What’s in a crest? Waterford FC, Three Lions and history

As you walk down Colbeck Street in Waterford,  with The Mall to your left and Parnell Street to your right you may notice the waterford city arms crest on the corner building.  This comes from a hotel which was previously on this site called the Waterford Arms Hotel.

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As you can see from the photo the Waterford civic arms contain two main motifs. On a red field there are three lions representing the United Kingdom and below it on a white field,  three ships – the now recognised symbol of Waterford city.

Waterford’s coat of arms, and the city’s motto urbs intacta manet watefordia were gifted to the city for its loyalty to the English monarch Henry VII who faced opposition from two pretenders to his throne in the late 16th century.

I mention this because there was some comment made on social media about the newly unveiled crest of newly rebranded Waterford FC. Much of it focused on the inclusion of the three lions into the crest.

Many saw this as being too close to the three lions coat of England’s football and cricket teams. It sparked a certain amount of knee-jerk armchair (or is it keyboard) republicanism.

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The newly unveiled Waterford FC crest which takes the 1930 crest as it’s inspiration.

Of course, the three lions derive from the same source but their inclusion into the new Waterford FC crest reveals something far more interesting than simple West Britonism.

Aside from the link with the Waterford city arms, the use of the three lions and the other elements of the new crests are one more element of the curious nostalgia rebranding of the club under its new owner, Swindon Town chairman Lee Power.

The most important of these includes the dropping of the United from the club name. The club, which until then was Waterford FC, became United in 1983 when it was reforned as a new limited company.

After a decade of poor results and dwindling public interest in the club, the choice to rebrand the club under new ownership to a name from a more successful period in the club’s history is deliberate.

There has also been a trend for some years now in England for club crests to be redesigned in one of twos ways: either hyper modern with contemporary font styles or,  more prominently, hyper retro versions of the club crest with nods to storied pasts. Think of Tottenham Hotspur or Everton. The processes under way  with Waterford FC are the same. There is a certain extent to which this taps into the idea of many fans, especially strong in League of Ireland  circles, of being “Against Modern Football”.

In a city where the past decade has been forgettable on a sporting and civic front, with the city reeling from the effects of recession, deindustrialisation,  youth unemployment and emigration, it is a smart move on the part of the club’snew owner to evoke a more prosperous and successful period for Waterford as part of the preparations for the coming season and new dispensation of Power’s ownership.  The three lions on the new crests then are less a symbol of latent West Britonism, or British royalty , but speak instead to a desire to return to a time when soccer was king in Waterford.

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Story of Waterford’s first Jewish wedding in 1894 to feature alongside Representations of Jews in Irish Literature exhibition

I am delighted to say some of my research on the history of Waterford’s Jewish community will feature as part of an exhibition at Waterford Institute of Technology’s Library for the month of February. Below are full details of the exhibit:

Ulster University and the National University of Ireland Galway are pleased to announce a partnership with Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) which will see the Representations of Jews in Irish Literature exhibition being brought to Waterford. Representations of Jews in Irish Literature will be launched by poet Simon Lewis, who has recently published a collection of poetry Jewtown. Lewis was the winner of the Hennessy Emerging Poetry Prize and runner-up in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award in 2015. The exhibition will be hosted by WIT for the month of February and will feature a complimentary display of materials relating to Jewish culture and identity including an exploration of the lives of Miss Fanny Diamond and Mr Jacob Lappin, the first Jewish couple married in Waterford on 14 November, 1894.

The exhibition is the first major output of a three-year research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council which charts the representations of Jewish identity, culture and life in Ireland from medieval through to modern times. It examines the portrayal of Jews in the literary record alongside the contribution of Irish-Jewish writers to Irish literature and celebrates this unique hyphenated identity.

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A Jewish wedding takes place at the Waterford Courthouse in 1901. Source: wikicommons.

Mr Kieran Cronin, Developmental Librarian, WIT, welcomed the collaboration: “WIT is delighted to be partnering with Ulster University and the National University of Ireland Galway to bring this illuminating and pioneering exhibition to the south east of Ireland. We share the curator’s vision that the exhibition works best when accompanied by primary local artefacts which shed light on Ireland’s Jewish history, which has largely been overlooked.”

“The WIT Libraries’ research into Waterford’s Jewish history has also opened up an exciting collaboration with San Francisco-based Valerie Lapin Ganley, producer of the documentary ‘Shalom Ireland’; to narrate the fascinating story of her great-grandparents’ wedding in Waterford in 1894.” This will include artefacts relating to the couple in display cases including copies of the wedding invitation and marriage certificate amongst other documents that can be found. Having a very successful debut in the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin on 30 June 2016, the travelling Representations of Jews in Irish Literature exhibition toured a number of key venues during the year including Armagh Public Library, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Coleraine Town Hall and the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Principal Investigator for the project, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Registrar and Deputy President of NUI Galway, commented: “The exhibition is testament to the fact that Irish literature reveals a cultural diversity that goes far beyond narrow stereotypes, and I would encourage everyone to come here and see for themselves what such diversity has meant in Irish literature.”

Director for the Centre of Irish and Scottish Studies at Ulster University and Project Team member, Dr Frank Ferguson also said: “This is a very significant project for Irish literary studies and one which shall make a major contribution to our understanding of the history and the cultural expression of Jews in Ireland. It is marvellous to see the interest that the project has already gained since its first official launch last summer and we are very pleased to be partnering with Waterford Institute of Technology to allow the exhibition to travel to the South-East.” The launch is due to take place at Waterford Institute of Technology on Wednesday, 1 February 2017.

The exhibition and launch are free to attend but booking is required. Those seeking further details and to attend the exhibition in February and its launch on 1 February should contact Peggy McHale by email or by telephone at: +353 51 302877 and email: pmchale@wit.ie.

Representations of Jews in Irish Literature Exhibition – Waterford Institute of Technology will run for the month of February and will be launched on Wednesday, 1 February, 2017 at 6pm.