CHURCHTOWN - DUN LAOGHAIRE RATHDOWN AREA OF DUBLIN

TOWNS AND VILLAGES

CHURCHTOWN - DUN LAOGHAIRE RATHDOWN AREA OF DUBLIN

Churchtown is a largely residential suburb on the southside of Dublin, Ireland, between Dundrum and Rathfarnham. It is in the postal districts Dublin 14 and Dublin 16.

ELY’S ARCH: Braemor Road is still marked by a triumphal arch from the 18th century, which originally led to Rathfarnham Castle. The erection of this gateway is attributed to Henry Loftus, Earl of Ely from 1769 to 1783 who was also responsible for the classical work on the castle itself. The arch is named the new gate on Frizell’s map of 1779. After the division of the estate in 1913 the arch became the entrance to the Castle Golf Club but was later abandoned in favour of the more direct Woodside Drive entrance. The arch is located at the bottom of the 'big hill' which gave the name to the road, "Brae Mor". 'Bré' means 'hill' in Irish while 'mor' is the Irish for 'big' the name is used in an anglicised spelling as 'Braemor'. An alternative explanation of the name is more likely to be true: Braemor Road was developed in the late 40s and early 50s by builders called Brady and Morgan. They conflated the names, and adopted a spelling which mimics Braemar in Scotland.

BOTTLE TOWER:The Bottle Tower (or Hall's Barn) is a structure on Whitehall Road. It was built by Major Hall in 1742 in imitation of the better constructed Wonderful Barn erected about the same period near Leixlip. The floors and other timber work have long disappeared and the winding stone steps are not considered safe to ascend. While the ground floor may have been used as a barn, the first and second floors appear to have been residential as they are both fitted with fireplaces. A smaller structure behind the barn, built on somewhat similar lines was a pigeon house.

The old house named Whitehall, which was demolished some years ago, stood adjacent to the barn. It was also built by Major Hall around the same time. In 1778 it became the residence of Rev. Jeremy Walsh, curate of Dundrum, and in 1795 it was converted into a boarding house by Mr. Ml. Kelly. A newspaper advertisement in 1816 invites enquiries from prospective visitors. In a description written in the last century the old-fashioned kitchen and panelled staircase are specially noted.

Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837) features many of the old houses in Churchtown under the reference village of Rathfarnham. The houses include Landscape, of H. O'Callaghan, Esq.; Whitehall, of W. P. Matthews, Esq.; Newtown, of John Kirby, Esq., LL.D., M.D., in the grounds of which there are some very fine evergreens. Also included is Barton Lodge, of W. Conlan, Esq. which probably gave the name of Barton Road, Rathfarnam and Barton Road East, Churchtown. Nutgrove, of P. Jones, Esq. which was suituated on Nutgrove Avenue, half way between the Good Shepherd church and Rathfarnam village and Whitehall, of T. Laffan, Esq., an out-office of which is built in the shape of a pottery furnace, with a winding flight of steps on the outside to the top, whence there is a commanding prospect of the surrounding country repeats our description of the Bottle Tower.

Rocque’s 1760 map of Dublin shows Newtown House at the bottom on the South Dublin county council historical map site. To the left of Newtown (or south) and along The Glen river would be Landscape House and Whitehall House. Above these (or west) would be Nutgrove House – half way to Rathfarnam village.

Taylor's 1816 map of the environs of Dublin gives a view of Churchtown, east of Ely’s Demense. This shows the present Landscape area, Newtown House (now Villas), Whitehall and Whitebarn. Landscape Road features between the Glen River and Newtown House and this seems to swing left onto modern day Braemor Road before meeting the modern day Dodder Park Road at Ely’s Arch. Nutgrove School also features, then The Ponds and further south is Barton Lane.

William Duncan's maps of the county of Dublin (1821) you can see White Barn and Newtown Villas. To the left of Newtown is a large house on what probably became Braemor Park. This was possibly Fetherstonaugh House which became the Church of Ireland Theological College or more likely Ardavon House which was the original Mount Carmel hospital building.

BERWICK HOUSE: Berwick House is a tall building at the bend in Whitehall Road. Recently occupied by the De La Salle Brothers, it seems to be identical to a house named Waxfield where the death is recorded in 1766 of John Lamprey. In 1836 it was known as Hazelbrook, a name which was later transferred to the nearby, now defunct, Hughes Brothers milk bottling plant. The Hughes Brothers original house, built in 1898, and called Hazelbrook House, was rebuilt in the Bunratty Folk Park in 2001. From 1844 to 1899 it was known as Bachelor's Hall, after which it became the headquarters of a Charitable Institution under the name of Berwick Home. In 1944 it again became a private residence and the name was changed to Berwick House.

THE PONDS: Loreto Terrace on the north side of Rathfarnam's Loreto Abbey was formerly known as "the Ponds", a name originating apparently from the large pond which two hundred years ago occupied the low lying field between Loreto Terrace and Nutgrove Avenue. This area was described in Weston St. John Joyce's The Neighbourhood of Dublin in 1912 as the "dilapidated locality known as the Ponds" but it has since been largely rebuilt. An old photograph from Larry O'Connor's collection shows what it looked like at that time. The last of the old houses was demolished in the mid-1980s. It was a very early 18th century gabled residence named Grove Cottage and was probably the oldest occupied house in Dublin. This place was the scene of a skirmish at the outbreak of the rising of 1798. The insurgents of the south county assembled at the Ponds on 24 May 1798 under the leadership of David Keely, James Byrne, Edward Keogh and Ledwich. The latter two had been members of Lord Ely's yeomanry but had taken to the field with the United Irishmen. The insurgents were attacked by the local yeomanry corps but were able to defend themselves and the yeomanry was forced to retreat. A party of regular troops was then sent against them and a stiff encounter took place. A number of the insurgents were killed or wounded and some prisoners taken including Keogh and Ledwich. The survivors retreated, joining up with a party from Clondalkin, and a further engagement took place at the turnpike on the Rathcoole road where the enemy was successfully repulsed.