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Ireland , Dublin , Dublin. It is south of Terenure , east of Templeogue , and is in the postal districts of Dublin 14 and The name Rathfarnham Fearnain's Ringfort suggests an earlier habitation, but no remains of prehistoric fortifications, burial places, early churches or old records have been found. The written history of Rathfarnham begins after the Norman invasion of Ireland. In these lands were granted to Milo le Bret. In he adapted an existing ridge to build a motte and bailey fort at what is now the start of the Braemor Road.
It was apparently still in evidence up to the early 20th century. In the following century no events of great importance are recorded as Rathfarnham, perhaps as it was protected on its south side by the Royal Forest of Glencree. Rathfarnham Castle was erected in part to protect the area from such attacks. In addition, part of the Pale 's defences ran through the townland of Rathfarnham. Some traces of this are still extant. The castle and much of the land around Rathfarnham belonged to the Eustace family of Baltinglass.
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However, their property was confiscated for their part in the Second Desmond Rebellion of - The castle and its lands were then granted to the Loftus family. In the s, the Loftus family was at the centre of the Irish Confederate Wars arising out of the Irish Rebellion of In , the castle was seized by the Earl of Ormonde's Catholic and Royalist forces before the battle of Rathmines.
However they were granted it back by the English parliamentarians after their victory in that battle. Economic activity in Rathfarnham was stepped up in the 17th century and in the early 18th century many gentlemen's residences were erected. Two key examples were Rathfarnham Castle and Ashfield.
Rathfarnham Castle itself was re-modelled from a defensive stronghold into a stately home.
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Lower Dodder Road is still marked by a triumphal arch , from this era, which originally led to the castle. The erection of this gateway is attributed to Henry Loftus , Earl of Ely from to who was also responsible for the classical work on the castle itself. The arch is named the "new gate" on Frizell 's map of After the division of the estate in the arch became the entrance to the Castle Golf Club but was later abandoned in favour of the more direct Woodside Drive entrance. The area around the arch is a haven for wildlife, with the nearby River Dodder home to brown trout , otter and many water-birds including kingfisher , dipper and grey heron.
Woodside Estate is home to red fox , rabbits and grey squirrels. Ashfield, the next house on the same side, was occupied during the 18th century by Protestant clergy. In the early part of the 19th century it became the home of Sir William Cusac Smith , Baron of the Exchequer and from of the Tottenham family who continued in residence until After this the Brooks of Brooks Thomas Ltd.
A new road was later built along the side of the house and named Brookvale after the last occupants. An industrial revolution, especially in the production of paper, began on the Owendoher and Dodder rivers and many mills were erected. In the beginning of the 19th century most of them switched to cotton and wool and later were converted to flour mills. The introduction of steam engines marked the end of this era and replaced the need for mills. Many of the old buildings fell into disrepair and were demolished, and their millraces filled in.
A millpond and extensive mill buildings formerly occupied the low-lying fields on the west side of the main Rathfarnham road, just beside the bridge. On a map by Frizell dated it is called the "Widow Clifford's mill and mill holding" and in it is named the "Ely Cloth Factory". Murray then owned it but in , it passed into the hands of Mr.
Nickson who converted it into a flour mill. His family continued in occupation until when John Lennox took over. In this mill closed down, the buildings were demolished and not a trace now remains. Rathfarnham is the start of the Military Road. This road through the Wicklow Mountains still in use mainly for tourist traffic was built at the beginning of the 19th century to open up the Wicklow Mountains to the British Army to assist them in putting down the insurgents who were hiding there following the Irish Rebellion of Rathfarnham itself was the scene of some skirmishes in the early days of the Rising which extended to the final battle in "Raheen" now Raheen City in County Wexford.
Construction commenced on 12 August and was completed in October The road starts outside the Yellow House, passes the head of Glencree , with a spur down that valley to Enniskerry , rises to the Sally Gap and then dips down to Laragh , over the hills into Glenmalure , and finishes at Aghavannagh. Well known sections also include the Featherbed Mountain , the section below Kippure Mountain. The engineer in charge was Alexander Taylor born in , who was responsible for many other roads in the country, including some " Turnpike Roads ", which are Toll Roads.
This road is believed to have crossed the Dodder at the Big Bridge, now Pearse Bridge, and re-crossed it again near Oldbawn , an unnecessarily inconvenient route, considering that a road through Templeogue to Oldbawn would not necessitate any crossing. The first record of a bridge being built here was in and in it was described by Gerard Boate in his A Natural History of Ireland as a wooden bridge which 'though it be high and strong nevertheless hath several times been quite broke and carried away through the violence of sudden floods.
This was widened on the west side in when it was renamed in commemoration of Patrick and William Pearse.
Cut into the surface of the stone were a number of deep parallel grooves, as from the action of wheeled traffic over a long period. This was evidence for the existence here of a busy thoroughfare even before the construction of the earliest bridge. Next to Ashfield is the old graveyard containing the ruins of a church that was dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. This was a medieval church used for Protestant worship until when it was found to be too small for the congregation and a new one was erected a short way off.
The end walls of the old church still stand, the west gable containing a bell turret and the east pierced by a chancel arch, the chancel itself having disappeared. The north wall is gone and all that remains of the south wall is an arched opening.
Near the entrance to the burial ground is the grave of Captain James Kelly, an old Fenian who was associated with the Fenian Rising of He was organiser for the Rathfarnham district and was known in the area as 'The Knight of Glendoo'. On one occasion when he was on the run he was hiding in the cellar of his business premises in Wicklow Street when police raided it. An employee named James Fitzpatrick who strongly resembled Capt. Kelly in appearance was arrested in error and was tried and sentenced to six months imprisonment, which he served without betraying his identity.
Kelly died on 8 March , aged In the garden of a house formerly named Tower Court in Crannagh Road is an ancient circular pigeon house, a relic of Lord Ely 's occupation of Rathfarnham Castle. The entrance to this curious structure is by a low door on level with the ground and the inside is lined from floor to roof with holes for the pigeons. A later floor was inserted half way up, so as to make two rooms, and a second door broken through the wall at that level.
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In the castle grounds were several fish ponds which were supplied by a mill race taken from the stream which rises up at Kilmashogue and flows down through Grange Golf Club and Saint Enda's Park. This served several mills before entering the fish ponds, whence it ran through the golf links while a smaller branch was conducted under the road to the flour mills which stood at the corner of Butterfield Lane, on the site later occupied by Borgward Hansa Motors Ltd. Described in as Sweetman's Flour Mills, it frequently changed hands before closing down in It was later operated as a saw mill.
The dry mill race can still be seen here on the north side of Butterfield Avenue. Rathfarnham Protestant Parish Church on the Main St was built in to replace the church in the old graveyard. Beside the church is the old school house that dates from early in the nineteenth century. In the lane is an old blocked up doorway of an early eighteenth century type. Church Lane leads to Woodview cottages, which are built partly on the site of an old paper mill. The mill race previously mentioned passed under Butterfield Lane to the paper mill and continued on below Ashfield to turn the wheel of the Ely Cloth Factory.
Until recently, [ when? The paper mill, of which some old walls and brick arches still survive, has been described as the oldest in Ireland but there does not appear to be any evidence to support this. The earliest reference to a paper mill here is when William Lake of Rathfarnham presented a petition for financial aid but we hear of one at Milltown as far back as In William and Thomas Slater whose works were destroyed by fire in made paper here.
Archer's survey of mentions two paper mills here, Freemans and Teelings, and both Dalton in and Lewis in state that one paper mill was still working and from to the name Henry Hayes, Rathfarnham Mill appears in the directories. If this can be identified with the mill at Woodview cottages it must have become idle soon afterwards as it is designated "Old Mill" on the edition of the O.
In when this mill had neither water wheel nor machinery an attempt was made to re-open it for the manufacture of paper but it came to nothing. The mill race has now been completely removed to make way for a housing development. At the end of the main street, on the right, the road to Lower Rathfarnham passes the site of the earliest Constabulary barracks.