Namely, the Darcy family, who would have grown up watching (and helping) brothers Tom and Pat run that great big farm up on the hill.
Even without your rose-tinted glasses on, it’s impossible not to imagine an idyllic childhood, in a Greystones with vast open spaces, most of it untouched and much of it just as it had been for hundreds of years.
Of the five living children, it was Helen who took upon herself to pull together the memories and magical moments of growing up on Darcy’s Farm.
With a little help, no doubt, from Mary, Assumpta, Bernard and Tom…
Ashfield House stands on Windgates Hill and has been the home and farm of the Darcy family since the late 1800s.
The holding consisted of three farms, Ashfield, Rathdown and the Grove, where mixed farming was carried out – tillage, live stock and a pig dealing business . It was run and managed by the Darcy brothers, Tom and Pat. They employed six or seven permanent workers and then extra hands at busy times of potato picking, hay-making and harvesting.
In their lifetime, they saw many changes in Greystones – the collapse of two railway bridges due to high seas and storms, the arrival of the telephone circa 1930, the handing over of land to the Council for the building of Redford Cemetery, the arrival of the E.S.B in 1946/7, and the revamping of St. Crispen’s Cell.
The children growing up in Windgates in the 1940s walked to school in fine weather through the fields and The Banks, accompanied by rabbits, foxes and the bird song choir. In wet weather, the stream of kids walking the road became a flood by the time they reached the school gates.
After school the chores had to be done; animals fed, logs chopped, turf carried in, eggs collected, fruit picked and butter churned. And then homework had to be tackled by lamp light, everyone huddled around the kitchen table.
Summer holidays were filled with swimming at the North Beach, climbing the two Sugar Loaf mountains, cycling to Glendalough and Brittas Bay, and finally, after all that threshing was done and the farm was stocked for another winter, back to school.
Time moved on and the 1950s brought new people to the village and demand for housing became a necessity. The village was becoming a town and the farms were becoming smaller. The beauty was that the housing estates in Greystones took the farm names with them. The new park near the Cliff Walk was known for a long time as Darcy’s Field, and that it should remain so for the future is wonderful.
The last family residents of Ashfield farm were Tom and Catherine Darcy. The remaining family members are Helen, Tom, Bernard, Mary and Assumpta. John and David are sadly no longer with us…
You can read Mark Mitchell’s ode to Darcy’s Field here, and go trek up Windgates with Ray Cranley right here.
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