History of the Bilberry Goat Herd
as researched by Historian Jack O'Neill.
The Bilberry Goat Herd originated when a number of Huguenots (French Protestants) fled France from persecution for their faith. They arrived at the Quays in Waterford Ireland and brought the goats which they had on board ship, up to Bilberry via the Lady’s Walk, which overlooks the River Suir, to graze on ‘common land’.
The herd go back to the 1700’s. They have been grazing on Bilberry Rock, cliffs and surrounding pasture since that time. They are a unique Landrace breed of goats specific to the Bilberry area in Waterford.
In the Famine years, a small thriving industry grew in Waterford with Bilberry goat milk. Local women from the Ballybricken area of the City milked the goats and sold the Bilberry goat milk at market, the proceeds of which went to feed their families. The goats of Bilberry helped local families in Waterford, in the harsh economic climate of that time.
The area of land which the goats grazed down through the years stretched from Guinness Brewery on the outskirts of Waterford City, to Red Hill (so called because of the red sandstone of this area) and along the banks of the meandering river Suir as far as the Red Iron Railway Bridge which crosses the River Suir at Gracedieu in Waterford City. This grazing area also included a landmark known as Coady’s Pond beside Quarry Road (which is named after a well-known local family who supplied duck eggs to the market). This pond was the herd’s local watering area.