These pages describe ByRoute 1 between Bray Head on the Wicklow Fringe of DUBLIN and Wexford Harbour, Town & Environs.
Greystones & Delgany (Co. Wicklow / Northeast)
Greystones (Na Clocha Liatha) (pop. 9,000) (DART; Dublin Bus 84) retains a rather English air – the sort of place Enid Blyton’s Famous Five would spend their school holidays – and is still widely thought of as a seaside village despite its massive growth over the last 30 years.
Greystones takes its name from either some prominent grey rocks jutting out to sea or the pebbles on the stony beach overlooked by the crumbling cliffs of Bray Head, but derives its summertime popularity from the sandy Blue Flag beach south of the harbour.
The first historical mention of Greystones in its own right was as “a noted fishing place” in Topographia Hibernica (1795).
C19th landlords of the area included Charles Stuart Parnell, who owned several thousand acres locally, but the proprietors of the Bellevue and Killincarrig estates had the greatest impact. The former were the LaTouche bankers of Huguenot origin, and it was William Robert LaTouche who laid out the village (Church Road, Trafalgar Road, Victoria Road etc.) to take advantage of the arrival of the railway in 1856. The Railway Station was built on the border between his land and that of Sir St. Vincent Bentink Hawkins Whitshed (son of the Admiral Whitshed who commissioned most of the Martello Towers on the East coast).
In 1879 the latter’s only child Elizabeth, an orphan and Ward of Court, married Col. Frederick Burnaby of the Dragoon Guards (“the Blues”), described as a celebrity traveller, horseman, balloonist, writer and politician, who invested heavily in Greystones despite visiting the place only once.
(Col Burnaby was killed in 1885 at Ombdurman in the Sudan on the expedition which reached Khartoum too late to save General Gordon, leaving Elizabeth a widow at the age of 24. They had one child, Harry St. Vincent Augustus Burnaby, who was born in Greystones but left Ireland with his mother for health reasons to live abroad; she remarried twice, gaining a reputation as an Alpinist in Switzerland and France before settling in California).
The Burnaby was developed between 1890 and 1914 into an area of suburban villas built in the then-fashionable Domestic Revival style, an architectural offshoot of William Morris’s Arts & Crafts Movement characterised by red brick or pebbledash with mock-timberframing, tile roofs, tall chimneytacks, gables, dormers, mullioned and transom-framed windows, each surounded by a pretty garden. Local addresses all commemorate Col. Burnaby and various incidents in his life; one road is named after his birthplace, Sumerby Hall in Leicestershire, and the oldest house is called Khiva, after a destination he famously reached on horseback in the mysterious deserts beyond the Caspian Sea.
Coastal erosion began to take its toll towards the end of the C19th, resulting in the loss of houses, fields, a road and the costly relocation of the railway, and is still a major problem.
Greystones Harbour was built between 1885 and 1897 in response to demand from local fishermen, who had built up quite a reputation as boat builders and mariners over the preceding hundred years, with local yawls fishing as far afield as the Isle of Man. However, the harbour was badly oriented, and in a 1911 storm three schooners moored there were wrecked. Since then the facility has only been used by pleasure craft. At the end of the harbour wall / pier is the original defective round caisson platform built c.1964 for the Kish Lighthouse in Dublin Bay. A very controversial new Marina development is currently under construction.
For much of the C20th, Greystones was a genteel seaside resort, heavily dependent on holidaying famiies and daytrippers during the summer months, wih a large number of retired gentlefolk. The most prominent hotel was the Grand, later renamed the LaTouche, which survived in faded Victorian splendour until 2004; now only the façade remains. Others included Lewis’s, the Braemar, the Railway, the Seapatrick, the Trenarren, the Woodlands, the Clydagh and the International (used as a military base during The Emergency, under the command of Maj. Vivion de Valera).
The great majority of Greystones residents are at least nominally Roman Catholic, served by Holy Rosary church (1909) in the town and St Killian’s church (1864) in the Blacklion district.
St. Patrick’s church was built in 1857 for the Church of Ireland community, currently comprising almost 10% of the local population (2006 census); this figure is in itself enough to make Greystones the town with the highest proportion of Protestants in the Republic of Ireland.
In addition, there is a Presbyterian church (1887); and Ebenezer Hall, built by a group of Plymouth Brethren in 1907, is nowadays associated with Hillside Evangelical church (1984), while there also appear to be congregations for an Evangelical Arminian church of the Nazarene and an independent Reformed Evangelical church, and Carraig Eden Theological College is now the premier Pentecostal (Assemblies of God) centre for theological study and ministerial training in Ireland, awarding degrees from the University of Wales.
The town has a strong community spirit and an extensive range of sports clubs – baseball, rugby, soccer, GAA, tennis, sailing, angling, diving, swimming, rowing, and Sea Scouts (the oldest troop in the country).
The first Pekingese dogs in Ireland belonged to Dr Heuston, founder of the Greystones kennel, who was presented with a pair named Chang and Lady Li by the Chinese government in gratitude for establishing smallpox vaccination clinics in China.
There are several good pubs and restaurants in Greystones, which hosts a major annual Arts Festival every August Bank Holiday Weekend.
Blacklion and Killincarrig (Coillín na Carraige – “The Little Woods of the Rock”) are nowadays fast growing suburbanised districts on the outskirts of Greystones; another major housing development to the south is called Charlesland.
Killincarrig / Killincarrick Castle / House was built c.1615. Kilkenny Confederacy soldiers garrisoned it in 1649, but retreated when Oliver Cromwell arrived and stayed here overnight en route to Wexford. The mansion has been roofless for many years. A second Killincarrick House / Farm was built nearby in the C18th by the Hawkins family, and three more were later constructed at various locations around the old estate by their Whitshed descendants.
The Cherry Orchard Tea Rooms used to serve wonderful cream teas in their lovely old garden; the premises is now a private residence.
The Cherrylane Gallery is Michael Hayes’ family-run fine arts establishment.
The Carrig (formerly the Orchard Inn) is a rather raucous pub.
Delgany (Deilgne – “Thorny Place”) (pop. 6000) has become a DUBLIN dormitory community, but still looks like a picturesque inland village. (Photo by Sarah777)
Christ church (CoI), an impressive Gothic edifice built by Peter laTouche, contains a magnificent memorial to his father David LaTouche, the Dublin banker and MP, by the sculptor Hickey. The parish office has records dating back to 1666. The congregation is larger and more active than most of its kind.
The Old Burial Ground, recently tideid up, is very atmospheric, with part of a High Cross, an old C13thchurch ruin and beautiful yew trees dotted among the C18th graves.
The Grove Bar, run by the Devereux family for 5 generations and once a well-known coach stop, is pleasant and welcoming.
The Delgany Inn, another long-established hostelry, is currently closed and awaiting redevelopment.
Delgany was the childhood home of South African-born WWI hero Clement Robertson, who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for leading a tank assault on foot against the Germans at Zonnebecke in Belgium in October 1917.
A Heritage Trail was officially opened in August 2007. A large “information board” has been erected opposite the Wicklow Arms pub.
Delgany Glen has not yet been completely ruined by new houses. The surrounding wooded hillsides are great for walking.
Kindlestown / Kendlestown Hill, called after C14th sheriff Albert de Kinley, is the location of an Iron Age Hill Fort.
Kindlestown Wood, was a part of the old Bellevue Estate owned by the La Touche family until 1930, and is now an attractive Coillte forest park.
Kindlestown Castle, now in ruins, was probably built by the Archbold family in the C13th. It is one of the few remaining examples of a type of haled castle in use at that time. Parts of the continuous barrel vault on the ground floor and imprints of the original plank shuttering can still be seen.
Delgany is within easy reach of Carrigower Bog on ByRoute 2.
The Glen of the Downs
The Glen of the Downs (Glean Dá Ghrua – “Valley of Two Brows”), a traditional County Wicklow beauty spot, is a 2km-long glacial valley with steep wooded slopes rising to about 100m in height.
Often praised since at least Victorian times, (e.g. “a scene of luxurious softness, combined with grandeur and significance”), the scenic beauty of the Glen has been severely marred by the modernisation of the N11 dual carriageway, upgraded in 2003 in the face of strong opposition from ecologists and militant action taken by a motley crew of crusties and tree-huggers.
The view from the once elegant Glenview Hotel, now a popular wedding venue. There are several golf courses in and around the valley. (Photo – www.tripadvisor.ie)
Part of the Glen is now a designated Nature Reserve, with pleasant signposted trails through the trees. The woods are made up of small conifer, birch and beech plantations and other broadleaf trees such as sessile oak, cherry, rowan, hazel and ash, beneath which grow bilberry, bramble, wild garlic, holly, honeysuckle, ivy, woodrush, and wood sage, with wood sorrel, wood anemone and lesser celandine in Spring and a wide variety of fungi in Autumn.
Birds include sparrowhawk, jay, chaffinch, blackbird, blackcap, robin, blue tit, great tit, grey wagtail and wren. Treecreepers can be observed making their stealthy way up trunks. Some years, the rare wood warbler visits. Long-eared owls and several species of bat hunt nocturnally. Grey and red squirrels are common, and Sika deer, fox and badger can also be spotted. A haven for speckled wood and ringlet butterflies, the Glen is the only known site in Ireland for some types of insect.
Although Ireland-s largest channel formed by the meltwater of massive sheets of ice, the Glen now hosts only one significant body of water, a stream at is southern end rather grandly named the Three Trout River which marks the southern end of the old Barony of Rathdown.
The Delgany flyover, originally erected in the 1960s, is thought to be the oldest structure of its kind in the Republic.
Kilquade (Co. Wicklow / East)
Kilquade (Cill Comhghaid) ais a formerly sleepy rural villages, now rapidly growing into a commuter satellites of DUBLIN.
St Patrick’s church (RC) in Kilquade, beautifully restored following its 2002 bicentenary, has an interesting history. Two chalices, still in use, bear the inscription “Anno Domini 1633” and “24th November 1759“. 1701 records list the incumbent priest identified by the Government under the Penal Laws as Fr. Seneca FitzWilliam. According to tradition, the original church founded by Saint Comhghaid was burnt down in the time of Cromwell and rebuilt; it is known that a local church was definitely destroyed by fire during the 1798 Rebellion. The present church was erected in 1802, partly funded by a Restoration Grant of £77 from the UK Government, and is consequently the only “compensation church” remaining in the Dublin Diocese. It serves a large parish taking in several communities, including Delgany, Kilcoole and Newtownmountkennedy.
The National Garden Exhibition Centre, directly across the road from the church, comprises twenty constantly changing themed designer gardens with up to 15000 plants, stone walls, flagged paths and patios, sun decks, pergolas, water features, bronze and granite sculptures, gnomes, barbecue equipment, tool sheds, pots, gardening clothes and implements, lawnmowers, and sundry other delights.
Kilpedder is connected by a pedestrian bridge over the N11 to Kilquade and is also near Newtownmountkennedy, both on ByRoute 2.
The Druid’s Glen, long a celebrated beauty spot, is now occupied by a “golf resort” centred on the 5-star Marriott’s Hotel and Country Club, based at Woodstock House (1770), built for the Earl of Aldborough, later the favourite residence of Marquess Wellesley during his first vice-royalty, and long the home of the 1st Marquess of Ely‘s son, Lord Robert Ponsonby Tottenham, Bishop of Clogher.