Fingal Towns: History and Heritage

by Fingal Libraries
by Fingal Libraries on May 15, 2017 in Libraries

Over the last twenty years, there have been many books published dealing with the main towns and urban areas of Fingal. Some of them have been published by Fingal Libraries, as part of our policy of supporting local studies development. Swords in the Nineteenth Century (2003) by Áine Shields, published by Fingal County Libraries. This […]

Over the last twenty years, there have been many books published dealing with the main towns and urban areas of Fingal. Some of them have been published by Fingal Libraries, as part of our policy of supporting local studies development.

Swords in the Nineteenth Century (2003) by Áine Shields, published by Fingal County Libraries. This book charts the development of the town during this century, although there is also a brief history of how the town grew from the monastic settlement known as Sord Colmcille through the Norman period, the Reformation, and the Penal Laws. At the beginning of the 19th century the town served an agricultural community but gradually broadened its base with ongoing building projects, food trading, commercial forging, and milling. After 1841 the population settled into a gradual but steady decline. The building of two schools, a parochial house and a dispensary in the 1890s marked new advances in the town’s development and modernisation.

Swords: Our Town (2001) by St Colmcille’s B.N.S. This brief but very useful book was produced by students and acts as a primer on Sword’s history and heritage. The cultural landmarks of the town are explored along with the area’s historic transport, coach-roads, and bridges. There are some b & w photographs and maps included. The Estuary and its flora and fauna are outlined. The final part is a history of the schools in Swords.

Around and About Malahide (2009) and Old Malahide (2012) by Roger Greene, both published by Fingal County Libraries. The first book is not intended as a comprehensive guide but has a brief history of the area and concise portraits on over sixty historical features, from the strand to Balgriffin. The more recent work is an expanded study of the town. It explores in detail the history of the coast and port, and the coastal islands nearby. An extensive look at Malahide Castle and Demesne is provided. There is a chapter on the Talbot family, owners of the Castle for nearly 800 years, and their influence on the area. The history of the many sports clubs in the area is also examined.

Portmarnock: Its People and Townlands (2013) by Garry Ahern, published by Fingal County Libraries. This comprehensive book looks at the coastal town from as far back as the Stone Age to its time as medieval grange to its 10 internal townlands in the 19th century. The coming of the railway in 1844 facilitated local businesses and landowning families, and paved the way for modern day-trips to the beach. The chapter on the shoreline and estuary includes information on shipwrecks, aviation and motoring events on the beach.  A final chapter deals in depth with the Plunkett family and their estate of Portmarnock House, which was destroyed in a fire in 1953.

Portmarnock Uncovered (2014) by Catherine McMahon & Betty Ennis is a hardback anthology of articles written by the authors from 2004 and published monthly in the local parish newsletter. With extensive colour photography it is a recent history of Portmarnock and a look at the wider community and their concerns.

Baldoyle: A Local History (2009) by Michael J Hurley explores the suburb with the name Baile Dubhghaill bequeathed by the Vikings. It’s most known historically for the Baldoyle Racecourse, and there is a lot of detail here on the growth of the races and their eventual end in August 1972. The related growth of the railway and expansion of the area is chronicled, with extensive b & w photography. The author is from Baldoyle and gives many insights into more recent history.

Sutton: Cill Fhionntain (2012) by Michael J Hurley looks at the growth of this former hamlet into a large and busy suburb straddling the entrance to the Howth Peninsula. The ancient Corr Castle is examined, the historic Warren House (where St Fintan’s School is now situated), and the historic Fairy Hill Hospital for convalescent children. Iconic features like the Martello tower at Red Rock, Strand Road, Sutton Beach and Station Road feature with both b & w and colour photographs.

The Howth Peninsula Area From Old Picture Postcards (2011) by Michael J Hurley and Anne Murphy. This short but enticing book contains a selection of picture postcards dating from the last hundred years, reproduced with modern photographs alongside to provide comparison. They include views of the town and harbour, churches and hotels, the tramway system, and the cliff view and Summit.

Donabate & Portrane – a History (Rev. Ed. 2001) by Peader Bates. This history of the parish considers the three main historic landed estates separately, using a number of comprehensive maps. Previous generations depended much on the three landlords, Barnewall, Cobbe and Evans, for employment and sustenance. The author uncovers information on the Cobbe family from the Cobbe Archives in Newbridge House. Newbridge House is explored in text and b & w photographs along with Turvey House (damaged in the early 1970s and demolished in 1987). Also examined is church history in the area, education, social unrest, and the building of the Dublin/Drogheda railway.

Rush by the Sea (1996) by Rush I.C.A History Group. This book is a history of the seaside town, organised in short sections with b & w photography. The book takes a look at early history and the founding of the chapels of St. Catherine’s and St. Maur’s. Following is much about the role of the Echlin and Palmer families as landlords in the area at Kenure House. There are details on that historic building, which was demolished in 1978, and the portico that remains in Kenure Park. There are very useful passages on old place names along the area and shoreline, and on local flora and fauna.

Real Balbriggan (2014), ed. Petra Skyvova. Through informative articles and interviews with local people the history of the town is retraced. There are some wonderful recent colour photographs of the town, along with archival b & w photography, which by contrast shows the changes in the town over the last century. Bremore Castle, Balbriggan Harbour and Lighthouse, and Martello Tower & Bath House are profiled, and the interviews with residents are illuminating.

Balbriggan : the street where you live (2006), compiled by Jim Walsh, Stephanie Bourke and Colm Timmins. This book is a short but incisive insight into the names and places of Balbriggan, with sketches of places by Ciara Timmins Grant. Old and current place names are listed in the index. It also show how so many place names are related to aspects of social history, and to historical figures.

Balbriggan: A History for the Millennium (1999; reprinted 2010) by the Balbriggan & District Historical Society, features essays on Balbriggan which are of great historical interest. There are articles on the town during momentous turmoil (the 1798 uprising, the Famine, the Sack of Balbriggan in 1920). Notable places and features are profiled: Bremore Castle, Ardgillan Castle, Knocknagin House, and Balbriggan Harbour. The history of churches, schools, Balbriggan Community College, the public library and sports clubs are profiled in essays and there is a piece on the children’s holiday centre, Sunshine House.

Dublin 15 and Beyond: A short guide in lore (2003) by Cecil Coyne, is a concise 96-page book on the lore and legacy of the general Dublin 15 area, as far as Ashtown, Chapelizod, and the Phoenix Park. A page is devoted to each landmark with pen and ink drawings, and a full index of contents is included.

Candle in the Wind (1999) and The Barony of Castleknock (2015) by Jim Lacey. In Candle in the Wind there is an exploration of the entire area’s landmarks and history, in particular the growth of Castleknock and Blanchardstown from agrarian villages at the turn of the 19thcentury to the huge expanding suburbs of modern times. The Barony of Castleknock offers a wider picture, adding more information on the families and owners of the big demesnes. There are more photographs and reproduced prints, with the text elaborating on the image. Find out the Dublin 15 connections with the city’s cherished Walton’s Music Shop, and with the Hollywood actress Rita Hayworth.

Swords Voices, Time and Tide, Fingal Studies

Swords Voices is the annual publication of the Swords Historical Society and chronicles oral and written memories of the town’s evolution over recent generations, along with old photos and sketches. There have been 22 volumes in the series and it has been a great resource since its launch way back in September 1993.

Time and Tide is published by the Skerries Historical Society. The series began in 1998 and its volumes gather together local history papers exploring social change in Skerries down through the years. There are nine volumes so far, all detailed and informative, with plenty of photography.

Fingal Studies, the local history journal of Fingal County Libraries, has had contributions on aspects of the towns and areas mentioned in the four volumes so far. Examples include articles on the Borough schools in Swords, Seatown Castle, the motte in Portmarnock, 18th-century Skerries, and Harbour terrace in Balbriggan.

These books and periodicals are available for lending or reference use in Fingal Libraries.

By Fergus O’ Reilly, Howth Library

heritage books