Journal Volume 1 1992

Old Greystones and Ancient Rathdown (continued/2)

'The Grey Stones' extend along the irregular indented sea frontage which is nearly a mile in length to the South Beach near the station, where, looking southward from the end of Marine Road, one loses sight of the railway line at the approach to Ballygannon Point. At the northern extremity of 'The Grey Stones' is the present harbour, originally a fine natural indentation which, says our local historian, 'afforded the only shelter for fishing boats between Bray Head and Wicklow Head; but', adds Samuel French (who died in 1978), 'in early times there was no town, not even a village' (4).

There is no record of human habitation on 'The Grey Stones' till very late in history, but, strange to relate, there was once a flourishing village only half a mile north of the present harbour of Greystones. Its name was Rathdown. That settlement sprang up around Rathdown Castle, which in course of time gave its name to the barony. Today we have Rathdown Road, still called by many Jinks's Hill, Jinks being a local version of the surname Jenkinson. Here from an old photograph given to me by my good neighbour, Eddie Doyle, is Mick Jenkinson's cottage. The cottage, on Jinks's Hill, is long gone; but the surname still survives in Greystones.

Rathdown Park was built within the last quarter of a century. We're told that the townlands of Upper and Lower Rathdown, together with that of Killincarrig, comprise a (maritime) land lying between Bray Head and the Three Trout River, which enters the sea at Ballygannon and forms the boundary between the baronies of Rathdown and Newcastle (5). These three townlands also comprise the parish of Greystones in the Church of Ireland division.

It was brought to my notice only recently that a small neck of the townland of Templecarrig intrudes between Upper and Lower Rathdown.

Down Ennis’s Lane

The hamlets of 'Redfoard' and Rathdown are marked on Senex and Maxwell's Map of Ireland 1712; but that map doesn't show either 'The Grey Stones' or Windgate. According to the Down Survey of 1657 Rathdown Castle was in ruins, yet the drawing of it reproduced by Canon Scott from the same survey shows the façade, including the battlements, apparently intact (6). The former Wicklow County Librarian, Brigid Redmond, MA, remarks that a hundred and twenty years after the Down Survey the castle 'appears to have been rebuilt, as it is shown with chapel and village in Taylor and Skinner's Road Maps of Ireland 1777. The village stood to the north-west of the castle and had paved streets and a clear spring well' (7).


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