In August 2020, the Irish Heritage Trust and Johnstown Estate were proud to launch an exhibition dedicated to the work of machinery giant, Pierce’s Foundry of Co Wexford.
For those who are familiar with the work of Pierce’s, the tour is sure to have something new for you.
As for those who are completely unaware of the work of Pierce’s and other Irish machinery manufacturers, the tour will have a wealth of information, with history and culture to beat the band.
Those with an interest in machinery will already know that the surname Pierce is synonymous with agricultural machinery in Ireland. Originally founded by James Pierce of Kilmore in 1839 on the Mill Road, Pierce’s Foundry was certainly a family affair. James’s son Philip eventually joined him in the business, however, after two years of working together, James passed away at the age of 56, leaving Philip as his successor. It was fortunate that in the year of James’s death, his other son Martin had also joined the team of staff at the foundry, and the company experienced huge growth under the leadership of the two brothers.
Philip was known to take after his father in terms of his knowledge of agriculture and engineering. Under his management, the foundry developed a range of advanced machinery which would require the use of only one horse. Pierce’s became the largest agricultural machinery manufacturer in Ireland and had offices in Paris and in Rio de Janeiro.
The self-guided tour not only focuses on the machinery and motors traded by Pierce’s, but those that would have been a regular sight along the countryside, spanning back to 100 years ago.
A spindle trap and Renault R4 GTL
This spindle trap (or tub trap or inside car as it is also known) was built in Wexford by Henry Leary in the early 1900s. The turned wooden spindles are said to give the trap a more elegant appearance. It was used by two generations of the Furlong family and donated by Nicholas Furlong. In 1964-65, Pierce’s and another machinery manufacturer (Wexford Engineering Co) were purchased by Mr Con Smith. Smith then rebuilt the Wexford Engineering Co site to become an assembly site for right-hand drive Renaults. This particular car was used by a Wexford doctor, Dr Curtis, for about 20 years who donated it to the exhibition.
Lincolnshire Scotch Cart
This horse-drawn cart derived its name from the migration of the Scottish into Lincolnshire, England, in search of better land to grow potatoes. This particular cart made by John Bingham had many uses but was mainly used in potato growing because its low sides allowed hand pickers to easily empty their baskets.It was imported by potato grower AA Clifton of Ratoath, Co Meath, whose name is painted on the side.
This barrel-top caravan was built single-handedly by William O’Connor of New Ross in 1989-90 and is built to traditional design
Aveling and Porter steam roller
This steam roller was purchased by the then-Marquis of Waterford in 1915. Weighing 15t, it was used for several odd jobs around the Curraghmore Estate but was mainly used for the upkeep of the internal road system. The current Lord Waterford can recall the machine being used as recently as the early 1990s – the machine was well tended to and kept in dry storage which added to its longevity.
The Irish Heritage Trust is the body responsible for the management and upkeep of Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum and Gardens.