Dancehall Days in Clondalkin

As part of Clondalkin Library’s celebration of Culture Night 2014, we are very interested to hear from people who remember the Mayfair Ballroom or any other venue in the Clondalkin area which was used as a dancehall or social venue in the 1950’s and 1960’s – including Clondalkin Library itself! Did you go there? What was it like? Do you remember the music and the bands? Did you go to the Irish music sessions at Clondalkin Library? Who did you go with? We would particularly love to hear from you if you have any old photographs.

We want to build up a picture through comments, reminiscences and photos from people who have experienced the social music scene in Clondalkin at the time. All contributions will form part of an exhibition and a special library event for Culture Night on Friday 19th September.

If you would like to contribute to this very special event, please get in touch with the library. Tel: 01-4593315 or email

Tallaght Historical Society Lecture Series 2014/15

Tallaght Historical Society have just announced details of their 2014-2015 lectures.

Tuesday 9th September 2014 @ 7:00 p.m.
Highways to Leisureways Mick Kinahan

Tuesday 30th September 2014 @ 7:00 p.m.
Early Medieval Books John Dolan

Tuesday 11th November 2014 @ 7:00 p.m.
Guns and Hoses: Dublin Fire Brigade during the Irish Revolution Las Fallon

Tuesday 9th December 2014 @ 7:00 p.m. Leo Swan Memorial Lecture
The Holy Wells of Dublin Gary Brannigan

Tuesday 13th January 2015 @ 7:00 p.m.
The Road to Blessington John Hussey

Tuesday 10th February 2015 @ 7:00 p.m.
The Hanging of the Kearneys in Tallaght, 1816 Eamonn Maloney

Tuesday 10th March 2015 @ 7:00 p.m.
The Burning of the Custom House Michael Ó Dóibhlín and Liz Gillis

Tuesday 24th March 2015 @ 7:00 p.m.
The Poets of Tallaght Tomás Maher

Tuesday 14th April 2015 @ 7:00 p.m.
History of Ireland from the First Settlers to Christianity Frank Tracy

Tuesday 12th May 2015 @ 7:00 p.m.
The Collections of the Irish Air Corps Museum Michael Whelan

Tuesday 9th June 2015 @ 7:00 p.m.
How the Poor Survived in 18th Century Ireland Seán Bagnall

All lectures take place in the County Library, Tallaght and all are welcome! For further information, contact Anne Hanrahan, Chairperson of Tallaght Historical Society on 01 2441463 or 0876315773.

The Great War Roadshow – Coming to South Dublin County

Bookings for this event are now open!

The Great War Poster Civic Theatre.indd

The Great War Roadshow, presented by Myles Dungan, is touring the country and we are delighted to bring it to Tallaght this September/October.

The roadshow is a two fold event, with a day long history conference happening on September 13th 2014 in The County Library Tallaght and and A Lovely War!, an evening of songs and stories in the Civic Theatre, happening during the Red Line Book Festival on October 17th 2014.

You do not have to attend both events, you can come along to either one or both!

Admission is free to the conference but booking is essential – phone the County Library at 01 4620073 or email Bookings open now!

Tickets for the music evening in the Civic Theatre are on sale at €12/€10 and are available from The Civic Theatre Box Office 462 7477; or online at Bookings open now!

Part 1: The Great War History Conference

The history conference takes place on Saturday 13th September in the County Library, Tallaght, and features Myles Dungan, Ciaran Wallace, Turtle Bunbury, John O’Keeffe and Michael Whelan.

Myles Dungan
Lions, Donkeys and Paddies: The Irish Experience of the Great War

John O’Keeffe
Moral Insanity and the Great War: Bad Men in Good Jobs

Ciaran Wallace
Women And Children First: The Home Front During World War 1: rationing, ‘war fever’ and anti-conscription sentiment during the years 1914 to 1918.

Turtle Bunbury
The Glorious Madness: Tales of the Irish in the Great War, from the Irishwoman in the Serbian Army to the Irish-Austrian air ace and more besides

Michael Whelan
The Great War – The South Dublin Perspective.

Part 2: A Lovely War! An evening of Songs & Stories presented by Myles Dungan

Civic Theatre, Tallaght: Main Auditorium, Friday 17th October at 8pm. Admission: €12 & €10 concession

Bookings at 01 4627477; or online at

Presented and produced by historian and broadcaster Myles Dungan, this stirring show tells the story of the music of the Great War – how and why the best-known songs came to be composed, who sang them, what the men in the trenches thought of them, and how they retaliated with music of their own. The songs will be performed by The Brook Singers, Sadhbh Fitzgerald and Jonathan Creasey.

Brought to you by South Dublin County Council Heritage Office and The Red Line Book Festival.

The Grand Canal

The Grand Canal, which links the River Liffey to the River Shannon, is one of the finest amenities available to us in South Dublin County. The Grand Canal enters South Dublin County at the Third Lock which can be found beside the Blackhorse Luas station. It extends through the neighbourhoods of Bluebell, Clondalkin and Lucan until it passes into Co Kildare near Hazelhatch.


It has served us well for over 250 years. When construction began in 1756, it was one of the most ambitious engineering projects ever undertaken on this island. It took nearly 50 years to build. In it’s heyday it was a thriving commercial waterway. It provided a crucial artery for transporting agricultural produce from the midlands to Dublin and on to England. In the opposite direction, importers from England relied on the canal to carry their produce all over Ireland. Probably the most important product to be found on the canal through the years was porter. Guinness had their own barges and bred their own horses for the task of hauling the black-stuff to the four corners of Ireland.

Photograph of cottages by the Grand Canal in Clondalkin, in 1926

Photograph of cottages by the Grand Canal in Clondalkin, in 1926

Things didn’t always run smoothly on this busy stretch of water. In December 1792, there was a major accident near Clondalkin. A passage boat left Dublin bound for Athy. But along the way, one-hundred and fifty people, many of them drunk, forced their way onto barge. The captain warned them that they had overloaded the boat and it would capsize if they did not leave. No one paid any attention until the barge reached the 8th Lock where it capsized. Five men, four women and two children drowned. The rest of the passengers escaped.

These days the Grand Canal is a much safer place. The last working cargo barge passed through the canal in 1960. It has been beautifully restored in the last few decades and has found a new life as a leisure amenity and a sanctuary for wildlife. Here in South Dublin we are fortunate to have one of the finest stretches of the Grand Canal Way, a 117km long-distance walking trail that follows the towpath of the canal from Lucan to Shannon Harbour. More suitable for a Sunday afternoon ramble is the 8.5km Greenway between the Third Lock at Blackhorse and the Twelfth Lock at Lucan, which opened in June 2010.

Spas of South Dublin County

In the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, the custom of visiting spas and hydrotherapy establishments was a popular pastime amongst the middle and upper classes of the day.  The ritual of “Taking the Waters” in these places was seen as an essential part of maintaining good health and, in some cases, curing ill health. A combination of drinking or bathing in mineralised waters along with the clean air of the countryside helped many a city-dweller to return home feeling energised, even if the efficacy of the waters was far from proven.

In South County Dublin, the most famous of these resorts was Lucan’s Spa Hotel. A curative spring was discovered, near the hotel’s current location, in 1758 by local landowner Agmondisham Vesey whilst out walking along the banks of the Liffey. Smelling a sulphurous gas, he traced the “Rotten Egg” smell to a spring that emerged near the Liffey’s bank in Lucan Demesne. Over the next two centuries this discovery, aided by the ease of access provided by the Lucan Electric Tram, would provide Lucan with its most famous facility, the hotel having opened in the building which now houses the Lucan County Bar. In its day, the Spa was said to rival Bath as a health resort. Indeed a mere eight years after the spring’s discovery, the waters were being sent to Dr. Steevens’ hospital where it was used to aid in the cure of ulcers. There was an underground passageway from the grounds of the hotel which led to the Liffey Banks and the spa house.

Lucan Spa House beside the Liffey in what is now St. Catherine's Park

Lucan Spa House beside the Liffey in what is now St. Catherine’s Park

The tunnel was only recently removed as part of the N7 road widening project. The hotel expanded greatly over the years; the current building with its distinctive bronze “Onion Dome” roof was built in 1891.

Templeogue, of course, had its Spawell House. It lay alongside the Tallaght Road, by the Dodder River close to Templeogue Village.  It was constructed in 1703 and became an inn called ‘The Domville Arms and Three Tuns’. The curative properties of the ferruginous (iron-bearing) spa waters in the grounds of the house were noted in the 1730s. In its heyday, people visited for the chance to escape to the countryside and indulge in the conviviality and party atmosphere for which Spawell was famous. Alas its popularity was short-lived as the waters lost their curative qualities around 1750.


Spawell in 1905 (Above) – from The Neighbourhood of Dublin and below (courtesy of the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage) as it appears today.


It is now a private house occupied by the previous owners of the leisure centre across the road which now bears the Spawell name.

Tallaght had its own foray into the area of hydrotherapy and spa treatments. Nicholas Roe, of the famous Dublin distilling family whose premises in Thomas Street produced Roe’s Whiskey, built a house called Johnville in the hills overlooking the then wide open spaces around the then small hamlet of  Jobstown.


William Domville Handcock, in his 1899 book “The History and Antiquities of Tallaght” describes Roe as having created “a very pretty garden, which sloped down the hill. There is a stream through it, which was led into ponds, waterfalls, and fountains”.

After Roe’s death the house fell into disrepair, but was bought by a Dr. Heinrich Waldemar Luther in 1845. Dr. Luther’s qualifications would not look out of place in an advertisement in today’s newspapers. He was a practitioner of homeopathy and hydrotherapy, and proceeded to reincarnate the house as a medical establishment utilising Turkish baths, steam rooms, mud baths, plunge pools and, according to Handcock, “contrivances for boiling out all diseases”. Unfortunately Dr. Luther’s efforts to create a spa complex to rival Lucan’s and Templeogue’s were in vain. The Blessington Steam Tramway (which would have brought clients to his door) was thirty years away; the resort proved to be too out of the way to attract customers in sufficient numbers to make it viable, and it closed some time after 1860 when the establishment was last mentioned in the British Journal of Homeopathy.

Below is the ruin of Johnville in 1905, taken from The Neighbourhood of Dublin


Dr. Luther moved to Cork and by 1872 he had re-established a hydrotherapy and homeopathy centre there, this time reserving his Turkish Baths for the use of that city’s poor.  By 1905, Weston St. John Joyce, in his book “Neighbourhood of Dublin” found the house in ruins, albeit with fireplaces, marble mantelpieces, ornamental fountains etc. still in evidence.

The site of Johnville still exists to this day as part of a private residence situated just off the Blessington Road, and tantalising evidence of its heyday can still be seen.


The approach to Johnville as it appears today

Although the ruin of the house was levelled in the early ‘70s to make way for a family home, various outbuildings and walls that comprised the Johnville estate still exist, along with the river itself, still boasting brick archways and culverts (below) which were originally part of the landscaping and water features Handcock so vividly described.


Enormous stumps of ancient trees, long ago felled, dot the landscape all around. A small pile of broken clay cresting, originally part of a roof apex, along with some ancient steel piping (below) are almost certainly remnants of the Johnville of old.




With Special Thanks to Peter Healy for access to the site of Johnville

Prison Experiences of Women During the Irish Revolution

To mark the centenary of the foundation of Cumann na mBan, South Dublin Libraries presents a lecture by Liz Gillis

Prison Experiences of Women during the Irish Revolution

PicMonkey Collage

Liz Gillis is a historian and writer, whose passion for her subject is clear through her work. She is the author of The Fall of Dublin, Revolution in Dublin, and the upcoming book Revolutionary Women.  She also works in Kilmainham Gaol, where you may have been lucky enough to have her as your guide.

Thursday 22nd May 2014 @ 7:00 pm in The County Library, Tallaght.


All welcome!

The Irish in Australia – talks at Ballyroan Library

Rathfarnham Historical Society present 

The Irish in Australia

Two Lectures 


Emigration of Dublin orphan girls during the famine. Dr. Perry McIntyre

The Irish in Australia through objects Dr. Richard Reid

Thursday 22nd May at 7:00 pm in Ballyroan Library

All welcome!