Journal Volume 7 2013
This, the seventh volume of the Greystones Archaeological and Historical Society Journal, marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Society itself. Founded on 5 December 1988 by the late Jim Brennan and others, the Society’s primary aim has been to promote interest in the history and heritage of the area through an annual programme of lectures and outings, and through involvement in a range of related local activities. In the past year alone, for instance, it has hosted the annual Jim Brennan Memorial Lecture, given in 2012 by Rob Goodbody, held as part of the La Touche Legacy Conference, and has collaborated with the La Touche Legacy Committee in the publication of volume I of the extremely successful Greystones: its buildings and history – volume II is currently in preparation. A novel venture for the Society was its contribution to the 2012 Culture Night celebration - a programme of readings and music, held in the uniquely atmospheric setting of Leo Ireton’s shop and attracting an overflow attendance. The Society’s website under the editorship of Frank Deignan, is now well established as a source of information on its activities and as a resource for those seeking historical and genealogical information. It also carries news of past and forthcoming events, and includes online versions of all the Society’s previous journals. See www.greystonesahs.org.
This anniversary issue of the Journal takes the form of an anthology of Greystones, in words and images, from the late eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Beginning with early references to ‘the Grey-stones’, an isolated and scattered settlement off the main highway, inhabited only by a few fishermen and their families, the extracts which follow trace the town’s story through the following 150 years, to its emergence as a seaside resort attracting visitors from all over Ireland and beyond. The resulting collection, in focussing on the first century and a half of Greystones’s existence, offers a multi-faceted account of life in the area prior to the major developments of the 1960s and ‘70s. The pieces chosen are drawn from a variety of sources – travel-writing, biographies and memoirs, witness statements, newspaper reports, pamphlets and poetry. Some of the material may be familiar, but much of it will be little-known – indeed, the range of sources which came to light in compiling this collection has been a revelation, and will, we hope, help to foster awareness of the heritage of our own place, and stimulate further enquiry into some of the lesser-known aspects of its past.
While this is not an exhaustive history of the area, it does touch on many of the significant themes and events which have made Greystones what it is today. These include the town’s maritime associations, the coming of the railway, its tourist industry, and the events, tragic, mundane and quirky, which have shaped its development. Personalities who appear in these pages include the philanthropic Mrs Peter La Touche, the unfortunate former rebel Thomas Dogherty, the heroic John, William and Herbert Doyle, the militant suffragist Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, the playwright John Millington Synge, and the 1916 leader and future President, Eamon De Valera, as well as a host of other characters.
Neither this publication nor the various activities of the Society could have been undertaken without the generosity, both in time and effort, of a number of people. Foremost among these is editor, Frank Deignan, whose expertise, commitment and resourceful and imaginative input have brought this Journal to fruition. Colin Love and Leo Ireton have very kindly contributed material, as has Avril Price Gallagher, whose drawings are a particularly attractive feature of this issue. The health of any society is inevitably dependent on the calibre of its committee, and in this ours has been more than fortunate: thanks to all its members - Alice and Frank Deignan, Colin Love, Leo Ireton, Joan Jones, Christy O’Connor, Ann Sheerin and Aileen Short – for their unstinting and constructive support at all times. A particular word of appreciation must go to outgoing member Pat Brennan, for the wisdom, depth of experience and common sense which she brought to the business of the committee, and the Society itself, over the years.
Finally, in this anniversary year, a special vote of thanks and congratulations is due to all our members, both those of long standing and those of more recent vintage. Their unfailing enthusiasm and loyal backing for the Society’s aims and activities throughout its lifetime serve as the greatest tribute possible to the memory of its founders, and guarantee its continued prosperity into the next quarter century – at least - of its existence.
Rosemary Raughter - Chairperson
Greystones Archaeological & Historical Society