Annacurragh: This is a small village with the street
pattern laid out in a linear fashion. Saint Bridget's Catholic church dates from 1862. The five bay
neo-gothic building was designed by architect Richard Pierce. The village
contains some impressive nineteenth-century houses.
Annamoe: This small settlement was built at a river
crossing point. The name means the ford of the cows. The area was home to
Robert Barton and, for a while, Erskine Childers. The actor Daniel Day Lewis
has his home here.
Ashford: On the River Vartry, Ashford is best known for
the beautiful Mount Ussher Gardens. The original garden was designed for Edward
Walpole by Ireland’s most famous gardener, William Robinson, in 1868. The
gardens remained in the possession of the Walpole family for four generations.
The gardens are open to the public and was voted best garden to visit in
Ireland by the BBC Gardeners’ World magazine.
Ballyknockan: The village
is known far and wide as the centre of the Irish granite industry. Granite was
quarried here on a commercial scale, and Ballyknockan granite was used in some
of Ireland’s finest public buildings. The first large building to utilise
Ballyknockan granite was St Francis Xavier’s Church in Gardiner Street in
Dublin. Many other landmarks in the capital also contain Ballyknockan granite,
including St Andrew’s Church, Westland Row, the Fusiliers’ Arch, St Stephen’s
Green, The Royal Dublin Society (RDS) building, Ballsbridge and the former
Royal College of Science (now Government Buildings), Merrion Square. Many of
the houses in Ballyknockan village were also constructed from the local stone,
giving the village a unique feel.
Delgany: A monastic
settlement with the ruins of a medieval church, Delgany also contains an old
cemetery and a Church of Ireland church. The village developed along a curved
street and it became a market centre for its rural hinterland. The dependence
of farmers on the weather meant that there were population checks on the
village during difficult years such as 1746, when pre-Famine burial rates
reached a peak. Today the settlement is well within the commuter zone for
Donard: Associated with St
Palladius, a missionary forerunner of St Patrick, the settlement was originally
a monastic one. The remains of a motte and bailey castle point to a defensive
function following the Norman invasion and the triangular market space attests
to the importance of agriculture. Agrarian unrest was evident here during the
Tithe War of the 1830s. On 21 May 1832 at least a thousand people, many armed
with spades, forks and other weapons, congregated on nearby Kelsha hill. The
gathering was part of an ongoing series of anti-tithe protests in the region.
Their conduct and language was threatening and they exhibited intentions of
‘violence and force’. Police constables from Donard then ‘proceeded to Kelsha
and saw thirty or forty persons who seemed disposed to resist’. When the police
reached the level of the mound, they found about 1,000 people ‘armed with
pitchforks, long poles, scythes and other weapons’. The military reinforced
Hatton’s men, totalling about forty armed men, but the crowd on the hill also
grew, reaching about 1,500 in strength. A standoff ensued, but nobody was
injured. The village is not on any main road, which may help to explain the
absence of growth in more recent times.
The present village was founded c.1660 by Sir Richard Bulkeley, but
there is evidence of much older settlement such as the rath of Tournant, which
points to habitation at least as far back as the Bronze Age. The village was
the scene of a massacre during the 1798 rebellion and there is a monument
commemorating the event at the triangular fair green. The core contains two churches,
both dating from 1815, and many fine townhouses. The most impressive building
in Dunlavin however is its market house, built c.1740. The granite
structure is one of the finest pieces of village furniture in Ireland, with a
dome modelled on that of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. It is said to have been
designed by Richard Cassels, the architect of many of Ireland’s finest houses
and public buildings. Dunlavin experienced unrest during the late nineteenth
century Land War and campaign for Home Rule, when the nationalist parish priest
Canon Frederick Donovan was active in the political as well as the religious
arena. Today the village retains much of its old world character, especially in
its T-shaped core.