Walls, Gates and Bridges of New Ross - Wexford Guide and Directory, 1885

About “Wexford County Guide and Directory,” 1885

George Henry Bassett produced 7 Irish county directories in the 1880s: Antrim, Armagh, Down, Kilkenny, Louth, Tipperary and Wexford. Each provides useful history of the respective counties as well as lists of office holders, farmers, traders, and other residents of the individual cities, towns and villages.

Read more »

The directories are naturally an invaluable resource for those tracing family history. However, there are a few points to bear in mind.

  1. This online version of Bassett’s Wexford County Guide and Directory is designed primarily as a genealogical research tool and therefore the numerous advertisements in the original book, many full page, and quite a few illustrated, have been excluded.
  2. The text has been proofed with due care, but with large bodies of text typographical errors are inevitably bound to occur.
  3. Be aware that there were often inconsistencies in spelling surnames in the 19th century and also that many forenames are abbreviated in Bassett’s directories.

With respect to the last point, surnames which today begin with the “Mc” prefix, for example, were often formerly spelt as “M‘,”. For a list of some of the more common forename abbreviations used in the directory, see Forename Abbreviations.

Show less

OF the fact that New Ross was once surrounded by walls there is ample evidence. Portions of them, in some parts several hundred feet in length, still attest the truth of history. Beginning at John’s Gate, near the site of the Abbey of St. John, the old town wall may be traced through the grounds of Airmount, within view of the handsomely-situated residence of Mr. William Stephens. From that point it runs to the top of Goat Hill, where the original fosse affords sweet pasture for the useful animals who have given an undisputed name to the locality. The reasons which combined to induce the inhabitants to adopt this means of defence are set forth in a poetic effusion by Friar Michael, Kyldare. It is written in Norman or early French, and is preserved among the Harleian MSS., in the British MuseuM. In the quaint language of his time, the author relates that in 1264 the feuds of Maurice Fitzmaurice, chief of the Geraldines, and Walter de Burgo, so alarmed the peaceful inhabitants, that they resolved to shut out the possibility of becoming involved in theM. The line of circumvallation was marked on the Feast of the Purification. Soon afterwards the citizens were called upon to give assistance in the work. Encouraged by the sounds of musical instruments, they put their hands to the building. The priests joined, as did also mariners, to the number of 600, who marched in a body, preceded by a banner containing the picture of a ship. On each day of the week the members of a different trade were called upon, and cheerfully responded. On Sunday the ladies mustered a force of beauty and fashion, and, as pictured by the poet, eclipsed the doings of the entire week past. Merrymakings on an extensive scale followed the completion of the work, and Ladies’ Gate and Maiden Tower were erected in honor of the women. The tower was used for the confinement of those who had incurred their displeasure. Chief among the ladies who interested themselves in the building of the walls, was Rose, widow of Robert Meyler, of Duncormick, who owned a large amount of property in New Ross.

The gates particularly mentioned at the time, were the Bishop’s, on the east; Aldgate, on the south; East and South Gate. The defence of the town from the walls was given in charge to 3,000 pikemen, 1,200 long bow archers, 363 cross bow men, and 104 horsemen. The gates, in after times, were known as the Irishtown, the Three Bullet, John’s, Priory, Fair, Brogue Maker’s, and Weavers. Mr. Tobin remembers to have seen three of the gates standing.

The municipal arms of New Ross represent a stag and hound in full chase across a bridge. This might have been the original structure, which connected the town with Rosbercon, and drew in the farm produce of the County Kilkenny for miles around. A wooden bridge, 510 feet long, was built in 1796, by Emanuel Cox, an American engineer, at a cost of £11,200. This was blocked by ice in 1867, and succumbed to the pressure. It was replaced in 1869 by a handsome and most substantial iron bridge, at a cost of £50,137.

Search for a copy of Bassett’s Wexford Guide and Directory, 1885