South Dublin Libraries Online Bookstore


 South Dublin Libraries’ local history publications as well as other locally published books are now available to buy online through our website.

The books available include:

  • Thomas Joseph Byrne: Nation Builder by John Byrne and Michael Fewer
  • Glenasmole Roads, Rathfarnham Roads, and All Roads Lead to Tallaght by Patrick Healy
  • Allegiances Compromised and The Battle of Jadotville by Michael Whelan
  • Dublin Fire Brigade and the Irish Revolution by Las Fallon
  • South Dublin Rambles and If Those Trees Could Speak by Frank Tracy
  • Bumps in the Fields and Crumbling Walls by Hermann Geissel
  • St. Mochua and the Round Tower and The Monastery of Mount St. Joseph by Joe Williams
  • Once Upon at Time in Tallaght by Mervyn Ennis and Alen MacWeeney
  • The Dublin and Blessington Steam Tram by Aidan Cruise
  • Tallaght Soundings 1 & 2 by Virigina House Writers


If you’re thinking of purchasing one to put in someone’s stocking this Christmas, please remember that the last posting dates for guaranteed Christmas delivery are:

  • 6th December for USA and the rest of the World
  • 13th December for Europe
  • 19th December for UK
  • 20th Demember for Ireland

The Massys of Killakee

by Frank Tracy

The Massy family lineage can be traced to Normandy where they were landowners in the ninth century. In 1066 members of the family, led by Hamon de Masci, were among the Normans who invaded England with William the Conquerer. Hamon de Masci was created a Baron by William and he and his relatives were granted extensive landholdings in Cheshire. Over time, the family surname was anglicised to Massey. Baron Massey established his seat at Dunham Massey near Altringham and thirteen successors, each named Hamon, resided there. Dunham Massey is now in the ownership of the English National Trust and is a major visitor attraction.

In 1649, Hugh Massy, a cavalry commander from Cheshire, was among the Cromwellian forces that landed in Ireland. From the time of his arrival in Ireland, his surname is recorded as ‘Massy’. It is this form of the surname that is used by his descendants. Following the Cromwellian campaign in Ireland, Hugh Massy was granted extensive landholdings in Co. Limerick and built a large mansion at Duntrileague, near Galbally.

In 1776 his great grandson, also Hugh Massy, was created Baron Massy of Duntrileague. Over the years the family extended their landholdings in Co. Limerick and in 1807 they moved their seat to Hermitage, a large estate at Castleconnell on the banks of the Shannon.

Killakee House

Killakee House

In 1826, Hugh Hamon 4th Baron Massy, married Matilda White, a daughter of Luke White, who was said to be the richest man in Ireland. Luke white had extensive landholdings throughout Ireland including an estate of 2,900 acres at Killakee, in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains where he built a magnificent mansion, Killakee house, which he gave to his son Samuel. Samuel White died without issue and the house and estate passed to his widowed sister, Baroness Matilda Massy and through to her son, John Thomas 6th Baron Massy.

John Thomas Massy inherited three large mansions, a shooting lodge, and 34,000 acres of land at various locations throughout Ireland. He lived an extravagant lifestyle throughout his long life and he retained his mansions (and his lifestyle) even after most of his landholdings were sold to tenants under various land acts. By the time of his death, aged eighty, in 1915 his estate was heavily indebted. After his death the family derived income for some years from selling off the contents of the various great houses, but eventually ran out of money. In 1924 the 6th Baron’s grandson, Hugh Hamon 8th Baron Massy, was evicted from Killakee House. Having declared himself ill and taken to his bed, he refused to vacate the house and was carried by the bailiffs from the house and deposited on the public roadway at the nearest estate gateway (now the entrance to Timbertrove on the Killakee Road). Killakee House was taken over by a bank in lieu of debts and, unable to find a purchaser, it was sold for its scrappage value and demolished in 1941.

Beehive Cottage where the 8th Baron Massy lived for his last 34 years

Beehive Cottage where the 8th Baron Massy lived for his last 34 years

Following the eviction, the bank reluctantly permitted the family to take possession of a nearby vacant three roomed gate lodge, Beehive Cottage. Hugh Hamon, 8th Baron Massy and his wife, lived in this cottage for 34 years until his death in 1958. His son Hugh Hamon (Hughie), joined the British Army in 1941 and saw action in WWII. He married an Irish woman and set up home in England where they raised a family of four sons and a daughter. The family of Lord Massy of Duntrileague are now ordinary people living ordinary lives at various locations in England where they have finally achieved that level of anonymity that we all know as normality.

Frank Tracy is the author of the history of the Massy family, If Those Trees Could Speak: the Story of an Ascendancy Family in Ireland, available from branches of South Dublin Libraries or to download from Source. You can listen to Frank speaking about the Massy family here. In association with Timbertrove Café, Frank is available to give free guided walks of Massy’s Woods to interested groups. You can contact him by email at

History of Glencree and the Reformatory


The 1798 Rebellion erupted in May 1798 and was quickly and viciously suppressed. Following the final battle at Vinegar Hill in June 1798 some rebels retreated into the Wicklow Mountains under the leadership of Joseph Holt and Michael Dwyer. In November 1798 Holt surrendered to Lord Powerscourt.  Dwyer, however, conducted a guerrilla campaign from the safety of the Wicklow Mountains. Following petitions from harassed landowners, work began in August 1800 on the construction of aMilitary Road through the mountains from Rathfarnham to Aughavanagh.  Four barracks were constructed along the road at Glencree, Laragh, Drumgoff and Aughavannagh.

The Glencree Barracks was opened in 1806. By then however, Dwyer had sued for terms and was en-route to Australia. By 1820 all the barracks along the Military Road had closed down. In 1859 Glencree Barracks became a reformatory for delinquent boys, the first such institution in Ireland, under the control of the Oblate Order.  In 1941 the reformatory closed down and the boys were transferred to Daingan. The barracks was again empty until 1947 when it opened under an initiative called Operation Shamrock as a reception centre for German children who had been orphaned or displaced during the Second World War.  Over a three year period almost 1,000 children were brought to Ireland and, after a settling-in period at Glencree, were fostered by families throughout the country. By 1950 the barracks was again vacant.

Operation Shamrock Poster

Following the outbreak of hostilities in Northern Ireland in 1969, a voluntary group, with State assistance, set up a Centre for Peace and Reconciliation at Glencree. For over 30 years groups from both sides of the political divide in Northern Ireland came to Glencree on peace and reconciliation programmes. Since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, the Glencree Centre has extended its remit and is engaged in programmes of conflict resolution with people and groups from many areas of conflict throughout the world.

This article is a summary by Frank Tracy of his talk The History of Glencree and the Reformatory given to Tallaght Historical Society in February. The article was published in The Echo on 1st March. Frank has written a booklet titled The Glencree Story which is available at Glencree Reconciliation Centre or at The County Library, Tallaght.

Tallaght Historical Society Lecture Series 2012

Thursday, 12th January 2012

Tallaght Through the Ages

Tomás Maher


 Thursday 9th February 2012

The History of Glencree and the Reformatory

Frank Tracy


 Thursday 8th March 2012

Alice Furlong, Tallaght Poetess

Eamonn Maloney, T.D.


 Thursday, 12th April 2012

The History of Tallaght Aerodrome

Michael Whelan


Thursday 10th May 2012

The History of the Dublin & Blessington Steam Tram

Aidan Cruise


 Thursday 14th June 2012

The Battle of Tallaght

Seán Bagnall


All lectures take place at the County Library, Tallaght, commencing at 7:00 p.m.

All Welcome!

Tallaght Historical Society Chairperson:  Anne Hanrahan—contact 2441463 or 0876315773

Launch of South Dublin Rambles

Mayor Marie Corr will launch South Dublin Rambles by Frank Tracy at the County Library in Tallaght on Wednesday 10th June at 7:30 p.m.

 The publication of the book is most timely – summer has at last arrived, the days are growing longer and the weather is improving. This guidebook contains six urban and six rural walks and the lively text also informs about the history, heritage, nature and landscapes of South Dublin County and of neighbouring Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County.

 After the launch copies of the book will be on sale in branches of South Dublin County Libraries,  priced €5.

All are welcome to the launch on Wednesday evening!