With their recent Heritage Day talk at St Crispin’s Cell having gone down rather well, those clever cats at Greystones Tidy Towns have now issued a brief history of the entire Rathdown Heritage Site.
Only trouble is, as a poster, it’s pretty darn hard to read online.
So, we’re reproducing here, word for barely legible word. So, allow for the fact that, hey, we had to make an incredibly well-educated and firm-buttocked guess here and there.
Well done to all involved – so important to chart our history, especially those parts of the jigsaw that tend to be ignored and are therefore in greater danger of being forgotten…
Over to the GTT gang…
Welcome to the historic townland of Rathdown, where people have lived and worked since the early Nomadic period.
Through the ages, Rathdown has witnessed invasion, settlement, prosperity, war, destruction, neglect, and now a renewed interest and respect. The rich history lives on – above and below the soil.
Rathdown Castle and Medieval Village
The Castle, constructed in the 13th century, may have been built on the site of an earlier fort and rath. The remnants of the castle and the ‘Lost Medieval Village of Rathdown’ stood until recent times.
Rathdown (Ráth an Dúin) became the stronghold of Domnall Mac Gilla Mo-Cholmog, who tooks sides with the Normans at the Battle of Dublin in 1171.
For his loyalty, King Henry II granted him the Manor of Rathdown. The ownership of the castle and lands was transferred a number of times – being granted to Pierce Talbot in 1536.
The Barony of Rathdown stretched from south Dublin to north Wicklow – it was finally subdivided between the counties of Dublin and Wickow in 1606.
Many coins have been discovered in the vicinity, the largest being a collection of silver coins known as the Rathdown Hoard. This included 79 shillings and 321 sixpences, representing the second largest coin hoard found in Ireland.
Captain Tarrant’s Farmhouse
Captain Tarrant’s Farmhouse is a two-storey house built in 1710. It is probable that several of the granite slabs that were used in the construction were taken from the 13th century castle.
Charles Tarrant was an engineer involved in many important infrastructural projects in Ireland, including the building of the Grand Canal and Barrow navigation system. He also acted as a voluntary advisor to the Wide Streets Commission during the redesign of Dublin’s streetscape.
The landscape provided fresh water, rich farmland, sites for defensive structures and a harbourage for its early inhabitants. Rathdown has been occupied since the late Stone Age with flint implements, Bronze Age tools and pottery discovered in the area. Objects found include a javelin, axes, chisels and a grinding stone.
Evidence of a substantial Beaker period settlement was found during archaeological investigations at the western part of the site.
Saint Crispin’s Cell
Named after the patron saint of shoemakers, this 15th or 16th century, single-celled church was built on the visible remains of an older building, perhaps an earlier church. The arched doorway, carved from granite, is of an older architectural style to the rest of the church, suggesting that this feature was incorporated from the remains of the earlier church or from the castle.
You can check out GG’s half-assed history of St Crispin’s Cell here, as well as our history of Greystones itself right here. You can also keep up to date with the Greystones Tidy Town terriers right here, and check out the Greystones Archaelogical & Historical Society right over here.