Downey: The Story of Waterford

Pdf Downey, Edmund. The story of Waterford: from the foundation of the city to the middle of the eighteenth century. Waterford: Waterford News Printing Works, 1914.
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The Story Of Waterford: From The Foundation Of The City To The Middle Of The Eighteenth Century by Edmund Downey (1856-1937) is the history of Waterford city, established by the Vikings in the 9th century until a period of huge prosperity in the late 18th century.

Viking raiders arrived in Ireland in the 8th century and established a settlement in the River Suir in 853 but in 902 they were driven out by the Gaelic Irish. However they returned under the leadership of Ottir Iarla and later Ragnall Uí Ímair established Waterford as a city. Ragnall's grandson Ivar was King of Waterford and also King of Dublin.

The Vikings controlled both the city and the surrounding countryside until it was captured by the Norman forces of Richard De Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke better known as Strongbow. He married Aoife, daughter of Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, the day after the city was captured. Henry II of England anxious to prevent the Norman invaders from establishing an independent kingdom arrived in Ireland in 1171, declared himself Lord of Ireland and Waterford a royal city.

Waterford was given its first charter in 1205 by King John. A series of provosts ruled the city preceding the first Mayor of Waterford Roger le Lom in the 1284. During the medieval period Waterford became the largest city in Ireland after Dublin. In the 15th century during the reign of Henry VII, Waterford defended itself successfully against two pretenders to the English throne, Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck. Both claimed to be Richard, Duke of York who disappeared with his brother Edward, Prince of Wales following their imprisonment in the Tower of London during the reign of Richard III. The city earned the motto Urbs Intacta Manet Waterfordia or 'Waterford remains the  untaken city.'

Following the16th century English Protestant Reformation which began under the reign of Henry VIII, Waterford city remained Catholic. Waterford city was part of the Catholic Confederacy which ruled two thirds of Ireland from Kilkenny city following the Catholic rebellion of 1641. After the defeat of the Royalists and the execution of Charles I, the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell led an invasion of Ireland. The Confederacy was defeated and Waterford was besieged during which thousands died of hunger and disease. Thomas Preston, 1st Viscount Tara was forced to surrender after then Mayor John Aylward and the city aldermen pressed him to do so. Until 1658, when Cromwell died, Waterford was governed by his appointed commissioners.

In the late 17th century Waterford city changed hands between the Catholic James II and the Protestant William III of Orange during the Williamite Wars. The Catholic defeat at the Boyne of the Boyne in 1690 opened the path for the supremacy of an Anglo-Irish Protestant elite and around 1700, French Huguenots were invited to Waterford. During the 18th century Waterford prospered becoming Ireland's third largest port and its best architecture appeared. A crystal glassware business was established in 1783 by George and William Penrose and ship building also thrived. During the late 18th century the radical United Irishmen were active in Waterford but after the rebellion was crushed in nearby Wexford, no armed uprising was attempted in the city.

Edmund Downey was born in Waterford in 1856 before moving to London in 1878. He became a publisher, was active in Southwark Irish Literary Club and associated with nationalists such as Charles Gavan Duffy. He wrote numerous novels, works of Irish and English history, collections of Irish mythology and original poetry. He died in 1937.

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