D’Alton’s History of the County of Dublin (1838)
This book is probably the first really detailed local history published in Ireland. Spanning to 955 pages, it has a wealth of information on virtually every location in the county. It begins with a general account of the county’s history in 50 pages. This followed by a tour of every barony in the county, with chapters on each town, village and prominent place encountered. These chapters contain a full description of the topographical, economic and cultural aspects of the area. This is followed by a detailed examination of the history and antiquities from earliest times to 1838. D’Alton was especially interested in the local families in each area, and provides a great detail of information about them throughout the book. With some families he even devotes an entire chapter to their history. These include the Vernon, St. Lawrence, Talbot, Fagan, Taylor, Barnewall, De La Field, Stanyhurst, Hamilton and Eustace families. However the book contains a wealth of detail on every subject, and remains one of the most important local histories produced in the 19th century. It is an essential tool for the study of County Dublin and its people.
Passing over a wild and romantic coast, crowned with granite rocks, or waving in all the ornamental luxuriance of furze, and commanding most extensive views of sea and land, the road hence ascends the hills of ROCHESTOWN, the fee of Lord Talbot de Malahide, in right of the Mapas family.
These hills are three in number, all rising abruptly from the sea, teeming with granite, and diademed with Martello towers.
The ascent of the centre, commonly called Killiney hill, commands perhaps one of the most enchanting views that this county affords, certainly far superior to any scene in Wicklow. On its summit, at a height of 475 feet above the sea, the obelisk, hereafter alluded to, was erected. The panoramic view hence almost exceeds credibility, combining as it does all the charms of the sublime and the beautiful, the attractions of nature and art. Eastward the eye embraces, through the depth of air, Killiney bay embosomed within hills, the little town of Bray upon the shore, with the Sugar-Loaf hill beyond, its tapering elevation forming a singular feature among the irregular group of the Wicklow mountains. At south opens a fine expanse of hills and valleys, their natural beauties increased by all those decorations that taste and wealth can induce. Northward are seen the island and the little town of Dalkey, and the busied railtracks to the mountain quarries, the ships in the bay floating at anchor, others moving into port, or passing outwards to their various destinations. Beyond the bay rises the promontory of Howth, over which are distinguished the hills of Louth; and on the edge of the remote horizon the soft outline of the mountains of Mourne ; while westward, through smoke and haze, the city is traced over many a mile by steeples, mills, factories, and monuments, the whole intervening space being luxuriantly cultivated and thickly set with innumerable country seats. The descent of the hill at the sea side is in many places frightfully precipitate, presenting many a native Leucate, for those “who love too well.” The faces of those cliffs have in many instances, by the power of the winter surge, been excavated in deep caverns and recesses.
“On the coast immediately below,” remarks Professor Scouler, “ the junction of the granite with the mica schist occurs; the edges of the schistose strata repose on a basis of granite; the schist is much contorted, and sometimes so convoluted, as to form concentric crusts. At the line of junction the schist abounds in crystals of andalusite, grouped in a stelliform manner. Numerous veins issue from the granite, and intersect the micaceous schist. Some of the veins run parallel to the lamination of the schist, others to the direction of its stratification; and consequently one set of veins intersects the other. In one instance a heave has taken place, and the two portions of the granite vein are displaced. These veins frequently contain fragments of micaceous schist.”
Near this hill, at the residence of Mr. O’Hara (Druid Lodge), in a circular enclosure of stunted oaks, is one of those few remarkable Brehon chairs which yet stand in the island. It presents the appearance of a large arm chair of stone, with a slab step between two large rocks, all of granite. At the distance of a few yards behind it is a screen-like granite slab, standing nearly perpendicular, and pierced about half through, at the side fronting the back of the chair, with a large hole sufficient to admit a man’s forefinger ; this slab is about one yard square. About the same distance behind this is a yet more curious granite slab, about three yards long by one and a quarter high, also standing nearly perpendicular. In the middle of the upper side it is cut down into a long narrow slit, resembling a lengthened horse-shoe; down from which, at one side, it is deeply grooved to the ground, and on the other side but partially and slightly. In this slab are two similar small circular perforations at the side fronting the chair, which is, however, as it were, studiously turned from these other stones, and all are overgrown with moss.
For a notice of Rochestown in 1488, see at the “ General History of the County of Dublin;” and in 1517, at “ Belgard.” An inquisition 1611 finds John Fagan seised in fee of the town and lands of Rochestown and Scalpwilliam, containing one castle, forty messuages, forty gardens, 300A. of arable land, 20A. of meadow, 200A. of pasture, and 10A. of wood, which he held of Peter Talbot, as of his manor of Rathdown, by fealty, the premises being, as the record adds, descendible by the course of common law, and not holden according to the Irish custom of tanistry.*
A survey of 1654 states Rochestown as containing 230A., of which 120 were arable, 100 pasture, and 10 meadow; that John Kennedy, of the city of Dublin, Irish Papist, had been the proprietor, and that its tithes belonged to Christ Church.
In relation to the mineralogy of these hills, the museum of the Royal Dublin Society presents specimens in spodumene, of a pale yellowish green colour; killinite, of a yellowish green tinged with brown ; precious garnet; moroxite, a very rare mineral in this country ; beryls; tourmaline ; orthite of a brownish black colour, bedded in granite ; common iron Pyrites, crystallized in cubes; common arsenical pyrites, * (Inquis. in Canc. Hib.) of a tin white colour; sphene, of an Isabella yellow colour. A mineral of the andalusite species also occurs here in abundance, particularly on the shore at the southern extremity of the cliff under the obelisk hill, where it appears thickly on the surface of beds of mica slate. It seems to abound also imbedded in the substance of that rock, though less distinctly visible until it has been exposed to decomposition, being less affected by exposure than the rock in which it is contained.
The Rochestown hills supply likewise a rich field for botanic gratification, everywhere exhibiting rubia peregrina, madder ; eryngium maritimum, sea holly ; crythmum maritimum, samphire; iris fætidissima, roast beef plant ; pedicularis sylvatica, dwarf red rattle ; polygala vulgaris, milk wort; hypericum humifusum, trailing St. John’s wort; statice spathulata, upright spiked sea lavender; lonicera periclymenum, common honeysuckle ; erodium moschatum, musk stork’s bill; erodium maritimum, sea stork’s bill; lycopsis arvensis, small bugloss; lithospermum officinale, common gromwell; festuca bromoides, common fescue grass, a plant early brought forward by the first sunny days that warm the thin soil in which it delights to vegetate; but its existence is of no long duration, and it fades away, or only partially remains in the beginning of July; cotyledon umbilicus, wall pennywort, with yellowish green flowers ; sedum Anglicum, white English stone crop, a great ornament to the barren rocks on which it grows; trifolium ornithopodioides, bird’s-foot trefoil, flowering in June. In the hedges, viola odorata, with its fragrant flowers in March and April ; carex dioica, grey carex, flowering in May and June.– On the strand, convolvulus soldanella, sea bind-weed, clothing and adorning the sundry cliffs with its variegated flowers, and adding one of the lesser features of beauty to that picturesque coast; silene maritima, sea catchfly; aster tripolium, sea starwort, with its yellow disk and blue radii; euphorbia Portlandica, Portland spurge; gramen sparteum spicatum, sea mat weed or marram.
On the rocks, statice armeria, sea pink; galium saxatile, smooth heath bed straw, covering the rocks in large patches, and adorning them in the summer months with its profusion of milk-white flowers; lonicera periclymenum, woodbine, flowering from June to October. – On the moist sea shore, statice limonium, sea lavender; Parnassia palustris, grass of Parnassus. In the cultivated fields between this and Loughlinstown, lolium arvense, short-awned darnel; scilla nutans, hare bell squill; euphorbia peplus, petty spurge: and in the sandy pastures between this and Bray, linum angustifolium, narrow-leaved flax; genista tinctoria, dyers’ green wood, &c.
The parish, in which this locality is situated, is called KILLINEY. It comprises 1,334A. 2r. 7p., with a population of 495 persons, of whom 380 are classed as Roman Catholics, and is merged in the union of Monkstown in both Catholic and Protestant arrangements. The principal proprietors are Sir Compton Domville, the Archbishop of Dublin, and Lord Talbot de Malahide.
The ancient parochial church is on the descent of one of the hills over the sea, and still presents some interesting ruins beautifully overgrown with ivy. A tall, narrow, rectangular doorcase, set like those in the entrances of Egyptian edifices, opens into the nave, which is seven yards long by four wide. The arches of its windows are round, as is that which leads from the nave into a chancel four feet long by three wide. The windows in the latter are lancet-shaped. Parallel with the ruin of the church is that of another edifice, eleven yards long by four wide. There is also a modern chapel of ease on the townland of Ballybrack in this parish ; and its officiating curate has a school on the hill of Killiney, attended by about forty-four children of both sexes, and supported by subscriptions and the proceeds of a charity sermon in the parochial church. On Ballybrack, near the aforesaid chapel, a monument of granite has been erected to mark the spot where the Duke of Dorset, at the age of twenty- one, was killed when hunting in 1815.
In 1178 the church and town of Killiney were, amongst other possessions, confirmed to Christ Church by Archbishop O’Toole. The regal visitation of 1615 reports its rectory impropriate ; that Maurice Byrne was curate, and the church in good repair- For a notice in 1641, see at Dalkey.” A survey of 1654 states the townland of Killiney as containing 60A. arable , being the property of James Margetson, Dean of Christ Church, in right of his deanery. It states that there were on the premises the walls of the parish church, and that the tithes belonged to Christ Church. The same document calculates the whole parish of Killiney as containing 347A.
In 1741, the year after the remarkable frost, Mr. Mapas, then proprietor of Killiney, erected the before-mentioned obelisk here, with the benevolent intention of providing employment for the industrious poor. The grounds were subsequently greatly beautified by Viscount Loftus, who resided there. In 1751 a mine was opened within the townland, the ore of which is reported to have contained a considerable quantity of silver.
In 1780 this parish was, by an Act of Council, incorporated in the union of Monkstown; and by an act of 1828, (9 Geo. IV. c. 52) the chapel of ease before alluded to was erected here, and endowed with 20A. for the chaplain, who was directed to be appointed by the perpetual curate of Monkstown, to reside within that parish, and not to accept of any other preferment.
The shore between this and Bray abounds with pebbles of all colours, often so beautifully variegated, that, but for their Irish origin, they might perhaps contend with the Egyptian : they strike fire with steel, and cause no ebullition with acids.
The road hence to Shanganagh exhibits vistas of the same magnificent scenery, that constitutes the panorama observable from the obelisk hill.
SHANGANAGH gives name to a lovely wooded vale at the foot of the mountain parish of Killiney, embracing a creek of the sea, and traversed by a small stream, on which a flour mill has been established. The antiquarian will find here the dichotomised ruin of a castle, once the residence of the Walshes; and in an adjoining field a cromlech resting upon three grey stones. It is pleasant in the stilly evening to hear the harp-like tones of the beetle impelling itself from the covert of these relics of old times; but it is still more grateful to see cultivation and ornamental improvement covering the face of this once barren district-harvests thickly waving in the valley, and evergreen plantations stealing up all the surrounding hills. This denomination is at present the fee of the Misses Roberts.
In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Lawless family were in possession of Shanganagh, Kilruddery, &c., * but in 1473, the Vicars of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, petitioned parliament, stating that they and their predecessors were seised of the seigniory of Shanganagh from time immemorial, had leased it to Thomas Lawless, and had also leased eighty acres within said seigniory to Edmond Walsh, who disowned their authority, and would pay no rent, whereupon, said Edmond was ordered to appear before the Justices of Common Pleas, who were empowered to decide the controversy. An inquisition of 1547 recognises the vicars as seised of the aforesaid 80a. here, adding that they were worth 26s. 8d., but were demised for ten shillings.
Another inquisition of 1609 finds, that James Walsh, Esquire, was seised of the inheritance of one castle, ten messuages, one water-mill, 173A. arable, 10A, meadow, and 30A. pasture in Shanganagh and Kiltuc, which he held of Peter Talbot, as of his manor of Rathdown; Walsh also held at that time, and by similar tenure, ten messuages, 70A, arable, 6a. meadow, and 10A. pasture in Cork, alias Corkagh. The document continues to state, that a claim was made on behalf of Patrick Archbold of Kenleston, to some of these premises, while the vicars choral of St. Patrick’s claimed the aforesaid 80A. in Shanganagh as their ancient inheritance, * and such their title is recognised in their (Rot. in Canc. Hib. † Inquis, in Canc, Hib.) charter of incorporation, in 1641, subject to a lease for years to James Walsh. They have, however, long since ceased to enjoy these lands.
A survey of 1654 states this townland as containing 400A., that it had been the property of John Walsh of Shanganagh, Irish rebel, although it singularly adds, that he died half a year before the alleged rebellion broke out. It mentions a castle and a large hall thatched, a mill, two orchards, &c., as being then upon the premises, and adds, that the tithes belonged to the College of Dublin. The property did not, however, on this occasion, pass out of the Walsh family, for it appears by documents in the Rolls Office, that another John Walsh died in 1671, seised of the same premises in fee tail.