F. Erlington (Francis Elrington) Ball.

A history of the County Dublin; the people, parishes and antiquities from the earliest times to the close of the eighteenth century (Volume 2) online

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(') Pxies Occurrences, vol. .\1., No. 52, vol. Ixiii., No. (J54-1 ; Newspaper Cuttings
relating to Ireland in the Britiwh Mu.seuiii.

(2) Brewer's " Beauties of Ireland,' vol. i., p. IHT ; Lease in Registry of Deeds
OfTiee ; Blaeker'.s .Sketelies, pp. 84, S.l, 1,S7, !!••_', iMo. 4:}1. 474 ; Post Chaise Com-
panion ; Burke's " Landed (gentry," under Massy Daw-on of New Forest.

The Viscounts Moimtinorres are l)iiried in .Monkstown graveyard, and there is
in .Monkstown Cliureh a mural tablet to Lieutenant-tieneral Stewart hearing tiie
following inscrijjtion : — " Inscrihed to the memory of J,ieii(.-(Jeneral .lames Stewart,
late Lt.-Col. of His ISIajesty's rjth or Royal Irish Begim<ni i>\ Dragoons, who de-
parted this life in Dublin 1st May, 1798, aged 58 years, luuch beloved and lamented
by -Miss Jane Stewart his Ijeloved danghter. This niotuimeiit is erected by Major
Ma.xwell of the- 7th Dragoon (iuards, the nephew and late aide-ile-eanij) to the
Ciencrral, in token of their love and regard "'



Near Merrion Avenue, on what was then part of the lands of
Booterstown, three villas worthy of notice were erected in the latter
half of the eighteenth centuiy. These were known as Lisaniskea,
Fort Lisle, and Frescati. Lisaniskea, which is still to be seen, was
the home of Lady Arabella Denny, widow of Mr. Arthur Denny,
j\LP. for the County Kerry, and daughter of the first Earl of
Kerry, the foundress of the Magdalen Asylum in Leeson Street.
She has been described as a most agi-eeable and extraordinary
woman, and spent her means in the alleviation of distress and
suffering. At Lisaniskea her nephew, the Earl of Shelburne,
sometimes sought repose from the cares of State, and there a few
years before the close of her long life, Lady Arabella Denny was

View of Vauxhall Gardens, Blackrock.

From a Plate in " The Sentimental and Masonic Magazine^

visited in 1783 by John Wesley, who speaks of Lisaniskea as an
earthly paradise (}). Fort Lisle, which stood where the upper bank
of the People's Park now lies, was then the residence of John, first
Lord Lisle, whose penurious habits gave great opportunity to the
satirists of his time. After his death in 1781 the house was
occupied by his widow, whose brother. Admiral Matthew Moore,
died in 1787 at Blackrock, ordering his body to be interred at low-
water mark in the strand, and by his son-in-law, Mr. John Travers.

(1) Slacker's Sketches, pp. 171, 231 ; Lansdowne Papers, British Museum
Add. MS., 24,137, vol. i., f. 118; " Essays from the Batchelor, by Jeoffrey
Wagstaffe," p. 191.


III 1793 the house and grounds were turned into a place of public
recreation under the name of Vauxhall Gardens, which were said,
in the Language of that period, to have crowned " the fasci-
nating vicinity of Blackrock with a resistless charm " (i). Frescati,
which remains, but in an altered form, was built as the seaside
residence of the Leinster family, and was said to be one of the
best mansions in Ireland. There Lord Edwai'd FitzGerald
exercised his taste for horticulture, there the Dowasfcr Duchess of
Leinster gave splendid entertainments, and there, amongst tem-
porary residents, we find Sir Henry Cavendish, who, while a
member of the English House of Commons, reported for his amuse-
ment the speeches made during an entire Parliament, and his wife,
who was created a peeress as Baroness Waterpark (2).


SiMMONSCOURT, a district to the north-west (or opposite side to
Booterstown) of Merrion, forming portion of the populous Pem-
broke Township, exhibits as the only relic of its ancient state a
fragment of a fortified building in the grounds of the modern
Simmonscourt Castle. The ruins were in the eighteenth century
much more considerable, and when visited by Austin Cooper in
17S0 a staircase of 38 steps was intact (3).

During the davs of invasion bv the Black Danes and their
Scottish allies, the lands within the confines of Simmonscourt were
the scene of a fearful massacre. This was proved by the discovery,
more than twenty years ago, on the southern side of the modern
Ailesburv Road, near Seaview Terrace, of a vast cjuantity of
human remains which the late Dr. William Frazer, in an exhaustive
paper read before the Royal Irish Academy, di-scribes at length.
Those slain included men. women, and childnMi to the number of
six hundred persons, and fiom the condition of the remains Dr.
Frazer was of opinion that they had been killed in cold blood. ;\]]d
not in battle. Only one of the invaders, a chief, who was found
buried apart, with a Danish sword by his side, and two women at

(M Blackcr's Sketches, pp. 81, 17:5, I'M); " Kssays trnm the Hatelteior. hv
Jeoffrey Wag.-^taffe," pp. 21, -20, 13(», 1S4.

('^) Biackcr's Sketches, pp. ]<.)'.], 104 ; Moore's "Life of I-ord Kilwanl Kit/.j;eral(l,"
vol. i., pp. 220-239; " Dictioiiaiy of Xutioiial Hii)L'nii)hy," vo!. ix., p. .'Ms.

(•■') Crose's " Antifjiiities r)f Ireland." vol. i., p. 21 ; " 'I'lic Les.-cr Castles of
the County Dublin," l.y K. It. M'C. Dix in 7'At hi.sh lUiilda; for l>S!t7, p. (io ;
(/Ooper'tf Note Book.



his feet, appears to have fallen, his death being due to a sword
wound on his head. Dr. Frazer conjectured that the remains
were those of inhabitants of the coast who had fled before the fierce
invaders by a road which led from Merrion to the ford at Donny-
brook, and that, possibly stopped by floods, they had been over-
taken, and, after making feeble resistance, had been ruthlessly
slaughtered (i).


Simmonscourt Castle in 1792.

From an En<jr<tving in Grose s " Antiquities 0/ Ireland."

The lands of Simmonscourt, as originally constituted in the thir-
teenth century, divided the lands of Merrion from those of Donny-
brook and Baggotrath, and were described as a carucate of land in
Donnybrook near the highway from Dublin to Thorncastle,
extending from the Dodder Bridge to the meadow of Merrion. The
lands then belonged, like those of Merrion and Booterstown, to
Walter de Rideleford, and by him they were granted in 1238 to
Frambald FitzBoydekyn, who is described as a resident on the de
Ridelefords' property in the County Kildare. Twenty years later
John Frambald, son of the original lessee, conveyed the lands at
the rent of a pair of gloves to Richard de St. Olof, a citizen of
Dublin, and from the latter they passed, through the marriage of

(M Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Polite Literature, Second Series,
vol. ii., p. 29.


liis daughter, Margery to one of the house, into the possession of
a family called Morville. In their time a charge was executed on
the lands in favour of Thomas Bagod, then the owner of Merrion,
and later on his successor in Merrion, Sir John Cruise, exercised

some right over them.


The name Simmonscourt, or, as it was formerly spelled, Smothcs-
court, is dei'ived from a family called Smothe, who appear in the
fourteenth century as the successors of the Morvilles. There wei'e
two owners, father and son, called Thomas Smothe, and the lands
afterwards passed through the hands of several other persons. Wo
find amongst those dealing with them, in 1379, John Mynagh, a
chaplain; in 1382 Robert Serjeant; in 1386 Roger Kilmore, who
leased to three carpenters his lands in Donnybrook, excepting a
little park, a dovecote, and an acre of meadow ; and in 1391 John
Drake, who was Mayor of Dublin, and displayed during his tenn of
office gi'eat valour as leader of an expedition against the Irish
enemies of the King in the wilds of the Wicklow ilills. By John
I>rake the lands were assigned, on condition that prayers should be
offered for himself and his relations, to the Priory of the Holy
Trinity, and from that time until the nineteenth century the lands
remained ecclesiastical property, and were held under the Priory
and its successor, the Cathedral of Christ Church, by the Fitz-
williams of Merrion (i).

Places for public amusements stood upon the lands; and in a
sixteenth century lease to the Fitzwilliams, the keeping and profits
of the courts are reserved to the landlords. On Easter Monday, or
Black Monday, as it was called on account of llie dreadful slaughter
of the citizens which had taken place on that day at Cullenswood,
the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral and his servants came to
Simmonscoui'l for an animal outing ami the tenant was bound to
receive them in the chief house, occupied about that time by one
Gerald Long, described as a gentleman, and to extend hospitality
to them. A ral)bit warren planted with ash and as])en trees is
mentioned in the lease, and also a dovecote, which the tenant was
bound to stock with pigeons, and of which the landlords, who were
to share the stock with the tenant, were to have a key. With the
lands of Simmonscourt were held lands called Colcot, which had
been released in 1336 by Sir Elias Aslibourne to Thomas Smothe (-).

(') Christ Chiii'h Deeds iiniler Doimvbidok jind SiiniiU)tiscf)iir( ; IU,i(l<ei's
Sketches, j). liiiii ; " Ohit.saini .Marlynihigy ot (.'hiist (.'liureh."

(^) Cliiist Chiinli Deeds. . ...... ^


A bridge across the Dodder known as the bridge of Simmons-
court existed in the beginning of the seventeenth century, but was
much out of repair in 1640, when the sum of £10 was voted by the
Corporation of Dublin for its restoration. At the time of the
rebellion of 1641 the lands of Simmonscourt, then occupied by
George Hill, were spoiled and laid waste by, as was alleged, de-
pendants and tenants of Viscount Fitzwilliam. The widow of
George Hill, who appears to have lost his life in the hardship of
those times, deposed that thirty cows of English breed, seven
heifers, and eight horses, besides a quantity of corn, had been
carried off, and that some of the cattle were taken to Kilternan
and there killed on lands owned by Viscount Fitzwilliam. During
the Commonwealth the lands of Sinimonscourt, which were
returned as occupied by seven English and fifteen Irish inhabi-
tants, were held by a Mr. John Weaver. After the Restoration
the Earl of Tyrconnel's brother and successor, William Fitz-
william, resided in the castle, which had four chimneys, the only
other householders being one Thomas Parker, a^ j^oor widow, and
James the carman. At the close of the seventeenth century the
Castle of Simmonscourt was in ruin, and the lands were held
under Christ Church by the Mossoms, already mentioned as tenants
under the Cathedral for Tipperstown (i).

The beginning of the eighteenth century saw a house at Simmons-
court, which was the residence at the time of his death, in 1734, of
Arthur Forbes, second Earl of Granard, the father of the distin-
guished naval commander and diplomatist, who succeeded him in
the title as third Earl, and which possibly had been previously
occuj^ied by Mr. Samuel Adams, who in 1720 was placed on the
Commission of the Peace for the County Dublin, and was described
as of Simmonscourt. Subsequently the Honble. Richard Mountney,
one of the Barons of the Exchequer, had a house there. In 1791 a
bridge of three arches was erected across the Dodder on the site of
the present Ball's Bridge, and known by that name ; it was re-
placed in 1835 by the existing structure. Towards the close of the
eighteenth century Counsellor Whittingham and Mr. Trulock are
mentioned as the chief residents at Simmonscourt (2).

(I) Gilbert's "Ancient Records of Dublin," vol. iii., p. 372; Depositions of
1641 (Mary Hill of Simmonscourt); Poll Tax Return; Crown Rental Roll;
Blacker's Sketche.?, p. 40.5.

(-) Dublin Week!// Journal for 1734, pp. 112, ll(j, 140; Pue\s Occurrences, vol.
xxxi., No. 55 ; Magistrates' Warrants in Public Record Oflice : Blacker's Sketche,*,
pp. 82, 95. 192, 408; M'Cready's " Street Names of Dublin " ; Post Chaise Com-
panion; Dublin Journal, May 7-H, 1745.



The land, on which the suburb of Sandvmount stands, lyini^
between Simmonscourt and the sea, was in the sixteenth century
a i-abbit warren called the Scallct Hill, which was covered with
furze. It had belonged to Richard dc St. Olof, the original
owner of Simmonscourt. and after passing thrnugh \\\c hands of
the owners of Baggotrath. the Bagods, and the Fitzwilliains. it
came, at the same time as Simmonscourt. into the possession of the
Priory of the TToly Trinity. Subsequently this area, together with
the land along the shore, now covered by Strand Road and Sidney
Parade, and then described as the great pasture by the sea, or the
rabbit warren, became the property of the Fitzwilliains of INlerrion.
The blind rabbit warren and the niaish near Simmonscourt
are at the same time mentioned, and in the seventeenth century
the upper and lower marsh are referred to, as well as places in the
neighbourhood known then as the court of the sallies, the ridge
of the brambles, the little field, and the furze park. A herring
fishery occupied the shore from ]\Ierrion to Ringsend, and from it
the Fitzwilliams received a toll of 500 choice herrings. During
the early part of the eighteenth century the soil was f<nind suitable
for the manufacture of bricks, and the sea border from IMerrion to
where Sandymount now lies, was occupied by what were known as
Lord Merrion's brickfields. A village called Brickfield Town sprang
up. and not far from it. by the sea. there was a pretty thatched inn
called the Conniving House, kept by one Johnny ISIacklean,
renowned for its fish dinners and excellent ale. These at the close
of the eighteenth century gave place to the modern Sandymount,
which has now become almost merged in the metropolis (i).


RiNCSEND, or the end of the point, came into notice in th. se\eii
teenth century as a landing place for passengers buund tm- Duliliii.
As has been already related, Dalkey was from the time df tlu^
Anglo-Norman conquest until the sixteenth eeniuiy tin pmt of
the metropolis for merchandise as well as jiassengers, bnt with the
increasing traffic of the Elizabethan lurmd llir Dublin merchants

(1) Christ Church Deeds; Jilackor's Sketches, |)|i. 71. ls<>. 40().






found it more conveniont, notwithstanding the dillicullies and
delay attendant on the navigation of the LifFey, to discharge their
ships near their places of business. Witli the merchandise came the
passengers, for vessels then servt'd alike lnr Ixith |)ur])oses. and as
the ships had often to lie for days at anchor close to Ringsend before
the tide permitted of their coming up the river, it I)ecame the cus-
tom to ]Mii passengers on shore and to take them on l)oaf(_l at.
Ringsend. Although exigencies of weather and convenience caused
Dunleary. Howth, and Skerries to be occasionally used, Ringsend
was, from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, when the con-
struction of Ilowth Harbour and Kingstown llarlxnir caused
another diversicm, the I'hief place of embarkation and disen\l)arka-
tiou for passenger traihc.


The increasing traffic to Dublin in tlie reign of Queen Elizabeth
led the Corporation in the year 158'J to take steps f(n- the erection
of a fort at Ringsend, in order to secure the dues which they
charged ships using the port. In the reign of James I. violations
of the revenue laws had become so frequent, owing to the distance
of the Custom TTouse, then situated on Merchants' Quay, from
Ringsend, that it was decided in 1620, (m the advice of a customs
oflTicer called Thomas Cave, to station a revenue surveyor per-
manently at Ringsend. A house was 1)uilt thei'e for his accom-
modation, and as a reward for his assiduity in this and other busi-
ness, Thomas Cave became its first occupant. The numl)er of
ships which lay near Ringsend, even in the early part of the
seventeenth century, may be estimated from the fact, that duiing a
great stoi-m in tlie winter of 1(537, in one night, no less than ten
bai-ques '" of the most part whereof never no news hath been heard
since" were candied away from their anchorage tluic. Needless
to say, Ringsend soon became a busy village. At the time thei
surveyor's house was built so worthless was the land considered that
the penniss'ion of the: hn-d of the soil was not obtained before^ its
erc-etion. and it was not foi- some years that Viscount Fit/.william
made an application foi- compensation, l)ut when liie Restoration
camo Ringsend had a ])o]niIa1ion of TiO ])ei-sons of Knglish and HI
persons of Irish descent, and the adjoining viUage of Irishtowii one
of 23 persons of Knglisli and 75 persons of Irish descent (i).

(>) (Jilljcrt's "Ancient IJ.-.-onl, (,t I iiiMiti." vol. ii., p. HIS; ('alcti.l.ii <.t l^l-^ll
Stat*- Papcrrt, 11)15 -Ki'i"), |i|,. ;jo(», :t:57 ; Kili.; ItiijL', ]>. Wl ; lU.ickrr s Sk.lclii's,
p. ■10-J ; Koll Tax M<tiirri.

I) 2



At the time of the establishment of the Commonwealth, Rings-
end was almost surrounded with water, which spread mi its
western side over the low orouiid between Irishtowu and Begf^ar's
Bush, at that time a. wood, and a great resort of robbers. It could
only be approached from Dublin at low tide by means of a ford
across the Dodder, but a bridge w^as then constructed across that
river and measures were taken to keep the water within its channel.

Beggar's Bush in 1802.

From a Flale.Jn " The Littranj and Masonic Magazine."

This bridge was afterwards demolished, as the erratic John Dunton
tells us in connection with a ramble he took to " that dear place,"
Ringsend. and in order to cross the river it was necessary to em-
ploy vehicles known as Ringsend cars — the predecessors of those
described under the history of Blackroek — which consisted of a seat
susjDended on a leather strap between two shafts, and were remark-
able for the creaking which the leather made. Shortly after the
Restoration in 1665, while the Earl of Ossory was aeting as Lord
Deputy for his father, the Duke of Ormonde, races for these cars
were held on the strand, and in presence of 5,000 spectators twenty-
five of them competed for prizes offered by the Lord Deputy (i).

Of the great historical events of the seventeenth century Rings-
end saw its share. From it set out for England in 1614 Lord

(M Haliclav'.s '• Scandinavian Kingdom of Dublin," p. 234; Blacker's Sketches,
pp. 57, 67, 403 ; Fiant Elizabeth No. 2341.


Deputy Chichester, and to it rode in 1G26 Robert, first Earl of
Westnieath, erstwhile rebel but then a i-oyal favourite, to fuibark
for the English Court. There landed in 1646 the soldiers who
accompanied the Commissioners sent by the Parliament to treat
with the Duke of Ormonde, then holding Dublin for the inval
cause, and there and in the neighbouring villages of Laicai' II ill and
Baggotrath they remained in neutral quarters until on tlu' unsuc-
cessful termination of the negotiations they re-embarked for the
North of Ireland. In Riiigsend in 1648 was statimied a coinpaiiy
of the Parliament army, including Lieutenant-Colonel Philij)
Fernelev, Lieutenant Francis Tour, Ensign Robert Walsh, seven
non-commissioned officers, and sixty-eight privates, and there in the
following year, before the Battle of Rathmines, a detachment of
royal soldiers from the Duke of Ormonde's camp at Finglas defeated
the garrison. At its port later in the year 1649 landed Oliver
Cromwell with his conquering army, and to it came in IGoT), lowed
up in boats from Dunleary, where the men-of-war lay, Henry Crom-
well and his retinue on his arrival to assume the Chief Covciiior-
ship of Ireland. There after the Restoration in 1670 landed Ldid
Berkeley on his appointment as Viceroy, and in 1671 waited fof
a favourable wind to cross to England some officers of the liisii
Guards ordered to answer at court a charge of mutinous conduct.
Thence escaped in 1683, after lying concealed there for some days
m a tavern called the King's Head, the famous gang of robbers,
the Brennans, who are said to have carried off' pioperty to the value
of £12,000. There arrived in 1689 officers and soldiers of the
English army to join the standard of James II.. and there- in the
following year, that monarch on riding down from .Dublin, saw his
ships driven ashore by a sea force of William 111. undei- the com-
mand of Sir Cloudesley Shovel. And thence sailed in HiDL
escorted to the water side bv the Lords Justices and nianv of the
military and gentry. William lll.'s favourite Ceneral, Codert de
(';inkel (1;.

The condition of the port of Dublin, then onlv navigable i)y
vessels of from fifty to one hundred tons burden, can now hardlv he
realisc'l At higli tide the watei- sniead o\-ei- a great area, coming

(J) Calendar of Irish State J*a])crs, Ki-J.') Ki.TJ, p. KM : •' I )i( I ii.n.n \ ut .\ali:>ii.il
IJiograpliy," vol. xli., j). "ilifi ; Historical .Mamiseiii>ts ( 'niiiiiiissioii. K(|)l. x.. .\|)|i..
pt. vi., p. ]()"». Rc|)t. .\ii., App., pt. vi., p. 1H!( ; .Maiiiisciipt in 'I'tinils' ('(ijjrv^c
bihrary, V. 15, IK; " .\ irrcat \'ictoiy olitaincil iiy the .Maii|iicssc of (>i'iii(iii<l ami
the bold lri(lii()uc<Ti aj/aiiist, tin' i'aiiiaiiK'iits l"\)iccs," Limdoii, KilH, |)nsri\ cd
in tlif .Vcailcniy Tracts in Hoyal Irish .Xcaileniy ; ( 'ali'ndarol I )oiiii'stic Statr I'jipcis,
l()7l HiT"-!, p. '21; Carte Papers, vol. xl., f. 17"; Jilacker's Sketdas, pp. 51)
(Hi, (',7, (i!).

38 Parishes of donnybrook, &c.

up on the south side to the line of Denzille Street, Great Bruns-
vick Street, Townsend Street, and on one occasion even to Merrion
Square, and at low tide the Liffey made its way to the sea by
devious courses through a labyrinth of sands. Near Ringsend the
ships lay at low water on the hard sand, and were exposed to every
wind. Much of the merchandise was carried from the ships in
litters, and the annual expenditure on the conveyance of passengers
fi'om Ringsend to Dublin was estimated at not less than £500, a
large amount in those times. The unsatisfactoiy state of the port
is first shown in 1673 in a survey made by Sir Bernard de Gomme,
the most famous military engineer of his day, for a great citadel
vvhich ho proposed should be erected at a cost of some £130,000 on
ground in the neighbourhood of the modern MeiTion Square, but in
the following year it is treated of in the most exhaustive manner,
in a report drawn up at the request of the Lord Mayor, Sir Francis
Brewster, by Andrew Yarranton, one of the earliest political econo-
mists and pioneers of inland navigation. The latter proposed as a
remedy that locks, such as he had seen in Holland, should be con-
structed at the mouth of the Liflfey, and that cuts or canals, in
which the ships could float, with warehouses and a military store-
house on their banks, should be made in the slob land, which then
lay between Ringsend and Lazar Hill or Townsend Street (i).

Although attempts were made in 1676 by one Henry Howard,
and in 1698 by the Corporation of Dublin, to found a ballast office,
it was not until 1707 that corporate powers for the preservation
and improvement of the port of the Irish meti'opolis were conferred
by Act of Parliament. From that time operations for clearing and
widening the channel were actively carried on. Lighters were
employed to deepen the bed of the river, the enclosing of the ground
on the south side of the river was undertaken, and surveys for
piling below Ringsend to keep the sand within bounds were ordered.
About the year 1717 the piling, strengthened by a wooden frame-
work filled with stones, commenced, and was carried on to near the
site of the Poolbeg lighthouse. The piling and framework soon
decayed, and the coustructioii of the South Wall, on which the
Pigeon House stands, was commenced. Before the year 1755 it
had reached as far as the site of the fort, and before the year
1796 the extension to the Lighthouse was completed — the successful

(1) Blacker's Sketches, pp. 148, 187, 335 ; " Dictionary of National Biography,"
vol. xxli., p. 103, vol. Ixiii., p. 284.



conclusion of the work being largely dno to tlu> indefatigable exer-
tions of Viscount Ranelagli, to whose prominence in the public
affairs of his day reference has already been made in connection
with his residence at ]\Ionksto\vn. At the end of the piles, in
1735, a vessel with a huitern at her mast head was phiced. and this
was the only guide for ships entering the port until 17G7, when ihe

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Online LibraryF. Erlington (Francis Elrington) BallA history of the County Dublin; the people, parishes and antiquities from the earliest times to the close of the eighteenth century (Volume 2) → online text (page 4 of 16)