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!

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

Hellfire Hill: a human and natural history

Hellfire Hill: a human and natural history by Michael Fewer has just been published by South Dublin Libraries.

Hell Fire Hill Cover low res

Michael Fewer is an architect, environmentalist and writer who has been walking the landscape around Hellfire Hill, or Montpelier, for the past 45 years. He imparts the knowledge he has gained in that time in this, his latest book.

The history of the hill is covered from ancient Neolithic times to the ghoulish tales of South Dublin County’s most infamous landmark, the Hell Fire Club, as well as the natural history of the landscape.

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Photographed at the launch of Hellfire Hill: Michael Fewer, Mayor Gus O’Connell, Shirley O’Kelly, Timbertrove and Ann Dunne, South Dublin Libraries

Speaking at the launch of Hellfire Hill in Timbertrove Café yesterday, Mayor Gus O’Connell said, “Michael really knows the area like the back of his hand so I’m delighted that he has put pen to paper and recorded his extensive knowledge of Hellfire Hill, preserving it for generations to come. South Dublin County Council through its library service is delighted to promote our history and heritage by publishing this book.”

Hellfire Hill: a human and natural history is available from all branches of South Dublin Libraries now, priced €8.00. It is also on sale in Timbertrove Country Store and Café and online from http://www.southdublinlibraries.ie/bookstore.

 

Stunning New Drone Footage of the Hell Fire Club

The Hell Fire Club is undoubtedly one of the most famous landmarks on the Dublin Mountains skyline, but this stunning new drone footage from Rob Clifford Video gives a whole new perspective on it.

As well as the fantastic views over the city, the video clearly shows evidence of the ancient past of the site which was originally a passage tomb, dating from the Neolithic Period (4500 – 2000 BC). Speaker Conolly built the house as a hunting lodge in 1725. Conolly, Speaker in the Irish House of Commons, was one of the wealthiest men in Ireland. He is said to have destroyed the cairn while building the hunting lodge, making use of the boulders in its construction. Some time later the roof, which originally was slated, was blown off in a great storm. Locals attributed this misfortune to the work of the devil, in revenge for the destruction of the cairn. Following this event the lodge was seen locally as a place of evil. However Conolly replaced the slated roof with an arched one of stone.

After Conolly’s death in 1729, the lodge was acquired by the infamous Hell Fire Club, from which it got its name. Hell Fire Clubs were established in the eighteenth century, and were associated with outrageous behaviour and depravity.

Richard Parsons, the first Earl of Rosse, established the Hell-Fire Club in Dublin in 1735. The president of the Hell Fire Club was named ‘The King of Hell’ and was dressed like Satan, with horns, wings and cloven hooves. One custom was that of leaving the vice-chair unoccupied for the devil – in whose honour the first toast was always drunk.

These associations, as well as its rather ominous name, have given life to lots of ghost stories and superstitions about the spooky goings on at the Hell Fire Club.

You can get a guided tour of the site with historian Frank Tracy on Saturday 25th July at 11:00am and Wednesday 26th August at 11:00am, as part of South Dublin County Council’s History and Heritage 2015 programme.

History and Heritage 2015 Events

Whilst we are all looking forward to National Heritage Week which runs between 22nd and 30th of August, sometimes, you have to admit, a week is not enough, especially when it relates to something you have a particular interest in. That is why the Library Section of South Dublin County Council have devised a programme of walks, talks, tours and workshops around history and heritage that lasts the whole summer long. I know it is a cliché at this stage, but there really is something for every one, from outdoor events to craft classes and history lectures.

History and Heritage 2015 events brochure

The programme kicks off with the ever popular heritage walks of the villages within South Dublin County. Whether you’re a local, once lived in the area or are just interested in the heritage and history of Newcastle, Palmerstown, Saggart, Templeogue, Tallaght, Clondalkin, Lucan or Rathfarnham, you can get out and about and start exploring and learning on these guided walks. Another of the heritage walk highlights is Massy’s Woods and Hell Fire Club Heritage Walk on Saturday 25th July and Wednesday 26th August, led by Historian Frank Tracy. I’m sure Frank will explore some of the scary stories one hears about the ominously named Hell Fire Club. Besides, the views over Dublin City from the top of Mount Pelier are magnificent. There’s nothing like a bracing walk followed by bracing views!

Talking of things of yore, have you every wanted to know how to restore and preserve old family photographs? As part of a ground breaking initiative developed by the Gallery of Photography, the County Library in Tallaght are hosting events around the Photo Album of Ireland project during the month of July. Staff of the Gallery will host a talk on restoring your family album on Saturday 18th July, followed by a scanning workshop where you can contribute to this amazing project by bringing along photos from your own family album.

Did you know there used to be an airport in Tallaght? Well, during August and September the County Library in Tallaght will host a photographic exhibition exploring the history of Tallaght Aerodrome.

And whilst the big kids amongst us may have our heads in the clouds, we mustn’t forget the young ones in the family.Irish History Live workshops where children from aged 8 to 12 can experience life in Dublin during the 1916 Rising take place in Ballyroan, Castletymon and Tallaght Libraries. And if that is not enough, Lucan Library are inviting children to place their Hands On History to explore the story of the Irish at Gallipoli through an interactive history workshop.  Children aged 6 – 10 year old  can create scenes from history using Lego and use webcams to transform them in their own comic in County Library, or for the sporty kid, why not design and make your own sliotar inspired textile balls at the Stitched Sliotar workshops on 17th July. Booking for these events opens on 30th June.

This is just a flavour of the over 50 events taking place throughout the summer. For the full programme click here or pick up a copy in your local South Dublin Libraries branch, as well as other locations around the city.

For further information and bookings, contact  Sίle Coleman at 01 462 0073 or e-mail localstudies@sdublincoco.ie.

The History of the Parish of Cruagh: An illustrated account from the 6th to the 20th century

The parish of Cruagh, situated near Rathfarnham, appears in the 18th century as containing the town lands of Cruagh, Glendoo, Jamestown, Newtown, Orlagh, Tibradden, Woodtown and Killakee. Today Cruagh is just a townland, after the parish was united with Whitechurch and Tallaght.

It is likely that St. Dalua, a disciple of St Patrick, founded a church that today is a ruin in Cruagh cemetery. Built around 580 AD, it was served by the vicar of Tallaght until the end of the 17th century, when turbulent times in Ireland led to the church falling into lay hands and finally disuse. A round watchtower was built c. 1820 on the site of the former church. It was constructed as an observation post so that a sentry could protect the cemetery from body snatchers.

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1656 Map of Cruagh Parish

A map showing principal industries in 1840 shows 7 mills on the Owendoher River. Millmount Mill had been operating since at least 1773 , it closed down in 1899. Edmondstown School is built on the site of Newtown Great Paper Mill, founded early in 19th century, and when in full work, employed over 600. Behind are the remains of Newtown Little Paper Mill, which had been operating since at least 1757.

Further up the road is Tibradden where there is a stone where Daniel O’Connell gave an address to the locals as they celebrated an annual day of pilgrimage in 1843. Also situated here is Tibradden House, which was constructed in 1859 as a wedding present for Mary Davis, whose descendants occupy the house today. Close to the summit of Tibradden Mountain is a 4000-year old chambered cairn. It was excavated in 1849 by the Royal Irish Academy who found a stone-lined cist containing a pottery vessel and cremated remains.

In nearby Killakee, the building now known as the Hell Fire Club was built around 1725 as a hunting lodge by William Conolly. The house as built had a parlour, drawing room and hall on the upper floor. On the ground floor was the kitchen, off which were the servants’ quarters. Members of the Irish Hell Fire Club, which was active in the years 1735 to 1741, used Mount Pelier lodge as a meeting place. The club’s activities at the lodge is often associated with a black cat. By 1799, the house was found to be in disrepair and today, the building is maintained by the state-sponsered company Coillte. Also nearby was Killakee Estate, which is talked about in a previous article on this blog.

18th Century Drawing of the Hell Fire Club

18th Century Drawing of the Hell Fire Club

On the northern slope of Mount Pelier, just below the ruins of the Hell Fire Club, lies the house now known as Orlagh. It was constructed in 1790 and was sold to the Augustinian Order in 1872. Eoin MacNeill was given refuge and slept in the college for the first few days of the Easter Rising. Famous visitors to the house include Patrick Pearse and Daniel O’Connell. Today, it is a retreat and conference centre run by the friars. In a field opposite is a famous well of the area that was unveiled in 1920. Crowds of people came to the opening, which included a drum band and banners.

Finally in the parish of Cruagh we find Woodtown. With a history dating back to the 16th century, it is home to two historic buildings; Woodtown Park and Woodtown Manor.  Woodtown Park was built around 1700 as a farm house. In 1896 the Reverend Walter A Hill started a school here that was the first boarding school in Ireland which kept boys only up to the age of thirteen. It was once a residence of the MacNeill family and it is believed that final plans for the 1916 rising were drawn up here. On the opposite side of Woodtown Park is Woodtown Manor. Believed to have been built around 1720, an 1806 map of the Woodtown demesne shows the estate to have consisted of 132 acres, including a deer park.

John McManus

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This is an extract from John McManus’ book The History of the Parish of Cruagh: An illustrated account from the 6th to the 20th century which can be read in full on his website.