Clondalkin Echo and Home Video

ce2The connection is not immediately apparent at first, but sometimes Local Studies can turn up some surprising reminders of how things were done long ago (but still within our lifetimes), and how dramatically our lives have changed since. We were recently donated the very first copy of the “Clondalkin Echo” The inaugural edition went to press in July 1982 and included some brilliantly nostalgic articles and advertisements.

Today, in the age of Netflix, we think nothing of being able to view films without leaving our seats, never mind our houses. Viewing films in the home in the 1980s involved traipsing to the nearest video shop and renting films by the day. There was even a fine for returning a tape without it being rewound.

According to the 1982 Echo, Clondalkin residents had their local rental shop, Electro Vision in Main Street Clondalkin. They rented not only videotapes, but also the means to play them. The video recorder in the ad is the impressively futuristically-titled Nordmende Video-Vision Spectra V200, complete with top loading video slot and reassuringly chunky buttons to press…


Meanwhile, County Town and Video, in the Tallaght Town Centre, were selling the Ferguson 3V23 recorder reduced from an eye-watering £1,179 (€1,497) to a slightly less startling £879 (€1,116)! Note the list of “Just Arrived” films…


Truly different times.

See the entire newspaper here:

Search the entire Source archive here:


Exhibition: Jesuit Chaplains and the Great War at the County Library, Tallaght.

32 Irish Jesuits served in the Great War, either as volunteers or by being appointed to serve at the front. In common with other Catholic orders who served as military chaplains, they were exposed to the same risks and discomfort as the men (of all denominations) to whom they provided ministry. Catholic sacraments necessitated priests being at the side of dying soldiers, giving them a high profile at the front line and making them very popular among the troops.

This exhibition contains information panels and original artefacts owned by several famous Jesuit chaplains, including Fr. Willie Doyle who died on August the 17th 1917 at Langemarck.

The exhibition also includes “A Perfect Trust”, award-winning illustrator Alan Dunne’s graphic short about a chaplain losing his faith in the trenches of World War I.

The exhibition, by kind permission of the Jesuit Archive, runs from the 1st to the 28th of February at the County Library, Tallaght.






Esker New (Old) Cemetery


Taphophilia: from the Greek “Taphos” (Tomb) is a word recently coined to describe a cemetery enthusiast. There are many manifestations of the syndrome. It can encompass Photography, genealogy, taking rubbings of headstones, casual mindful wandering among the monuments while reading the inscriptions are all symptoms. Such activities could be classified as morbid, but it can be rewarding and thought provoking.

Ascending the steep climb from Lucan Village towards the townland of Esker, through the neat and varied suburban streetscape, the traveller will happen upon two cemeteries which stand to the left and right of the roadway. One stands behind a rubble stone wall, the other behind a pebble dashed block wall.

The one behind the rubble wall was established in 1890, and was known as “Esker New Cemetery”.


Esker New Cemetery


It was still known by this name in 1938. Later, a burial ground directly opposite was established – becoming the er… “New New” Esker Cemetery. Unsurprisingly, the original 1890 site is now known as the old cemetery. What these will be called when a proposed graveyard (under construction) is established beside the original cemetery is anyone’s guess!

Nomenclature aside, burial grounds are an invaluable source of local lore and knowledge, and the 1890 cemetery at Esker is no exception. It is in a triangular formation, with a small triangular “innocents” plot for child burials within the boundary of consecrated land at the point furthest from the adjoining road. The caretaker’s house still stands, although it is currently derelict.


1938 map showing  triangular layout


Two burials are of note. One is that of 40 year old Annie Young. Her headstone is unusual in that the cause of her death is recorded:



A search of the Irish Newspaper Archives (available in the County Library, Tallaght) provides a contemporary report of how the unfortunate lady met her end. This is how her death was reported. At the time the piece was written, her name was unknown:



News report: Cork Examiner, 18th September 1899


Another notable interment is that of Pte Peter Casey of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, who succumbed to wounds he received in action. He had been shipped back to the London War Hospital in Epsom, and died there on the 6th of October 1916.

Pte. Casey doesn’t have the usual Commonwealth War Grave headstone – presumably because his father, also Peter, had predeceased him so they were buried together in the family plot.


In Loving Memory of Peter Casey…



…Also his son, Peter, RIR, who died from wounds recd in action 6th Oct 1916 Aged 26 Years


Again The Irish Newspaper Archives provide his funeral details:


Dr. William Reville, writing in the Irish Times recently, wrote about the increasing popularity of cremation as opposed to burial:

“the tombstones of the dead stand among us as they themselves once did but if cemeteries vanish we will forget the dead and forget to consider their wishes and intentions”.

How unfortunate that would be.

Exhibition: Messines, Ypres and South Dublin County

After the Battle of the Somme, the campaigns of the Great War continued to take their toll on South Dublin County. This being the centenary of two of the most decisive battles to take place after the Somme, we in Local Studies have identified thirteen men from the county who were killed in Belgium during these iconic battles of the Great War. One was killed at Messines, twelve perished at the Third Battle of Ypres.

The Battle of Messines was considered a successful offensive of the Great War mainly due to the much-improved accuracy of British Artillery, and the extensive use of underground mines. In all, 19 were detonated under the German defences at the Messines Ridge causing extensive damage. In Irish terms, it was also the first battle where Unionists and Nationalists fought together against a common foe.  Among their number was the only  known Messines casualty from  the South Dublin County area – a Tallaght man – William (Billy) Barrett who spent his early years living in Tallaght Village. His mother ran a pub which was then called Barratt’s. The premises still exists as the Dragon Inn, and is virtually unchanged since then.


The Dragon Inn today

We have located and transcribed personal letters from Billy to his brother in Wicklow, along with some very moving letters from his comrades to his mother detailing the confusion surrounding his last hours.



Billy Barrett’s panel and letters home


The Third Battle of Ypres, also known as Passchendaele, lasted from the 31st of July to the 10th of November 1917. The battle was characterised by persistent mud and heavy losses . The Allies sustained over 320,000 casualties, while German losses were between 260,000 and 400,000.

Twelve men who were born or lived in our county were killed at Passchendaele:
Daniel Brady and Robert Christopher Butler (Rathcoole), James O’Toole (Templeogue), John Nolan (Saggart), Joseph Redmond, Richard Rodgers and Thomas McCann (Rathfarnham), Thomas Stoney (Tallaght), John Monahan and William Carroll (Lucan), Ralph Mulligan and Richard Rumgay (Clondalkin)


Panels showing the life stories of British Army casualties from South Dublin


Their life stories are detailed on panels illustrated with newspaper cuttings, photographs and contemporary documents. Earlier census returns from 1901 show them as small boys still at school. The occupations of their fathers include an RIC pensioner, an army pensioner, a dairy farmer and general labourers.


Some examples of food from the Great War


If these men were to return and walk round our county’s villages again, the surroundings would no doubt be very familiar to them. Their streets are our streets, and this exhibition reclaims their memory, presenting their stories in an accessible way.

The exhibition runs at the County Library, Tallaght until the end of September.


WW1 Soldier’s Bible Reunited

One of South Dublin Libraries’ Decade of Centenaries projects was the creation of a website using as its source an early 20th Century magazine called Irish Life. During WWI, it published pages of photos and information on Irishmen in the British Army who were either killed in action or were decorated for bravery. A hundred years later we made it available online as a free database called Our Heroes.

It has been in existence since 2014, and in the database there is an online enquiry form which attracts enquiries, both locally and as far afield as the USA and Australia. Many people search for a relative’s name and up comes our information and a photograph which in some cases they never knew existed.

An unusual query popped into our inbox on the 12th of July. A woman named Janet from Manchester had picked up a small New Testament in a local flea market ten years ago.  It was inscribed:

With every good wish

From Mrs. W Montgomery Coates

Sheringham 1916

John 3-16





Janet searched the internet with the name on the inner leaf of the book, and her search results returned our site which lists a soldier named Basil Montgomery Coates who was killed in 1915. He was the son of a Mr. W Montgomery Coates MA – a double medallist graduate (mathematics and experimental physics) of Trinity College Dublin. The soldier’s mother, Mrs. W. Montgomery Coates was from Sheringham in Norfolk.

This confirmed that the bible had been inscribed by the mother of the deceased soldier – a year after he was killed. Poignantly, the Bible verse referred to in the inscription is “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…”



Further research revealed that Basil Montgomery Coates was killed while on patrol by a German sniper on the 7th of September 1915. Attempts by his comrades to locate his body failed due to enemy gunfire. It appears that his body was retrieved by the Germans and buried, but subsequently lost. Consequently he has no known grave.

We were asked by Janet if we would be interested in acquiring the book, or if we knew how to go about finding any descendents. She made the point that she found it incredibly sad when items such as these get discarded.

We agreed, so a quick search on Ancestry’s website revealed the existence of a hidden photograph of Basil Montgomery Coates on a family tree. A message was swiftly dispatched to the owner of the tree (coincidentally named Janet), who confirmed she was indeed a distant cousin of Basil Montgomery Coates and was living in the USA in Michigan.

So, in September 2017, “USA Janet” will be visiting the UK, and “UK Janet” will reunite the hundred year old New Testament with the family of Basil Montgomery Coates.

“UK Janet” told us “This makes me so happy to think after all this time ‘The Little Book’ will be back with a Family Member.”

Well, we in Local Studies are delighted that we played such an important part in making it happen.