the scenery and facilities along the route.

 

Discover Mahon Falls

We visited Mahon Falls waterfall, which is located 19 kilometres outside Dungarvan in County Waterford.

Mahon Falls is a 80 metres waterfall, that cascades down over rocks and boulders into a valley in the Comeragh Mountains.

 

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To get to Mahon Falls, you need to drive on narrow windy roads, which will take you up to the Comeragh mountains, you will get to drive over a Magic road.  There is plenty of parking near the waterfall and the path leading to the falls is well signposted, the path is about 2 kilometres walk from the car park.  You can cycle or walk to the falls, it is an easy walk, suitable for all abilities, young, old and buggies.

 

Depending on the weather, the falls will be fuller if there has been heavy rainfall, which in Ireland is quite frequent, so you are pretty much guaranteed a powerful waterfall experience.

We had hiking boots with us and when we got to the falls, we hiked up along side the waterfall, climbing over the large boulders and had great views down to the sea.

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Apart from the car park, there are no other facilities, such as toilets, coffee shop or gift shop here,  so you may like to bring a picnic with you, if the weather is nice.  On the day we visited, there was a small retro mobile food van, selling tea, coffee and crepes.  As there are none of the usual tourist trappings with a scenic beauty spot like this, the area is really peaceful, although the entrepreneur inside me, would love to open a tourist stall here!

 

Directions coming from Waterford/Dungarvan direction:

Follow signs for Mahon Falls, from Dungarvan and Waterford City, exit the N25, going west off the R676 at Mahon Bridge. Take a right turn immediately and follow the signs for ‘Comeragh Drive’. Continue on for about 1km turn right and travel inwards having the Mahon river on your right.

If you are visiting the south east of Ireland, it is well worth a visit.


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The Comeragh Mountains – Lough Mohra


Recently, we decided to go for a walk in the Comeragh Mountains, and more specifically explore one of the nine lakes or Coums.
The Comeragh Mountains are a glaciated mountain range situated in the south east of Ireland in County Waterford.
12 mountains form the Comeragh Mountains and the highest point is at 792m (2,598 feet).

Lough Mohra was the lake we decided to head for ( it looked like the most convenient to get to from our starting point in Clonmel, Tipperary).

The closest village is  Rathgormack, Waterford so we headed for that direction, and decided to park at this point.

The road leading up to this point is quite bad, littered with potholes, but it does save you a bit of walking. Otherwise you could also attempt to park somewhere here, ensuring you do not obstruct any other traffic and bearing in mind large agricultural vehicles will be prominent in this area.

There is an information board where we parked the car, telling you the routes you can take. Follow the road to the left of this board (basically follow the road you came up).

As you walk along, the Comeragh mountains will be to your right. Also they have it very well signposted so it’s hard to get lost.

There’s a red and blue route, blue being the shorter route and the one we took. It took about an hour to get from the car park to the lake. The ascent is not too strenuous.

Mountain Tipperary Waterford
Lough Mohra Lake on the Comeragh Mountains

It is possible to walk to the top of the mountain that lies behind Lough Mohra but it is quite steep and a tough walk. However, it is worth the effort for the views.

Mountain Tipperary Waterford glaciated
Lake on the glaciated Comeragh mountains

Be careful walking up this route, make sure you pick a safe way to get up and instead of walking up in a straight line we advise you to walk across if possible (makes the ascent that little bit easier).

Frost on the glaciated Comeragh mountains
Frost on the glaciated Comeragh mountains

 

 

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