Buried treasure discovered at Rathfarnham Castle

Rathfarnham Castle

Rathfarnham Castle

A veritable treasure trove of artefacts have been discovered at Rathfarnham Castle. The find was made in the course of works being carried out by OPW in order to provide a new lift and staircase in the south-west tower.

The find included:
· Coins dating as far back as 1602.
· Chinese porcelain tea-sets along with perfectly-preserved tea leaves.
· Seeds and pips from olives, melons, grapes, cherries, peaches and other exotic fruit along with shells, fish and bird bones.
· Glass wine and spirit bottles.
· Cromwellian armour breastplate, musket balls and gun flints.
· Artefacts relating to 17th century costume, including jewellery, buckles, shoes etc.
· Small ointment and cosmetic jars (possibly from Italy) and a rare folding travel toothbrush.

Coin - Philip IV of Spain silver colonial coin from 1655

Coin – Philip IV of Spain silver colonial coin from 1655



Speaking on a visit to the castle Minister Heather Humphries said:

“I would like to commend the OPW for their careful work in ensuring that these artefacts are well preserved for the enjoyment of future generations. The National Museum of Ireland will now work with the OPW to fully conserve this find, and hopefully put them all together for an exhibition to go on display at Rathfarnham Castle after the works are complete.”

Mr. Simon Harris, TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Minister Heather Humphreys, TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht

Mr. Simon Harris, TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Minister Heather Humphreys, TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht



Minister Harris concluded:

“Now that the artefacts have been safely retrieved, works on the main contract have been resumed. I am confident that the Castle will re-open in 2015 and I look forward to viewing the exhibition of these amazing archaeological finds.”


Photos: http://www.opw.ie


Spooky South Dublin

As we near 31st October, it’s time to dust off the ghost story books and spook ourselves a little! The legends surrounding the Hell Fire Club are probably South Dublin’s most famous chilling tales,  but there are plenty of other ghoulish stories to get you in the mood for Halloween.

Old Bawn House looking particularly spooky

Old Bawn House looking particularly spooky

 The Ghost of Old Bawn House 

Close to the Old Bawn Road and the Dodder was situated one of the most important houses of the Dodder valley – Old Bawn House. Archdeacon William Bulkeley, son of the Archbishop of Dublin, built the house in 1635.

During the rebellion of 1641 the house was damaged, but was restored soon after. The house continued to be lived in for many years, but was eventually demolished. There was a local tradition in the old neighbourhood of Old Bawn House: that each year on the anniversary of the death of Archdeacon Bulkeley, a coach drawn by six headless horses and containing two passengers attended by two footmen, drives up to the house.

However woe betide anyone who looks on the coach, for they will die within a year and a day – or so the story goes.

The Murder of Lord Kilwarden

The Murder of Lord Kilwarden

Ghostly Horses

During Robert Emmet’s Rising of 1803, Newlands House, near Corkagh House, was occupied by Arthur Wolfe (1739-1803), 1st Viscount Kilwarden, or Lord Kilwarden as he was better known, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. There were rumours of an attempt on his life by Emmet’s insurgents but despite this, Lord Kilwarden decided to travel into Dublin City. He left the Corkagh Estate by the back entrance, near to the present day St. John’s Road, and headed off towards Dublin City for Dublin Castle. Near Thomas Street, his carriage was ambushed by a number of insurgents, and Lord Kilwarden was dragged from the coach and repeatedly stabbed with pikes. He was brought to a nearby building but died an hour later. After the insurgents ambushed the coach, the terrified horses galloped back the way they had come, and entered Corkagh Estate through the back entrance and out the front drive to Newlands House. Over the years, members of the Finlay family of Corkagh claim to have heard the sounds of a coach and horses rushing through Corkagh Estate: however, neither coach nor horses could ever be seen.

The Phantom Band

During the Easter Rising of 1916, Major Gerald Colley, a brother-in-law of Mrs Edith Colley of Corkagh, was stationed in Dublin Castle, and his wife lived in Corkagh. On the day before Easter, the Major telephoned his wife to tell her that there was some trouble brewing between the Irish nationalists and the British authorities.

On Easter Monday, the Rising took place, and the Major’s wife, along with a friend, went to Belgard Castle to watch the burning bridges in the city of Dublin. Meanwhile, Mrs. Edith Colley, whilst walking with her husband, George P. A. Colley, through Corkagh Estate, heard a marching band playing and the sound of tramping feet marching down the Naas Road and through the rear gate of Corkagh.

They hurried back to the house to find the entire staff anxiously gathered at the front of the house. All had heard the band, and they thought that Corkagh was going to be attacked. However the music suddenly stopped and there was nothing to be seen. Despite the large number of people who heard the band, no one saw it.

The Pond at Rathfarnham Castle, from the Fr. Browne Collection, courtesy of the Irish Picture Library

The Pond at Rathfarnham Castle, from the Fr. Browne Collection, courtesy of the Irish Picture Library

The Phantom Dog

In the hard winter of 1840-1841 a skating party was in progress on the icy pond in the grounds of Rathfarnham Castle. Among the group was a man who had with him a curly-haired retriever dog. The ice cracked suddenly and the man disappeared into the murky water. His dog jumped in after him and both were drowned. To this day it is reported locally that the ghost of the animal can be seen regularly along the Dodder between Lord Ely’s Gate and Rathfarnham Bridge.


Period Buildings Show 2013 at Rathfarnham Castle

South Dublin County Council and the Irish Georgian Society, in association with the Office of Public Works present the Period Buildings Show 2013 which will take place in the beautiful grounds of Rathfarnham Castle on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th July.

Period Buildings Show poster

This is a weekend of traditional building skills demonstrations and conservation talks – Rathfarnham Castle will become a one-stop destination for owners in need of accurate, impartial and free advice on caring and repairing for their period buildings. Attendance will greatly benefit owners of all periods and types of buildings from Edwardian artisan dwellings to substantial red brick Victorian terraces and fine Georgian country houses.

 Ireland’s leading conservation practitioners will demonstrate sash window repairs; stained glass and fanlight conservation, stone carving, dry stonewall construction, use of lime based mortars,  decorative plasterwork conservation,  ironwork,  slate roofing, traditional wallpaper making,  and many other traditional building skills essential for the care and repair of period buildings.

All are welcome, there is no booking necessary and this is a family friendly event.

A brochure with the full details of the event can be downloaded here.

Launch of Bike Week 2013

South Dublin County Council’s launch of Bike Week 2013 should also be of interest to local history enthusiasts!

Rathfarnham Castle

Rathfarnham Castle

  • On SUNDAY 16th JUNE at 12 noon, meet at St. Enda’s, Pearse Park, Rathfarnham
  • Tour the Pearse Museum and Historian Matthew Jebb (OPW) will give a short talk on how the IRA volunteers cycled from Pearse Park to the GPO for the Easter Rising.
  • Then, get on your bicycle to follow the trail of heritage sites to Rathfarnham Castle for a  ‘Picnic in the Park’. Refreshments will be provided to cyclists of all ages on arrival at Rathfarnham Castle.
  • If you wish you can tour Rathfarnham Castle where the fabulous Berkeley Costume & Toy Collection is on view.

This is a family cycle – all are welcome!

See: www.sdcc.ie for further details

For more details of BIKE WEEK events see www.bikeweek.ie

Berkeley Costume and Toy Collection at Rathfarnham Castle

Have you paid a visit to Rathfarnham Castle lately? Last month they launched The Berkeley Costume and Toy Collection which is collection of 18th and 19th Century toys, dolls and costumes. The collection is the passion of Irish artist and collector Countess Ann Griffin Bernstorff who began assembling it over twenty years ago, from her own family heirlooms and from auctions and donations. The items cover a period of eighty years, from 1740 to 1820, and range from rare and delicate artefacts to simple playthings and everyday garments of the past.

The fascinating toys and fabulous costumes bring the elegant and historic rooms of Rathfarnham Castle to life. It is the perfect setting to display this collection and to bring it to a wider audience.The exhibition will run for the next ten years.

A visit is highly recommended! It’s an amazing place to have on our doorstep. Rathfarnham Castle’s Winter opening hours are : 10.00 – 17:00 Wednesday – Sunday. Admission is completely free, tours are self guided but a guided tour can be prearranged if required. Groups of ten or more must book in advance. There’s a really nice café there too 🙂