Michael Collins proposed to Kitty Kiernan in the Grand Hotel, Greystones (later known as the La Touche)

Guest Post: A Review of Ina Boyle’s Violin Concerto, at the Opera Theatre of the Sanremo Casino with the San Remo Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maria Luisa Macellaro la Franca

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Orchestra Sinfonica di Sanremo

Direttore: Maria Luisa Macellaro

Violino solista: Razvan Stoica

Would Enniskerry born, Ina Boyle be surprised to hear her violin concerto being performed in Sanremo, on 7 March 2019, 86 years after it was composed, by a brilliant Romanian violinist with a first-rate symphony orchestra under the baton of a female conductor of boundless energy? No, and Yes. Ida Boyle had a highly developed sense of her mission as a composer and having lived for her music it was only proper that her music lived on for her. But the art nouveau Teatro del’ Opera del Casino di Sanremo, designed by the greatest of Italian playwrights of the 20th century, Luigi Pirandello, was the perfect setting for the European premiere of her violin concerto.

The concert celebrated not only Sanremo in fiore (the annual Festival of Flowers, dating from la Belle Époque) but also the eve of International Women’s Day and Ina Boyle’s 130th birthday. Mimosa and golden broom were in full bloom all over the open spaces of the town and surrounding countryside. Spring had arrived in one of the most favoured resorts on the Italian Riviera. Here in 1874 Tchaikovsky, as the guest of the Empress of Russia, finished his fourth symphony and the opera Eugene Onegin. The sun shone for him. As it also did for Edward Lear a few years later, when he escaped his reputation for comic verse to create marvellous landscape paintings of this region.

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The orchestra opened the programme with Tchaikovsky’s ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ from the Nutcracker Suite. Aptly, not only for the floral theme, but also for the spirit of the dance in which joy is sometimes touched with a passing melancholy. More so with Ina Boyle’s work which was dedicated to the memory of her mother. There is both pain and joy in the finale of the concerto, although the duos between violin and timpani suggest ‘rest in peace, amen’.

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The soloist, Razvan Stoica, and the orchestra were directed with verve and sympathy by the conductor, Maria Luisa Macellaro. Boyle’s music soared, danced and sighed, with surprising changes of mood. The performance would have erased Ina’s disappointment when the BBC rehearsed the work in the 1930s but didn’t broadcast it. The audience were enthralled and clamoured for the encores which followed. First a virtuoso rendering of a Paganini caprice, so fast that Razvan Stoica seemed to play pizzicato and arco simultaneously on his 1729 Stradivarius. The second encore was a movement from a little-known Paganini violin concerto, arranged for orchestra by Maria Luisa Macellaro.

The second half of the concert, Stanford’s rousing ‘Irish’ symphony, was so exciting that some of the audience couldn’t resist applauding between movements. Maria Luisa Macellaro unleashed the orchestra to patriotic fervour with Moore’s Melodies ‘Remember the glories of Brien the brave’ and ‘Let Erin remember’. It was a fitting contrast to Ina Boyle’s more restrained expression. The effect perhaps represented the masculine and feminine in Irish music, with both composers finding their voice.

The concert overran by a good half-hour and ended too soon. The audience included three Irish supporters of Ina Boyle and her music. Afterwards, walking the fashionable streets of Sanremo, they noticed the number of chic shops displaying designer high-heeled shoes. It was a far cry from Ina Boyle’s wellington boots but she would have been walking on air.

James Hogan

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You can read more about Enniskerry born, Ina Boyle on Wikipedia HERE and her musical links with World War 1 HERE on this website ‘The History of the Grey Stones’.

Remembering Armistice Day 1918 – 2018

On  Sunday 11th November, 2018 we remembered Armistice Day. That was the day, one hundred years ago when World War 1 ended. On Monday, one of our students, brought some very interesting artifacts into school.

They were medals belonging to his great uncle John Curran who belonged to the 18th Royal Irish Regiment between 1904 and 1919. He fought in France during World War 1.

He also brought in a photo of John Curran and his wife. This student is rightly proud of his brave great uncle. Thank you to him for bringing these wonderful artifacts into school for us to see. 

Centenary of Armistice Day – The End of World War 1

Today is the 11th November 2018. On this day one hundred years ago, World War 1 ended. If you use this interactive website AStreetNearYou.org and enter the place where you live, you will find the names of young men who fought and died in World War 1 who came from a street near you. Click HERE to visit the site.

Remembrance Neil Moralee via Compfight

An Amusing Event at Greystones Harbour

Congratulations to the talented students in Mr. Dodd’s 6th class who helped mark an historical event that occurred at Greystones Harbour on this date, the 25th October, in 1910. Those in attendance were high in their praise of the historical re-enactment.

Barbara Flynn Photography

You can read more about the occasion on THIS link from Greystones Guide which includes a video of the re enactment of a confrontation between suffragettes Hanna Sheehy Skeffington and Hilda Webb and the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Augustine Birrell. Thank you to Greystones Guide for recording this event for posterity.

You can read about the encounter between Augustine Birrell and the suffragettes HERE on the Wicklow Heritage website .

Thank you too, to Rosemary Raughter of the Greystones Archaeological and Historical Society who invited the students from St. Brigid’s to participate. Whenever we pass by the plaque that was put up today we will be reminded that we were there on this day.

Thank you also to Barbara Flynn Photography for the great photos of the occasion.

Music and World War 1 – Ina Boyle (1889-1967)

The centenary of the Armistice brings music that was composed during WW1 into focus. Several works composed by the Irish composer Ina Boyle (1889-1967) reflect the impact of the war on her family and neighbours in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow.

On 21 October 1914, soon after the outbreak of the war, Captain Henry Stanley Monck of the Coldstream Guards, son of Viscount Monck of Charleville House, was killed in action in St. Julien. There are two plaques in St. Patrick’s Church, Enniskerry – where Boyle’s father, Rev. William Foster Boyle, was curate – a Monck Memorial and a Great War Memorial to commemorate ten members of the parish who lost their lives in the war. A brass communion rail and chancel, designed by Lord Powerscourt, was inaugurated in their memory on Easter Sunday 1919.

On 4 September 1915 Captain Grenville Fortescue, 11th Battalion, husband of Ina Boyle’s cousin, Adelaide Jephson, and father of two children, was killed in action in France at the age of twenty-eight. On 24 May 1918 Lieutenant Patrick Bryan Sandford Wood, R.A.F., aged nineteen, eldest son of the composer Charles Wood, who was married to Ina’s cousin Charlotte, was killed in an aeroplane accident on active service in Italy, where he is buried in Taranto Town Cemetery.

In 1915 Ina Boyle composed two anthems ‘He will swallow up death with victory’ a Funeral Anthem, (Isaaih XXV 8,9) for solo soprano, choir and organ, and ‘Wilt not Thou, O God, go forth with our Hosts’, an Anthem for Intercession for choir and organ. The latter was dedicated to the 36th (Ulster) Division,and was to have been performed by the choir of Derry Cathedral but could not be sung as so many of the men in the choir had gone to war.

A hundred years later it was performed for the first time in 2016 in St. Columb’s cathedral Derry, for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Among Boyle’s ‘Early Compositions’ in TCD Manuscripts Library there is a setting for voice and piano, dated December 1916, of Rudyard Kipling’s poignant poem ‘My boy Jack?

“Have you news of my boy Jack? “

Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind—
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide

The most ambitious work composed by Ina Boyle during the war is ‘Soldiers at peace’ (1916), a setting for choir and orchestra of a sonnet by Captain Herbert Asquith, second son of the British Prime Minister. It was performed in 1920 at Woodbrook, Bray by Bray Choral Society, conducted by Thomas Weaving, then organist at Christ Church cathedral.

Although she paid £11.7.0 in 1918 for publication of the vocal score by Novello the work did not have another performance until 3 November 2018, when it was performed in London by the Highgate Choral Society and the New London Orchestra, conducted by Ronald Corp

Dr. Ita Beausang


David La Touche

A number of places in Greystones
are called after the La Touche Family:
La Touche Park
La Touche Wines
The La Touche Hotel (now demolished and turned into apartments)
The  first of the La Touche Family arrived in Ireland in 1689.
His name was David La Touche.
He was French and a Huguenot.
Huguenots belonged to the  Protestant religion.
They were forced to leave France
after King Louis the Fourteenth began to persecute non-Catholics.
To avoid being arrested David ran away
and joined the army of William of Orange  the King of Holland.
David was only fourteen years old.
William of Orange ended up in Ireland fighting
James the Second of England
in the famous Battle of the Boyne.
David La Touche fought at that battle and his side,
the side of William of Orange won.
David stayed in Ireland and became a silk and poplin merchant.
(Poplin, like silk is a material).
Lots of his army friends needed someone to look after their money
so David La Touche set up a bank
and this became the first bank in Ireland.
You can read more about the history of the La Touche family
HERE on the La Touche Legacy website.

The fires on Bray Head this summer revealed a sign from World War 2

During the World War 2, the country Ireland was neutral. This means that Ireland didn’t take sides in the war between the Allied and the Axis forces.

In the earlier part of the war (between 1942 and 1943), large signs which said Éire, were placed around the coast to let bomber pilots know that they were flying over a neutral country. Originally there were over eighty of these.

There was one on Bray Head, between Bray and Greystones. These signs were made out of large stones. The stones were painted white. The paint faded over time and the stones became overgrown. In Bray the sign could no longer be seen.

This summer, there was a huge fire on Bray Head. The gorse was burned and the sign could be seen again.

You can read more about these signs in ‘The Journal’ online newspaper . You can see photos of the sign too. There is more information and photographs on

EIRE8 – Bray Head

This was an exciting summer for signs from the past. The lack of rain meant that the grass died back. In Newgrange, County Meath crop marks were revealed. You can read about them here:

What are crop marks?

History Trail to Rathdown in Greystones

At the end of the Summer Term, Ms. Ahern brings classes on History Trails.
We went on one today. This is what we learned.

Photo by A.Fulmer
Rathdown is the old name for this whole area (or barony).
To prove this we can find a reference to Rathdown in a famous history book
Rath means ring and dun means fort.
This book says that Rath Dinn was built in 503 BC by Heremon
who was the first Milesian king of Ireland. 
(The Milesians were Celts who came from Spain).
Very little is known of  Rathdown from that time
till the time of the Norman invasion.
It is known that there was an early Christian settlement in Rathdown
because the remains of an old church have been found
under the North West corner of the old church.
The shape of the enclosure around the church
tells that this was early Christian as well.
Photo by A.Fulmer
The Vikings came here too as the Viking Kings of Ireland
held land here along the coast between Dublin and Arklow.
Coolagad  the hill behind Lidl is a Viking word
as are the words Wicklow and Arklow.
Some people living here have Viking family names
however we don’t know who lived in Rathdown itself.
In 1169 at the time of the Norman invasion Rathdown
was owned by a man called Donal Mac Giollamoholmog.
He was married to the daughter of Diarmuid MacMurrough King of Leinster.
When Dublin had been captured by the Normans
and was again under attack by O’Connor from the West
and the Vikings from the East,
it is said Donal Mac Giollamoholmog sat watching the battle
until he saw the Normans winning.
Photo by A.Fulmer
Only then did he decide he was backing the winning side
(remember his daughter was married to the Diarmuid, King of Leinster who was with the Normans).
So because he helped the Normans he was allowed to keep his castle at Rathdown;
anybody on the losing side would have had their lands taken.
He became a tenant of the King of Leinster. 
Donal MacGiollamomholog and his family held on to their lands for many years
though they did not always have a peaceful existence
as some clans gave them trouble especially  the O’ Byrnes and the O’ Tooles.
Ralph MacGiollamoholmog from the same family
had the castle in 1301  then sadly  it was burnt down by the O’Byrnes and O ‘Tooles.
Ralph died and his wife married a man called Albert De Kinley 
who lived in Kindlestown Castle. Albert then owned both castles
until John MacGiollamomholog (son of Ralph) grew up.
The last mentioned member of that family was a man called Fitzdermot, he was there in 1408.
By 1482 the Earl of Kildare owned Rathdown.
When Henry the Eighth ruled England he granted the castle
and the lands to a man called Peter Talbot. This was in 1536.
In 1622 Bernard Talbot succeeded to it but it’s thought that by then
it was in ruins as it had been under attack by the O’Byrnes of Glenmalure.
Author's own
A survey was done in 1656 and it said that the castle was in ruins
but that there were cottages in the village of Rathdown.
Later the castle was owned by Richard Edwards and his wife Elizabeth.
Finally the La Touches acquired the land.
Later the castle and the area around St. Crispin’s Cell 
was bought by a Captain Tarrant (1771).
He lived in a farm nearby and it is he who finally demolished the castle,
knocked down the tombstones, took up the bones in the church yard
and put them all into a pit.
The cottages there today have some of the stones from the castle in their walls.
A bridge over the stream was built using some of the stones too.
Author's own
Archaeologists have studied the area and say that if you fly over it
you can see evidence of a moated castle, a mill, a lime kiln, communal houses,
old roadways and the foundations of many houses.
This evidence is in the form of crop marks and you can read about crop marks HERE
Thanks you Ms. Ahern for all this information and bringing us on such an interesting walk.
We learnt so much.
Thanks to Amanda for the photos and to Catherine for coming too.

An Historical Win for St. Brigid’s Greystones

Photo by Tomás Tyner UCC

Photo by Tomás Tyner UCC

St. Brigid’s NS., received some really good news recently when they heard 6th Class had won first prize in the prestigious ‘Decade of Centenaries’ all-island schools history competition. This was a joint history project from both Mr. Dodd’s & Ms. Murray’s Sixth Classes. The competition is an annual one, sponsored by the Department of Education, Mercier Press & UCC’s School of History and supported by the ‘History Ireland’ magazine. The students from St. Brigid’s won in the ‘Women’s History’ section. New principal Mrs. Máire Costello was delighted to announce the news and to congratulate both 6th classes and their teachers.

With the support of a proud Board of Management, a group of the children represented the school at the prize giving in the Aula Maxima of University College, Cork, (UCC’s own Hall at Hogwart’s) on Monday 21st May 2018. The prize was a history trophy and mini library from the Mercier press website to a value of €200. All winning entries will be digitized online and one of the winners will be considered for publication in an issue of ‘History Ireland’.

St. Brigid’s entry was based on research originally done for a dramatic re enactment of scenes from the lives of Muriel & Grace Gifford, Kitty Kiernan & Sinead De Valera. These women all had a connection to Greystones in those revolutionary times 1916 – 1922. In September 2017, 6th Class students performed episodes from these women’s lives, with musical accompaniment at the La Touche Legacy’s annual Festival of History. This was at the invitation of the La Touche Legacy committee.

6th Class were very happy to receive congratulations from local TDs; Minister for Health, Mr. Simon Harris and Stephen Donnelly. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ and the children from 6th Class St. Brigid’s would like to acknowledge the encouragement of Councillor George Jones and local historian Rosemary Raughter and the members of the La Touche Seminar Committee, whose original invitation to participate in the La Touche Seminar inspired the children’s interest in this particular aspect of local history.

By the same token, students would like to thank the Greystones Guide for the great articles on the history of Greystones and the treasure trove of photos of Greystones long ago that feature on the Guide.  The children in St. Brigid’s take a lively interest in local history as you can tell from this blog.

Sources & Resources: ‘The Great Irish Famine Online’

bonanza creek discoveryCreative Commons License scott1346 via Compfight

Click HERE to go to ‘The Great Irish Famine Online’.

This interactive website is from the Geography Department in UCC

and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht 

In it the famine is mapped at a parish level

and shows us changes which occurred between 1841 and 1851;

changes in population,



and education.

We can use it to see the changes that happened in Greystones

from 1841 to 1851.

In this way we can see how ‘The Famine’ affected Greystones

and its surrounding areas.

Sources & Resources: ‘Letters of 1916’ Project from Maynooth University

x"F" IS FOR......... akahawkeyefan via Compfight

HERE is a link to the ‘Letters of 1916’ Project from Maynooth University.

THIS for example is the last letter and will of Thomas MacDonagh


HERE is a letter from Éamon De Valera to his wife Sinéad

and THIS one is from Éamon De Valera to a family friend, 

at a time De Valera heard he was to be executed. 

It asks him to advise Sinéad about the children in the years to come.

Éamon De Valera’s death sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

Later De Valera was released in an amnesty.


Take a look. Use the search facility and you will find other memorable letters

and learn more about 1916 from people who were there.



Sources & Resources: The Military Service Pension Collection

Book, Books, Books hl_1001 via Compfight

HERE is a link to the Military Service Pensions Collection (1916 – 1923).

It is part of the Military Archives from Defence Forces Ireland.


THIS link for example, shows an unsuccessful application

for a military service pension

from Grace Gifford, wife of Joseph Mary Plunkett.


And THIS one includes a successful claim for 

Donagh and Barbara MacDonagh,

who were orphaned 9 July 1917

when mother, Muriel MacDonagh nee Gifford, drowned.

Their father was Thomas MacDonagh.

Sources & Resources: National Monuments Service: Wreck Viewer

This is an interesting website.

It shows the shipwrecks all along the coast of Ireland.

Click HERE to see.

Published by the Department of Culture and Heritage Department, it is an interactive map.

Many of the wrecks are unidentified.

But off the coast of Greystones you can see

the John Morrison (SS), the Lanarkshire (SS), the Hibernia (FV) and more.

steinigidhwave Leathanach via Compfight




What are crop marks?

When places where people once lived are deserted,

they become overgrown.

RuinsCreative Commons License Mark Coleman via Compfight

Eventually they are buried.

What is underneath the soil

can affect how the crops above them grow.

Ditches dug into the ground fill up with soil over time.

Crops grow well in these place.

They grow higher and look greener.

These create ‘positive’ cropmarks.


Where there are walls, floors or foundations underneath,

there is a thinner layer of soil.

Crops don’t grow as well on top of this rubble.

This creates ‘negative’ cropmarks.

Positive and negative cropmarks can be seen best from the air.

RHB_UK_Harnhill-1672_LabelledCreative Commons License DART Project via Compfight

Please note this is not a photo of Rathdown
and is only here to show ‘cropmarks’ in the landscape.

Click on this LINK to read more about cropmarks.

Photographs of cropmarks taken from the air, in 1970

show that there was early settlement at Rathdown, to the North of Greystones.

You can read more about those photographs HERE


Click HERE to see for a project in which

you can create your own cropmarks. 


UPDATED to add: During the drought of Summer 2018

something very exciting happened.

The drought caused some cropmarks

which hadn’t been seen before

to become noticeable.

This happened near Newgrange in County Meath.

You can read about this HERE

The same thing is happening in the United Kingdom.

Look HERE to see what is happening in Wales

and HERE for more information and a good explanation

of how cropmarks are made.

1911 Census details for the Holy Faith Convent in Greystones

The 1911 Census is a wonderful source of information.

Click HERE to see the 1911 Census details for the Holy Faith Convent in Greystones.

On the night of Sunday 2nd April, 1911, there were six members of the Holy Faith Order in the house.

Margaret Gaughron was the local superior.

Frances Murphy, Johanna Aylward, Kate Sheehy and Norah Trant were all described as teachers.

Ellen Maguire was visiting the convent.

The women were all between the ages of 30 and 65.

Norah Trant was from County Kerry.

Margaret Gaughron the head of the convent was from Dublin as was Ellen Maguire who was visiting.

The other sisters, Frances Murphy, Johanna Aylward and Kate Sheehy were all from County Wicklow.

Click HERE to see the details of the Holy Faith Convent in Kilcoole,

where there were seven sisters, six of whom were in their thirties.

There were fourteen boys boarding there that night,

between the ages of four and eleven.

What is a midden?

prehistoric midden of shells in the swamp Vilseskogen via Compfight

There is evidence of people living at Rathdown during the Neolithic or New Stone Age (2,500 BC). In March 1991 part of the cliff at North Beach, Greystones adjacent to Rathdown collapsed into the sea. A newspaper report of the time explains that Grove Residents Association salvaged the find.

‘The items which they recovered over the Easter holidays include a number of fine Neolithic flints, several shards of medieval pottery, some animal bones and teeth, medieval nails and a piece of buckle’ (1) 

The haul provided evidence that there was habitation at Rathdown from prehistoric to medieval times.

‘In March 1991, after a period of prolonged rainfall a large section of cliff collapsed just north of the Gap Bridge revealing a midden site.’(2)

The students are very taken with the word ‘midden’ (an old Norse word) and are initially disappointed to hear that a midden is the equivalent of a rubbish dump. But their interest is renewed when they learn of discoveries archaeologists make, about the type of food our ancestors ate by examining these dumping grounds.

Mollusks formed a significant addition to the diet of those living along the coast in prehistoric times. The children speculate from what they see on Greystones sea shore today that the shells found in the midden could have included oysters, cockles, mussels, limpets, whelks, periwinkles, crab claws and fish bones. The chemical composition of the shells slow down the rate of decay within the midden which in turn preserve other materials in the heap.


1. George Jacob ‘Historic find as section of cliff collapses,’ Bray People, April 1991

2. Patrick Neary ‘A Saddle Quern or Grinding Stone from Rathdown Lower, Co.Wicklow https://trowelucd.files.wordpress.com/1992/10/trowel_iii.pdf

Stone Age Webquest – for Senior Classes

Webquest for 6th class

Task :  With your partner visit these ten weblinks

The producer of a series of educational documentaries has invited you to help him produce an animation about the Neolithic Era (The New Stone Age) and evidence of its links with Greystones. You will be working with a partner. Both of you are  to help produce this animation by doing some research. Click on the following ten links in order to collect accurate information about the New Stone Age and its links with Greystones. Use the power of teamwork and the resources on the internet to learn about the Neolithic Era. Finally, you will draft a storyboard for the animation.

Objectives: Children should learn: From their research with their partner what do they know about how people in Stone Age times lived?

What are Greystones links with Stone Age settlers.

What evidence tells us Stone Age people lived in the Greystones area?

Why did the early settlers decide to live in the Greystones area?

So as to produce a storyboard detailing what they found out.


Children follow this ten step webquest to learn about the Stone Age

Learning outcomes


Make a storyboard to illustrate what they have learned about the Stone Age

Points to note

Children to decide what is the key information to be presented.

This research would be conducted over four weeks.

Eastern recessCreative Commons License Rob Hurson via Compfight

1.      Weblink One

In 1992 part of a cliff fell into the sea at Rathdown to the North of Greystones


Read the newspaper report from The Bray People about this event.

What was found includes some artifacts from the New Stone Age (Neolithic Era). What exactly was found from the Stone Age?

2.      Weblink Two

If you found a strangely shaped stone in the rockfall, how would you know it was a Stone Age tool. Click on this link to learn how


3.      In the cliff fall a shell midden was also found. What is a midden? 

Use the search and find facility (Control+F) to find the word midden in this piece. 


What would you expect to find in a midden? 

What does this information tell us about the food Stone Age people ate? 

Based on this information start a list of food the Stone Age people ate.

4.      Take a look at this photograph of a rubbish pit. 

Discuss the answers to the questions on your page with your partner. 


5.      Here is a piece about Stone Age food. 

Is there any new food items that you haven’t on your list so far?


Add any new items to your list.

6.      In 2006 a student found a Neolithic tool in the school yard. Click on this link to find out what it was


7.      Would you know how to use an ancient stone tool if you unearthed one? Try your hand here. 


8.      Click on this link to find out why Stone Age people may have chosen to settle in Rathdown, to the North of Greystones


9.    Watch this short animation on the Stone Age.


What did you learn about the Stone Age that you didn’t know before?

10.  Here is an animation on a Stone Age settlement at Skara Brae in Scotland


Did you learn anything new from the animation about Skara Brae?

Follow up Activity

What would you and your partner include in a storyboard about the Neolithic Era if you were making an animation about the Stone Age?

Start your storyboard now.

–          Be sure to include Greystones links with Stone Age settlers.

–          What evidence tells us Stone Age people lived in the Greystones area?

–          Why did the early settlers decide to live in the area?

–          From your research what do you know about how people in Stone Age times lived?

Famous People – Isambard Kingdom Brunel – Contrasting Photographs

Bray-Greystones cliff Afef Abrougui via Compfight

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born in 1806. He engineered the railway line between Bray and Greystones which had a significant impact on Greystones. His father was French left France in a hurry to escape the French revolution. His mother had been accused of being a spy and went to England where they first met. Later they spent some time in debtors’ prison. They had money problems when their sawmill burned down. In later life Brunel found it hard to delegate. He worked too hard. He often slept on a chair. The students are familiar with an iconic photo of a robust Isambard from 1857 smoking a cigar. You can see that photo HERE

Students contrast this photo with one where he is holding a walking stick and suffering from ill health taken ten days before he died. They are not surprised to hear he died at 53 shortly after the photo was taken. Students are always vehement in blaming smoking for his demise! You can see that photo HERE

From the Archives: An Unwelcome Visitor – September 1649

Leap Year Times – Saturday, February 29th, 1992

by Jennifer Browett from Mrs. McGloin’s 4th Class at that time.

Oliver CromwellCreative Commons License Mike Steele via Compfight

Strange things have happened at Killincarrig Castle in recent days.

The village Castle has been plundered by an English General called Cromwell

who arrived here with a large army. Two arrests have been made since his departure.


Last week we heard that Cromwell was approaching on his march from Drogheda to Wexford.

Rumours reached us of dreadful happening in  Drogheda.

The confederate troops who were holding the castle ran away before he arrived and took refuge in Arklow.


The local people are not too impressed about this. However Cromwell’s horse was stolen by Luke O Toole’s son Christopher who had been staying at Kindlestown Castle. So Cromwell will have reason to remember his visit here.

After his departure leaving a large garrison at the castle, a man called John Bayley, a soldier, stationed at Killincarrig, was tried for desertion. He was only sentenced to run the gauntlet.


Yesterday I heard that Kathleen Farrell a local woman has been arrested. At a special court she has been convicted of spying and sentenced to death. She was taken away to Dublin and as of yet we don’t know of her fate. The villagers will never forget these past two weeks.

From the Archives: Super Macs make an historic find.

‘Leap Year Times’ Saturday, February 29th 1992

prepared by Mrs. McGloin’s 4th Class at that time.

The OneCreative Commons License Matthias Ripp via Compfight

Mrs McGloin, our Teacher, thinks that the McDonald children are wonderful.

As we all know, she is very interested in history.

Two years ago, when the Burnaby Farmhouse was falling down, Jason and Fergus Mc Donald were playing in the garden near the house. By a broken window, they found some old letters.

Their sister, Lisa brought these letters into school. It was discovered that they were very important indeed. One of the letters was part of an eye witness account of the death of Colonel Fred Burnaby written by a soldier who was holding his hand when he died in Sudan in 1885.

Another letter was from Disraeli, Prime Minister of England. It is dated 1877 and the address is 10 Downing Street. It congratulates Burnaby on his book, which we think is ‘The Ride to Khiva’.

The third letter is a note from Don Carlos, a Spanish prince, who Burnaby met when he went to Spain during the Carlist wars. This man was a pretender to the Spanish throne. The note is about a dinner inviation and the date is 1882.


These letters are being kept in a safe place until we have our own heritage centre in Greystones.

Well done to our three young historians.

From the Archives: Shopping in 1922

‘Leap Year Times,’ Saturday February 29th 1992

prepared by Mrs. McGloin’s 4th class at that time.

Capa com ilustração de A. Antertre, 1922 Hemeroteca Digital | Old magazines & newspapers | Portugal via Compfight

Greystones Shops 1922

Since we were examing the new shops in Greystones we decided to visit the library and look for any information on what Greystones looked like in the early 1900s. We found a book called ‘A Guide to Greystones’ printed in 1922.

Here are some of the shops we found. We have found out what some of these building are today. 


The Gold Hotel on Portland Road no longer exists.


Braemar Private Hotel/Lewis’ Hotel. St Brigids School replaced this.


The Railway Hotel is now the Burnaby Hotel.


The Stanley Stores is now Fenton Fires.


Scotts pharmacy now Glennans pharmacy


J Mc Kenzie’s is now Mooneys

Ferns is now Poppies.

Moore & Co is now Iretons

McFarland’s Tea was at the Burnaby Stores.

You could get a car at Greystones Motor opposite Railway Station.

Hare Builders coach paints and general contractors were at Clonallan Villa.


Edwards and Co sold high class groceries and provisions.

Furnished and unfurnished homes could be supplied by Rochford Doyle Auctioneer

who was based at Bushfield House.

From the Archives (1992) – Preserving our Norman Castle

‘Leap Year Times’

Saturday, February 29th 1992

prepared by Johanna Murray and Doireann McKiernan

from Mrs. McGloin’s 4th Class of that year.

Harbour View Neil Dorgan via Compfight

Kindlestown Castle

The castle was build about 1225 by a man called Walter de Bendeville.

The place got its name from Albert de Kenley

who owned the castle in 1381. He was sheriff of Kildare.

At that time Rathdown castle was destroyed

and its owner Ralph Mac Giollamachoneog died

leaving a widow and young son whose name was John.

Albert de Kenley married the widow

and for a time both estates were under the control of de Kenley until the boy grew up.

In 1377 the castle was captured by O Byrnes.

It was recovered by Bishop Wakefield who gave it to the Archbolds.

In 1482 the O Byrnes tried to take it again.

Donnachad O Byrne was defeated in this attack.

The Archbolds seemed to have many changes in their fortunes.

In 1638 they sold the castle and 400 acres and the watermill to Lord Meath of Killruddery.


In school this year we spent several months learning all about the Normans in history class.

It is the only remaining Norman castle, we have left in the area is Kindlestown castle


But at the moment they are building houses (Dromont) on the same grounds as the castle.

They are very close to the castle.

And with the vibrations from the trucks and diggers we worry that the castle may fall down


We hope the caastle wont be damaged during all this building.

We are glad to hear that the Board of Works promised to strengthen the castle.

We trust it will be done very soon before our one and only Norman Castle falls down.


You can read more about Kindlestown Castle HERE on Greystones Guide.




A Tragedy at Greystones Harbour – ‘The Heroes of Greystones’


Port of Alexandroupolis. Stormy, Rainy weather sea portCreative Commons License Dimitris Siskopoulos via Compfight

On Friday night October 14th 1892 there was wild storm at Greystones.

A schooner called ‘Mersey’ was moored at the jetty.

The boat threatened to break up in the storm.

John Doyle and William Doyle with Hebert Doyle cast a rope

out to the boat and were successful. 

When returning home a great wave came and

swept them away.

John and William Doyle left large families behind.

A collection was made for them

and a poem was written to raise money for their poor families.

The poem was called ‘The Heroes of Greystones.

You can read that poem HERE 

on the Greystones Archaelogical and Historical Society website.


Electrification – When did electricity come to Greystones?

Click on THIS link to see an interactive map showing when places in Ireland got electricity. As you can see from the screen shot below Greystones got electricity in 1930. Delgany had to wait until 1932. Templecarrig had an even longer wait and it was 1949 before Templecarrig had electricity.

A screen shot from the ESB Archives see link to website below.

Click HERE to see some more details about the electrification of County Wicklow. Interesting information HERE contrasting life before electrification and life after.

The De Valera Family and St. Brigid’s Greystones

The following is and extract from

History of

Greystones Convent

and Blacklion School


Sister M. Dolorosa


President De Valera (and his family)

‘The year was 1917. Sister Mary Rose was called to the parlour  

‘a lady wished to see her’.

As the Sister stood for a moment, framed in the parlour doorway,

the visitor noted the kindly lines in her face.

‘A warm heart beats with’, she though, ‘which all her Victorian dignity,

and the Jansenistic rigour of her generation, cannot hide’.

In her turn, the Sister looked at the dainty figure befor her:

a fair-hair lady with a gentle dignity, and the most winning of smiles.

The nun’s heart went out to her at once.

‘I’m Mrs. De Valera,’ the lady introduced herself.

‘De Valera!’ Sister Mary Rose was conscious of a little inward shiver.

‘The name was not at all common.

Could it be connected with that dreadful Rebel? She sincerely hoped not!’

Like all nuns of the period, she was naively ignorant of the world of politics.

Of course, she knew what rebellions were.

Had she not heard endless discussion in her own home and ’98. 1803 and 1848!

Then there was 1867, when she had been in the Convent for six years,

and the recent trouble in 1916 …

What bloodshed! What loss of life! And all in vain!

Would her dear misguided countrymen never learn sense?

Untrained, and with the most primitive of weapons,

‘with every recurring folly, they were prepared to defy a mighty Empire.

Of what use were pikes against the British cannons?

To be sure, they must have had some guns in 1916: a number of people were shot!’

The mere thought of taking life was enough to make Sister Mary Rose feel faint.

She recoiled in horror from these thoughts,

but was far too well-bred and courteous

to allow them to effect her manner to the visitor.

‘How do you do, Mrs. De Valera. Won’t you be seated, please.’

Her hostess indicated the sofa.

‘Now, what can I do for you?’

‘I have come to ask you to take my two eldest children into the school.

Vivion is almost seven years of age, while Mairín is not yet six.’

A Valued Friendship

The interview proved to be the beginning of a warm friendship

between the Sisters of the Holy Faith in Greystones,

and the family of Éamon De Valera, now President of Ireland.

Moreover, Sister Mary Rose was to live long enough to learn,

that the latest ‘recurring folly’ of her ‘dear misguided countrymen’

was not ‘all in vain’, after all!

The Children Come to School

When the De Valera family took up residence in one of the stucco houses on Kinlen Road, in 1917,

they hardly realized at the time that they were settling among a very unsympathetic and hostile community.

Before they left the district, however in 1922, many had thawed out and succumb to the charm of this family,

the members of which were ready to suffer so much, and make such sacrifices for their ideals.

Vivion and Mairín came to the Convent School and made their First Holy Communion with the Sisters,

before the family returned to Dublin.

Éamonn, Brian and Ruaidhrí, all attended the school, while Emer was a little visitor of four at the time.

On their return to the City, they continued their education in the Holy Faith Schools, Haddington Road,

until they changed their residence to another district.

The youngest, Terry, is the only member of the De Valera family, who did not attend a Holy Faith School.

Since that sad period of our country’s history, having come through many suffering and vicissitudes,

from which they were bravely shielded by their valiant mother, the children,

after distinguished academic careers, have become:

Major Vivion De Valera, MsC, PhD.

Miss Máirín De Valera, Msc, PhD.

(at present Professor of Botany in University College, Galway).

Éamonn De Valera, MAO, MD, FRCPI

(Professor of Gynaecology & Obstetrics in University College, Dublin).

Ruaidhrí De Valera, MA, PhD

(Professor of Celtic Archaeology in University College, Dublin).

Emer De Valera, BA,

(cut short a university career to become Mrs. Brian Ó Cuív).

Toirdhealbhach De Valera is a solicitor.

Alas! Brian’s name is absent from the list.

He met with a sad accident at the age of twenty (1936), when he was thrown from a horse.

This was not the least of the many great sacrifices which this family has been called upon to offer to God.

The Language Movement

…..In 1917, just at the time when the family of President De Valera came to live in Greystones,

the Language movement was in full swing.

The coveted ‘Fáinne’ was becoming quite fashionable.

Understandably, the nuns did not like to be left behind in this particular field,

but at the time, they could not leave their convents in order to attend classes outside.

The delight of the Sisters in Greystones, when they discovered that

they had an experienced teacher of the Irish language in their midst,

in the person of Mrs. De Valera, who was willing to conduct classes in the Convent,

can well be imagined.

Mrs. De Valera gave them every help in the study of the Language. …

Mrs. De Valera also taught Irish to the children in the school in Greystones,

thus the Sisters’ pupils benefited, too.

Ireland’s First Lady

Wishing to put on record an account of this friendship

between the Sisters of the Holy Faith and the family of President De Valera,

we applied to Mrs. De Valera for confirmation.

…Realizing that if she compied with our wishes in writing,

she might be harassed by others looking for written memorials –

a task to which she felt very unequal in her eight-sixth year

– she decided on a personal interview instead;

a privilege for which we would not have dared to hope!

On December 31st, 1964, Mrs. De Valera, as ‘Ireland’s First Lady’,

paid a visit to the Convent to which she had first come in 1917.

The pleasure of this visit for her, must have mingled with sadness.

All the old faces were gone; all the old friends were dead.

There was no Sister Mary Rose to receive her.

And alas! For the ‘Victorian dignity’ and (we hope!) the ‘Jansenistic rigour’

– they had vanished a generation ago.

Instead she was ‘hugged and kissed’

and ‘physically’ conducted to a modern armchair in lieu of the ‘indicated sofa’.

We trust that the warm affection which inspired this conduct compensated for our lost of dignity!

There sat this little lady with the gracious smile, telling us in her own simple and homely way

about the only people who held out the hand of friendship

to her in her years of trial in Greystones from 1917 to 1922:

the Sisters of the Holy Faith.

How even Sister Mary Rose’s heart,

melted in kindness toward the ‘dreadful Rebel’ so as much as to pray

and ask others to pray that Our Lady would make him invisible to his enemies.

An Bhean De Valera was accompanied by her daughter, Professor Máirín De Valera , who related

how impressed the De Valera children had been by the kindness of all the nuns,

but especially by that of Sister Mary Paulinus.

This Sister was in charge of the kitchen.

When any of the children were put out of the school-room ‘in disgrace’,

Sister Mary Paulinus called them into the kitchen,

where their ‘penance’ was changed into pleasure by the enjoyment of some titbit or sweetmeat.

Yes, the Sisters took the De Valera family and the Cause they embraced, to their hearts.

In those early days the Cause was fought under the banner of ‘Sinn Féin’.

The day came when the Sisters went to the polls to vote.

Sister Mary Rose, with all the affection she had for the family of Éamonn De Valera,

never took to the ‘Cause’.

When the Sisters returned after having registered their votes,

she on overhearing some of their whispered remarks, complained:

‘I’m afraid some of you have voted ‘Sinn Féin!’

The sole reason they had for voting at all!…

Informal Chats

When the chaos which reigned between 1917 and 1922 was finally brought under control

and Éamonn De Valera took his place in public life

as President of Dáil Eireann, under the first Constitution,

himself and Mrs. De Valera slipped down to Greystones,

on a few occasions, to have a chat with their old friends in the Convent.

During one of those visits (long before it ever appeared in print)

he described for the Sisters his romantic escape from Lincoln Jail:

how he procured the wax and got an impression of the Chaplain’s key;

how duplicates were made;

the thrill when the expected signal was flashed in the darkness outside;

the awful anxiety when the key which Collins and Boland had brought,

broke in the lock; the relief when his own duplicate worked;

his boyish sense of adventure as he passed the sentry unobserved,

and all the subsequent vicissitudes.

The card which comes every Christmas from Áras an Uachtaráin to the Sisters in Greystones,

is a gentle reminder of all the affectionate traditions which have been

handed down to a younger generation of nuns.

But they need no reminder to keep alive the deep regard

which they will always have for President & Mrs. De Valera

and each member of their family.’

End of extract from Sister Mary Dolorosa’s piece on the History of St.Brigid’s

Kitty Kiernan and Greystones

Kitty Kiernan often visited Greystones.

She had gone to school nearby

in the Loreto Boarding School, Bray, Co. Wicklow.

It was there in November 1908 that Kitty and her sisters

were told by the Mother Superior the sad news

that they had to return home immediately as their mother had died.

This was a shock to the sisters, particularly as it had been their father who had been ill.

Three months later their father also was dead.


The family were very unlucky.

The previous year, their nineteen year old twin sisters had died of TB (tuberculosis):

their sister Lily at home in Granard

and Rose in a hospital in Davos, Switzerland,

where she went in the hope of being cured.

Now the four teenage sisters and their brother Larry were orphans.

girls make history-3Creative Commons License Maria Morri via Compfight

Kitty got engaged to Michael Collins in the Grand Hotel in Greystones

(now known as The La Touche Hotel) on Saturday, 8th October 1921.

Locals say they were planning to buy Brooklands on Trafalgar Rd.,

and live there after they married. 


Michael Collins was killed in an ambush in Béal na Bláth before that could happen.

The ambush happened on the 22nd August 1922.


While they were dating Kitty and Michael had written hundreds of letters to each other.

The first was written by Collins in February or March 1919

and the last was from Kitty on 17th August 1922.


On Thursday May 4 1922 there was one addressed to

‘Miss Kiernan No 10’ in Greystones.

It started:

“Kitty dear, I knocked very gently on your door

but there was no answer and I didn’t have the heart to wake you up”

She stayed for some of the time in the Grand Hotel in Greystones while she was ill.

In one of her last letters to Collins, Kitty Kiernan had written:

‘l was terrified that you would take all kinds of risks

and how I wished to be near you

so that I could put my arms tightly around your neck

and that nothing could happen to you.

I wouldn’t be a bit afraid when I’d be beside you,

and if you were killed I’d be dying with you

and that would be great and far better

than if I were left alone behind.

I’d be very much alone if you were gone.

Nothing could change that, and all last week

and this I’ve realized it and that’s what makes it so hard’.

Two Women; Kitty Kiernan and Sinead De Valera – Their Stories, their Connections to Greystones and Their Place in History



The Irish Free State was an independent state established

on 6th December 1922

under the Anglo Irish Treaty of December 1921.

That treaty ended the Irish War of Independence between

the forces of the Irish Republic and the British forces.

The Easter Rising in 1916 had not been popular with the public.

But the execution of the leaders, changed people’s minds.

On Display at the Museum of Decorative Arts, Dublin. Lynn Gallagher via Compfight


This is the story of two women, with links to Greystones,

who had links to people fighting for Irish  freedom

in the lead up to the foundation of the Irish state.


You can read their stories below.

Or you can download a powerpoint of their stories here:

Two Women; Their Story & Their Place in History 


Kitty Kiernan

The powerpoint tells the story of Kitty Kiernan.

Kitty was engaged to Michael Collins.

They got engaged in The La Touche Hotel on Saturday, 8th October 1921.

Locals say they were planning to buy ‘Brooklands’ on Trafalgar Road,

and live there after they married.

Kitty hoped to have a double wedding with her sister Maud,

who was due to marry her fiancé Gearóid O Sullivan.


Michael Collins was assassinated at Beal na Bláth, County Cork

on 22nd August 1922.

At his funeral there were hundreds of wreaths

but only one floral tribute was allowed on the flag-covered coffin;

a single white peace lily.

It was from Kitty Kiernan.


Two months later, in October 1922,

Kitty attended Gearóid and Maud’s wedding,

dressed in black,

as she continued to mourn the loss of Michael Collins.


Sinéad  De Valera

The powerpoint also tells the story of Sinéad  De Valera.

Sinéad and her children lived in Greystones,

at Craig Liath, Kinlen Road, in the Burnaby

for five years from September 1917 until October 1922.

 Craig Liath was originally called Howbury.

If you are looking for it in the Burnaby it is called Edenmore now.


Éamon fought in the 1916 Rising.

In a note from De Valera to his wife Sinéad, written from Boland’s Bakery he wrote:

‘If I die pray for me. Kiss our children for me. Tell them their father died doing his duty.…

We showed that there were Irish men who, in face of great odds would dare what they said’.


Her husband Éamon was sentenced to death after the 1916 Rising.

This sentence  was commuted to penal servitude for life.

After the Rising, Éamon De Valera was taken prisoner.

On 8 May 1916 he was sentenced to death for his part in the Rising.

Later that sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.


Their fifth child Ruairí De Valera was born on 3rd November 1916

while his father was still in prison.

Having spent time in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin, Dartmoor Jail, Devon,

Maidstone Jail, Kent, Lewes Jail, Sussex and Pentonville Prison

on 16 June 1917 he was released from prison under a general amnesty.

In October 1917 he was elected President of Sinn Féin


In his book, ‘De Valera, A Will to Power’, Ronan Fanning explains

‘As president of Sinn Féin, De Valera was voted an annual salary of £500 a year

that enabled him to improve the material circumstances of his family he was to see so rarely before 1925 –

they now had five children – by renting a house in Greystones, on the railway line fifteen miles south of Dublin’.


Éamon went to America to raise funds

for the fight for Irish freedom.

Michael Collins visited the family every week,

bringing money and food parcels.


The De Valera’s eldest children Máirín De Valera

said that the

‘younger children could not remember my father

– my mother overheard Brian and Ruairí discussing him,

‘Who is Dev?’

‘I think he’s Mummy’s father’’


So Sinéad kept their large family together

during the times her husband was in jail,

in America,

on the run,

or busy with politics.


Her son Terry De Valera in his memoirs

describes his mother’s life as

‘anxious, stressful and exceptionally long’.


Many history books tell the story of

Michael Collins and Éamon De Valera.

We think Kitty Kiernan and Sinéad De Valera

deserve their place in history too.


The Gifford Sisters also found themselves involved

in the struggle for Irish freedom through their husbands.

You can read about their stories HERE.

Two Sisters; Grace and Muriel Gifford – Their Stories, Links with Greystones and Their Place in History

The script Barry Burke via Compfight


The Irish Free State was an independent state established on 6th December 1922

under the Anglo Irish Treaty of December 1921. 

That treaty ended the Irish War of Independence

between the forces of the Irish Republic and the British forces. 

The Easter Rising in 1916 had not been popular with the public.

But the execution of the leaders, changed people’s minds


This is the story of two sisters, with links to Greystones,

who were close to those fighting for Irish freedom

in the lead up to the foundation of the Irish state. 

They were the Gifford Sisters; Muriel and Grace.

You can read about their stories below or download their stories here:

 Two Sisters; Their Story & Their Place in History 


What were the Gifford family links to Greystones?

1.They used to come to Greystones on holidays as children every summer. 

There they learned to swim.

While their father took to teaching the boys, 

their mother appointed a woman called Ellen, 

who ensured the girls, would all become strong swimmers.


2.Muriel and Thomas had married on January 31, 1912. 

There is a letter from Éamon De Valera addressed to Thomas Macdonagh 

at Annaville, Church Rd., Greystones,  dated 17th September 1915.


3. Among Thomas Macdonagh’s family papers there are photographs from 1915

of Thomas Macdonagh’s  wife Muriel swimming in the sea at Greystones

and ‘dipping’ her baby daughter Barbara in the water.


Muriel Gifford

Muriel was married to Thomas MacDonagh.

He was one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising.

Muriel and Thomas’ son, Donagh MacDonagh, was born on the 12th November, 1912.

Their daughter, Bairbre, was born nearly three years later on the 24th March, 1915.

Muriel didn’t know that her husband was involved in planning the 1916 Rising. 

Muriel last saw her husband on Easter Sunday 1916

He said:

‘I may or may not see you tomorrow – if possible, I will come in the morning.’

He did not say anything about the Revolution. She never saw him afterwards.


For his part in the Rising, Thomas MacDonagh was executed

in the Stonebreakers’ Yard in Kilmainham Jail. 

A British officer was reported to have said afterwards: 

‘They all died well, but MacDonagh died like a prince’.


Very tragically,  year later Muriel drowned accidentally on the beach at Skerries

For the rest of her daughter’s Bairbre’s life, she kept a little eau-de-cologne cardboard box.

Inside were the seashells she had collected with her mother in Skerries in 1917.


Grace Gifford

Joseph  Mary  Plunkett and Grace Gifford were to have a joint wedding

with his sister Geraldine Plunkett and her fiancé Tom Dillon, 

on Easter Sunday, April 24 1916.

Joseph Plunkett felt it would not be fair to go ahead with their wedding

as there were rumours of a possible rising.

So he postponed the wedding.

While Geraldine and Tom went ahead with their wedding,

he took part in the Rising.


Sentenced to death for his part in the Rising, 

Joseph Mary Plunkett and Grace Gifford were given permission to marry 

the night before his execution.

Grace said later 

“We, who never had enough time to say what we wanted to each other,

found that in that last ten minutes we couldn’t talk at all.”


This sad story was one of a number that changed public opinion and meant

there was increasing support for what had been an unpopular rising to begin with.


Many history books tell the story of 

Thomas MacDonagh and Joseph Mary Plunkett. 

We believe Muriel and Grace Gifford deserve their place in history too.


Kitty Kiernan and Sinéad De Valera found themselves involved

in the fight for Irish freedom through people in their lives.

Click on THIS link  to read their stories.

The Gifford Sisters; Muriel & Grace & their Connections with Greystones

We learned about the links between

Muriel and Grace Gifford and Greystones

from the book:

‘Unlikely Rebels – The Gifford Girls and the Fight for Irish Freedom’ 

by Anne Clare published by Mercier Press 2011


You can read about what we learned below

or download a powerpoint

about their connections with the town

where we go to school here:

Muriel& Grace Gifford; Their Connections with Greystones

What were the Gifford Sisters’ links with Greystones?

People standing on the beach in AstoriaCreative Commons License simpleinsomnia via Compfight

1. As children the Gifford family used to come to Greystones

on holidays every summer. 

There were twelve children in the family.

The Gifford children  learned to swim in Greystones.

While their father Frederick taught the boys,

their mother Isabella employed a woman called Ellen,

who made sure the girls, would be strong swimmers.

Creative Commons License Simon Greening via Compfight

On page 22 we read:

‘Frederick (their father) took an interest in gardening,

bringing some plants over from England.

One particular return from their two-month annual summer stay

in Greystones, County Wicklow,

was recalled by Nellie (their sister)

because on their arrival home

not only had the grass grown almost knee-high

but the plants her father had put down before leaving

were ‘climbing and sprawling’,

and, most curious of all, low-growing, very red apples were in fruit.

On biting the apples, the children discovered

they were a new ‘fruit’ which they had never encountered before

and which they were told were called tomatoes’

Vintage: Girls In White Dresses dvdflm via Compfight

2. Two sisters of Muriel and Grace; Nellie and  Ada

were bought  hats by their mother that they did not like.

On page 26 of ‘Unlikely Rebels’ it says:

‘The reluctant boater-wearers waited for their chance,

which came with the annual holiday in Greystones,

They walked down to the breakwater,

where the sea was deep,

and whirled the hated hats into the water,

as far as they could,

gleefully watching the little boats riding the waves

till they were so sopping with water that they sank.

They decided to accuse the blameless wind as the culprit

which had ‘unfortunately’ snatched their hats from them, elastic and all.’

Take your ghosts to the seaside (OvO) via Compfight

3. Their mother was called Isabella

and the family lived in Rathmines, in Dublin.

On page 43 of the book we read:

‘Sometimes Isabella’s concern was ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.

And such, in part at least, was the annual holiday in Greystones.

This was considered so socially necessary in Rathmines

that those who could not afford to go would

pull down their blinds as camouflage

and live in the back of the house during the Summer months.’


‘Greystones was largely owned by the Huguenot La Touche family

…Then a small fishing village, Greystones was slowly developing

after the opening of the railway line from Dublin in 1850.

There emerged a sort of unwritten law in Dublin

which observed geographical distributions of holiday areas

for Protestants, Catholics and Jews.


The Protestants gravitated towards Greystones,

partly because of the influence of the La Touche family

and partly also because Wicklow (the ‘Garden’  of Ireland)

was almost exclusively in the hands of Protestant landowners.

Greystones was, as it were, one of their marine suburbs’.


On page 44 ‘There is a description in sister Nellie’s memoirs

of their setting off for the yearly Greystones summer holiday

…seventeen people…Isabella’s ‘husband, her sons and the maids

stagger down the steps with huge baskets laden with crockery,

household utensils, clothes, bedding and food.


‘The maids hated the holidays and it is easy to see

that even the going and the coming back were heavy chores;

Nevertheless, their shrewd young charges noted that when

the coastguards started to call at the kitchen

in the rented house at Greystones, the extra drudgery was forgotten

as a bit of flirtation lightened the scene.’


On page 46 it says:  

‘Not the least of the Greystones delight for the children

were the establishments that hired out

horse-drawn vehicles by the hour, a half day or  a full day

…The favourite conveyance for the Gifford children however,

was a pony and trap which they were allowed to drive themselves.

The ‘pony’ could be either a donkey or a jennet,

and their favourite haunt was the Glen of the Downs’.

(A jennet is a female donkey.)


‘For the Gifford children, these holidays were times of freedom

and wandering over the countryside,

finding fraocháns and wild strawberries

in the fields about the house where they were staying,

picking blackberries to make jam

which was consumed while it was still warm,

getting up at dawn in the chill air to pick mushrooms

and then running back home to put them on the hob upside down,

with a knob of butter before eating them’.

(Fraocháns are bilberries).


‘There were days in the cove with Ellen,

days taking turns at driving the trap,

and days when they stood and listened

to the strange new music coming from America via England’.


According to the book ‘Unlikely Rebels’ by Anne Clare, Mercier Press 2011

these are links between the Gifford Sisters and Greystones.

Anne Clare based her book on the Gifford sisters on family papers

and a diary kept by Grace that was given to her.


Graphics: from Compfight.

Please note: These are not photos of Greystones or the Gifford sisters.

Information in this post from

‘Unlikely Rebels – The Gifford Girls and the Fight for Irish Freedom’

by Anne Clare, Mercier Press 2011

Sineád De Valera opens Delgany Fete 1921

Eight Thomas Milne via Compfight

Look what we found!

Click HERE to see a Pathé News clip of

Sinéad De Valera opening the Delgany Fete in 1921 on You Tube.

Remember You Tube is blocked in Irish primary schools.


Children’s Work on Kitty Kiernan, the Gifford Sisters and Sinéad De Valera

As part of our project on the Women of the Revolution

with connections to Greystones,

that we prepared for The La Touche Legacy’s ‘Festival of History’,

Ms. Murray’s 6th class researched the lives of

Kitty Kiernan,

the Gifford Sisters

and Sinéad De Valera.

The students learned about these brave women. Then they were asked to choose one to write about. Teachers were interested to see that it seemed to be the story of Kitty Kiernan that captured the students’ imaginations the most. The evidence for this was that more students chose to write about Kitty Kiernan than the other women.

Kitty Kiernan by Ella

Kitty Kiernan was engaged to Michael Collins. They got engaged in the La Touche Hotel on Saturday 8th October 1921. People say that they were planning to live on Trafalgar Road and live there after they got married. Kitty was planning to have a wedding with her sister Maud who was going to marry Gearóid O’Sullivan. Her husband to be Michael Collins was assassinated at Béal na Bláth in Cork on the 22nd of August. At his funeral Kitty put a white lily flower on his coffin as a sign of peace. In October 1922 Kitty went to Gearóid and Maud’s wedding. She wore a black dress because she was still sad of her husband to be’s loss. Kitty died in 1945 on the 24th of July. Kitty Kiernan’s is also a bar in Dublin.

Kitty Kiernan by Carine

Kitty Kiernan was born in Granard, County Longford in 1892. While Kitty was growing in her teens several of Kitty’s family members died. In 1907 one of her twin sisters died. One year later her parents died and in 1909 the remaining twin died. Kitty then got engaged to Michael Collins in the La Touche Hotel in 1921 but he got assassinated on 22nd August 1922. Two months later she attended her sister Maud’s wedding in black still weeping for the loss of Michael Collins.

Kitty Kiernan 10 Facts by Conor

  1. Kitty Kiernan was born in Granard, County Longford.
  2. She went to school in Loreto Convent, County Wicklow.
  3. Kitty had twin sisters but one of them died in 1907.
  4. In 1909 the other twin died.
  5. On 24th July, 1945, she died of Bright’s disease (and so did all of her siblings).
  6. She was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.
  7. Kitty became engaged to Michael Collins in the La Touche Hotel on 8th October 1921.
  8. Kitty and Michael were going to buy a house on Trafalgar Road.
  9. She had five sisters and one brother.
  10. Her family owned the Grenville Arms Hotel and a hardware store and a grocery store.

Kitty Kiernan by A Compilation from Ms. Murray’s 6th Class

Full name: Catherine Brigid Kiernan

Born: 1892 in Granard, Co. Longford

Family: She had five sisters and one brother, her parents were Bridget and Peter Kiernan. She was born into a wealthy family. They owned the Grenville Arms Hotel in Mullingar (Westmeath) as well as a grocer shop, a hardward store, a bar and a timber and undertaking business.. 

It was a happy childhood and the household was joyous until 1907 when one of Kitty’s twin sisters died in their late teens, followed in 1908 by the deaths of her parents a couple of months between each other and in 1909 the death of her other twin sister.

She was educated in Loreto Convent, Co. Wicklow. Kitty was know for her good looks, charm and grace.

Michael was introduced to the Kiernan family by his cousin Gearóid O’Sullivan.

When Michael fist met Kitty he was with his friend and they both fell for her.

Michael fell for Kitty’s sister Helen first, but she was already taken and then he fell for Kitty.

Michel Collins proposed to her in the Grand Hotel, Greystones, Co. Wicklow on the 8th of October.

The Grand Hotel is now known as the La Touche Hotel.

They planned to live in Greystones after they got married in the yellow house opposite the main entrance to our school.

They planned to have a double wedding ceremony with Maud Kiernan and Gearóid  in 1922.

When Collins went over to London to negotiate the Treaty,

Kitty and Michael wrote to one another every day.

Some of the letters they wrote to each other are in the Cork Municipal Museum.

Three hundred of their letters were put on display in 2000.

The letters were sent between 1919 and 1922.

The letters they sent were good information into Kitty’s attitude to life.

She had a very stressful life.

Four months before the wedding he died.

Collins was shot dead in an ambush in Cork in August 22, 1922.

Kitty put a white lily on his coffin as a symbol of peace.

Kitty wore a black dress to the wedding of Maud and Gearóid.

In 1925 she married Felix Cronin who was Quartermaster in the Irish Army.

They had two sons Felix and Michael Collins Cronin.

Kitty died of Bright’s disease (as did all her siblings)

and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin not far from where Michael was buried.

Felix died 19 years after Kitty.

They were buried beside each other.

Kitty Kiernan was played by an American actress called Julia Roberts.

Lots of pubs in Ireland and a few in different countries as well are called after Kitty Kiernan.

The students also did some creative work inspired by the story of Kitty Kiernan.

Alannah imagined a letter Michael Collins might have written to Kitty

20th August 1922

Dear Kitty,

I’m travelling the country day in day out. I am heading towards Cork today. we are hoping to visit the brave men in the country side who fight so hard for our cause.

I must try and visit as many as I possibly can, before I return in order to maintain their spirits and remind them what they are fighting for. Our cause is so important.

I hope I haven’t left you with too much to do in preparation for our wedding. I do very much look forward to out upcoming celebration.

Your faithfully,


Kim imagined a letter Kitty would have written to her sister after Michael Collins had been assassinated:

Dear Maud,

Maud, the most awful thing has happened. Michael has been shot in Béal na Bláth. I knew his work was dangerous and he risked his life so much. I always feared something like this would happen. I’m heart broken.

This of course affects you also. Our arranged double wedding will now sadly be a single wedding. I do wish that you go ahead with the nuptials and I of course will be in attendance. I hope you will not cancel the wedding on my account.

I will be home a week before the wedding. We can finalise preparations then. I of course must weat black as a sign o f respect to Michael,

Yours faithfully,



The Gifford Sisters by Jessica and Amy

The Family

They had 12 children, 6 boys and 6 girls.

Their parents were called Frederick and Isobel.

The girls were called Catherine, Helen, Ada, Muriel, Sidney and Grace.

The boys were Claude, Liebert, Gerald, Frederick, Gabriel and Edward.

The boys were christened Catholic and the girls were christened Protestant.

From 1880 the family lived on Palmerston Road in Rathmines.

The girls went to Alexandra College.

Catherine, Sydney, Muriel and Grace turned Catholic in the April of 1916.

Frederick was the preferred parent because Isabel was strict and stern.

The family came to Greystones on holiday each year.

That is where they became strong swimmers.

Muriel Gifford

Muriel died in Skerries by drowning.

She passed away on the 9th July 1917.

She was married to Thomas MacDonagh.

Her husband was executed for his part in 1916.

Muriel died one year after her husband did.

At first she had no idea about her husband’s part in 1916

Muriel and Thomas were married on the 31st January 1912.

She met her husband in college in 1908.

She had survived in girlhood a fever and had a weakened heart.

Later in 1915 she was diagnosed with a blood clotting illness.

One of her husband’s biggest concerns was how Muriel would cope with his death.

Muriel’s daughter kept the seashells they found on the beach before she died.

Grace Gifford

Grace was born on the 4th March 1888

She died on the 13th December 1955

Her full name was Grace Evelyn Gifford Plunkett

She was engaged to Joseph Mary Plunkett.

At the time Joseph was very ill.

They planned to ahve a joint wedding with his sister on Easter Sunday.

Joseph Mary Plunkett was sentenced to death after he fough hard in the 1916 Rising.

They were allowed marry the night before his execution in Kilmainham jail.

Grace was very poor and found it hard to get a job.

She was a cartoon illustrator.

After her sister Muriel died herself and her sister Catherine looked after

Muriel’s two children.

She got arrested during the Civil War.

Her husband left his money for Grace but her in laws took it.

Grace brought them to court and she got given 700 pounds.

She had very bad health which caused her death.

After being in a nusing home which she didn’t enjoy.

She was at home when she died.

Sinéad De Valera by A Compilation Ms. Murray’s 6th Class.

Sinéad De Valera was born in Balbriggan on the third of June 1878.

She was the nineth of eleven children.

She was given the name ‘Doll’ by her father because of her auburn hair.

She was mostly called Jennie until she joined the Gaelic League.

She worked as a teacher.

She first met Éamon De Valera when he was one of her students.

They got married in 1910.

She was married to Éamon De Vaera making her the first lady of Ireland from 1959 – 1973.

Her husband Éamon was sentenced to death after the 1916 rising.

This sentence was commuted to servitude for life.

In June 1917 he was freed, then he went to America to raise funds for Irish freedom.

During this time Sinéad lived in Greystones.

Michael Collins visited the family every week bringing money and food.

Sinéad had seven children: Vivian, Máirín, Éamon, Brian, Ruarí, Emer and Terence.

In the time Éamon her husband was in jail or America,

Máirín recalled her younger siblings talking about their father saying

‘Who is Dev?’

‘I think he is Mummy’s father.

All but one of the children went to St. Brigid’s.

Sinéad taught Irish in St. Brigid’s to the children and the nuns.


She was the author of many children’s books in both Irish and English.

One of her sons died in a riding accident. His name was Brian.

She died on the 7th January 1975, aged 96.