e reckon it would be fair to say that, on the right day, in the right light, Wicklow town might actually be prettier than Greystones.
Wicklow circa 1910
We blame the river. And the way the main street snakes all over the feckin’ place.
Yep, our sexy neighbour is one hell of a town. And, until our lazy local councillors get around to building a river through Greystones, Wicklow may even be the jewel in our sparkling county crown. The flash feck.
The Bone Shaker 2000
Mind you, the population is just over 11,000, and we’re currently cruising past 18,000 – so, you know, if Wicklow town starts behaving like the jewel in our sparkling county crown, we have plenty of hands here to slap a little sense back into the place.
With GG having already established archives onKillincarrig, Delgany, Kilcoole, Kilmacanogueand Bray, it’s only fair that our eponymous county neighbour should get a page all on its ownsome. Somewhere to pull together all the groovy archive pics – the bulk from the National Gallery of Ireland [cheers!] – that we’ve been storing over the last few years.
First though, a little history…
The earliest recorded mention of our county’s capital came in 130 AD, with Greek cartographer Ptolemyreferring to the town as Manapia.
Given a certain TV series currently being shot in the area, it’s fitting that the name Wicklow came from the old Viking word ‘Vykyngelo’ – which means, Meadow of the Vikings.
Even better is the story behind the town’s Irish name, Cill Mhantáin. Apparently, poor old St Patrick found he and his pals were far from welcome when they docked in Wicklow, the ensuing fight resulting in one of Paddy’s buddies getting a tooth knocked out. When he later returned to set up a church in the town, he was given the name Manntach (Toothless One). As for Cill Mhantáin, that’s translates as Church Of The Toothless One.
Pic: Glaucia Bernardo
Rockin’ name, but, 600 years later, when the Normans were doing all the raping and pillaging, they preferred the Wicklow name. And so, it stuck.
Once the Norman invasion kicked in, Wicklow was handed toMaurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan, who then set about building Black Castle [pictured Nov 2017 by Claucia Bernardo] in his honour. Over the years, this fortification would be held by the O’Byrne, the O’Toole and the Kavanagh clans before being abandoned when those English swines came to town. Led by certifiable cnut Sir Charles Coote, in revenge for theuprising of 1641, his troops engaged in what was then recorded as a ‘savage and indiscriminate’ slaughter of the townspeople. It was even said that a number of people were deliberately burnt to death in a building on what became known locally as Melancholy Lane.
When it comes to Wicklow’s historic buildings, the oldest surviving settlement in the town is the Franciscan Abbey, whilst the Town Hall has had to take a back seat to the Gaol, built in 1702, and now a major tourist attraction and heritage centre. The fact that it was a place of execution up to the close of the 19th century is one of its strongest selling points, with Billy Byrne, a leader of the1798 rebellion, meeting his end there in 1799.
In Fitzwilliam Square, an obelisk marks the career ofCaptain Robert Halpin, commander of the telegraph cable Ship Great Eastern, who was born in Wicklow in 1836.
You can find a deeper, less crappy history of Wicklow town on the Our Heritage sitehere, and take their Heritage Trail here.Shout-out too, to the Facebook group,Wicklow Past, for some of the wonderful colour shots here.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.