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Waterford City and County Archives collection offers a wealth of records on the social, political and diverse history of Waterford. Ranging from local government, local development to private papers and local community groups these archives document the rich and varied history of Waterford City and County.

Waterford City Council Collection

Waterford is a port City with a rich history of trade from the 10th century to the present day. Waterford merchants built much of the City in the 17th and 18th centuries and steered the development of the City through their role on Waterford Corporation.

Waterford City was founded in between 853 and 914AD as a Viking settlement. According to Daniel Dowling in his book “Waterford Streets Past and Present” the Irish annals record that a longphort was established at Waterford by 856 and was used as a raiding base but it was abandoned for a time in 902 and re-established in 914AD. The river and sea trading were, and are, hugely important to the development of Waterford City.

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Waterford County Council Collection

Local Government in Ireland was reorganised under the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898. The Grand Juries that had been in existence from the thirteenth century in Waterford County were abolished and replaced by County Councils and Rural District Councils who met regularly. The matters dealt with at these meetings are detailed in the Minute Books of this collection.

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Dungarvan Town Council Collection

An Act of Parliament held under Edward IV in 1463 at Wexford refers to ‘The Portreeve and Commons of the Town of Dungarvan’. On 4th January 1609/1610 James I granted a charter to Dungarvan stating that there should be a corporate body within the borough consisting of a Sovereign, Brethren and Free Burgesses. However, by the end of the seventeenth century it appears that the corporation ceased to function in Dungarvan.

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Dungarvan Town Map Collection

In 1832 the Boundary Commission produced a report and map on the boundaries of Dungarvan Town. More detailed maps of the town were produced as part of the Ordnance Survey of Ireland in 1842. These maps are now available online from the Ordinance Survey of Ireland and are reproduced here in part.

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Grand Jury Collections

Waterford County was established by the writ of John, King of England and Wales and Lord of Ireland in the thirteenth century. In the medieval period a Sheriff, appointed by royal authority, administered the county. The Sheriff was responsible for the collection of taxes, repair of castles, gaols, arrangements for court sessions, the policing of the county, the election of a Coroner and the construction of roads and other public works.

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Workhouses / Board of Guardians Collection

The Boards of Guardians were established under the Poor Law Act, 1838. This Act divided the country into a number of Poor Law Unions each of which had a Board of Guardians and a Workhouse. County Waterford had four poor law unions: Dungarvan, Kilmacthomas, Lismore and Waterford. The members of the Board of Guardians were local landowners. The Boards of Guardians were given the responsibility for the “social welfare” and public health of the people within the poor law union.

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Lismore Estate Papers

Waterford City and County Archive holds the nineteenth century records of the Lismore Estate. The Lismore Estate refers to the estates of the Dukes of Devonshire and relates to lands largely situated in the counties of Waterford and Cork. Lismore Castle was and remains the seat of the Dukes of Devonshire in Ireland.

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Private Papers Collection

The City and County Archive holds some private paper collections. These include the Chearnley Papers, which date from 1671 to 1915 and relate to the Musgrave and Chearnley families living in Salterbridge, barony of Coshmore and Coshbride, County Waterford.


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