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.


South Dublin County Guided Heritage Walks

As part of our History and Heritage events this year, the following guided heritage walks are happening around the county over the coming weeks. No booking necessary & all welcome!

Saturday 16th August 11am. Meet at The Templeogue Inn (The Morgue) in Templeogue Village. Guide: Tomás Maher.

Massy’s Woods, Killakee
Thursday 21st August 11am. Meet at the Hell Fire Club Car park, Killakee Road. Guide: Frank Tracy.

Saturday 23rd August—time TBC. Part of Tallafest. Meet at The Priory at 3pm. Guide: Tomás Maher.

Tuesday 26th August 11am. Meet at St. Finian’s Church, Main Street, Newcastle. Guide: Tomás Maher.

Wednesday 27th August 7:30pm. Meet at the Round Tower, Tower Road, Clondalkin. Guide: Bernadine Nic Giolla Phadraig.

Friday 29th August 11 am. Meet at Saggart Parish Church, Main Street, Saggart. Guide: Liam Roche

Saturday 30th August 11am. Meet at the Coach House, Old Lucan Road, Palmerstown. Guide: Hugh O’Connor.

Saturday 6th September 11am. Meet at the Anne Devlin statue at the junction of Butterfield Avenue and Main Street, Rathfarnham. Guide: Tomás Maher.

Thursday 11th September 11am. Part of the Lucan Festival. Meet at the Topaz Garage, Old Lucan Road, Lucan. Guide: Joe Byrne.

Can’t make these walks? You can explore the heritage of South Dublin County in your own time using our audio guides at http://heritagewalks.sdcc.ie/


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.