Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
Tel: +353 (0)58 45960  Email: [email protected]
Articles    Photos
Table Of Contents
Literary Sources

Portlaw A Nineteenth Century Industrial Village

3. Literary Sources

As the title suggests, this work is based firmly in the past, therefore the main type of research involved was the reading of many articles that referred to Portlaw or aspects relating to Ireland in the nineteenth century. This proved to be a somewhat tedious task as the author was soon to find out. However, listed below are some of the most helpful books, articles etc. found by the author. It was necessary to read a few books on each aspect of the study so as to gain verification of data uncovered. In researching Portlaw as an industrial village, the author found that although many books refer in general to the industrial revolution and its consequences, only few gave any beneficial insight into the villages and towns that were the outcome of the revolution. Also another major criticism that the author found with any of these books was that practically all failed to refer to Portlaw as a planned industrial village of the nineteenth century. My sentiments seem to echo those of the Reverend P. Power who, when writing of Portlaw in 1910 says, "It is strange that none of our country historians has gone to the trouble of investigating the story, of the great Portlaw industry, one of the most interesting things of its day in Ireland". Whilst Power laments the fact that Portlaw has not been recognised, T.W. Freeman in his book Ireland felt that Ireland was predominantly rural and that the industrial village "is a phenomenon almost unknown to the majority of Irish people outside the North East"

General information regarding industrial villages and model towns was found in various qualities and quantities. Galbraith in his book entitled The Age of Uncertainty, (1977) cites the model textile town of New Lanark as an example of enlightened humanitarian experiment. He gives a rather sketchy account of New Lanark as created by David Dale a noted Scottish "Capitalist and Philanthropist" and Robert Owen his son-in-law, who was a "Philosopher, Utopian Socialist, Religious Skeptic and Spiritualist". The case of New Lanark was further explored by Turnock in The Historical Geography of Scotland since 1707 (1982). He explores all these planned villages were not all copies of each other, and that each individual village / town, had to be studied according to its own merits. He also notes the difficulty in the uncertainty of the evolution of the planned village concept. Peter Hall's book Urban and Regional Planning ( 1982 ) looks at the planned village not on the end product of philanthropic motives. He dates the planned village beginnings to R. Owen and says how the scale of the industry at that time was throwing up powerful industrialists who saw the advantages of decentralisation. He refers to all the noted planned English villages, as well as the Krupps village in Germany,- one which closely resembles Bournville and port Sunlight. Also he refers to the planned village of Mortman Pullman that was built by Pullman in the United States in 1880. He says of all these towns, "many of them are still functional and highly pleasant towns today." How true this in the case of Portlaw, however he failed to mention it

Allsopp in 1914 paints a grimmer picture in 'An Introduction to England's Industrial History' he writes of the horrors of industrial life. Rows of houses without proper drainage, sanitation - a far cry from the healthy atmosphere as exhibited in the case of Portlaw. If Hall above saw some of the model villages as being pleasant and functional today Allsopp saw the result of the industrial revolution in a different light. He saw its traces "in the dirty back streets and tortuous slums of our great industrial towns where millions of people live narrow gloomy lives cut off more or less completely from sunlight and fresh air and horribly overcrowded"

Industrial villages of Ulster 1800 - 1900 by D.S. MacNiece in the Book Plantation to Partition ed. P. Roebuck (1981) mentions all the model villages listed above, as shall be noted later. He attributed great praise to Bessbrook - a village built with the layout of Portlaw in mind - He deals in depth with Gilford, a model village of Ulster that came in to being around the same time as Portlaw, and as shall be seen in Village Types - Inspirations For Portlaw, it compares quite well with Portlaw.

Information about the Irish village type of the time, was acquired from a combined reading of a few books and articles. The main reading being a Chapter from L.M. Cullen's book The Emergence of Modern Ireland 1600 - 1900. In Chapter 4 of his book "Village and Countryside: Landlord and settler" he discusses the Irish planned village, it's evolution, and survival today. He also categorises the planned villages of Ireland into three. This proved quite interesting as I placed Portlaw into one of these categories, and contrasted it with Cullen's village in the relevant category.

Orme's book 'Ireland "(1979) was for me, a breath of fresh air in the fact that of all the books mentioned so far, none of them acknowledged Portlaw as a model village. Orme does, however. Over three chapters he discusses the evolution of the Irish town, Aalen's Man and Landscape in Ireland (1978) also mentions Portlaw, he refers to it as one of the two greatest industrial towns of Ireland.

Bessbrook being the second. T.W. Freeman also provided background reading as he had a chapter entitled Irish Towns in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century in a book edited by Butlin The Development of the Irish Town (1977). Also Irish Geography 14, had an article by T. Jones Hughes - village and town in mid nineteenth century Ireland, both articles giving good background reading.

Isabel Crubbs, being a Quaker herself supplied reading on the Quakers in Ireland. She locked at items on philanthropists in parts of her book, "Quakers in Ireland" namely Chapter VII and Chapter VIII - "Light and Shade in the Nineteenth Century and Philanthropy and Education". She speaks of the Quakers as benefactors to Ireland, and mentions how they set up soup kitchens during the famine. In Chapter VIII she makes direct reference to Bessbrook and Portlaw and the good deeds done by the Quakers there.

An article In the Irish Times dated Wednesday April 8th 1959, discusses the Quakers by Arnold Marsh. He speaks of their integrity and earthly riches, and he also makes references to their acts of philanthropy, and in doing so makes a passing comment about Portlaw. A very brief handout, on the Quaker philosophy was given to me by some Quakers, when I visited Dublin looking for the Society of Friends Library, only to find out that it was in cold storage for the year, however, in return I was given the above literature on the Quakers from a charming and hospitable meeting of some members of the Society of Friends.

A very detailed and most excellent account of the Malcolmsons, their origins and their business interests down through the years and including information of Portlaw, was acquired from two articles printed in the Munster Express in 1966 and in 1971. The 1971 Article was a copy of a Speech delivered to the members of the old Waterford Society on Friday November 26th 1971, by Mrs Phyllis Milton - a great granddaughter of William Malcolmson. She goes into great depth about Clonmel, Portlaw, and also the many other industries and interests which the Malcolmsons were involved in i.e. Neptune Ironworks 'and Shipbuilding Industry, Annaholty Peat works, The Shannon Estuary Trade, Clonmel, Thurles, Limerick-- and Foynes Railways, St. Petersburg Steam Ship Company, Shannon Fishing, Ruhr Coal Mines, among many others. The second article was also a copy of a speech, this time made by Mr. Charles Jacob. Mr Jacob as well as supplying the author with these two articles, also gave her a copy of a memoir compiled by the late Alexander Malcolmson, great grandson of David.

Information regarding the "Leather Money" of Portlaw was obtained from an article in the Journal of the Royal Society Antiquaries Ireland (1968). Also additional reading material on this topic was also in the old Waterford Society Decies No. 10 entitled "Tokens issued by Waterford tradesmen".

As already stated, the majority of research for this work lay in procuring any available and relevant information on Portlaw, its conditions of living etc in the nineteenth century. Many of the articles, books etc were repetitions and of no great value. Others only gave parenthetic references to Portlaw, whilst many articles proceeded to give all in one accounts of the lives of the Malcolmson family, hereby incorporating all their business interests and transactions and Portlaw only being included as one of their many business successes. Much information had to be discarded as a consequence of this, and others proved too superficial to be of any relevance to the study. No one article or book gave any comprehensive and detailed account of Portlaw as a nineteenth century industrial village. Of course, the author realises that her work would have been futile if this was the case, and it is her hope that her study now fills in the gap that previously was unfilled.

Author: Tina Foran

Join Our Mailing List

Join our mailing list and get all the latest news for free via email. Simply enter your email address in the box below and press the 'Join' button.

Make A Donation

Waterford County Museum is a non profit voluntary museum. We would be grateful for any financial donation large or small.

Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!

Social Media

Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Blogger Follow us on Youtube
© Waterford County Museum 2014. All rights reserved. Please read our Terms of Use
Website By: Déise Design