Donnybrook in the 1830s

1837
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A snapshot of pre-famine local history, as described in the "Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" by Samuel Lewis, 1837. (The information collected here was submitted by members of the local gentry and clergy of the time).

DONNYBROOK (ST. MARY), a parish, partly in the half-barony of RATHDOWN, county of DUBLIN, but chiefly within the county of the city of DUBLIN, 2 miles (S. by E.) from Dublin ; containing 10,394 inhabitants. It includes the villages of Ballsbridge, Clonskea, Donnybrook, Old Merrion, Sandymount, and Ringsend with Irishtown, each of which is described under its own head. The village of Donnybrook is chiefly remarkable for its fair, the patent for which was granted by King John, to continue for 15 days, commencing on the Monday before the 26th of August. On the following day great numbers of horses, cattle, and sheep are sold; but the principal object is amusement and diversion. It is held in a spacious green belonging to Messrs. Maddens, who derive from it annually about £400. A twopenny post has been established here, since the erection of the Anglesey bridge over the river Dodder. A hat manufacture was formerly carried on to a great extent, but it has greatly decreased; there are some saw-mills in the village, and a branch of the city police is stationed here.

The parish is situated on the river Dodder, and comprises 1500 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act; the lands are fertile and under good cultivation; and near the village is a quarry of excellent building stone, in which organic remains have been found.

Exclusively of the gentlemen's seats described under the head of the several villages near which they are respectively situated, are

  • Annfield, the residence of R. Percival, Esq., M. D. ;
  • Mount Errol, of Sir R. Baker, Knt. ;
  • Montrose, of J. Jameson, Esq.,
  • Swanbrook, of Alderman F. Darley ;
  • Gayfield, of T. P. Luscombe, Esq., Commissary-General;
  • Priest House, of J. Robinson, Esq. ;
  • Stonehouse, of J. Barton, Esq. ;
  • Woodview, of E. J. Nolan, Esq, ;
  • Nutley, of G, Roe, Esq.;
  • Thornfield, of W. Potts, Esq. ;
  • Airfield, of C. Hogan, Esq. ;
  • Simmons Court Hall, of G. Howell, Esq. ;
  • Belleville, of Alderman Morrison;
  • Flora Ville, of M. Fitzgerald, Esq. ;
  • Donneybrook Cottage, of A. Colles, Esq., M. D. ;
  • Simmons Court, of P. Madden, Esq. ; and
  • Glenville, of J. O'Dwyer, Esq.

Within the parish are iron-works, an extensive calico-printing establishment, a distillery, and salt works. The Dublin and Kingstown rail-road, the road from Dublin by Ballsbridge, and the road to Bray through Stillorgan, pass through it. That part of the parish which is in the county of the city is within the jurisdiction of the Dublin court of conscience.

It is a chapelry, in the diocese of Dublin, and forms part of the corps of the archdeaconry of Dublin. The tithes amount to £166. 3s. 0.75d., to which is added about £300 collected as minister's money : there is no glebe-house, and the glebe comprises only about three-quarters of an acre. The church is a spacious and handsome edifice, in the early style of English architecture, with a tower surmounted by a well-proportioned spire ; and was erected at Simmons Court (the old church in the village having fallen into decay), by a loan of £4154 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1829.

In the Roman Catholic divisions the parish is united to those of St. Mark, Tawney, and St. Peter; there are chapels at Donnybrook and Irishtown, and a spacious chapel is now in progress near Cottage-terrace, Baggot-street. In the avenue leading to Sandymount is a convent of the Sisters of Charity, a branch from the establishment in Stanhope-street, Dublin ; the sisters are employed in visiting the sick and in attending a school for girls; attached to the convent is a small neat chapel.

There is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists close to the village of Donnybrook. A school for boys and another for girls are supported by subscription; and there is a dispensary at Ballsbridge.

The hospital for incurables is in this parish, and is chiefly supported by Grand Jury presentments; and the Bloomfield retreat for lunatics was established by the Society of Friends.

There are cemeteries at Donnybrook and Merrion ; and at Simmons Court are the remains of an old castle, consisting of a massive pointed archway.

In the grounds of Gayfield is a medicinal spring, the water of which is similar in its properties to that of Golden Bridge. Lord Chief Justice Downes was born in the castle of Donnybrook, now a boarding school.

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