There is some evidence of an established settlement around a rath as far back as Rathmines is part of the Barony of Uppercross, one of the many baronies surrounding the old city of Dublin, bound as it was by walls, some of which are still visible. In more recent times, Rathmines was a popular suburb of Dublin, attracting the wealthy and powerful seeking refuge from the poor living conditions of the city from the middle of the 19th century. A substantial mansion, generally called Rathmines Old Castle, was built in the seventeenth century, probably at present day Palmerstown Park, and rebuilt in the eighteenth; no trace of it survives today.
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Rathmines is arguably best known historically for a bloody battle that took place there in , during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland , leading to the death of perhaps up to 5, people. The Battle of Rathmines took place on 2 August and led to the routing of Royalist forces in Ireland shortly after this time. Some have compared the Battle of Rathmines - or sometimes Baggotrath - as equal in political importance to England's Battle of Naseby. The battle brought a swift end to the ongoing Royalist Siege of Dublin. In the early s the Grand Canal was constructed on the northern edge of Rathmines, connecting Rathmines with Portobello via the La Touch Bridge which through popular usage became better known as Portobello Bridge.
For several hundred years Rathmines was the location of a "spa" - in fact a spring - the water of which was said to have health-giving properties. It attracted people with all manner of ailments to the area. In the 19th century it was called the "Grattan Spa", as it was located on property once belonging to Henry Grattan , close to Portobello Bridge.
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In a Dr. O'Leary, who held a high estimate of the water quality, reported that the "spa" was in "a most disgraceful state of repair", upon which the developer and alderman Frederick Stokes sent samples to the medical inspector, Dr. Cameron, for analysis. Cameron, a great lover of authority, reported: "It was, in all probability, merely the drainings of some ancient disused sewer, not a chalybeate spring.
The Westminster parliamentary borough of Rathmines had a unionist majority up to independence in The last Member of Parliament it returned was Maurice Dockrell. Rathmines Church was used as a weapons store during the War of Independence. On 26 January a fire started at the electrical switchboard in the vestry.
There were reports of several members of 'A' Company of the IRA Dublin Brigade entering the church during the fire to retrieve the weapons. His body was found on the morning of 24 March "bathed in blood, and apparently riddled with bullets, at the edge of the footpath outside the walls of the Tranquilla Convent" now Tranquilla Park. A monument was erected in to mark the spot where his body was found. It happened opposite 'Woodpark Lodge', where Harling lived at the time. The Rathmines Township was created by Act of Parliament in , and its area was later renamed "Rathmines and Rathgar" and expanded to take in the areas of Rathgar, Ranelagh, Sallymount and Milltown.
The township was initially responsible only for sanitation, but its powers were extended over time to cover most functions of local government. It became an urban district under the Local Government Ireland Act , but was still usually called a "township". Initially the council was made up of local businessmen and other eminent figures; the franchise was extended in and the membership changed accordingly. The former Town Hall is still one of Rathmines' most prominent buildings with its clock tower because the clock is famously inaccurate and has four large apparently unsynchronised clock faces i.
It is now occupied by Rathmines College. The township was incorporated into the City of Dublin in , and its functions were taken over by Dublin Corporation, now known as Dublin City Council.
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Rathmines is a local electoral area of Dublin City Council, electing four councillors; the boundaries of the electoral area have varied over the years. Rathmines is well known for the large army barracks which is located there, Cathal Brugha Barracks known in the past as Portobello Barracks , home to many units of the Irish Army including the 2nd Infantry Battalion.
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Another well known feature is the prominent copper dome of Mary Immaculate, Refuge of Sinners Church. The original dome was destroyed in a fire in and replaced by the current dome when reopened in The dome was to be used in St Petersburg but the political and social upheaval in this city caused it to be diverted to Dublin. Constructed of Black Calp, a local limestone that turns black in the rain, the Church was one of two in Dublin to be known as the 'Black Church,' the other also being designed by Semple and in St.
Mary's Place ; their sinister appearance on dark wet nights resulted in a common children's superstition that were one to walk three times around either church backwards after midnight under a full moon — you'd encounter the devil.
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Rathmines is also the location of Grosvenor Road Baptist Church. Rathmines is also home to two well-known primary and secondary schools, St Mary's College C. Sp, and St Louis Primary and secondary school. Recently a new multiplex cinema has been added to the local shopping centre which is the first one in Dublin catering for Digital cinema. This has three screens with plans for a fourth, it shows up to date movies and features 3D movies.
In October , the Stella Cinema, a vintage cinema popular in the s was refurbished and reopened, offering both classic films and blockbusters in an alternative setting. Near the junction of lower Rathmines and upper Rathmines Roads is a bar named Martin B Slattery , well known for its relatively unmodernised interior, usually referred to locally as Martin B's, because the Slattery family at one time ran many pubs.
From the s horse-drawn omnibuses provided transport from Rathmines to the city centre. Portobello Bridge, which had a steep incline, was often a problem for the horses, which led to the fatal accident of Please contact the Dublin or Cork restaurant directly, should you have any special requests.
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