Glenasmole Heritage Day

Glenasmole Heritage Day as part of the Pure Mile Project takes place on Saturday 6th June 2015 at 2:00pm at Glenasmole Community Centre, Cunard, Glenasmole.

Help record and preserve Glenasmole’s history for future generations! Please search your cupboards and attics for old and new photos, ephemera, audio/video
material and anything related to the Glenasmole Valley. Your item will be scanned, copied or photographed and returned to you on the day.


Enquiries to Derek Brady
on 086 393 9394 or


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 Holy Well Tradition of Tallaght

According to some estimates there were more than 3,000 holy wells in Ireland, many of which are still marked on the Ordnance Survey maps. It is believed that the tradition of visiting holy wells may have survived from pagan times and can be traced as a Christian practice from the seventh century. There is also a theory that the tradition of placing offerings at wells may have been influenced by Roman Britain. There are many such holy wells in the Tallaght area and visiting holy wells was part of the social life of the area.

St. Colmcille's Well

St. Colmcille’s Well

St Colmcille’s Well on the Ballycullen Road near Orlagh College was one of the most frequented wells of the area. It contains a statue of Colmcille within a stone gable-fronted niche that was added in the early 1900s. Pilgrimages took place to the well during the threat of conscription in 1918, according to Paddy Healy. A nearby tree had religious medals nailed into the bark as offerings from those visiting the well and also rags tied to the tree. These were known as clootie trees. The tree fell in the 1960’s.

St. Kevins Well Kilnamanagh 1970s

St. Kevins Well Kilnamanagh 1970s

St Kevin’s Well at Kilnamanagh is all that remains of the monastery known as Cill na Manach na nEscrach where St. Kevin is said to have studied under St. Éanna, St. Lochan and St. Eoghan. He then founded his own monastery at Glendalough.

In Tallaght village a well at the old Glebe House, close to the church, was covered in and used as a domestic supply.  When the Rector of the Glebe House was holding an auction in 1791 the old people of the area attended in order to drink the water from the well.

 Some of the other wells in the area include one on the slopes of Crooksling, where there is a well called Tobar na Cluar used for the relief of earache. Nearby in Boherboy townland there is a well dedicated to St Patrick.  St Anne’s well in Glenasmole is a stone lined well in the base of the sacred tree of the same name.

The people of the Tallaght hills would also have travelled to the holy well at Lacken, Co Wicklow which was famous for its cures. It was covered by the water of the Blessington reservoir but is occasionally exposed during periods of drought when people flock to it once more, as many as 3,000 people visited the well in 1978 when it was revealed.

 Source:  All Roads Lead to Tallaght by Patrick Healy.

Bohernabreena Waterworks, then and now

Bohernabreena Waterworks circa 1900

Bohernabreena Waterworks circa 1900

The reservoirs at Bohernabreena were constructed between 1883 and 1887 for the dual purpose of supplying Rathmines with drinking water and of ensuring a constant supply of water to the many mills along the River Dodder. There were, at the time, forty-five mills served by the Dodder, of which fifteen were flour mills. The rest consisted of paper, paint, cardboard, cotton, saw, glue and dye mills, as well as distilleries, breweries, malt houses, foundries, tanneries and a bacon curing factory.

The waterworks consisted of two impounding reservoirs, the upper or clear water reservoir and the lower or mill owners’ compensatory reservoir. The gathering ground consisted partly of bog land which comprised the mountainous area around Castlekelly and stony land free from peat which lay on both sides of the glen. It was from the latter area that clear water was collected into the upper reservoir for drinking purposes. The peaty water off the bogs bypassed the upper reservoir in an artificially constructed channel. At the upper end of the mill owners’ reservoir there was a guage which allowed 1500 cubic feet of water per minute to pass into a pipeline through which it was conveyed into the natural river channel below the dam. The surplus water was diverted into the lower lake where it could be held until it was needed.

Bohernabreena Waterworks 2012

Bohernabreena Waterworks 2012

Today, Bohernabreena Waterworks is still vital to Dublin’s water supply. Water is pumped from here to Ballyboden Treatment Works and it supplies millions of litres to the city every day. The Waterworks are also a popular spot for walkers and are the start of the Dublin Mountains Way. The shores of the reservoirs are clothed in a mixture of trees and shrubs and bird species present in the area include gulls, kingfisher, dipper, grey wagtail, heron and moorhen.

For further information see and

Remarkable Trees of South Dublin County

South County Dublin has a wonderful heritage of ancient trees preserved in literature and folklore and indeed some remarkable trees still grow here. Trees associated with kingship, mythical trees, a hanging tree, saint’s trees and venerable old trees have all been recorded here.

 Roman writers observed that early Celtic societies worshiped in sacred groves or tree sanctuaries and when Christianity came to Ireland many trees associated with pagan worship were incorporated into the new Christian sites. The term bile was used for a sacred tree and survives in the word bileog (leaf) and sometimes the term craebh was used which survives as craobh (branch). An early legal poem of the seventh century reveals that there would be a severe penalty for interfering with a tree sanctuary

A danger from which there is no escape

Is the penalty for felling the noble sacred trees.

One of the earliest references to a special tree is in the Dindshenchas when St Mochua (or Cronán) of Clondalkin is mentioned in a lament for the bile Tortan.

I Mochua with Crónán do plead

Please do not grieve excessively

From the bare stump so grey in hue

Many a tree may spring anew

St Maelruan's Tree

St Maelruan’s Tree


This idea of a sacred tree renewing itself can be found in Tallaght at St Maelruan’s tree. This magnificent walnut tree, associated with the local saint, was struck by lightning in 1795 and split into several parts which rooted and the tree still bears walnuts to this day. Although this tree is hundreds of years old, walnut trees are not native to Ireland and so the present tree is thought to have replaced an earlier tree dedicated to this “Bright Sun of Ireland”.

Mount Seskin

There is a fleeting reference in the kingship rite of the O’Rourke clan of Breifne to their slat righe or rod of kingship, this was passed to the king as an important part of his inauguration rite. The branch for the O’Rourke’s inauguration had to be cut from the bile St Maedoc at the saint’s sanctuary at Seiscinn Uairbeoil or MountSeskin.


St Anne’s ash tree and holy well in Glenasmole is typical of a saint’s tree and it incorporates a stone lined well at its base. Although the church is associated with St Sanctan the name is corrupted to St Anne – often an avatar of the old celtic goddess Anu.

Ancient Yew in Palmerstown

Ancient Yew in Palmerstown


Palmerstown can claim to have had one of the oldest tress in Ireland, an ancient yew. According to the antiquaries of the 19th century there was a yew said to be almost a thousand years old in the churchyard. It was illustrated by Wakeman. Yews are thought to live for a very long time but are difficult to date. Churches were often decorated with branches of yew on Palm Sunday. This tree became unsound and was blown down in a storm in the 1880s.


The Old Glebe at Newcastle also has an ancient yew tree known as the Dean’s Tree. It was named for Jonathan Swift 1667-1745, the great writer, who is said to have sat under this tree in the garden writing and conversing with friends. This tree is several hundred years old and has a massive girth of over five metres.


St. Maelruan's Tree

St. Maelruan’s Tree

Did you know?

The folklore of South Dublin also has references to special trees. The school’s collection for Clondalkin has a story about a tree that stood in the grounds of Orchard House. A new owner to the house was about to cut down the tree but when told of the local tradition that the tree dated from 1014, the date of the Battle of Clontarf, the tree was saved.

Balgaddy Bush

Balgaddy Bush

There is also a reference to the Balgaddy Bush in the folklore record. It lay on the boundary between the parishes of Clondalkin and Lucan, at a crossroads, a location redolent of folklore. The story was that a priest was turned away from the Bush House on a rainy night whereupon he said the name of those who turned him away would never again live in the house and that the grass would grow around the door of the house.


The Schools Folklore Collection can be viewed on microfilm at the County Library, Tallaght.