Journal Volume 1 1992
My Townland: - Its History and Archaeology (continued/3)
The same maps show Colonel Tarrant in residence in Rathdown and Mr. Edwardes in Charlesland. The Edwardes had been granted the lands of Upper and Lower Rathdown after the restoration and their descendants later sold the lands of Upper and Lower Rathdown to Peter La Touche. The La Touche Family of Huguenot Bankers, whose name is so closely associated with the history of Greystones and Delgany, came to live in their newly constructed mansion of Bellevue, bordering on Kindlestown, at around this time. The map also showed that there was a Post House and Coaching Inn at Blacklion House where the Veterinary Clinic is today. There is another reference in a private diary to a Mr. Fairbrother stopping to meet the Sheriff ‘at Blacklyon ... an Inn’.
Wicklow was not a very prosperous place at the beginning of the 19th century. The 1798 Rebellion and its aftermath had left the land neglected and uncultivated, and poverty and political divisions were widespread. The year 1800 saw the Act of Union of Britain and Ireland and Dublin lost its Parliament.
The Census of Ireland statistics for 1821 give 174 houses and 1,125 inhabitants in Delgany Parish. (No figures for separate townlands.) We read in The Story of Delgany by Judith Flannery that the Dispensary District was set up in Delgany in 1837 and that there were outbreaks of smallpox and cholera at that time. There was a Fever Hospital in Newtownmountkennedy and there may have been a Cholera Hospital near Dromin. The 1861 Census statistics give us the following population figures. (The actual Census Returns for all of the 19th century were either pulped or destroyed by fire in the Customs House in 1922.)
Kindlestown Upper Kindlestown Lower
1841: 31 houses, 187 people 18 houses. 81 people
1851: 41 houses, 181 people 18 houses, 80 people
1861: 12 houses, 77 people 15 houses, 87 people
(1 uninhabited) (2 uninhabited, 1 being built)
The population of Kindlestown Lower remained fairly stable, but what drastic event occurred between 1851 and 1861 to cut the number of houses in Kindlestown Upper by over two thirds, and the inhabitants by over a half? The Great Famine (1847) was much less severe in Wicklow than in some other places and the local landlords were caring. Nor is there a history of evictions in the area. Perhaps it was emigration or infectious disease?
In 1838 the first Ordnance Survey Maps were made. This shows a Coast Guard Station, ‘the preventive Water Guard stationed at Blacklion as a precaution and deterrent to smugglers’, mentioned in Wright's Guide to Wicklow in 1834. Greystones itself was at this time just a fishing village of 7 families. As the century progressed, especially after the building of the railway in 1854 - 56, the village began to develop rapidly, under the direction of the La Touche Family.
In 1831, a non-denominational National School system was set up. It was thought that Blacklion had a two roomed school house before 1866 when St. Kilian's Church was built, both on land donated by Thomas Phelan of Ballydonagh. The Parish Commission Report of 1870 describes the Blacklion Male National School, which was situated at the top of Church Lane, at the entrance of the present Applewood Heights. This is shown clearly on the 1909 & 1941 O.S. maps. But it was not on the 1838 map. With improved conditions for Catholics, new Churches were built, and the foundation stone of St. Kilian's Church was laid on the 14th of October 1866 by Mgr. Walter Lee, P.P. of Bray and Greystones. A statue of St. Kilian wrought by Herr Arnold Fussengang, an eminent Bavarian artist, was given to the Church by Mgr. Lee.