1916 Commemorations in Rathcoole & Saggart

The Four Districts Remembers 1916


Programme of Events:

February 27th 4:00 p.m. Dr. Shane Kenna, ‘Poet Patriot, Thomas McDonagh‘. Heritage Centre, Saggart.

March 12th, 2:00 p.m. Mícheál Ó Doibhilín, ‘Josie McGowan: a Brief Flame‘ Rathoole Community Centre.

March 23rd, 7:00 p.m. Dr. Kerron Ó Luain, ‘The Four Districts and the Irish Revolution‘, Rathcoole Community Centre.

March 28th, 12:00 p.m. The Four Districts 1916 Commemoration in the Court of Petty Sessions (Old Library), Rathcoole.



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/


Body Snatchers at Cruagh and Saggart

Body snatching was a macabre but very lucrative business in eighteenth and nineteenth century Dublin. Dead bodies were essential for Dublin anatomy schools and the Royal College of Surgeons to carry out their medical research and training, and there was a roaring trade in corpses for Dublin’s less discerning or sensitive businessmen. Adult bodies fetched a fixed price, while children’s bodies were bought by the inch. The corpse was usually stripped of belongings (to steal belongings was considered a more serious offence than body snatching itself), bundled into a sack – hence body snatchers became known as ‘sack ‘em ups’ – and taken away on a cart in the dead of night. In his memoirs, Malachi Horan of Killinarden recalled that the horses wore leather shoes to muffle noise so as to avoid detection.

ruagh graveyard and watchtower 1

 The ancient portion of Cruagh graveyard, on Cruagh lane behind the old Schoolhouse, is surrounded by a high wall and is now closed to burials. It contains the remains of a church and a small watchtower. The stones from the church were probably used in the construction of the watch tower, which is built partly on the site of the church, and is obviously of much later date. It is two stories high with a separate entrance on each level and like the watch towers in Glasnevin cemetery, was for the protection of new interments from the attentions of the body snatchers. According to local tradition Cruagh was many times the scene of violent conflicts between the relatives of the deceased and the ‘sack-em-ups’ and the marks of bullets could be seen on the doors of the tower as well as the gravestones. As well as watch towers, cemeteries employed a wide range of methods to stop the grave robbers including placing heavy stone slabs over graves, installing cages around them, and building high walls around graveyards.

 The earliest reference to body snatching in Dublin was in Faulkner’s Dublin Journal in 1732 which reported that a grave digger in St. Andrew’s Churchyard on Suffolk Street was jailed for turning a blind eye to body snatchers. Several grave diggers were tried for similar charges over the years.

 A bill to legalise the post-execution  dissection of criminals’ bodies became law in 1791 and in some cases it became part of their sentence. It was seen as an extra punishment as it brought disgrace and humiliation upon the criminal. However, not all criminals were reluctant to undergo dissection. It was quite common for a malefactor to sell his body to a particular surgery school before death. With the proceeds he usually held a farewell party for himself and his friends, playing cards on the condemned man’s coffin. Usually he drank so heavily that the criminal was almost unconscious going to the scaffold.

 However, the supply of bodies from the justice system was not enough to satisfy the needs of  the anatomy schools. As well as the entrepreneurial ‘sack-em-ups’, the students and staff of Dublin’s medical schools also engaged in body snatching. Christopher Dixon, porter at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in about 1805 was an active ‘resurrectionist’ who was caught by a mob on one occasion in the pauper’s graveyard at Kilmainham (also known as Bully’s Acre). After tying a rope around his waist the mob dragged him to the Liffey into which he was ducked repeatedly. He was lucky not to have met a more serious fate. John T. Kirby, son of the President of the College of Surgeons in 1823, was reported to have been killed in a ‘resurrection battle’ at Camden Row.

 In his reminiscences, Malachi Horan claimed that the doctors at Dr. Steevens’ Hospital employed a man to watch the graveyard at Saggart and to tip them off when a burial was about to take place. According to Horan, on one occasion when the cemetery was being raided, a body snatcher was shot dead by an angry mob. There is no record of this event having taken place, but the older graves in Saggart cemetery, which is still in use, bear the heavy stone slabs which were used to deter the sack ‘em ups.

 Eventually, public outrage forced government to pass the British 1832 Anatomy Act, which provided doctors and surgeons with a legal source of cadavers. Body snatching quickly declined after this.

<< Rewind with The Echo

If you got a copy of last week’s Echo (February 2nd), you may have noticed a new feature page called Rewind. It’s a dedicated local history page, produced in partnership with the Local Studies section at the County Library, Tallaght, featuring articles, photos and interesting facts about the history of South Dublin County. The first article was an overview of local studies resources at the County Library, and future articles will focus on topics like village histories, architecture and monuments, famous natives and residents, businesses, folklore and memories, events and much more. Check it out every week in The Echo!