Journal Volume 1 1992

Old Greystones and Ancient Rathdown (continued/5)

I now want to deal briefly with the owners and occupiers of Rathdown Castle and manor. The castle is said to have been built on the site of a rath made by Eireamhon, first Milesian king of Ireland, anno mundi 3501 (503 BC), at Ráth Oinn in Críoch Cualann, now known as Rathdown. It's Ráith (Ráth) an Dúin in the Leabhar Branach (c. 1575) (25) and both versions are given in the Rev. Dr. Hogan's Onomasticon (26).Fr Dinneen's Irish-English Dictionary equates Ráth Dúin with Rathdown; but the generally received version in Irish is today Ráth an Dúin. Ráth Oinn is rejected out of hand by Dr Price in his Place-names (27). There's still research to be done on Ráth Oinn, I would suggest, for it may well have been a separate settlement.

When the Normans came Donall Macgiollamocholmóg - one chronicler urges us to pronounce it MacLemogue - son-in-law of Diarmaid MacMurrough, king of Leinster, had his seat here. In 1400 John, descendant of Donall and son of Diarmaid, was still lord of the manor of Rathdown. Later the FitzGeralds were in possession. It would appear from Archbishop Alan's Repertorium Viride of 1530 as interpreted by Canon Scott that Richard FitzGerald, son of the earl of Kildare, had a castle and chapel in the town and barony of Rathdown in that year (28). Richard forfeited these soon after, when they were, with the castles and manors of Powerscourt and Fassaroe, made over to Peter Talbot, a vigorous defender of the Pale. Noel Kennedy put it concisely when he wrote: '... In 1536 Henry Vlll's government pushed the Pale south of Bray and established a family called Talbot in the lands and castle of Rathdown' (29).

Talbot's descendant in course of time also forfeited Rathdown, which was, with Old Court and other adjacent property, granted in 1666 to Richard Edwards, a Welshman, and Elizabeth his wife. The Edwardses were settled at Old Court, near Bray, which, says Canon Scott, they continued to hold until the middle of the nineteenth century, '... and their memory is preserved by a very large burial enclosure at St Paul's Churchyard'  (30).  Eighteen of the name are recorded in Mr Cantwell's Memorials, the earliest being David, son of Richard, who died on 9 July 1668: the last was James Kynaston Edwards of Old Court, who died aged sixty-nine on 22 February 1850 (31).

The Rathdown Estate of some three hundred acres seems to have been pretty well carved up by the time the last of the Edwardses departed. In 1777 there were two seats called Rathdown quite close to each other. One of them was occupied by Captain Tarrant and the other by Miss Morres (32). The Morres, Morris or Morrice family were no newcomers to Rathdown. Arthur Morrice was here at least as early as 1669 (33). In 1837 a seat called Rathdown was occupied by W. Morris, Esq., while Mr. W.W. Ireland occupied the farm on which St Crispin's Cell stands - Tarrant's former property (34). In 1852 Eliza Morris held, with house and offices, two parcels of land in Rathdown Lower, parish of Delgany, amounting in all to seventy-three acres approximately, while Andrew Morris held nearly one hundred and fifty-two acres, also with house and offices, in Rathdown Upper. The immediate lessor in both cases was Peter La Touche (35). There are Morrises in Greystones to this day and the Masseys, who were also in Rathdown at the time of the Hearth Money Roll (1669), still flourish in the area.


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