In 1967, Dunhill village was the focus of the international media when Jacqueline Kennedy came to see a play at the parish hall of Many Young Men of Twenty by John B. Keane, performed by the Dunhill Players and produced by Paddy Barron. Jackie had been widowed four years previously and was holidaying in Woodstown with her children. She declared the entertainment in Dunhill as “better than a night out in Broadway”.
What is less well known is that a few years earlier, Sir Alfred Dunhill, the founder of the luxury menswear brand, with shops in London, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai, had been to Ireland to investigate his heritage. Unfortunately he had been told in Dublin that neither the family name nor the place name, “Dunhill” existed in Ireland. It was only when the former First Lady visited the village and Sir Alfred saw all the media coverage that he realised he’d been misinformed. As a result he decided to give his namesake’s village a visit including of course, Harney’s Pub, where he met the owner, Jim Harney.
A friendship was struck up between the two men and Sir Alfred visited again the following year, bringing with him cartons of Dunhill cigarettes as well as bottles of the branded whiskey. Jim also later visited the Dunhill shop in London where he met with Sir Alfred’s nephew. He was taken up to the store archives to be shown some letters sent from Dunhill NS to London a few years previously. A circle completed!
‘The Legend of the Gunner and the Buttermilk’ is a famous piece of local folklore that is associated with the seat of the Power Clan in Waterford, Ireland. Nobody really knows the origins of the tale that follows but it is certainly very entertaining to think on it and the events that happened to bring the villain Oliver Cromwell another lot of illgotten loot.
The legend goes that as Cromwell was attacking the castle in 1649, having pillaged his way across the entire country en route to safe havens for the winter, he came across the stout Dunhill Castle, atop a bleak hillside in Co. Waterford. It was then being defended by the lady of the house – Lady Power. Her husband was absent, defending another local castle from the Cromwellian forces – that of nearby Kilmeaden.
Cromwell’s men, tired and battle weary, could not take the castle easily, owing to its position and defences. During the siege, one of Lady Power’s gunners requested some refreshments for an attachment of his men defending the battlements. Not wanting her men to consume alcohol at the time, or perhaps from being particularly frugal, she is said to have sent the men some buttermilk instead of the beer they would have normally been expecting. The men were apparently insensed and the afrementioned gunner signalled to Cromwell’s men, and led them into the castle, taking it !
The gunner himself was promptly hanged as a traitor by Cromwell and hung from the castle walls … or so the legend goes !
The la Poer (Power) family of Dunhill were an infamous clan in the 14th century, as they launched many attacks on Waterford City. In one particular assault, in 1345, they destroyed the area around city but were counter-attacked, taken prisoner and many hanged.
The remaining members of the Power clan joined forces with the O’Driscoll family of Cork. This alliance would attack Waterford City many times over the next 100 years, with both success and failure. After a defeat in Tramore in 136,8 the castle of Dunhill passed to the Powers of Kilmeaden. It remained in their control until the Cromwellian attack on Dunhill and its first capture (The Legend of the Gunner and the Buttermilk) in 1649. It is said that out of this house (Dunhill Castle), all the Powers of Ireland descend.
As part of the Power Clan Gathering 2013, we will be inviting Powers from all around the world to come back home to take part in a re-enactment of the battle to take Waterford City and will also be holding a week long exhibition in the Tramore Coast Guard station on the Power family history. As well as these events, guided tours of Tramore and Dunhill and it’s connection with the Power family will be held.
There will also be “A Day at the Races” where we will be holding the Power
The Power Clan Gathering 2013 event was launched in Waterford City last week by His Excellency, the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, Mr. Loyola Hearn.
Joining steering committee members, supporters and friends in the Granville Hotel, the Ambassador spoke of his affection for the area, the ties between Ireland and Canada and his excitement and enthusiasm for our event. He offered great advice and knowledge on how the steering committee could promote the event in Canada and beyond. Earlier in the day, the Ambassador enjoyed a lunch at Harney’s of Dunhill following an interesting visit to Dunhill Castle – the ancestral home of all the Powers in Ireland and beyond. He was also interviewed on local radio.
We would like to thank the Ambassador for his time and his enthusiasm and hope to see him and many of his fellow Newfoundlanders in Dunhill next summer.
Our photo shows Ambassador Hearn (left) at Dunhill Castle with Steering Committee Members Michael Power and Eamonn Murphy.