RATHFARNHAM

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

RATHFARNHAM, a parish, in the barony of NEWCASTLE, county of DUBLIN, and province of LEINSTER, 4 miles (S.) from Dublin, on the road to Rathdrum; containing 4573 inhabitants, of which number, 1572 are in the village. The castle of Rathfarnham was built by Archbishop Loftus, who was Lord Chancellor of Ireland in the reign of Elizabeth. On the breaking out of the war of 1641, Sir Adam Loftus held it with a garrison, as an outpost to protect the city of Dublin against the incursions of the septs of O'Toole and Byrne from the neighbouring mountains of Wicklow; in 1649 it was taken by the forces of the Duke of Ormonde. Adam Loftus, grandson of Sir Adam, was created baron of Rathfarnham in 1685. At the commencement of the insurrection of 1798, the village was the scene of a skirmish between a detachment of the King's troops and a party of the insurgents, in which several of the latter were killed and others taken prisoners.

Near the village is a lofty bridge of a single arch over the river Dodder, the road from which is thickly shaded by the plantations of the demesnes on each side: the place itself is a long straggling street, with very little to attract attention. The country around is studded with numerous beautiful and richly planted seats, and presents a great variety of picturesque rural scenery. Petty sessions are held in the village every Wednesday: it is a metropolitan police station, and has a dispensary; a fair is held in it on the 10th of July. Near the bridge is a woollen factory, which employs about 100 persons; there are also paper and corn mills near it, which are worked by the waters of the Dodder and the Cruagh river, that form a junction here: at Rathgar are extensive calico print-works.

The small villages of Roundtown and Templeogue are in the parish: in the latter are the ruins of a church with a small burial-ground still used as a cemetery attached to it. Archbishop Alan states, in his "Repertorium Viride," that the church was a chapel appendant to the church of Kilmesantan without the marches or pale; that it was built on the hither side of the Dodder, as being a safe place to hear divine service in during times of war; and that from its late erection it had the name of Templeogue, which signifies "New Church," given to it.

The castle, now the property of the Marquess of Ely, is a large and stately mansion in the centre of a fine and thickly planted demesne, the principal entrance to which is a very beautiful gateway, built in the style of a Roman triumphal arch, besides which there is a very lofty pointed Gothic gateway leading to the village: the entrance to the house from the terrace on which it stands is by a portico of eight Doric columns which support a dome painted in fresco with the signs of the zodiac: the great hall is ornamented with a number of ancient and modern busts on pedestals of variegated marble, and has three windows of stained glass, in one of which are the arms of the Loftus family. The collection of family portraits and paintings by the old masters has been removed, in consequence of a determination to take the building down and to divide the demesne into a number of small plots for the erection of villas.

The other more remarkable seats, besides those described in the articles on Roundtown and Rathgar, are Ashfield, the residence of Sir W. C. Smith, puisne baron of the Exchequer; Beaufort, of R. Hodgens, Esq.; Landscape, of H. O'Callaghan, Esq.; Whitehall, of W. P. Matthews, Esq.; Newtown, of John Kirby, Esq., LL.D., M.D., in the grounds of which there are some very fine evergreens; Rathfarnham House, of the Rev. H. McClean; Bolton Hall, of P. Jones, Esq.; Barton Lodge, of W. Conlan, Esq.; Sallymount, of J. Watson, Esq.; Edenbrook, of E. Conlan, Esq.; Ballyroan, of A. Reilly, Esq.; Brook Lodge, of R. Hutchinson, Esq.; Mount Browne, of Mrs. Johnson; Old Orchard, of P. Larkin, Esq.; Ballyhill, of the Rev. G. Browne; Butterfield House, of J. Wright, Esq.; Nutgrove, of P. Jones, Esq.; Washington Lodge, of the Rev. J. Burnett; Fairbrook, of Thomas Murphy, Esq.; Rusina, of B. Brunton, Esq.; Old Orchard House, of J. Sweeny, Esq., and Whitehall, of T. Laffan, Esq., an out-office of which is built in the shape of a pottery furnace, with a winding flight of steps on the outside to the top, whence there is a commanding prospect of the surrounding country.

The parish comprises 2724 statute acres. It is a rectory, in the diocese of Dublin, and one of the parishes which constitute the archdeaconry of Dublin: the tithes amount to £315. The church is a plain building of rough stone with hewn stone quoins, of very plain outward appearance, but fitted up within very neatly: in it is a mural tablet to the memory of Barry Yelverton, first Lord Avonmore, whose remains are in the cemetery, as are also those of the late Archbishop Magee. The church was enlarged and a tower and spire added to it, in 1821, at a cost of £900, being a loan from the Board of First Fruits, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have lately granted £270 for its repair.

In the R. C. divisions this is the head of the union or district of Rathfarnham, Crumlin, and Bohernabreena, comprising the parishes of Rathfarnham, Crumlin, Tallaght, Cruagh, and Whitechurch. There are large chapels at Rathfarnham, Crumlin, and Bohernabreena, the last in the parish of Tallaght: near the first-named is a good house for the priest. Near the village is a convent of nuns of the order of Loretto: the building is a large brick mansion, which had been the seat of the late G. Grierson, Esq. The sisterhood have a boarding school for young ladies and also superintend a free school of upwards of 100 children, which is aided by the Board of National Education; the pupils receive a suit of clothes annually. Attached to the nunnery is a small chapel very elegantly fitted up: the sisterhood have lately purchased the convent of the nuns of St. Clare at Kingstown. The parochial school is aided by an annual donation from the archdeacon of Dublin; a school for boys in connection with the R. C. chapel is supported by subscriptions and a charity sermon; another school is in connection with the London Hibernian Society. Wilkes, the celebrated comedian, was a native of this parish.

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