Before we went on our fieldtrip we wanted to find out some information about the history of Waterford estuary so our class e-mailed Mr. Jack Burtchell. He is a historian who knows all about Waterford harbour and he told us lots of interesting facts that we didn't know about the area. Earlier in the year Jack visited our class and told us about the fishing links between Waterford and Newfoundland. On our fieldtrip we visited all the places we had been learning about.
Our fieldtrip took place on Wednesday 13th June. We visited Dunmore East, Passage East, Ballyhack, Duncannon, Dollar Bay and finally Hook Head.
We arrived at school early because we had lots of places to visit. The bus was leaving at 8:30am. We started the day feeling tired but excited.
First we travelled to Dunmore East. We stopped at the place where the fort used to be. The Irish name for Dunmore East is Dún Mhór or "great fort". The fort is now gone. The Iron Age fort was built on the edge of a cliff so that they could watch out for ships but also be safe from their enemies.
The harbour in Dunmore was built in 1815. We stopped outside the Haven Hotel. It was built around 1850 as the summerhouse for the Malcomsons, a well known Waterford shipbuilding family. There was once a mail packet station in Dunmore East. Mail boats would bring all the post from Britain into Dunmore East. It would then be sorted at the station and a carriage would bring it to Waterford. The mail station made Dunmore East famous.
Next we visited Passage East, a small fishing village on the River Suir. Since the 1980's a car ferry service carries cars across the river to Wexford but there has been ferry here for over a thousand years.
A lot of important people in Irish history arrived in Ireland at Passage East. One of these was Richard de Clare who was also known as Strongbow. Strongbow helped the Normans to take over Waterford. He married Princess Aoife in Reginald's Tower. The ruins of St. Anne's church can be seen on the hilltop above Passage East. It was built in 1746 on the site of an even older church.
Cheekpoint is a little village upriver from Passage East. The three sisters, the Suir, the Nore and the Barrow meet at Cheekpoint.
The Irish name for Cheekpoint is "Rinn na Síge". There are two possible reasons for this. It might mean the "point of the streak". This could refer to a streak of foam in the river caused by an underwater rock. It might also mean "point of the fairies" because "sí" means fairy in Irish.
We travelled on the ferry across the river to Ballyhack. The Irish name for Ballyhack is "Baile Sheaic" or "Jack's town". There is a shipbuilding yard here.
Millstone was once quarried near the village.
English knights built Ballyhack castle in 1450.
We travelled on to Duncannon. We visited the star fort. It was built in the 1500's to protect Waterford harbour against a Spanish invasion. It was considered very important and the Royal Fort of Duncannon was the "second fort of the realm". It is surrounded by ramparts and a dry moat. We visited the underground cells that were very dark and damp. When our teacher turned off the lights it was pitch black in the cell and we all screamed.
Next we went to Dollar Bay. Here we had our lunch and then we dug for Spanish golden dollars. If you read our story on Dollar Bay you will find out all about it.
Finally we visited Hook Head.
Hook Lighthouse is one of the oldest working lighthouses in the world. Legend
has it that in the 6th century a Welsh monk established the first light on Hook
Head because he was upset at seeing all the sailor's bodies being washed up
on the rocks.
In the 13th century an English man called William Marshal, Earl of Pembrokeshire decided to build the Hook Lighthouse to guide his ships into Waterford Harbour.
In 1649 Oliver Cromwell became leader of the English Commonwealth. He decided to try and take over Ireland. When he did he sailed up the Suir estuary between Hook Head in Wexford and the village of Crooke in Waterford. As he was about to attack he reportedly said, "I will take over Ireland by Hook or by Crooke". We sketched Hook Lighthouse before we got back on the bus to return to school. It was a fun day and we all enjoyed it. The best part was digging for gold in Dollar Bay.
Mc Sweeney's Fourth Class,
St. Mary's National School,