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Killiney History | July 16, 2024

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Killiney History Book Launches at the Dalkey Book Festival 2024

Killiney History Book Launches at the Dalkey Book Festival 2024
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2024 | author

Irish Times Bestseller dedicated to historical Killiney stories

A history book about Killiney and the surrounding areas of Dalkey, Shankill and Ballybrack recently launched at the Dalkey Book Festival, in June 2024. The book is called Abbey Lea, A Killiney History though don’t let the name fool you – although it documents the history of one of Killiney’s oldest properties, it is the stories about the local area, and the connections of previous owners to events impacting the local community that makes it a must-have for Killiney residents.

With a Foreword written by Booker Prize winning Australian-Irish author Tom Keneally (famous for Schindler’s Ark, which was turned into an Academy Award Winning Movie Schindler’s List), the book contains over 100 photographs, historical maps, illustrations and newspaper clippings relating to the area and local events, bringing the stories to life. One chapter focuses on renowned Irish stained glass artist and illustrator Harry Clarke, whose career was kick-started through introductions to friends and connections of the (then) owner, Laurence Waldron, Clarke’s first and most important patron. The book contains images of Harry Clarke’s stained glass, illustrations and commercial commissions that were all inspired by Killiney and the local area, providing a fresh perspective to this aspect of Clarke’s celebrated work.

Many of the home’s previous owners were politically, professionally and culturally engaged in the future of the country at a critical time in Ireland’s history. The book not only details the raucous parties that were regularly thrown at the house (and who from the local area and further afield used to attend them) but includes an unpublished poem by Oliver St John Gogarty detailing friends who joined in the gatherings. Regular visitors to the house include Killiney locals Joseph Hone, Sir John O’Connell and William Starkie as well as friends from Dublin including Provost John Mahaffey, Thornley Stoker, Sir Hugh Lane, James Joyce, George Moore, Leopold and Jonathan Pim, Walter Armstrong, Walter Osborne, Joseph Bewley and Thomas Bodkin. The book also provides an insightful account of the many MPs and Ministers, of all political persuasions, who regularly visited the house, and the role two former owners played in the creation of Ireland as a free State.

In May 1920, the gardener of the property was fatally shot by the IRA on Strathmore Road in Killiney the night the Ballybrack RIC barracks was burnt down. The book traces the events of that fateful night through newspaper reports, local accounts and the Military Archives in order to provide context to these events, which undoubtedly rocked the community at the time. The book even identifies a cross that marks the death of William McCabe that’s carved into the stone wall on Strathmore Road that’s still there today! There’s also a plaque on Maddens Lane in Ballybrack which commemorates two young IRA men, Patrick Meaney and Thomas Dunne, who lost their lives some days later from injuries sustained in the attack on the RIC barracks in Ballybrack.

The property itself can be traced back to one of the earliest maps of the area, a Longfield Map demarcating Domville land in 1810, and the book traces the development of Killiney land from this time. As one of the earliest properties in the area, this history may provide clues to local Killiney residents wishing to trace the origins of their own homes. The book details how the Chaytor family developed their property holding of more than 30 acres in earnest following Killiney’s railway connection in the 1850s.

The book is in hardback and would be an important addition to any Killiney coffee table, providing researched context and insight into Killiney life from more than 100 years ago. This social, cultural and political history of the area brings to life Abbey Lea’s colourful owners of the past and the imprint this house made on some of its most influential visitors, many of whom lived in the local area. All this has been painstakingly researched and referenced by author, Pippa McIntosh who moved to Killiney in 2020 at the commencement of her husband’s term as the Australian Ambassador to Ireland.

Pippa signing a copy of her book at the Dalkey Book Festival. Photo by Kevin Owens.

The book’s launch party was held at Abbey Lea on 13 June at the beginning of the Dalkey Book Festival, followed by a sold-out presentation by the author at the Dalkey Book Festival on Saturday 15 June. It’s no wonder the book has been on the Irish Times Bestseller list since then, with not just Killiney locals taking an interest in the stories documented in the book, but history-lovers across the island of Ireland. At the launch party, Ambassador Gray and Pippa McIntosh welcomed Ireland’s Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan TD, Senator Malcolm Byrne, descendants of former owners of the house and many Killiney locals and institutions who have supported Pippa’s research into the history of the house and the Killiney area.

Appearance on RTE Nationwide

See an interview with Ambassador Gray and the author which featured on RTE TV’s Nationwide program here.

Talk presented to Killiney Historical Society on 4th June 2024

Missed Pippa’s presentation as part of the Dalkey Book Festival? She recently gave the same speech to members of the Killiney Historical Society – which you can watch here:

Buy the book

Pippa’s book is available to purchase online for €65.00 (hardback, 1.3kg) and if you live in the Killiney area, select ‘local pickup’ at checkout for free delivery