Our History

Our History

Officially established on the 8th March 1787 (earliest known Minutes record) in Ireland's oldest city, Waterford Chamber is the leading business representative organisation in Waterford. The Chamber represents the interests of its members and actively contributes to the economic development of Waterford City and County. The Chamber welcomes all businesses, independent of size, as members.

200th Anniversary Booklet: 'Perceptions and Promotions. The Role of Waterford Chamber of Commerce 1787-1987'


Waterford Chamber of Commerce - First Chain of Office in 1930

 First Chain of Office 1930

The Investiture of the then President, Mr. W. C. Mercer. The picture of Waterford businessmen, members of the Chamber officials and members of Waterford Chamber of Commerce was taken for the special occasion.

Left to right, front row: Commander John Dunphy, T.C. and Administration Officer of the Electricity Supply Board; Ald. James Aylward (owner Carroll & Co., Drapers); William Jacob (C. Heating Engineers, The Quay); Joseph V. A. Spencer (ship owner, coal importer and retailer, Johnstown); Matthew Cassin, T.C., Chairman, Harbour Board (without chain of office); (Matthew Farrell and Son, Ship Brokers, The Quay); Martin S. Breen, Bridge Hotel and General Merchant; William C. Mercer, President of Chamber wearing new chain of office; Councillor Edward Walsh, Mayor of Waterford (without wearing the Mayoral Chain of Office and Proprietor of the “Munster Express” and Printing Works; Mr. L. H. Grubb, Chamber Secretary, and Director, George White and Son, Chemists, and framing and building suppliers, O’Connell St.; Councillor Thomas W. H. Davies, Chairman, R. & H. Hall Ltd., Captain, Waterford Golf Club.

Second row: Mr. Richard Farrell, Waterford Harbour Board; John Gaule of Keating and Gaule, electrical suppliers, etc., The Quay; Thomas Fitzpatrick, of the Pharmacy, The Quay; Francis N. Kelly (Deevy & Co., Auditors); Edward Walsh Kelly, Waterford Savings Bank; Sean McKeon, Ph.C. of Fitzpatricks Ltd., Austin A. Farrell, General Manager and Secretary, of Waterford Harbour Commissioners; Patrick A. Wade, owner of Wade’s Garage, The Quay; Michael (Bud) Furniss (joint owner of Nomad Bus Services (Waterford and Tramore); Robert S. Elmes, Senior, Director, Graves and Co., Timber Merchants, etc.; Joseph Harpur, of Harpur Bros., Ironmongers, The Quay; J. Peterson, Agent, British Railways for Waterford area; Jack (J. J.) Egan, owner, Egan and Son, Whiskey Bonders, Ltd., Barronstrand St.; Gerald H. Kelly, Manager, Gallweys, Whiskey Bonders, etc., Gladstone St., and The Mall; Matthew O’Keeffe, Tobacconist, George’s St.; Thomas Shipsey, Secretary, Waterford Harbour Board; Thomas H. Gallwey, Chairman, Gallweys Bonded Warehouses Ltd.; W. H. Carroll, Manager, Munster and Leinster Bank Ltd. (Waterford Branch).

Waterford Chamber Presidents

1815 Henry H Hunt 1866 Patrick Keily 1918 Frank Phelan 1970 L O'Sullivan
1816 John Strangman 1867 Edward Clibborn 1919 Frank Phelan 1971 L O'Sullivan
1817 John Leonard 1868 Joseph Strangman 1920 W.J Robertson 1972 John Mitchell
1818 George P Ridgway 1869 Thomas C Spencer 1921 W.J Robertson 1973 John Mitchell
1819 Joseph Strangman 1870 Patrick Anthony Power 1922 L. O'Brien 1974 T.A Richards
1820 William Millward 1871 Samuel White 1923 L. O'Brien 1975 T.A Richards
1821 Edward Courtenay 1872 Robert Ardagh 1924 W.B Merry 1976 Clive MacCarthy
1822 Joshua Strangman 1873 Thomas Fraces Keily 1925 M. Cassin 1977 Clive MacCarthy
1823 John Harris 1874 William G. D Goff 1926 M. Cassin 1978 Kurt Kraus
1824 Joshua William Strangman 1875 John A Tobin 1927 James Aylward 1979 Kurt Kraus
1825 Richard Davis 1876 John A White 1928 W.E Jacob 1980 D.P Tierney
1826 William Aylward 1877 David Kent 1929 J.V.A Spencer 1981 Tony Fitzgerald
1827 Thomas McCheane 1878 Henry Denny 1930 W.C Mercer 1982 D.E O'Toole
1828 Joshua William Strangman 1879 William Gallwey 1931 W.C Mercer 1983 D.E O'Toole
1829 Thomas Fogarty 1880 William Henry Fennessy 1932 M.S Breen 1984 F.M Comber
1830 Geo. P Ridgway 1881 John Strangman 1933 M.S Breen 1985 J.G Mansfield
1831 Thomas Scott 1882 Abraham Stephens 1934 R.S Elmes 1986 N.J Fewer
1832 Edward Courtenay 1883 Thomas F Spencer 1935 R.J Hearne 1987 Jack Deevy
1833 William Millward 1884 James P Graves 1936 L.H Grubb 1988 J.D Kennedy
1834 Joshua William Strangman 1885 Charles E Denny 1937 Joseph Q Nolan 1989 L.P O'Sullivan
1835 Thomas Scott 1886 Samuel Shangman 1938 Joseph Q Nolan 1990 J.C Kenny
1835 Robert Geo. Scott 1887 John Slattary 1939 Edwin B Jacob 1991 Dick Hickey
1836 Joshua Strangman 1888 Richard G Ridgway 1940 Edwin B Jacob 1992 Peter Hudson
1837 William Aylward 1889 Alexander Nelson 1941 John J Hearne 1993 Bertie Rogers
1838 Henry Denny 1890 Andrew Farrell 1942 John J Hearne 1994 Joe Kenny
1839 William Millward 1891 Cornelius Morley 1943 John J Hearne 1995 Frank Kelly
1840 Joseph D Lapham 1892 Edward Jacob 1944 Charles S Jacob 1996 Mary Dorgan
1841 Henry Ridgway 1893 Frederick H Hall 1945 Charles S Jacob 1997 John Clancy
1842 Joshua William Strangman 1894 Hugh W Craig 1946 Samuel Morris 1998 William O'Brien
1843 John Power 1895 Robert ML Ardagh 1947 Samuel Morris 1999 Redmond O'Donoghue
1844 Geo Coutenay 1896 H.J Forde 1948 F.W.B Chapman 2000 Monica Leech
1845 Roger F Sweetman 1897 H. St. L Atkis 1949 F.W.B Chapman 2001 Nick Donnelly
1846 George White 1898 WL Burke 1950 H.J Gill 2002 Frank O'Regan
1847 Thomas Murphy 1899 A E Graves 1951 H.J Gill 2003 Bobby O'Keeffe
1848 Benjamin Budd 1900 H.W.D Goff 1952 J.C Heylin 2004 Liam Fennelly
1849 Jacob Penrose 1901 JN Harvey 1953 J.C Heylin 2005 Frank Dolphin
1850 James Kent 1902 Patrick Wm Keily 1954 F.J Cassin 2006 Kathleen Fitzgerald
1851 William Marchant Ardagh 1903 George Nolan 1955 F.J Cassin 2007 Andrew O'Neill
1852 Henry White 1904 J.A Tucker 1956 E.J Aylward 2008 Colin McGookin
1853 Josiah Williams 1905 Edgar White 1957 E.J Aylward 2009 Paul McDaid
1854 Joshua William Strangman 1906 J.C McCullagh 1958 E.J Aylward 2010 Thomas Murran 
1855 Joseph Malcomson 1907 James J Phelan 1959 J.J Lodge 2011 Anne Marie Caulfield
1856 Joseph Malcomson 1908 HJ Forde J.P 1960 J.J Lodge 2012 Orm Kenny
1857 Joseph Strangman Richardson 1909 HJ Forde J.P 1961 J.J Lodge 2013 Nora Widger
1858 John Aloysius Blake 1910 HJ Forde J.P 1962 P.J Breen 2014 Derek O'Byrne
1859 John Aloysius Blake 1911 AJ Phelan B.L 1963 P.J Breen 2015 Michael O'Dwyer
1860 Joseph Malcomson 1912 Edgar White 1964 A.G Doyle 2016 Laurent Borla
1861 Joseph Malcomson 1913 W.J Smith T.C 1965 A.G Doyle 2017 Paul Nolan
1862 Joseph Malcomson 1914 H Ridgway 1966 T Fewer 2018 Kathryn Kiely
1863 Abraham Denny 1915 John Walsh 1967 T Fewer 2019 Jonathan Earl
1864 Thomas Boyce Prosset 1916 E.A Gibbon 1968 T.T Quinn 2020 Danette Connolly
1865 Samuel Harris 1917 Frank Phelan 1969 T.T Quinn    

Honorary Members

  • Frank Comber
  • Jack Deevy
  • Nicky Fewer
  • Tony Fitzgerald
  • Kurt Kraus
  • George Mansfield
  • Clive McCarthy
  • John Mitchell
  • Des O'Toole
  • Noel Richards
  • Des Tierney
  • John Waters
  • Joe Kenny
  • Patrick Kennedy

Waterford Chamber of Commerce – Building History

John Roberts, Architect (1712-96)

This Georgian House (dating back to 1785) is attributed to John Roberts who was a native Waterford architect and builder. He made the most significant contribution to Waterford’s architecture in the Eighteenth Century. He transformed the medieval city of Waterford into a European city. He was influenced by the works of Inigo Jones, Christopher Wren and James Gibbs. His local works include the Bishop’s Palace, the former City & County Infirmary - the Leper Hospital, City Hall on The Mall, mansions for the local gentry, the forecourt of Curraghmore House, Newtown House, Faithlegg House and Mount Congreve House. Roberts, a member of the Church of Ireland, built both the protestant Christ Church Cathedral in 1773, which is the only Neo-Classical Cathedral in Ireland and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in 1796.

The Roman Catholic Cathedral was the first post-Reformation Catholic Cathedral in Ireland. With his wife, Mary Susanna Sautelle, the daughter of a Huguenot (a group of French exiled protestants - credited with introducing the famous Waterford Blaa) he had twenty four (eight of whom survived to adulthood) children. He was enormously respected by his workforce who nicknamed him “Honest John Roberts”. Roberts died on 23rd May 1796. He is buried in the French Church in the nearby Greyfriars.

History of the Morris House

Roberts’ finest secular creation is undoubtedly this building, the Morris House. This building is regarded as one of the most important heritage building in Waterford City and is a protected structure. The house was built for William Morris of Rossduff, Woodstown, whose ancestors had been Cromwellian adventurers. The built cost was £10,000 circa 1795. However, William Morris never lived to see it completed.

In 1813 his sons sold it for a mere £2,500 to Waterford Chamber of Commerce, which was just about to be formed from the Body of Merchants. Its four stories plus basement and loft were too much for their needs. In 1816 the ground floor of the building was leased to the Harbour Commissioners. 1816 was very much the age of sail and Waterford had a riving port. The gracious, spacious and lofty rooms reflected the style and ambitions of these Waterford merchants. These two bodies occupied and managed the building between them for most of the next two centuries.

In the 1830s and 40s the upper floors of the building also functioned as a hotel. After 188 years in 2004, the Waterford Harbour Commissioners, now known as the Port of Waterford Company vacated the building.

The first floor still houses Waterford Chamber of Commerce. While various business tenants have come and gone over the years - existing French restaurant, La Bohème have occupied the vaulted basement since 2006. The Parlour Vintage Tea Rooms opened on the ground floor in December 2015.

Chamber Building Stairs

Structure of the Building

This building exemplifies the work of an extremely confident designer in tandem with the finest of craftsman. It retains its original form and character. Care of this building has been a tradition of its history. It is grand in proportion. It consists of a six bay façade and four storeys over a basement. It has a beautiful wide Doric doorcare with sidelights and decorative fanlight.

The basement has intact groin vaulting. It is constructed primarily of rubble stonework but evidence suggests that brick was used in the interior. The exterior was originally of brick but the façade was rendered circa 1885. The original granite plinth, doorcase, cut-granite quoins (masonry blocks) and cornice (ledge) remain. The flagging to the entrance steps, service stairs and internal landings are of granite.

The building is topped by a moulded stone cornice with granite frieze to the eaves and parapet. John Roberts made use of the golden section to ensure that the original proportions of the front façade were harmonious and balanced. The main entrance is the most prominent element. Alterations took place to the front façade in the late Nineteenth Century. The front cast-iron paneled railings and limestone piers also date from this period.

The windows were embellished by adding decorative aediculae and architraves, and the sills were extended to accommodate them. The style is late Victorian with touches of Art Nouveau. In raising pedimented aediculae well above the original façade line, the Victorians altered Roberts’ proportions. The original glass of the timber sash windows surprisingly survived. Thus, the façade has kept its predominantly Georgian look.

Interior of the Building

The internal layout of the building is basically Palladian. The entrance hall has a portal of twin fluted Doric columns and an entablature. Four doors (ground floor), one in each corner allow access to the rooms and an entrance to the stairwell. It has one of the finest intact series of Eighteenth Century rooms in Ireland. Original fireplaces remain. The first floor or piano nobile has a series of magnificent reception rooms.

The impressive cantilevered spiral staircase is unique and one of the finest in the country. The staircase has interlocking timber steps, brass balustrades and rich plasterwork. The lofty stairwell is surmounted by an oval dome and lit by a skylight. The interior of the Morris House is noted for its very fine Neo-classical plasterwork of Patrick Osborne and its richness of decoration. The main reception rooms of the ground floor, the elliptical staircare and the piano nobile have been decorated mainly in low relief Neo-classical style. The entrance hall has decorated columns and features a beautiful frieze with winged horses, urns and swags. The ceiling has a fan effect centerpiece with swags and foliage surrounds.

Stucco (fine plaster) work in the Adam style also features in the ground and first floor rooms. The friezes are decorated with elegant classical motifs, figurative medallions, urns, anthemion and palmette mouldings. The elegant stairwell is embellished with exuberant plasterwork, and the wall decoration follows through onto the ceiling without a break. Delicate friezes of flowers and deers adorn the stairwell at first floor level. Looking up to the skylit dome itself one sees exquisite plasterwork in high relief of flora and fauna, garlands, mucical trophies and elaborate chinoiserie birds. This is one of the most elegant staircases in Ireland and reminiscent of the Rococo period.


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What Our Members Say

“Tom Murphy Car Sales Ltd has been a member of Waterford Chamber of Commerce for over 25 years. It’s a membership that serves us well as we find it gives us a platform to interact with similar businesses and puts us in front of a wide audience. Having staged a number of very successful Chamber events, both at our dealership on the Cork Road and at venues chosen by the Chamber, it really puts into perspective the value of networking and meeting with potential customers face to face. We intend to continue the partnership between Waterford Chamber of Commerce and Tom Murphy Car Sales into the future, as the results speak for themselves and we see the value in being a member of Waterford Chamber.”

Tom Murphy, Tom Murphy Car Sales



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