Genealogy Workshop at Ballyroan Library




Would you like to trace your ancestors?

On Saturday 17 May Paul Gorry will provide “An Introduction to Genealogy” at Ballyroan Library between 11.00am and 1.00pm. Paul, who is a professional Genealogist, will tell you how to get started and guide you through the many online resources available to those wishing to get back to their roots.

To book ring Ballyroan Library on 01 4941900.

Survey of Thatched Cottages in Dublin

South Dublin Libraries has added a 1986 survey of thatched cottages in Dublin to our digital archive, Source. The study was carried out by the Office of Public Works. Over eighty properties were surveyed in varying states, from well manicured thatched homes to derelict sites which lie in ruins.

The Thatch, Clonsilla.

The Thatch, Clonsilla.

One of the joys in uploading this to the collection was seeing how the cottages have fared in the intervening twenty eight years, when mapping their positions on Google Maps. You can have a look for yourself on Google Street View. Some buildings have disappeared altogether like The Thatch, a newsagent in Clonsilla, while others gladly survive and are joyfully maintained like the Rathcoole Inn, Dublin’s only two storey thatched pub.

The Rathcoole Inn, 1986

The Rathcoole Inn, 1986

The majority of dwellings contained within the survey are from north County Dublin in Rush, Lusk, Skerries and Donabate while South County Dublin is also represented with dwellings in Saggart, Loughlinstown and in Rathcoole. Despite claims that thatching is a dying art there is a long list of thatchers working in Ireland and this centuries old traditional craft looks set to continue for many years to come.

Rathcoole Inn 2013

Rathcoole Inn 2013

You can view the collection in Source here.


Jonathan Early 

The Short Magazine Lee Enfield. A shared history.

Irish history can be a controversial area. Its study can be fraught with difficulty, primarily because of the diametrically opposed views of some observers. The 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War is sure to provide ample opportunity for historians of all hues to examine Ireland’s role in that conflict.

However there is no doubt that one piece of military hardware united all of the participants in the early 20th Century conflicts that affected our country. Pro-Home Rulers, Anti-Home Rulers, the British Army, Republicans and Free Staters all used this iconic piece of kit.

Introducing the Short Magazine Lee Enfield or S.M.L.E.:


This .303 inch calibre rifle was named after James Paris Lee, who designed the innovative bolt mechanism, and Enfield after the location of the manufacturing works in which it was made. It served the British Army from 1907 all the way through the Second World War and into the 1960s.  3.8 million S.M.L.E. rifles were produced in the UK during the First World War alone. Fitted with its 16 inch blade bayonet, and 9 lbs of weight behind it, it must have been a fearsome weapon to have been “at the wrong end of”.


The bayonet was manufactured by Wilkinson, better known today as manufacturers of razor blades.


The Lee Enfield was used by the Irish Volunteers during the 1916 Rising. These examples would have been captured from the British Army – although there are reports from the time that certain sympathetic Irishmen in British Army uniform were prepared to “mislay” their weapons for a price!

In November 1914 they could be purchased as a Christmas present for the Volunteer in your life.  Just pop down to 17 Ormond Quay with  £5/5!


Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Here’s a page from the Irish Volunteer newspaper of November 1915, complete with parts named “As Gaeilge”

Courtesy of the Curragh Museum

Courtesy of the Curragh Museum

The War of Independence would see IRA Active Service units use them against the British Army, the Black and Tans and later during the Civil War against the Irish Free State Army.

Here’s an example of the Lee being used by the Free State Army and British Army in the same photo! This image was taken during the handover of Beggars Bush Barracks by the British Army to the Free State on 2nd February 1922. British army to the left and right, Free State soldier at centre:


South Dublin Libraries Local Studies

The Lee Enfield was used by the ambush party at Beal na Bláth in the attack that tragically ended the life of Michael Collins. It continued to be made in India right up to the 1980s and this version used the original .303 inch, with some modified and re-barrelled to take current NATO standard 7.62mm ammunition. It was a favourite weapon of Afghan rebels fighting the Russians in the 1980s as it was more accurate than the Kalashnikov.

Its lives on today in the United States and Canada as a big game rifle. Original examples are modified by removing the woodwork at the front to reveal the barrel within. This (apparently) gives it a “sportier” look.

The Short Magazine Lee Enfield. It hasn’t gone away you know!

Knocklyon History Society March 2014 Event




Knocklyon History Society’s March 2014 talk will take place on Wednesday 12th March at 7:45 pm in The Iona Centre (beside St. Colmcille’s Church), Knocklyon.

Con Manning will give an illustrated talk on ‘Building Dublin Castle’ 

Admission is €3 for members and €4 for guests. All welcome!

Jacob’s Oral History Collection

The story of W & R Jacob’s biscuit factory is the story of an indigenous Irish industry, one which celebrated 150 years of successful existence in 2001. It is the story of an industry which became part of the fabric of Dublin and, later, of Tallaght, and indeed of Ireland, through providing jobs and sweet treats for generations of inhabitants.

Some of the Jacob's Oral History Project participants.

Some of the Jacob’s Oral History Project participants.

The course of Irish industrial and social history is mirrored in the story of W & R Jacob. The company and its employees have their own story to tell of events such as the 1913 lockout; World War I; the 1916 rising; the development of export markets and a presence in foreign markets; the growth of the Irish Free State; the merger with Boland’s to form Irish Biscuits; the move from its Bishop Street base to Tallaght, its aquisition by multinational companies, to the ultimate closure of the Tallaght factory in 2009.

Councillor Mick Duff with Neville Wiltshire

Councillor Mick Duff with Neville Wiltshire

Rev. WIlliam Deverill, Councillor Mick Duff and Charlie O'Connor

Rev. WIlliam Deverill, Councillor Mick Duff and Charlie O’Connor

Interviewees Douglas Appleyard and Michael Purcell

Interviewees Douglas Appleyard and Michael Purcell

On the 23rd January the Jacob’s Oral History Project, which was commissioned by South Dublin Libraries and carried out by Irish Life and Lore, was launched. In recent years oral history has emerged as a powerful means of recording and preserving the unique memories and life experiences of people whose stories might otherwise have been lost.  The voices and memories of the former staff of the iconic Jacob’s biscuit factory were recorded for this collection and thanks is due to them –  Douglas Appleyard, Jonathan Bewley, Brenda Boyd, Iris Smart, Andrew Cleary, Grace Cox, Arnold and Mary Duggan, Michael Jenkins, Leo O’Donnell, Séamus Ó Maitiú, Kay and Geraldine O’Reilly, Gordon Poff, Michael Purcell, Michael and Mary O’Reilly, Douglas Wilson and Neville Wiltshire.

 You can listen to the recordings here, or download them from Irish Life and Lore.

An exhibition of Jacob’s memorabilia also runs at the County Library, Tallaght until 22nd February 2014.

World War II: the Templeogue connection

In 1940, no 245 Templeogue Road, a house named “Konstanz” was occupied by Mr. Stephen Carroll Held, the adopted son of a German, Michael Held. Michael Held had emigrated to Ireland in 1890 and married an Irishwoman. Stephen Held worked at the firm of Michael Held and Sons Ltd who operated as sheet metal workers at 72 Francis Street.

Stephen Held's home, Konstanz, on the Templeogue Road

Stephen Held’s home, Konstanz, on the Templeogue Road

In April 1940, Stephen Held travelled  to Germany as an agent for the IRA. A month later a German officer, Dr. Hermann Goertz, arrived in Ireland by parachute, and having made contact with the IRA was placed for safety in Mr. Held’s house. Of his stay in Templeogue, Goertz later wrote, “I was treated with true Irish hospitality”. He met with Stephen Hayes, Chief of Staff of the IRA while staying at Konstanz.

He was there for only a few weeks when, on 22 May, the house was raided by detectives. Goertz escaped through the back gardens and got away on foot. He was eventually rounded up the following year and interned for the remainder of the war. In September 1946 all the German internees were released, but were re-arrested in April 1947, for the purpose of deporting them to Germany. On May 23, when the final arrangements were made, Hermann Goertz took his own life by swallowing potassium cyanide. He was buried in Deansgrange cemetery, his coffin draped withthe swastika flag. His remains were later moved to the German Cemetery at Glencree.

Stephen Held was arrested at his home on the night of the police raid. He was tried and sentenced to five years in prison. At the trial, the court was told of the discovery in his house of 20,000 American dollars, a wireless transmitter, a German military cap and badges and documents giving details of Irish harbours and bridges and distribution of the Defence Forces. Held was released from prison in 1946. In the 1960s he left Ireland for the United States.