Leo Swan Memorial Lecture 2016

This year’s Leo Swan Memorial Lecture will take place in the County Library, Tallaght on Tuesday 13th December at 7:00 p.m.

Neil Jackman of Abarta Heritage, who led the recent archaeological project at the Hell Fire Club, will speak about the project and its findings, including the exciting discovery of megalithic art.

All welcome!


For more on the Hell Fire Club, see previous posts here.


Tallaght Historical Society Lecture Series 2013-14

Tallaght Historical Society have just announced their series of lectures for 2013-14. All lectures take place at the County Library, Tallaght and all are welcome.

Tuesday 10th September 2013 @ 7:00 pm Tallaght in Transition from Ancient to Modern Chris Flood

Tuesday 8th October 2013 @ 7:00 pm Ireland’s Underwater Archaeological Heritage Cormac Lowth

Tuesday 29th October 2013 @ 7:00 pm Bog Bodies John Dolan

Tuesday 12th November 2013 @ 7:00 pm The Speaker Connolly Michael Keyes

Tuesday 10th December 2013 @ 7:00 pm Leo Swan Memorial Lecture The Irish Saints and their Feast Days: The Tallaght Contribution Professor Pádraig Ó Riain

Tuesday 14th January 2014 @ 7:00 pm Vintage Postcards James O’Brien

Tuesday 11th February 2014 @ 7:00 pm Oisín, Evie and Elizabeth: 3 artists buried in St. Maelruain’s Tomás Maher

Tuesday 11th March 2014 @ 7:00 pm The Pawn and the Castle: Anne Devlin Michael Ó Dóibhlín

Tuesday 8th April 2014 @ 7:00 pm The History of the Books of the New Testament Frank Tracy

Tuesday 22nd April 2014 @ 7:00 pm Ernest Shackleton Neale Webb

Tuesday 13th May 2014 @ 7:00 pm Irish Peace Keepers Michael Whelan

Tuesday 10th June 2014 @ 7:00 pm The Story of Rebecca Clarke from Bandon, Co. Cork Seán Bagnall



History & Heritage events at Castletymon Library

The following events will take place in Castletymon Library to mark History & Heritage 2013. 

Monday August 19th  11am-12:30pm Heritage Card-making Workshop with Ann Foster.

Tuesday August 20th 11am Genealogy: An Introduction: Talk by genealogist Carol Collins

Thursday September 12th 11.45am: Malachi Horan Remembers, a talk by Tomas Maher, illustrated with slides :

Monday September 23rd: 9.45am: Introduction to Archaeology- Talk by Nikolah Gilligan, suitable for a 5th or 6th class. (One class only)

All events are free but booking is necessary.  Just call in to the library to book, or phone 01 4524888.

19th Century Bronze Age Finds at Greenhills

Our knowledge of the Bronze Age is informed by chance discoveries and survival of artefacts from this period of prehistory. The main evidence for the period consists of metalwork finds in a number of graves and the pottery found alongside. The Greenhills area was particularly suited for sand quarrying and a number of archaeological finds from the Bronze Age were discovered from time to time during the late 19th century.

Drawing of the Urns found at Greenhills

Drawing of the Urns found at Greenhills

T J Longfield wrote to the Royal Irish Academy of how he had been approached in early 1892 by a dealer, a Mr Halbert, with an offer of two fragments of an ancient cinerary (burial) urn. He was told that they had been found on the east side of a hill near Green Hills between Tymon Castle and Greenhills. A few days later he went to Greenhills to investigate and returned to Mr Longfield with some further fragments from the large urn and fragments from a separate smaller urn and also two flint scapers. Longfield said that the large urn which he had pieced together was one of the most beautifully and richly decorated urns to have been found in Ireland.

On Tuesday 2nd August 1898 two men approached Lt Col G.T. Plunkett, Director of the Dublin Museum with earthen vessels which they had packed with straw and carried in nosebags. They had two further parcels containing fragments of pottery and pieces of bone. These finds had also been discovered at Greenhills and the men described how they were found in a small chamber lined with stones (a cist burial). Plunkett impressed upon the men the importance of preserving the area of the find and that it would be of more value if kept intact rather than removing pieces for sale. A photographer was sent to record the find before it was removed to the museum. The entire cist was encased in wood and although it weighed three tons it was removed intact to the museum. The cist measured twenty four inches high on one side by nineteen inches on the other side by nineteen inches high internally. Each side was formed by single slabs of stone.

There were three vessels associated with the find. The largest urn measuring twelve inches was inverted over a quantity of burnt bones thought to be the remains of one man. A smaller vessel was found under this large one which measured three and a half inches and there was also a food vessel in the cist that was seven and a half inches high. The quality of the pottery was regarded as good by Plunkett. The sand diggers had also earlier found two earthen vessels that were not enclosed by a cist which broke as the men struck them when digging and these were the fragments that they had brought to the museum. The men also said that they had found a skeleton two months previously two feet below the surface of the quarry. It had been buried in a north south alignment with the head pointing north.

In August 1898 another urn was found by the men employed in the pit and they covered it and informed the museum as requested. It was another burial urn inverted on a small flagstone with one cremated interment and a small pin made of bone.

According to the archaeologist Paddy Healy one complete vessel was kept by the sandpit owner Laurence Dunn which Plunkett stated was highly decorated however some of the Greenhills finds are in the National Museum. All of these remains were found in a flat cemetery with no indications of a raised area such as a mound. The burials would have dated from approximately 1,000 to 1,500 years ago.

Colette Allen, South Dublin Libraries



Plunkett G.T.  On a Cist and Urns found at Greenhills, Tallaght, Co Dublin

Longfield, T.H. Note on some cinerary urns found at Tallaght, County of Dublin

The Friar’s Walk, Tallaght.

This article is taken from Tomás Maher’s talk Tallaght Through the Ages which was Tallaght Historical Society’s January Lecture. It was also published in The Echo on February 23rd. 

When Eugene O’Curry, working on behalf of the Ordnance Survey, visited Tallaght in 1837 he reported on the Friar’s Walk. It was at that time within the garden of the former Archbishop’s Palace. He wrote to Larcom, the head of the mapping project; “There is a fine raised walk running within the garden from North to South, which is called the Friar’s Walk, and a handsome round moate-like eminence at the north end of it is called the Bishop’s Seat”.

Dominican College Friar's Walk, Tallaght.

The Friar’s Walk he refers to is still to be seen in the garden of St Mary’s Dominican Priory. The fact it was commonly known as the Friar’s Walk some 20 years before the arrival of the Dominican order in Tallaght indicates it is a medieval artifact associated with the old monastery founded by St. Maelruain in 769AD. The “handsome round moate-like eminence” at the north end of the walk is now much degraded and is surmounted by a Calvary scene comprising a cross and some statues (the old plaster figures were replaced recently by a more modern work ). The term Bishop’s Seat suggests it may once have been a significant motte fortification built by the Normans in the late 12th or early 13th century to house their appointed bishop.

Today the Friar’s Walk is a raised flat piece of land approximately 150 metres long and lined on either side by mature trees. These include oak, beech, and chestnut. Halfway along the avenue it is bisected by an East-West pathway. Beside this path are two unusual stones situated under some ancient yew trees. One of these stones is a large bullaun stone, perhaps used by the monks of old to grind herbs for medicinal use. The other, larger stone was dug out of the Archbishop’s Bathhouse in the early 19th century. It has long been regarded as the base of the ancient cross of Tallaght which stood in the village until the late middle ages. This would seem to be the case, considering there is a slight depression carved into one side for holding holy water. However, its earlier function was something quite different.

The Bullaun Stone in the Priory Grounds

About 2 years ago Conleth Manning, an archaeologist with the OPW visited the site and examined the stone. He felt the upper surface of it and remarked on how smooth and polished it was. This, he said was an indication of its use as a millstone. He considered it was the base stone of a medieval horizontal mill. The peculiar spiral shape of the hole in the centre of the stone has long been a source of mystery. The shape of this hole, Conleth said, was caused by the rotation of the shaft connecting the horizontal waterwheel with the upper grinding stone of the mill.

The Friar’s Walk today is part of a beautiful wooded garden reserved by the Dominicans for quiet reflection and retreat.

Tallaght Historical Society meets once a month at the County Library, Tallaght and new members are always welcome. The next talk is Alice Furlong, Tallaght Poetess by Eamonn Maloney TD, on 8th March at 7:00 p.m..

Tomás Maher is teaching an evening course in local history for adults at Tallaght Community School, beginning on 6th March 2012. For details please contact Owen Morris at owenmorris@yahoo.com.

Leo Swan Memorial Lecture 2011

The tenth Annual Leo Swan Memorial Lecture

Pilgrimage in Medieval Ireland: Recent Archaeological Discoveries along St. Kevin’s Pilgrims’ Road to Glendalough


Aidan O’Sullivan, UCD School of Archaeology.

At The County Library, Library Square, Tallaght, Dublin 24

on Wednesday 9th November 2011 at 7:00 p.m.

All Welcome!