The Friar’s Walk, Tallaght.

This article is taken from Tomás Maher’s talk Tallaght Through the Ages which was Tallaght Historical Society’s January Lecture. It was also published in The Echo on February 23rd. 

When Eugene O’Curry, working on behalf of the Ordnance Survey, visited Tallaght in 1837 he reported on the Friar’s Walk. It was at that time within the garden of the former Archbishop’s Palace. He wrote to Larcom, the head of the mapping project; “There is a fine raised walk running within the garden from North to South, which is called the Friar’s Walk, and a handsome round moate-like eminence at the north end of it is called the Bishop’s Seat”.

Dominican College Friar's Walk, Tallaght.

The Friar’s Walk he refers to is still to be seen in the garden of St Mary’s Dominican Priory. The fact it was commonly known as the Friar’s Walk some 20 years before the arrival of the Dominican order in Tallaght indicates it is a medieval artifact associated with the old monastery founded by St. Maelruain in 769AD. The “handsome round moate-like eminence” at the north end of the walk is now much degraded and is surmounted by a Calvary scene comprising a cross and some statues (the old plaster figures were replaced recently by a more modern work ). The term Bishop’s Seat suggests it may once have been a significant motte fortification built by the Normans in the late 12th or early 13th century to house their appointed bishop.

Today the Friar’s Walk is a raised flat piece of land approximately 150 metres long and lined on either side by mature trees. These include oak, beech, and chestnut. Halfway along the avenue it is bisected by an East-West pathway. Beside this path are two unusual stones situated under some ancient yew trees. One of these stones is a large bullaun stone, perhaps used by the monks of old to grind herbs for medicinal use. The other, larger stone was dug out of the Archbishop’s Bathhouse in the early 19th century. It has long been regarded as the base of the ancient cross of Tallaght which stood in the village until the late middle ages. This would seem to be the case, considering there is a slight depression carved into one side for holding holy water. However, its earlier function was something quite different.

The Bullaun Stone in the Priory Grounds

About 2 years ago Conleth Manning, an archaeologist with the OPW visited the site and examined the stone. He felt the upper surface of it and remarked on how smooth and polished it was. This, he said was an indication of its use as a millstone. He considered it was the base stone of a medieval horizontal mill. The peculiar spiral shape of the hole in the centre of the stone has long been a source of mystery. The shape of this hole, Conleth said, was caused by the rotation of the shaft connecting the horizontal waterwheel with the upper grinding stone of the mill.

The Friar’s Walk today is part of a beautiful wooded garden reserved by the Dominicans for quiet reflection and retreat.

Tallaght Historical Society meets once a month at the County Library, Tallaght and new members are always welcome. The next talk is Alice Furlong, Tallaght Poetess by Eamonn Maloney TD, on 8th March at 7:00 p.m..

Tomás Maher is teaching an evening course in local history for adults at Tallaght Community School, beginning on 6th March 2012. For details please contact Owen Morris at


Clondalkin History Society Lecture Series 2010 – 2011

Clondalkin History Society has just released details of its lecture series for 2010 – 2011. All lectures take place in Áras Chrónáin, Watery Lane, Clondalkin at 8pm. All are welcome.

Monday 27th September 2010

Royal Irish Academy

Siobhán Fitzpatrick

Monday 1st November


Monday 29th November

Newlands Golf Club

John Mc Kernan

Monday 31st January 2011


Frank Tracy

Monday 28th February

Air Defense of Dublin 1940-45

Dr Michael Kennedy

Monday 28th March

Dublin 1916

William Campbell

Monday 18th April

Paper Mills on the Camac

Rioch Mc Elinn

Monday 30th May

Ann Devlin

Micheál Ó Doibhilín

South Dublin County Time Machine Launched

List of map series Deputy Mayor of South Dublin County, Cllr Paddy Cosgrove launched South Dublin County Council’s new historical mapping service on Tuesday last 20th October in Rathfarnham Castle. The new online service is a joint venture between South Dublin County Council’s Library Service and its Spatial Data Team in IT Services. The website was a vision of the local studies section of South Dublin’s County Library. The useful map collection which the library had compiled was under-utilised as it was difficult for people, especially for school pupils and students to access the collection. The library along with the Spatial Data Team and IT Services in the County Council worked together to produce the website which is a great resource for anyone interested in the history and heritage of South Dublin County.It allows users to browse series of historical maps of South Dublin County from Rocque’s map (1760) through a variety of maps and times to current OS mapping and aerial photography. The site can be accessed through South Dublin Libraries website. A link is located on the Local Studies page of the website. It can be accessed directly from here.
Historical Mapping Website copy

Launch of South Dublin Rambles

Mayor Marie Corr will launch South Dublin Rambles by Frank Tracy at the County Library in Tallaght on Wednesday 10th June at 7:30 p.m.

 The publication of the book is most timely – summer has at last arrived, the days are growing longer and the weather is improving. This guidebook contains six urban and six rural walks and the lively text also informs about the history, heritage, nature and landscapes of South Dublin County and of neighbouring Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County.

 After the launch copies of the book will be on sale in branches of South Dublin County Libraries,  priced €5.

All are welcome to the launch on Wednesday evening!

Tallaght Historical Society Lecture Series 2008/2009

18th September
Tallaght History Society – Information Evening
All Welcome

October 22nd 2008 8.00 pm
Leo Swan Memorial Lecture
From Deserted to Vagrancy – The Pre-Famine Poor of Tallaght
By Sean Bagnall

The talk will be preceded by the Tallaght launch of Sean’s new book Tallaght 1835-1850 – A Rural Place, published by Four Courts Press. Copies of the book will be on sale in the library on the night

November 20th 2008 8.00pm
History of Donadea and the Forest Park
Séamus Cullen

December 18th 2008, 8.00pm
1916 – North King Street
Dublin’s Stalingrad
Chris Shouldice

21st January 2009 8.00pm
The Poulaphuca Survey and the Old Farmhouses of Wicklow
Chris Corlett author of the recent book “Beneath the Poulaphouca Reservoir

!8th Feb 2009, 8.00pm
Illustrated Talk on The Doorways of Ireland – title to be announced
Michael Fewer
Michael’s new book on the Doorways of Ireland will be launched on 12th November

Wednesday 18th March 2009 8.00pm
Bumps in the Fields and Crumbling Walls – Practical Archaeology for Sunday Afternoons
By Hermann Geissel
Hermann’s new book of the same title was recently published by South Dublin Libraries

Wednesday 15th April 2009, 8.00pm
From the Jacobs Archive
By Douglas Appleyard

Clondalkin History Society Lecture Series 2008/2009

Joe Williams has just given us details of the Clondalkin History Society Lecture Series 2008/2009 which is as follows:

Monday 20th October

Monday 24th November
Katharine Tynan’s Cobbler
Joe Williams

Monday 26th January 2009
From Kingstown to Dalkey by Air Atmospheric Railway 1844-54
James Scannell

Monday 23rd February 8.00pm
W&R Jacob – Irish Biscuit Making
Séamus Ó Maitiú

Monday 30th March 8.00pm
Bringing Ireland into line with Rome in 19th Century
Frank Sweeney

Monday 27th April 8.00pm
The Monica Roberts letters from the Front 1914-18
Bryan Mac Mahon

Monday 25th May 8.00pm
Members at Home – Your Own Stories and Photographs

All Lectures take place in  Áras Chrónáin, Watery Lane, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

For more information on the society, please visit

8th Annual Leo Swan Memorial Lecture

South Dublin Libraries Local Studies Section and Tallaght Historical Society are delighted to announce that the 7th Annual Leo Swan Memorial Lecture will take place in The County Library, Tallaght on Wednesday 22nd October 2008 at 8.00pm. In 2007 the Leo Swan Memorial Lecture did not take place due to renovations at the County Library.

Leo Swan, a noted archaeologist was a founder member of Tallaght Historical Society and is fondly remembered in the area as Principal of Our Lady of Loreto Primary School.

The lecture on The Poor of Tallaght between 1835 and 1850 will be given by Sean Bagnall, a native of Tallaght. Any aspect of the history of Tallaght would have been dear to the late Leo Swan.

The lecture will be preceded by the Tallaght launch of Sean Bagnall’s new book “Tallaght 1835-1850” which was recently published by Four Courts Press. Copies of the book will be on sale in the library on the night.