DUBLIN S – Coastal



Carrickgollogan / Carrickgolloghan (Carraig Uallacháin – “Rock of Uallacháin”), (276m / 906ft) commonly aka Kathy / Katty Gallagher, is a  distinctive hill overlooking the Vale of Shanganagh. The upper slopes comprise a mixture of heathland and commercial forestry, an ideal habitat for badgers, rabbits and a wide variety of birds.


The predominantly quartzite summit is topped by the tall C19th flue chimney of the old Ballycorus leadmines, commanding magnificent views and visible for miles around.  (Photo by Joe King)


The old Ballycorus leadmines, excavated intermittently both above and below ground from c.1807 to c.1865, were served by a number of buildings. A vein of silver was discovered in 1943, but production was limited. Until 1913 the complex continued to  process lead from other mines (especially ore from Luganure near Glendalough, which was transported by train from Rathdrum to Shankill station and brought to Ballycorus on horse-drawn carts).  The smelting furnaces were connected by a 2km-long stone flue up the side of the hill to the tall chimney at the top.


The flue can be explored on foot, although the chimney itself is unsafe. Some of the structures are still in  industrial or residential use. There are high concentrations of lead waste.

Shanganagh (Shankill & Environs)

Shanganagh / Shangannagh (“a place abounding in ants”) is an old term;  “the name should be accented on the first syllable, the other two being pronounced very short“, according to Weston St John Joyce (1905), who claims that  “The Vale of Shanganagh” includes all the districts between Carrickgollogan / Katty Gallagher and the seashore.

Writing in the Irish Naturalists’ Journal in October 1934,  S Holohan and RJ O’Connor defined the Vale as bounded by Killiney Hill, the Dublin Mountains and the Scalp, but this seems excessive. The term Shanganagh is  often used almost interchangeably with Shankill (Sean Chill / Choill – “Old Church / Woods”); although both names refer to specific townlands, they  have also been applied over the years to the other parts of the broad surrounding area.

“The Vale of Shanganagh” is also definable as the catchment area of the lower Shanganagh River system, including the southern (main) branch, aka the Loughlinstown River, and the Brides Glen Stream, which merge near Cherrywood and enter the Irish Sea on Killiney Strand, and Crinken Stream,  which flows through Rathmichael.

Nowadays divided by the N11 / M11 and the southeastern extension of the M50, the broad area includes the districts of Ballycorus,  Rathmichael, Loughlinstown and  Shankill. There are several interesting antiquities in the area, including Standing Stones, ruined churches and castles.

Shanganagh History


By the early 13th the whole area was controlled by the Church, and  in 1230 Archbishop Luke ordered the local forests to be felled.


Shankill Castle, built by Archbishop Henry de Loundres c.1228, was a Manor House of considerable importance, where successive prelates occasionally resided and their Seneschals presided over a Court to judge local crimes, including several murders and thefts (in at least one case of trial by duel or single combat, the defendant slew his accuser). Around the castle were 17 tenements and a church that may have given the district its name. The land was farmed by betaghs / villeins and free tenants.

The medieval Manor of Shankill at one time embraced Powerscourt and Dalkey, but was gradually subdivided, and what remained was divided into two townlands called Shankill and Rathmichael.


A district to the east of the manor, known as Rathsalchan & Kiltuck, was under the Priory of the Holy Trinity; while another, the Seigniory of Shanganagh, was controlled by the Vicars-Choral of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, who came to own both.


During the early C14th Bruce Wars, the entire area was laid waste by marauding Wicklow clansmen. Fifty years later the area was garrisoned and leased to “stout English yeomen skilled in the use of arms and able and willing to defend their property by force“.


During the C15th and C16th, the Lawless and Walsh families vied for power and built defensive structures throughout the area. The  last Lawless clung on to his reduced property until his death in 1795.


The 1641 Rebellion and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms saw violence flare throughout  the area.


In 1659 King Charles II granted a large estate at Loughlinstown to his Attorney General for Ireland, Sir William Domvile, whose descendants acquired further tracts of land in the vicinity.


Shanganagh Castle was originally built in 1408 by the Lawless family from Ballycorus, but they were supplanted by theWalsh family of Carrickmines, who inhabited it as tenants until 1763, when a fire destroyed the old building and the Domvilles built a new mansion of the same name at the southern end of their estate.


In 1827 the Cork-born merchant William Hopper acquired 160 acres between Shanganagh Road, the old and new Shanganagh Castles and the sea (except for the grounds of Abingdon and the gun battery). He built Shanganagh House before 1832, when he took out a mortgage on it. After his death (on Christmas Day 1857) his executors leased  plots for other houses to be built such as Eaton Brae, Athgoe Park and Clanasleigh.


In 1845 Sir Charles Compton William Domvile (1822-1884) inherited the family estates at Loughlinstown, Shankill and Santry, and mounted several ambitious projects which came to naught, ultimately resulting in his bankruptcy. He is anathemised in local lore as “the Exterminator” for the scale of his evictions, which reduced the population on his lands by over 50%.


An adjoining landholder, Ben Tilly, whose family house was named Chantilly, provided quarter-acre holdings for some of the ejected tenants; they built new homes along what came to be called Low / Lower Road, to distinguish it from the former High / Main Road between Dublin and Bray. The community, soon called Tillystown, had its own school built in 1867 on land secured from the same family.


Tillystown was extended in 1911 by the New Vale group of labourers’ cottages, and the local library was built in 1912. Already better known by the turn of the century as Shankill village, it later grew with the advent of newer shops and houses on the Main Road and along Quinn’s Road, but it was not until the latter part of the C20th that an explosion of high density local authority housing estates and slightly leafier private residential developments added almost all of Shanganagh to Dublin’s suburban sprawl.

Ballycorus (Baile Mhic Fheorais – “town of the de Birminghams”) was at various times owned / occupied by the De Clahull family of Dundrum, Geoffrey de Tureville, John de Walhope, Ralph le Marshall, the le Rue and Walsh families and Peter Talbot.

Ballycorus is near Kilternan on .

Puck’s Castle


Puck’s Castle is a ruined C16th Tower House on the northeastern flank of Carrickgollogan. The edifice is unusual in that the builder is unknown (although Peter Talbot has been suggested) and it has never been associated with a particular family for any extended period of time. The internal stone stairs leading to the first floor are still intact. (Photo by Suckindiesel)


A confused local legend tells that  a siege of the castle was either won or defeated by the clever assailants / defendants pretending to number far more than in reality. King James II is said to have visited it when he was fleeing after the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, and had his army stationed nearby.


One explanation for its name is that a ghost or pooka inhabits the castle, and several eerie episodes have been reported. On a personal note, this writer can report that a horse ridden past the ruin in 1977 became extremely agitated at the mere sight of it.


The castle now gives its name to a new golf course. The quiet rural road beside it, known as Puck’s Castle Lane, was a highway in medieval times.

Rathmichael (Ráth Mhichíl – “the Ring Fort of Michael / MacThil”, an early bishop), an ancient parish adopted by the Church of Ireland, was administered from Bray for  several centuries, and as a Civil Parish was the official address for most inhabitants of the wider Shanganagh area until the late C19th. Nowadays it is a prosperous district characterised by big houses and gardens, still interspersed with open fields, largely segregated from Loughlinstown and Shankill by the N11 and M50.

Old Rathmichael church


Old Rathmichael church, a Norman edifice first mentioned in 1179,  was probably built on or near the site of an early monastic community founded by Saint Comgall of Bangor. (Photo by Joe King)


The church, in ruins since the C17th, is surrounded by a burial ground containing several unusually well-preserved slabs bearing  motifs unique to Christian monuments in this area, once thought to be pagan but now identified as marking the graves of Viking converts.


The nearby stump of a Round Tower was long used as a receptacle for bones and coffin boards, and known as “the Skull Hole”.


The whole complex sits in a huge ráth (hence the name) that may once have been the fort of a local chieftain.

The Rathmichael Cross on Rathmichael Lane is a small but particularly impressive representative of  the four C12th Fassaroe Crosses dotted across the Rathdown area, apparently carved by the same hand and noted for their similarity to crosses in Cornwall. It stands roughly half way between the old church of Rathmichael and the site of another ancient church at Kiltuck.

Rathmichael parish church (CoI), designed by Benjamin Woodward, built on land donated by Sir Charles Compton William Domvile and consecrated in 1864, is an attractive Hiberno-Romanesque style edifice set in attractive grounds.

Rathmichael Lodge is a lovely rambling ochre-coloured house near the church. It has a charming old-world garden created by Richard and Corinne Hewat, featuring a wide variety of roses, a hazel walk, an ancient orchard, several rare and interesting plants and a resident fox. Visits by appointment. (Photo – www.stumbleupon.com)

Shankill Castle, restored in the late c14th, was occupied by the Barnewall family until their eviction c.1650 by Cromwellian troops, who “slighted” the edifice; although the property was restored to the family upon the accession of King Charles II, it subsequently passed to the Lawlesses. It was described as ruinous in 1757, but part of one tower wall still survives, abutting a Georgian house in private ownership.

Cherrywood is a brand new suburb carved from parts of Loughlinstown and Rathmichael. Dominated by a gleaming modern Business Park, the curving M50 and the new Lúas Viaduct, it takes its name from the formerly lovely old Cherrywood Road stretching up the slope from Loughlinstown to the beautiful Bride’s Glen.

Loughlinstown (Baile Uí Lachnáin – “O’Loughnin’s Settlement”), long a rural crossroads community on the main road between Dublin and Bray, was blighted in the 1960s by Ireland’s first stretch of Dual Carriageway, and has since been overwhelmed by modern motorway access lanes. The former hamlet, noted for a landmark chestnut called the Big Tree, now lies under an overbridge of the M50.

The 1798 Rebellion saw a large British military encampment at Loughlinstown / Laghanstown, with over 4000 troops and a ballroom described by contemporaries as “a constant scene of gaeity“.

Loughlinstown House, originally a castle built by the Goodman family, who were amongst the beseigers when it was defended by Simon Swayne, the Vicar of Bray, during the 1641 Rebellion, was rebuilt in 1660 by Sir William Domvile, and owned by his descendants until 1963. They built the present mansion and laid out the gardens c.1770, but leased the property to Mr Justice Day from 1796 to 1841, when Sir Charles Compton William Domvile took up residence. Home to Irish-American multi-millionaire John Galvin for ten years, it has been owned by the State since 1973 and nowadays accomodates a remarkably discreet EU body called the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions.

The Silver Tassie, named either for the old Jacobite ballad rewritten by Robert Burns or Sean O’Casey‘s 1928 anti-imperialist play of the same name,  is a well-established roadside pub that used to have a rather sinister reputation as an IRA hangout, but is nowadays widely praised for its reasonably priced food and child-friendly staff.

Loughlinstown / St Colmcille’s Hospital occupies the site (and reputedly some of the buildings) of the former Rathdown Union Workhouse, which operated from 1841 till 1923. The hospital, serving both south County Dublin and north County Wicklow, used to have a truly horrendous reputation, but is said to have improved in recent years.

Loughlinstown is close to Cabinteely on .

Shankill is nowadays taken by most Dubliners to be the area on both sides of the old Bray / Dublin Road between Loughlinstown Hospital and Bray. The area is sometimes affectionately aka “the Shank”.The border between Rathmichael and Shankill was not always clear, as evidenced by the locations of confusingly-named landmarks, but is nowadays established by the M11.

Shankill Library (1912) was one of many built throughout the UK by the Scottish-born American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The mock-Tudor design was the work of RM Butler. Over the years it has been pressed into service as a courthouse and even as a temporary church.

St Anne’s church (RC) was begun in 1933 and finally completed in 1971 with the addition of a silly steeple and some outbuildings. The C12th Kiltuck Cross, another one of the four ancient Fassaroe Crosses, two of which were long kept on a local estate, now stands on an ugly modern plinth in the church grounds.

Corbawn Lane extends eastwards from St Anne’s church to the rocky beach, where sand martins abound and brave souls take chilly dips on hot summer days. Now the main access road for several residential estates and Shankill DART Station, but formerly a bucolic cul-de-sac frequented by lovers, this was where on 18th February 1936. a newspaper deliveryman came across an abandoned Austin Seven containing a bloodsoaked towel. Papers inside the car led Gardai to the home of Mrs Lavina Ball of St Helen’s Road, Booterstown, estranged wife of an eminent Dublin surgeon. Bloodstains and a hatchet indicated that she had been gruesomely hacked to death, but her body was never recovered. Her “eccentric” adolescent son Edward claimed that he had found her dead and dumped her corpse in the sea to avoid the scandal of suicide. After a sensational trial before Hanna J. in the Central Criminal Court, a jury found Edward guilty but insane, and he was incarcerated in Dundrum Lunatic Asylum until afterWWII.

View of Killiney from the end of Corbawn Lane