Reproduced with permission of the Munster Express newspaper, Waterford.
The Vanishing Lanes
Every City has its lanes. In Waterford's case there were in excess of one hundred, mostly concentrated in or around the City Centre. They spread like blood vessels in all directions. In the lanes themselves the houses or tigeens were ancient buildings, held together with large stones and mortar. A family to a room was the norm, and families tended to lead cluttered lives. There was no running water, an outside toilet, rooms lit by paraffin lamps. They reeked of damp and yet the people who lived in them made palaces of them.
Some of the lanes had quaint names like Wheelbarrow Lane, Gows or Blacksmiths Lane, Sheeps Lane, Milk Lane and Five Alley Lane. Buttermilk Lane - Sour milk was sold outside St Patrick's Gate, Buttermilk in Mayor's Walk hence the connection. Goat's Lane, Coffee House Lane Ship Hotel and Coffee House also known as Warehouse Lane. There was also a Coffin Lane, opposite the Gas Works, Goose Gater Lane - Located in the middle of Henrietta Street, and the Barley Field also known as Manderville Lane, between Shortcourse and Green Street. There were some lanes named after individuals : Sparrow Lane, Brown's Lane (Named after Rev. Wm. Brown p.p. 1768), Penrose Lane and Robinsons Lane. There were lanes called after local industries, Glasshouse Lane, Denny's Lane and Gashouse Lane. There were lanes where courting couples used to stroll, the Narrow Lane, Farranshoneen Lane, Maypark Lane and ghosts were supposed to haunt the Witches Lane and there was Blackberry Lane which was the Peter Street end of Milk Lane. There were also two Fairy Lanes.
There were lanes off lanes which tended to be called courts, Bruce's Hall, off St. Martin's Ave., Browne's Lane Court, Gallaghers Court off Rose Lane, which was also known as Rose Lane Alley. Each little area was distinct from the other. On summer evenings the people would sit outside their doors chatting and listening to a musician. Most of the houses had pet birds who would be brought out to sing in their little home made cages. There were her lanes that gave an indication of their origins by their very names - Orphan House Lane off Parnell St., there were only two houses, and they were for orphans. Crubeen Lane, which should need no explaining, pump Lane off Barrack St., because it had it's own Corporation pump, May Lane and New Lane, the former because it was opened in the month of May and New Lane, as it was the first new lane north of Ballybricken. Lady Lane which was a high class area where the Widows' Apartments were, Mendicity Lane had a mendicity institution for poor people, it was always peaceful and tranquil there, and my own favourite Buttermilk Lane off the Mayor's Walk which had 18 houses. Also gone are the Ballibedeens or to give them their proper name, Falla Foiden (the sod and mud wall town): In Lower Newtown.
Most Ballybricken people, if asked, would doubtless say the most famous lane was Chapel Lane, which linked the Ballybricken Church with the Hill, and Flaggy Lane always for a show in the Theatre Royal;its real name was Palace Lane. Another lane that became very well known nationally was Arundel Lane; it gained national prominence when the Daly sisters who looked after the less fortunate were served with eviction notice and there were large protests. Thankfully, the matter was resolved satisfactorily.
In the early days the various lanes tended to be the homes of people who wanted to live near their places of employment. People in Cook's Lane, or Peters Lane as it was also known, were fowl and butter buyers or cork cutters. Millers Marsh and Grady's Yard were mostly lime burners, and Rose Lane off the Mall was where retired seamen lived. Doyle Street was then known as Horse Mens Lane.
The people who lived in those lanes, despite the lack of space and facilities, loved their little homes, and I can remember the distress of those in Mickel or little Michael Street when they were being moved.
To their eternal credit the Corporation have replaced old houses where possible with schemes that reflect the old areas, and this is very visible in the topography of the City where, in Castle Street, Costello's Lane, Wilken Street, Ballytruckle and Water Street, lovely new schemes have been built. However, the progress has been at the cost of lanes that were redeveloped and some of the following areas have disappeared forever. A certain number of them may still exist but they are now only short cuts to somewhere else. My own favourite was Teapot Lane where a Mr. Sergant advertised his tea with the sign of a teapot at the entrance to the lane.
The Lanes also boasted some great characters, Professor Biff Power who had a private school down in Lady Lane. On the Castle Street side of Brown's Lane in number 15, Paddy Coleman was only the second man in Waterford to drive a car professionally, Torn Hunt of Grace's Lane was Waterford's last salter. The Woolfsons who conducted a buy anything shop in Kneeve's Lane which was adjacent to Butchers Lane. The Misses Firth who conducted a ladies Day School in Lady Lane and the famous Whack Dunphy, who despite having no formal education was a genius with his hands, and despite his physical infirmity was capable of repairing any machine known to man. The lanes of the old City may be gone but they will never be forgotten.
Reville's Arch off John Street
Fleury's Lane off John Street
Scofield's Lane off John Street Coffey's Lane off John Street
Clarke's Lane off John Street
John's Court off John Street
Kizebeys Lane off John Street
Orphan House Lane off Parnell Street
Brown's Lane off Newgate/Castle St
Crubeen Lane off Old Tramore Road.
(There were in fact, two Crubeen Lane's,
the older one was renamed Arundel Lane.)
Crossley's Lane off Johnstown
Lyon’s Arch off Mickle or Little Michael St.
Ushers Arch off Patrick street
Millers Marsh off Johnstown
Griffins Lane off Yellow Road
Gradys Lane off Barrack Street
Byrries Lane off Barrack Street
Nagles Lane off Yellow Road
Crossleys Lane off Yellow Road
Balteen Lane off Philip Street
Asylum Lane off Philip Street
Goats Lane off Yellow Road
Pump Lane off Barrack Street
Kneefers Lane off Barrack Street
Well Lane off Newgate Street
Thompsons Lane off Francis Street
Francis court off Francis Street
Wheelbarrow Lane off Barker/Wellington Street
Gaffneys Lane off O'Connell Street
May Lane off Yellow Road
Gows Lane off Ballybricken
Walsh's Lane off Ballybricken
Goughs Lane off Mayors Walk
Malones Alley off Mayors Walk
Grants Lane off Mayors Walk
Bruces Hall off St. Martins Ave.
Cashens Lane off Newgate Street
Peters Lane off Barrack Street
Malones Lane off Peters Lane
Catherines Court off Catherine Street
Murphys Court off Yorkshire Road
Cellar Court Ferrybank
Mulgrave Road Ferrybank
Dock Road Ferrybank
Sion Road, Ferrybank
Gradys Yard off Johns Street
Blakes Lane Off Cannon Street
Tanyard Arch off Michael Street
Roches Street off Water Street
Morgan Street Court off Morgan Street
Harringtons Lane off Barrack Street
Browns Lane Court off Browns Lane
New Street Court off New Street
Cooke Lane off Peter Street
Bowmans entry off Peter street
Gashouse Lane off Johnstown
Gallaghers Court off Rose Lane
Milk Lane off Peter Street
Originally published in the Christmas Supplement,
Munster Express newspaper, Waterford, 29 December 2000.
Thanks to the Munster Express for permission to reproduce this article.