WATERFORD CITY TOPOGRAPHY

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

The city is beautifully situated on the southern bank of the Suir, about 16 miles from its influx into the sea: it extends principally along the margin of the river, having an elevation very little above high water mark, except at the western extremity, where it occupies some high and precipitous eminences, and at the eastern extremity, where are some more gentle elevations: on the south, bordering on the stream called John's river, which here falls into the Suir, is a large tract of level marshy land stretching towards Tramore.

Near the western extremity of the city, and connecting it with the small suburb of Ferrybank in the county of Kilkenny, is a bridge of wood, 832 feet in length and 40 in breadth, supported on stone abutments and 40 sets of piers of oak, undertaken by a company incorporated in 1793, who subscribed £30,000 in shares of £100 each, and erected by Mr. Cox, a native of Boston, at an expense so much below the estimated cost, that £90 only was paid on each share of £100, which now sells for £170: it was begun April 30th, 1793, and opened Jan. 18th, 1794: the company have a sinking fund for the repair or rebuilding of the bridge, if necessary, and the tolls are let for about £4000 per annum.

Over John's river, which skirts the city on the east and south-east, are two ancient bridges, called respectively John's bridge and William-street bridge; and one of modern erection called Catherine's bridge, from the ancient abbey of St. Catherine, near which it is situated. On the opposite side of the Suir are some lofty hills, from which the city is seen to great advantage, having in front the river and the splendid quay extending from the bridge to the mouth of John's river, one mile in length, with scarcely any interruption, and forming a remarkably fine promenade. The quay was enlarged in 1705, by throwing down the city walls on this side, with one of the gates, which, with the great ditch, formerly divided it into two portions.

The houses, though irregular in their style of architecture, form a range of buildings of lofty and imposing appearance, among which the ancient tower built by Reginald the Dane, and now occupied as a police barrack, is a conspicuous object. In front of these buildings are a broad flagged footway and a Macadamised carriage road; and the part along the margin of the river is separated from these and forms a beautiful promenade.

At the east end of the city is the Mall, from which a new and spacious street has recently been opened, forming the principal western entrance on the Cork road. The streets, with the exception of King-street, in a line parallel with the quay from the west end to the centre of the city, and of the line from its termination to John's bridge, are generally short, narrow, and irregular in their direction: the number of houses, in 1831, was 3376.

The English mails have been changed from Dunmore to Waterford, which will cause a great saving of time: the first passed up on June 24th, 1837. The city is lighted with gas by a company of 400 shareholders, who have expended £14,000 in the construction of works; but from some defect in the old act of parliament, under the provisions of which the public lighting of the city was vested in the corporation, it cannot be lighted more than seven months in the year; the amount of the rates collected for this purpose is about £640 per annum. On the south-western side of the city are barracks for artillery, capable of accommodating 129 officers and men and 78 horses, with an hospital for 12 men; and also for infantry, which will accommodate 551 officers and men and 9 horses, with an hospital for 30 men.

The Waterford Institution was founded in 1820, and consists of 100 proprietors of shares of £10. 10. each, who contribute one guinea, and of 90 subscribers who pay two guineas, annually. It is conducted by a committee, consisting of a president, vice-president, and seven members, with a secretary and treasurer; their weekly meetings, formerly held in Lady-lane, are now held at the Chamber of Commerce, in King-street, where are an increasing library, reading-room, and a small collection of minerals.

The Literary and Scientific Society was formed in 1832, for the circulation of knowledge by means of lectures and essays: this society possesses a good philosophical apparatus, and during the session, which usually commences in Dec. and terminates in May, essays are read and discussed at the stated meetings, and public lectures are occasionally delivered by its members. A newspaper was published here so early as the year 1729, since which period several others have successively risen and declined; at present there are three in circulation.

The Agricultural Society for the promotion of improvement in agriculture, feeding of cattle, and in agricultural implements, by the distribution of prizes among the farmers of the district, is liberally supported and has been of great benefit. The Horticultural Society, under the patronage of the Marquess of Waterford, was founded in 1833, for promoting by fair and open competition the culture of every species of vegetable production; it comprehends the adjoining counties, and spring and summer shews are annually held, when prizes are awarded for the best specimens of fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

The market-days for live pigs and cattle are Monday and Thursday; and fairs are held on May 4th, June 24th, and Oct. 25th. The market-house is a commodious and well-arranged building, recently erected on a plot of ground adjoining the river.

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