Rockets Castle and Stately Homes of Portlaw

Rockets Castle in Portlaw is a tower of Norman construction on the banks of the river Suir.It was built in 1212 by a family named Rockett.The original house was destroyed in the 17th and 18th century.Rockett was a pirate and raided shipping on the river Suir to keep poor families alive.He was hanged on the West Yellow Road,Waterford later called Rocketts Tree.



 St. Philomena's House

St. Philomenas House (formally Milford House) Portlaw was built as a residence for the Malcomson family in the mid 19th century.Mr Morley married a Malcomson and lived there.It was completely destroyed by a fire in the 1950s.The Copper Lodge was just inside the gates at the Scrouty Road entrance.

These gates are a great example for the high quality of the work in the foundary attached to the Cotton Factory.They were sold some years ago but can still be seen in Stradbally.


Springfield House

Springfield House in Portlaw was built by Malcomsons for their manager Robert Shaw.The stream on the road outside was once the only water available to the people of Portlaw.A little further down,Malcomsons also built a house for Dr Martin and when the foundations were being dug,a drinking vessel of great importants dating back to B.C. was found.It is now in the Museum in Dublin.

The Copper Lodge

Mrs Morley (nee Malcomson) owned the Copper Lodge.There were only two of these in the world and it caused great disappointment locally when it was discovered that it had been dismantled and sold.The Lodge was circular in shape and the roof was of light copper.A man used to polish it,a special type of ladder was used for this.In the centre there was a large pillar which was hollow in the middle.All the fireplaces were built into the pillar and it acted as a chimney.


Woodlock was opened by the Sisters of St Cluny in April 1909.Mrs Malcomson had intended leaving it to the sisters but she died before the deeds could be completed.Mr Keith Malcomson carried out his mothers wishes and handed over the house to the community.It should be remembered that the Malcomsons were not Catholics but belonged to the Society of Friends.The sisters now have a rest home there for the elderly.


Interior Hallway of Woodlock


Chapel of Woodlock

Curraghmore House


Curraghmore House where the Marquis of Waterford lived.It includes a much altered castle which was built by the Power family in the 12th century.Most of the house dates from 18th century alterations carried out by Sir Marcus Beresford,when it came into his possession after his marriage to Lady Catherine Power. The front hall and the billiard room are the only parts of the original castle left and they are on a different level to the rest of the house. The estate covers about 10 square miles and in the gardens are some fine examples of Bronze statues.

The Alms Houses

The Alms (gifts to the poor) Houses in William St. Portlaw, were built in 1896 for Curraghmore pensioners. They were erected by Lady Waterford, in memory of her husband John Henry.


Coolfin Brickworks

The Brickworks at Coolfin was owned by Curraghmore. It was machine driven by water power. The wheel was 18ft in diameter. The kiln ( oven for baking bricks) is still to be seen. In 1921 they built a bigger mill and got a steam engine. The mill was let to a Galway man who used it as a sawmill. It is no longer in use.


The Malcomsons

David Malcomson was the founder of the cotton factory. The family originated in Scotland and first came to Ireland in 1660. When David`s grandfather was an elder in the Presbyterian church in Armagh. David`s father Joseph married Rachel Green, a Quaker in 1748 and David, one of eleven children was born in 1765.

At the age of 18 David worked for his cousin but did not stay for long. He became an agent for a landlord and he married at the age of 30.

David Malcomson began his cotton enterprise in 1825, when he got the lands of Clonroe and began building. He connected the Clodagh with the river Suir by means of a canal on which loads of 60 tonnes could be transported from Waterford. The canal passed under the Factory. The cotton was moved by tubes to the upper floors and then transported to Waterford.

The factory employed 260 workers. It was thought to be the largest single span factory in the world. The machinery was driven by three large water wheels 100ft in circurference.

When the factory was in full progress, the Malcomsons and their manger Robert Shaw re-planned the village to the design of a factory town. The village was laid out in such a way that a policeman standing in the square could observe the whole village.


In the 1840s the factory was spinning, weaving, bleaching, dying and printing. The hours for the workers were long and the pay was low.

In the middle of the famine 1845 and 1846, the factory provided much work in portlaw and elsewhere. In full production the factory employed 2000 workers.


In 1844 the Malcomsons began shipbuilding in the yards in Waterford it eventually employed 160 workers.They built 63 ships between 1846 and 1880.

The Malcomsons enterprise grew very large. It included corn mills in Clonmell, the cotton factory at Portlaw, the Neptune Ironworks at Waterford, Two Steamships companies and several railways.

Some of the Malcomsons finest houses are:

Mayfield House , Milford House ,Clodagh House and Woodlock.
The Malcomsons also built Villa Marina in Dunmore East and Minella in Clonmel.All these houses had magnificent entrance gates.

When the American Civil War ended,the Malcomsons owed a lot of money.The new America imposed taxes on Irish cotton.Eventually when Joseph died in 1856,his widow withdrew his shares.The factory was taken over and reorganised by the Portlaw Spinning Company,but this also failed when faced with taxes in 1897.
Weaving and spinning were abandoned  and the factory finally closed in 1904.

Alan Walsh 
Source from ICA Booklet Portlaw.


Ormond  Castle  Carrick-on-Suir

Ballyhack  Castle
Reginald's Tower
Semi Lunar
Rock of Cashel
Double  Tower
Watch Tower
The Island
St. Martin's Gate
French Tower
Tybbernaughtney Castle
Gurteen Le Paor
Irish  Castles

Research by Aoife Dowling and Lisa O'Neill: Sources: Tourist Information