DUNCANNON, a village, in the parish of ST. JAMES, barony of SHELBURNE, county of WEXFORD, and province of LEINSTER, 1 ½ mile (S.) from Arthurstown; containing 560 inhabitants. This place, which commands the entrance to the ports of Waterford and Ross, was granted by Henry VI. to John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, from whom it reverted to the Crown; and the castle, with some lands for keeping it in repair, was vested in trustees by Queen Elizabeth. On the threatened invasion of the Spaniards, in 1588, it was strongly fortified. In 1645, the fort, which was held by Laurence Esmonde for the Parliament, was surrendered to General Preston for the King; and in 1649, was besieged by Ireton, whom the garrison compelled to retire.

After the battle of the Boyne, James II. embarked for France from this fort; and during the insurrection of 1798, it afforded an asylum to most of the loyalists in this part of the country. The fort is situated on a rock projecting from the eastern side of Waterford harbour, and has undergone frequent alterations: it is adapted for mounting 42 pieces of cannon, and, including " the bombproof" erected in 1815, contains barracks for 10 officers and 160 men, residences for the chaplain, fort-major, storekeeper, and other officers, and a chapel for the garrison; the whole is surrounded by a dry moat crossed by a drawbridge, and the only entrance is defended by a portcullis. On the hill overlooking the village are two martello towers, now dismantled.

The village consists chiefly of one street, forming the approach to the fort, and had formerly a considerable trade, which has been mostly transferred to Arthurstown, in consequence of a steamer established by an English company to ply between Duncannon and Waterford. A new line of road is to be opened direct from Duncannon to Wexford, in consequence of which, and as the town is now in the possession of the head landlord, Lord Templemore, it promises to be soon in a flourishing state. The quay has been recently repaired, and the Harbour Commissioners are proceeding to deepen the harbour at a considerable expense. There is still a small export trade in pigs, butter, and poultry, and an import of coal.

It has a daily penny post to Arthurstown, and a well-appointed mail car runs from Fethard, through Duncannon and Arthurstown, to Ross. A few boats are employed in fishing, on which and on the garrison the inhabitants depend chiefly for their support. An oyster bed just below the fort, which has been for some years only partially known, has been recently discovered to be of considerable extent, and is now much dredged. A branch from the coast-guard station at Arthurstown is quartered here. The creek is formed by the rock on which the fort is built, and the approach to the strand is rendered dangerous by shoals; but vessels of 100 tons can approach the pier at high water in fair weather. Within the fort is a lighthouse, nearly due north from that of Hook; another to the north of the Fort is nearly completed.

In the village is a R. C. chapel; and two neat school-houses, one of which is for infants, have been recently built by subscription. Duncannon gives the inferior title of Viscount to the family of Ponsonby, Earls of Besborough.

Search Topographical Dictionary of Ireland »