For the complete stranger, let us guide him(or her) as to where this place called Dalkey; it is 8 miles (13Km) south of Dublin City, on the Coast between Dun Laoghaire ( one time Kingstown 1821-1920) and Bray Co. Wicklow The Church of Ireland Parish totals in area c650 acres of, for the most part, a great seam of granite which stretches through the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains and down through Carlow Waterford. Before the Anglo Normans takeover in 1172AD the district was part of the old Cuala territory but, since Henry 11s reign is the Barony of Rathdown and composed of the 14th century Dalkey walled Town , Bullock Lands, Dalkey Stone Commons and the 16th Century Glebe Lands.
In terms of the 150 years of Christian devotion and Church life in St Patricks, it is but a fraction of 1,000 years since Christianity took hold in this region at the foothills east of Dublin mountains. We have evidence of the existence of little stone churches in Killiney Rathmichael, Tullly, with Round Tower, Kilbogget, Kilgobbin Kilternan Kill,Carrickbrennan, (Monkstown) and not least the church on Dalkey Island and Kilbegnet Church in the main Street (Castle Street) in Dalkey Town.
The Four Masters make mention of Dun Delginnise, i.e. The fort of the Island of Thorns. Under AD 727 they record that “a cow was seen at Delginnis- Cualann, having one head and one body as far as the shoulder, and two bodies from her shoulders hinderwards, and two tails, she had six legs, was milked three times each, and her milk was greater (more abundant) each tim”. The next mention of Dalkey is under A.D.938, recording the drowning of Coibhdearach, Abbot of Cill- achaidh, in the sea of Deilginnis - Cualann, while fleeing from the foreigners. A few year later, A.D.942, the same foreigners were defeated by the Irish, their Capital, Ath- Cliath was destroyed, “by killing and drowning, burning and capturing, excepting a small number who fled in a few ships, and reached Deilginis”. The Church on Dalkey Island was abandoned before the 12th century but the local inhabitants on the mainland used the island for grazing cattle, sheep and goats. Saint Begnet’s Church, now in ruin, in Castle Street, is certainly Pre -Norman, at least the oldest portion of it. It served as a Catholic Parish Church up to Elizabeth 1st time when it was taken over by the Protestant residents - until the restoration when the Parish was united to that of Monkstown, and the Church of Saint Begnet fell into disuse.
For the most of us, written Irish history probably begins with St Patrick who was brought to Ireland originally as a slave boy. The Irish King Laoghaire, with whom Patrick had his struggle at Tara was one of the kings who went raiding in Britain in search of slaves. Slave-raids overseas need ships, and ships need harbours. What could be better for a harbour than a little creek where there was safe anchorage and fresh water. The famous well - Jugge’s Well from time immemorial was sited at the corner on Pakenham Road between what was Monkstown Hospital and St Anne’s. Locals called it Moses Well. So Laoghaire built his fort, the Dun of Laoghaire on the highest point on the Crofton Road. When in 1932, the slope at the de Vesci Tennis Courts was reduced, Celtic relics from the Dun was found. The ruined remains of Laoghaire’s fort were completed obliterated with the building of the Martello Tower and Battery in 1804 and, in turn, the Martello Tower and Battery were demolished in 1834 with the advent of Irelands first railway.
About 800 A.D.the Danes attacked the monastery of Holmpatrick (Inish Padraig) off Skeries. The Monks slipping out of Skerries in a currach, bringing with them the bones of the old saint St. Mochanna, who had founded their monastery. They could not land near Howth, for the Danes held it (Howth is a Danish name), and so round the Coast they came to the little creek at Dunleary where they were safe under the protection of Leary's’fort. They reached the spot on the north bank of the Carrickbrennan stream, where what is now known as Old Monkstown Graveyard and set up their monastery once more. For many generations they lived and worked in peace and quiet under the protection of the local celtic chieftain with the name Macgiollamocolmog, ancestor of the Fitzdermotts.
Macs(for short) descendants eventually handed over the monks and all their lands, which by now stretched from Monkstown to Bulloch Harbour, to St. Mary’s Abbey in the City of Dublin. After 1066 the See of Rome began to assert herself in Western Europe, and one of the places she took under her wing was Ireland. The old celtic monks were not following many of the Roman rules and eventually, c 1140, the Cistercians took over St Mary’s Abbey which included Carrickbrennan and Bullock.
We are now getting nearer to home, since Bulloch forms a large part of our present Parish. The Cistercians, noted for their discipline and hard workers as farmers, set to work improving the land and the building of a fortified “hotel” and for protecting and exploiting the fishing industry at Bullock. The castle was completed around 1180 and one little feature of the castle you can see, to this day, is a carved head on the s.w. corner of the building, traditionally thought to represent the features of the head monk in Bulloch at the time of the building the edifice.
No sooner had Henry 11 established his rule in Ireland, than Dalkey Sound (St.Begnets Sea ), which was the only safe haven near Dublin, became a point of great strategical importance. A town was built around the old Celtic Church of St Begnet, this was walled and fortified, and no less than seven castles broke the monotony of the walls. These castles served the double purpose of sheltering a garrison in time of need, and as warehouses for merchandise put ashore at Coliemore. In my researches down through the years, I am grateful for all the help and assistance given to me by my good friend, Dan Mc Carthy in locating what I believe to be a 14 th century quayside built by the English Normans. There still exists some 20 metres of this wharf built of massive blocks of granite, quarried nearby, and which can be readily observed under the foundations of a house called Roxboro. The ships, anchored in the Sound, came into the quays one by one and were emptied of their cargoes which were drawn up to the transit sheds in Dalkey, via what is known as Coliemore Road.
This walled and castellated town of Dalkey was granted by Henry 11 to Hugh De Lacy, constable of Dublin, and soon after donated by the latter to the See of Dublin. In 1178 St Laurence O’Toole assigned the Church, with all its tithes and privileges to the Prior and Convent of Christ Church, Dublin, and thense forward it was served by a Chaplain appointed by the Prior, but the Lordship and manorial rights remained in the hands of the Archbishop, and it was subsequently esteemed as portion of his Manor of Shankill, though separated from the latter by intervening districts. The Archbishop was privileged to hold a weekly market every Wednesday, and a fair on the Feast of St Begnet 12 th November.in the year 1200. Under King John, another fair, which had previously been held at Stagonil (Powerscourt), was transferred to Dalkey. These fairs proved a considerable source of revenue to the See, for the inhabitants of the town were compelled to close their shops and stores, to and transfer all their saleables to huts or tents erected on the Commons outside the Town, for which they had to pay to the Archbishop’s officer a daily rent or toll, during the continuance of the fair, which eventually lasted through entire two weeks. Power was also given to the Archbishop to levy tolls, to be applied to the improvement of the town or to the Harbour. The town was ruled by a Provost and Bailiffs, who were sometimes appointed by the Archbishop and sometimes by the Crown.
The port of Dalkey became more and more used according as ships increased in size, and found the navigation of the Liffey impossible. Travellers of distinction, such as Lord Deputies, Lord Chancellors, Chief Justices, etc. were constantly arriving at, or departing from Dalkey, which was the main port for Ireland, and during the 15 th and 16 th centuries, when it rose to its greatest importance, it was able to contribute 200 men- at- arms to the country levy, whilst in addition to the weekly markets, seven fairs were held annually. The 20 th, 23 rd and 24 th reports of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records of Ireland,furnished in the Christ Church Deeds, many items of interest concerning the inhabitants from time to time, but few of ecclesiastical character. Of the Chaplains who succeeded one another in the administration of St Begnets the name of only one - James White, 1524 - has come down to us, and mention is also made of certain messuages in the town donated to St Mary’s Abbey. The close of the 16 th century marks the decline and demise of Dalkey as a cross- channel port. Then it was that Ringsend was adopted as the port of Dublin and Dalkey losing its commercial importance, soon became ruinous. The principle residents then were the Morgans, Dongans, Henry Walsh, the Barnewalls of Shankill, Fagan of Bullocck, who succeeded to Talbot’s property, Bee and Kernan.
In the time of Commonwealth only one of the seven castles was habitable, and the population was returned as three English and forty one Irish, a great falling off from its condition a century and a half previous, when it was able to contribute 200 men - at - arms. Captain Newcomen of Bullock was owner of the castle and lands at that time, but after the Restoration we find the Fagans, Walshes, Dongans and the Wolvertons of Stillorgan, who succeeded to the Barnewalls property, again in possession. Subsequently the Duke of York (James 11), Viscount Fitzwilliam, and Sir Henry Talbot, acquired property in the town, but with the disaster of the Boyne came the great overthrow , and Dongans and Fagans and the rest, disappeared and being attained for treason are heard of no more; whilst on the sale of the Irish property of James 11, the possession of that sovereign at Dalkey were bought by Colonel Allen of Stillorgan, later by the Earl of Carysfort.
With the opening of the Dublin and Kingstown(D.L.) railway in 1834, giving increased facility of access from Dublin to the south county suburbs, the population grew rapidly that within the next thirty three years no fewer than eight churches were built where not one was known before, Monkstown Parish Church -St Mary’s - opened in 1789 but a still larger one erected in 1832, supplied the spiritual wants of the population of a Parish that stretched from Temple Hill at one end to Loughlinstown on the other.
The order in which the new churches opened were:- St. Matthias, Killiney/Ballybrack
1835, Mariners Church 1836, The Bethel Church (later Christ Church Kingstown) 1836, St Patricks Dalkey 1843, Holy Trinity, Killiney 1858, St John’s Monkstown 1860, Kill of the Grange 1864 and St Paul’s Glenageary 1867.
As each church opened, adjustments had to be made to define the boundaries of the respective Parish. To give just one example; up to the establishing of Dalkey Parish St Matthias Killiney/Ballybrack catered for the whole of Killiney, Dalkey and as far as Kingstown. In the 1830’s 40’s there was still a garrison of soldiery manning the Martello Tower and Battery on Dalkey Island and I have seen records of marriages, births and deaths of those folk who lived on the island. Incidentally, all the other towers had been abandoned in the 1820s but through an oversight of the war Office the Dalkey Island garrison was overlooked and they continued to enjoy their free accommodation and allowances for some further twenty years. There have been no inhabitants on the island since the 1850’s.
Let us “stand back” for a moment ; and take a look at our Parish of St Patrick’s, Dalkey and the social conditions existing down through the one hundred and fifty years since the building of our Church. In the 1840’s there was the unique situation of scores of stone cabins with thatch or slate roofs, scattered in pockets across the Stone Commons, e.g. The Quarry’s on Dalkey Hill, along the whole length of what is Sorrento Road, similarly, along the Coliemore Road was a densely popular cabin area in the Convent Road- Leslie Avenue, - Corrig Road. For the most part, these dwellings were built by the quarry workers engaged in providing the stone for the construction of the Dunleary Harbour Piers (1816-1859). Drinking water was, up until the 1860’s supplied by the many spring wells scattered all over the district. In the betteroff houses, water was supplied by water carts which consisted of wooden casks containing several hundred gallons and, in turn, was siphoned into storage, tank, usually at the rear of the house. In fact, Saval Park Road (previously Batchelors Walk) a pity the name was changed, was constructed mainly for the purpose of facilitating the large houses on Torca Hill, Mount Salus, Ardbrugh, etc. To any student of Dalkey, he/she can readily see the sense in providing a highway such as this, because of the hardship for horses climbing Dalkey Avenue or Knocknacree Hill. Batchelors Walk was a superbly constructed road in the early 1850s
.With the increased travel infrastructure e.g. Railway and Omnibus, those with the where with all started investing in large villas for summer vacations. The Choice sites were on the coastline of Coliemore Road and part of the north end of Vico Road. Now in the mid - nineteenth century we had two main ingredients - cheap labour and cheap energy in the form of coal, for the running of a biggish house. There was the female labour for the house and children, and the male labour for the gardens, green houses, horses and carriages etc. A person like Dr.Dominic Corrigan of Inniscorrig; could be brought by carriage to the Barnhill Road (Dublin Road), to step onto the Atmospheric train, and at Kingstown (Dun Leary) had to walk a few feet only to the steam locomotive train waiting on another platform, to be whisked into Westland Row and thence by carriage to St. Stephen’s Green. All in less than a hour.
Two Little schools (1) Monte Alverno, (2) Barnhill Road (now a motor garage) provided the three Rs (1820s) were closed down with the opening of the new National Schools in 1 Loreto No 2 St Patricks in the mid 1860s. The children of the big houses were almost invariably educated in fee paying schools, both day and boarding.To be continued