We came across the Grubb family by chance – and were soon immersed in their fascinating history! They presented themselves as long-standing wild salmon fishermen on the Blackwater River in County Waterford, and it was only when Birgitta went down to meet them that she realised what kind of historical gem she had stumbled upon.
Barbara Grubb and her husband can look back on 21 generations of salmon fishing. The property and fishing rights were handed down four times through the female lineage of the Fitzgeralds, then Villier-Stuarts. The salmon fishing rights at Dromana House in Villierstown (!) in County Waterford date back to the times of King John (1200 AD, to be exact).
The house is full of mementoes from centuries gone by – a sword from some English king, or a dress given to one of the ladies of the house by Queen Elizabeth I. In the 16th century, one of Barbara Grubb’s female ancestors, the Countess of Desmond, had walked from the south-east of Ireland to London to ask her lands back, and attached to the lands, her fishing rights. By the time she got there and had an audience with Her Majesty, her clothes were in tatters. QE1 was so impressed with the determination of that other woman, that she presented her with a dress!