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Dungarvan Town Council Collection

Dungarvan has a long history of local administration.

An Act of Parliament held under Edward IV in 1463 at Wexford refers to ‘The Portreeve and Commons of the Town of Dungarvan’. On 4 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.

Local government in Dungarvan was reintroduced when a town meeting was held in order to adopt the Town’s Improvement Act 1854. The first election of the new Town Commissioners was held in the Magistrate’s room in the Courthouse on 29th January 1855.

On 8th June 1863 the Dungarvan Harbour, Markets and Improvement Act 1863 was passed. This act enabled the Dungarvan Town Commissioners to extend and regulate the markets of Dungarvan and allowed for the transfer of the management of the roads and bridges in the town from the Waterford Grand Jury to the Dungarvan Town Commissioners. The Act allowed the Commissioners to hold property and lands, to act as a Harbour Authority and collect Harbour dues. It also allowed the Commissioners to collect rates, borrow money and have control of the markets and roads within the town.

Under the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898 local government in Ireland was reorganised and Dungarvan became an urban district. Local elections were held and new Urban District Councillors were elected. On 23rd January 1899, the first meeting of the Dungarvan Urban District Council was held.

The Minute Books for the period 1855-1900 detail the work of the Town Commissioners, recording the improvements on the town of Dungarvan, the work of the Commissioners as a harbour authority and the functions of the Town Commissioners as a sanitary authority under the Public Health Act, 1875. The Commissioners dealt with and oversaw the maintenance of the roads, harbour, markets, waterworks and provided artisan’s dwellings under the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890.

Following the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898 the Minute Books detail the work of Dungarvan Urban District Council. It is of interest to note that the same Minute Book (UDC/1/8) was used to record the last meetings of the Dungarvan Town Commissioners and with the turn of a page was used to record the first meetings of the Dungarvan Urban District Council.

The Minutes for the meetings of Dungarvan Urban District Council record the elections of councillors, the striking of rates, the provision of housing and sanitary services for Dungarvan, the maintenance and improvement of the harbour and town and the resolutions of the urban district councillors. Click here for a sample of Minutes.

The Minutes of the Meetings of Dungarvan Town Commissioners and Dungarvan Urban District Council are an invaluable record for the town of Dungarvan. The developments of the town can be traced under both administrations and the growth of the town is clearly recorded. Events of local, national and international significance are also recorded. The heroic sea rescues and tragic losses at sea are recorded within the pages of the Minute Books. The presence of Belgian refugees in Dungarvan during the First World War was recorded in the minutes (UDC/1/11) and a concert in aid of the Belgians was held in the Town Hall in Dungarvan on Monday 7th December 1914.

The allegiance of the Urban District Council to Dáil Éireann was recorded in the Minutes of the Dungarvan Urban District Council. The arrest of Patrick Whelan, urban district councillor, by the British authorities was recorded (UDC/1/12). The Urban District Council (UDC/1/18) supported the stance of Eamonn de Valera in maintaining the neutrality of Ireland during the Second World War. The visit of the mayor of Chicago to Dungarvan in 1964 is recorded in the minutes (UDC/1/19). The Minute Books of the Town Commissioners and Urban District Council were maintained by the Urban District Council in the Town Hall, Friary Street until the Urban District Council moved to new premises in the Civic Offices, Dungarvan. At this time the Minute Books and other records were boxed and transferred to the Waterford County Archive Service.

Little beyond the Minute Books survive for the Dungarvan Town Commissioners and the records of the Town Commissioners and the earlier Corporation may have been lost when the old Market House in Lower Main Street was sold by the Duke of Devonshire in 1861. Records relating to Dungarvan Corporation may be found among the Lismore and Chatsworth papers due to the close association between the Corporation and the Dukes of Devonshire.

Further records in relation to the Dungarvan Town Commissioners and the early days of the Dungarvan Urban District Council were destroyed in the 1950s during an over enthusiastic cleaning of the Town Hall in Friary Street.

However, there are a number of early files and maps among the records retained in the Town Hall, which were then transferred to Waterford County Archive Service. In 1990 Dungarvan Museum came into the possession of the papers of John Hunt of Bayview House, Ballinacourty, Dungarvan who had been solicitor for the local authority in Dungarvan from c. 1870 – c. 1920 and these are available to researchers at Waterford County Museum, Old Town Hall in Friary Street, Dungarvan. You may also want to check out the award-winning Waterford County Museum  website.

For a more detailed history of Dungarvan Corporation and Dungarvan Town Commissioners, a calendar of the Minutes from 1855-1950 and details of further records in relation to local government and developments in Dungarvan see “A Calendar of the Minutes and Records of Dungarvan Town Commissioners and Urban District Council 1855-1950” by William Fraher, 1991 (LSHBNF 352.04191, Waterford City and County Library). Click here for the Library Catalogue.

This calendar is invaluable as it contains a detailed account of the minutes allowing for a quick search for information. It also contains the only record of a volume UDC/1/6 for the period 16 April 1883-27 June 1888 which was not found among the material boxed and transferred to the Archive Store from the old Town Hall.