The Transatlantic cable formed an important part of the lives of generations of those who lived on Valentia Island and we are proud that Atlantic Villa is a part of that history, and indeed ourselves having the Canadian connection. We were researching for the plaque to commemorate James Graves with the help of his great, great grandson when he told us his own Atlantic Villa story.
The Atlantic Villa Cablemaster’s House story, as told to us by Gordon Graves, the great, great grandson of James Graves who lived at Atlantic Villa. Gordon owns a house at Cable Terrace, Knightstown.
1901 census is extremely interesting as I can actually compare notes made by my late Father on a house-to- house basis proving that he lived at the top of the Main Street next to the Rectory (now Mrs Gallagher’s house). When James Graves died in 1911 he left the house to his son Arthur Graves who died in 1916 and who in turn left it to his son Charlie (my Father’s father). He Charlie sold the house in 1923 for 500 pounds to a Dr Murphy and went to live in the married quarters of the Cable Station where he worked. I suspect he sold-up because his son was at boarding school and found the house and lovely grounds to be too cumbersome for him and his wife to keep. By an extraordinary quirk of fate the house my Brother and I purchased in 1984 turned out to be the same one at Cable Terrace that in which my Father and his parents lived (and that’s another story ……………)!
Gordon also kindly gave us the slate sundial that was given to James Graves in 1909 on the occasion of his retirement. This historical piece has a place of pride now in our front garden for all to enjoy along with a plaque at the front door to commemorate James Graves first Superintendent of the Valentia Island Cable Station.
James Graves (1833 – 1911)
For over a hundred years the Trans-Atlantic Cable formed an important part of the lives of those living on Valentia Island. Being the most westerly inhabited point in Europe the island became the terminus of the European end of the line. Valentia Island and Heart’s Content in Newfoundland, Canada were chosen because of the shortest distance across the Atlantic was between these two points. In the early years, every message crossing the Atlantic passed through the Station at Valentia under the supervision of James Graves, the first Superintendent. He worked for the Anglo American Telegraph Company for 44 years. His son Arthur Graves and his son Charlie Graves also worked at the Station and Graves family lived at Atlantic Villa until 1923.
Our thanks to Donard de Cogan for the following images and information relating to the history of Atlantic Villa.
Learn more about the Transatlantic Cable
- William Howard Russell’s Book – http://atlantic-cable.com/Books/Russell
- The Irish Post coverage of the 150th anniversary of the successful transatlantic telegraph cable – http://irishpost.co.uk/150-years-since-phone-cable-connected-ireland-america
- CBC News article on Heart’s Content marking of the 150th anniversary celebrations –