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.

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.




This is the work we have done

Filing ExeterAnna via Compfight

This is a history project. We had lots of history resources in the school. There were essays and projects students had done over the years and notes that teachers had made about local history. Though some  work was saved online most of it was on paper. Students doing local history projects and teachers preparing for lessons had to spend time going through lots of boxes of stuff to find information. 

The papers were old, dusty and messy. There was a risk we would lose this information. People might think it was rubbish and throw it out. It would be better if we put it altogether online. Then students and teachers could find the information more easily. Then students could find the information on their laptops. Teachers could put the information on the whiteboard for their classes. We think the posts on local history will save on teachers having to photocopy information and the blog will make the lesson more interesting for the students.

We hope that other schools in the area will be interested in our history blog. Though a lot of it is about Greystones, we connect local history to times like the Stone Age and the Vikings, etc. We hope when we tweet a link about something we put on the blog, people will discover our site, find it useful come back to visit and tell other people about our site.

We have a menu on top and the categories and contents on the side bar too. We hope people will be able to find things easily. We like to include links on our pages so that people who visit one page are encouraged to travel deeper into our blog and find out more about history. 

To make it fun for students we added videos, online games and activities. We have reviewed a lot of these so you will know which are the best one. 

We have collected lot of the work on the blog from teachers in the school, the history stored on paper in the school, students in the school at the moment and work left behind from students who have left the school, parents and grandparents.  So we had a lot of typing to do.  We call this section From the Archives. Sometimes choosing the photos to go with the posts took longer than typing out the post but choosing the right photo was fun.

We are also trying to put new work about local history on the blog too. As time go by we hope to add to this blog. We hope to include student work that ties in with local history like art and drama and podcasts.

We have done a lot of googling. This has been like a treasure hunt. What we have found can be very random. We have found interesting links about the history of Greystones, stone age times, the Bronze Age and the Vikings right up to the present day. We have added these links, games and activities to the blog. We think this has been the most exciting part of doing this work.

We would like to thanks teachers that have now retired from the school. They had a great interest in the History of Greystones and put a lot of these resources together. So thank you Mrs.McGloin, Mrs.Doyle and Mrs.Foy. Take a bow.

Placenames – Charlesland

Ridge and Furrow - Ploughed soil in Devon CropShot via Compfight

Charlesland gets its name from the old English words ‘churl’s acre’.

Here a churl means a member of a kind of farmer,

either a labourer or an owner of a small farm,

especially in the Middle Ages.


In 2003 parts of a musical instrument were found at Charlesland.

You can see them HERE and read more about them on THIS LINK

Placenames – Delgany (This post includes link to a walking trail)

ThornsCreative Commons License Tim Praschberger via Compfight

Deilgne, the Irish name for Delgany may have come from;

(a) dealg: a thorn (so Delgany might have been a thorny place).

(b) It may have been the name of a person

(b) or dearg: the colour red

The soil around the whole village is of a reddish colour.

This is particularly noticeable after rain.

Delgany village has a great website.

You can see it HERE

It includes a walking trail which you can see

if you click THIS LINK

Placenames – Victoria Road

The World of Fashion and Continental Feuilletons 1838 Plate 39Creative Commons License CharmaineZoe’s Marvelous Melange via Compfight

In the second half of the 19th century Church Road, Trafalgar Road and Victoria Road were built. Victoria Road was called after the Queen Victoria. You can read more about her HERE Queen Victoria made four official visits to Ireland: 1849, 1853, 1861 and 1900. The railway station in Greystones opened on 30 October 1855. Many houses were built in Greystones after that time.

From the Archives – Applewood Past and Present

Barley / Gerste ICreative Commons License Christian Schnettelker via Compfight

A Project from 1995 (approximately)

by then students. Alison O’Doherty, Lorna Power & Claire Reade

‘The Owners

A tenant by the name of Thomas O’Mahony was one of the previous owners of Applewood Heights and St.John’s. The fee for the keep of the land was just a pound a week, a fortune at the time.

In later years the land of Applewood was owned by the Evans family, then by the Taylors who used the land to grow barley. In 1970 a group of German Scouts camped in Taylor’s field.

Louis McGuire was the auctioneer who sold the land on behalf of the Taylor family to various builders. Paddy Hickey provided the planning permission for the builders.

The first house was built is now No.36.

The Beginning of the Heights

Applewood attracted many young couples from Dublin. It was also a new opportunity for the people of Northern Ireland to get away from the war and bloodshed.

However, the first residents near the top of the estate were unfortunate due to low water pressure. This only enable them to use water at night. During the day it was unavailable.

At the moment there are 194 houses in Applewood. In the past 5 years 10 new houses (Applewood Drive) have been built.

The Price

The original selling price for the house was (according to locals) £8750, a great expense at that time. Today the houses are priced at £85,000.

The Residents Association

The Residents Association have worked hard resolving the following:

  1. Potholes in the roads
  2. Speeding through the estate
  3. Open spaces at each end of the estate

Interesting Facts

Two of the houses were built on sandpits.

One of the greens was a muddy swamp and while building one of the houses, a bulldozer sank into the swamp. It was pulled out by two other bulldozers.

Under the estate like most of Greystones is rock.

Applewood has always been said to have been an orchard, but in fact it was a barley field.

The estate of Applewood is now in its 22nd year.

Applewood was one of the first major estates in Greystones.’

Placenames – Blacklion

Antique wooden beer mugCreative Commons License Thomas Quine via Compfight

Blacklyon (1760) was an inn.

It was said that there was also an inn

in Bray called the White Lyon.

There is great information here about the inn at Blacklion

on the ever informative Greystones Guide.

Click HERE to see what well known landmark

is now where the inn used be.

Please note: Please supervise children online.

Placenames in Greystones named after Colonel Frederick Burnaby, his wife Elizabeth Hawkins Whitshed and members of her family.

The Burnaby

The marriage of Colonel Frederick Burnaby and Elizabeth Hawkins Whitshed explains the names of a lot of places in Greystones. Click HERE to read more about Colonel Burnaby and HERE to read more about Elizabeth.

There are many place called after Colonel Burnaby even though he only paid a short visit here. He died in 1885. Elizabeth was a landowner in Greystones. She owned the land on which the Burnaby Estate is built. She called the estate after Colonel Burnaby. It was built in the early 1900s.

There is the Burnaby Estate, Burnaby Park and The Burnaby Pub also in the town

Burnaby Avenue
Burnaby Court
Burnaby Heights
Burnaby Lawn
Burnaby Manor
Burnaby Mews
Burnaby Mill
Burnaby Park
Burnaby Way
and Burnaby Wood

In the Burnaby Estate there is

St. Vincent’s Road (called after Elizabeth’s father). Here it is in 1985:

Hawkins Lane

Whitshed Road (Hawkins and Whitshed were Elizabeth’s family names).

Portland Road ( The Duke of Portland was Elizabeth’s cousin). This is Portland Road in 1985:

Somerby Road after the town in Leicestershire where the family had connections,

Erskine Avenue after another family member

and Burnaby Road.

Here are some photos of Burnaby Park around 1985


Christmas past and present – Interviews with parents and grandparents

christmas holly fir tree decorationCreative Commons License Markus Spiske via Compfight

Before Christmas the children in St.Brigid’s interviewed their grown ups about Christmas when they were young.

They remembered. ‘Trying to be good. Asking for a surprise.  Letters to Santa being sent up the chimney (not advised nowadays) or by post to the North Pole. Shouting up the chimney to Santa.  Counting the days on the Advent calendar’.

‘Making a wish when stirring the Christmas cake mixture. Putting a few pennies in the plum pudding mix. The moving crib. Making paper chains. Midnight mass. It was great going out so late! Going to Mass in new clothes. Leaving Santa something to eat and drink. Spiced beef’.

‘Being excited and finding it hard to get to sleep. Trying to stay awake to see Santa! The wind whistling in the chimney made me afraid in case I would be awake and Santa wouldn’t leave presents. The excitement of waking up early to see what Santa had brought. Big thick colouring books and markers and spending the day happily colouring in. I wish I was a little girl again!’

‘A family time. Seeing all the family together in one place. A special dinner with turkey, roast potatoes, brussels sprouts and gravy. Christmas pudding for dessert. Selection boxes. We didn’t get sweets every day back then. We had no TV! Christmas simpler then. It’s very commercialised now. But it’s  better now because I have children!’

Children’s Work – Christmas in my grandparents’ time

Snowflake macro: sunflower (explore 2016-07-13) Alexey Kljatov via Compfight

What Christmas was like in my grandparents childhood.

My story is about Christmas in the time of my mum’s parents, who were children during ‘The Emergency’ in Ireland (the 2nd World War 1939-45). My Dad’s parents were born during the First World War are not alive anymore so I couldn’t write about them. My Grandad was born in 1934 brought up on a farm in a rural village called Garryvoe in East Cork. My Granny was brought up in Blackrock in Cork City. She would have been three when World War 2 began and nine when it ended. My granddad would have been two years older.

At this time most of the world was at war and food was being rationed greatly to keep the armies going. And the other thing was Ireland was in an emergency because there was the threat of being invaded by the Allies if they joined the Axis power, or being invaded by the Axis powers if they joined the Allies. A lot of people had a grudge with the English over the War of Independence and wanted to join the Axis powers and others wanted to join the Allies to defeat the Axis powers and the rest want to stay neutral which they did. My other grandparents went and fought with the Royal Airforce.

The church played a big role in life and people washed and dressed in their best clothes to go to mass. Neither of my Grand parents had Christmas trees, it was not a tradition at the time. The crib was more important. My Grand mother remembers snow and the cold when walking to mass in Blackrock. My Grandad said he was an altar boy and had to walk from Garryvoe to Ballymacoda to serve the half eight Christmas morning mass. He said it was freezing. This walk would have taken about an hour so he would have had an early start. The rules for taking communion were different then, so he would not have eaten since the night before and would have gone to mass without a breakfast.

My Granddad’s family ate goose and my Granny’s ate turkey (My Granddad who lived on a farm reared his goose for Christmas). Goose is a very fatty meat so they  had potato stuffing. They also had bread sauce, brussel spouts and plum pudding. There wasn’t much because of the rationing due to the war. Sugar in particular was in short supply.

My grand dad didn’t write letters to ‘Santa’ but my Granny did and her Dad had a tradition to bring his children to go into Cork city to see ‘Santa’ who gave her and her siblings balloons as the present that you get when you go to see ‘Santa’. For both of my grand parents ‘Santa’ brought very little compared to what ‘Santa’ brings today. ‘Santa’ brought dolls, hats, scarves and gloves for the girls and he brought wooden toys like hurls for the boys. And for my Granny ‘Santa’ put oranges in the Christmas stockings. You might say ‘An orange, Why an orange?’ The reason she got oranges in her stocking was because at the time oranges were considered exotic.

On the day after Christmas, Stephen’s Day people would call round to each other to visit and a group called the Wren Boys called round to the houses singing carols. The Wren boys were thought as being the hard lads from around the town. My granddad used go with them. If he made a half a crown he’d be very happy. This is about 25 cent today. Christmas was very different when my grandparents were young.

Placenames – Chill Mhantáin/Wicklow

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Chill Mhantáin means the church or cell of Mantáin.

Mantáin was thought to be a toothless man

who turned to Christianity shortly

after St. Patrick arrived in Ireland.

You can read more about Mantáin HERE


The name Wicklow is from Viking-lo,

which means a low-lying swamp or meadow near water.


What does siege mean?

170/365: Meeple Siege Guido Gloor Modjib via Compfight

When a group of people, an army perhaps surround

and attack a place; a town, a city, a fortified place

so that the people there cannot get help or food,

this is called a siege.


A siege can last for days, weeks, months or years.

The aim of a siege is to weaken the people that are inside

so that the people who are outside can beat them

and win the battle.


The people inside, try to stay strong and wait for rescue.


Kimberley Road in Greystones is named after a famous siege;

the Siege of Kimberley.

You can read more about this HERE

Placenames – Kimberley Road

Contemplative St George Simon Webster via Compfight

Our school backs onto Kimberley Road.

Kimberley Road was named after a British victory.

The town of Kimberley in South Africa

was besieged by the Boers.

The siege began on 14th October 1899

and was ended  on 15th February 1900.

Click HERE to read more about the Siege of Kimberley.


People in Greystones used call Kimberley Road,

the Green Lane and the White Road,

because of the surface of the road over time.


Thanks to Gary Acheson and members of Historical Greystones Facebook page for this information.

Christmas Long Ago – Interviews with Parents and Grandparents

End of season - dark crystals
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Alexey Kljatov via Compfight

Christmas past and present.

Some students interviewed parents and grandparents

about Christmas when they were young. They remembered.


‘Trying to be good.

Asking for a surprise.

Letters to Santa being sent up the chimney (not advised nowadays)

or by post to the North Pole.

Shouting up the chimney to Santa.

Counting the days on the Advent calendar’.


They also remembered

‘Making a wish when stirring the Christmas cake mixture.

Putting a few pennies in the plum pudding mix.

The moving crib.

Making paper chains.

Midnight mass.

It was great going out so late!

Going to Mass in new clothes.

Leaving Santa something to eat and drink.

Spiced beef.


Being excited and finding it hard to get to sleep.

Trying to stay awake to see Santa!

The wind whistling in the chimney made me afraid

in case I would be awake and Santa wouldn’t leave presents.

The excitement of waking up early to see what Santa had brought.

Big thick colouring books and markers

and spending the day happily colouring in.


A family time.

Seeing all the family together in one place.

A special dinner with turkey, roast potatoes, brussels sprouts and gravy.

Christmas pudding for dessert.

Selection boxes. We didn’t get sweets every day back then.

We had no TV!


They said:

Christmas simpler then. It’s very commercialised now.

I wish I was a little girl again!

It’s better now because I have children!”


Thank you to the parents and grandparents

who shared their memories with us.

Placenames – Our school is on Trafalgar Road

This is Trafalgar Road in Greystones.

Trafalgar Rd









Our school is located on Trafalgar Road.
Mariners Museum Newport News Virginia Va. Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson - Jonathan Guiness after Sir William Beechey's 1801 portrait - circa 2000 EnglandCreative Commons License C Watts via Compfight

Trafalgar Road got its name in 1855 to commemorate

the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

This was a victory at sea for the British navy

led by Admiral Horatio Nelson.

The French navy were defeated.

Nelson lost his life at this battle.

Click HERE to learn more about

the Battle of Trafalgar and the

tactics and strategies that were


Nelson's Column joshylh via Compfight

We got this information from Gary Acheson on the Historical Greystones Facebook page.

Viking name generator – from the British Museum website

Why not try Viking Yourself – Viking Name Generator 

It’s FUN.

When Seán tried it his Viking name was Seán the Good. 

We think this describes our friend Seán perfectly.

Jack’s Viking name was Jack the Red. (His hair is brown!).

Leon’s was Leon of Ballor River and Nadine’s was Nadine Swordly.

Please supervise your children online.

Placenames – Greystones – How Greystones got its name

grey stones 2

Photo by Leon

English speaking sailors sailing on

the Irish Sea used to call the area

south of Rathdown, the grey stones 

because of the most noticeable of landmarks;

the grey rocks at St. David’s School.

This is how Greystones got its name.
Greystones (Na Clocha Liatha in Irish) is a coastal town in County WicklowCreative Commons License William Murphy via Compfight

Children’s Art – Stone Age Man


First Seán made a collage of

Rathdown in the Stone Age.

He knew Ireland was covered in trees

at that time and that they were deciduous trees.


Then he added the Stone Age man

and the dogs that he had tamed.

The man is wearing animal skins.

If you look carefully you will see

that Seán added what he called ‘a 3D effect’.


Seán had made a stone axe!



A Great Website for learning about The Stone Age – Dorling Kindersley’s FindOut.com

We LOVED this website.

We found it very interesting

and the pictures really brought

the story of The Stone Age alive.


We’d recommend it.

Take a look and see.

by Jack and Sean.

Dorling Kindersley’s FindOut.com – The Stone Age

Palaeolithic Handaxe 1965A493 Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery via Compfight

Don’t make this mistake !

Lots of people think that Greystones got its name from the small grey stones that you can see on South Beach. If you made this mistake, don’t worry. We did too.

DSC_1103 :: Sr. K :: via Compfight

In fact Greystones was first named by sailors passing by in their boats in the 18th Century. They saw the grey stone of the rocky headland, where St. David’s Secondary School is now and used call the place ‘The Grey Stones’. Greystones would have been the only bit of real shelter for boats along the East Coast from Wicklow to Bray.

Looking North from South Beach towards Bray you can see the small rocky headland here.

Greystones - County Wicklow [Ireland]Creative Commons License William Murphy via Compfight

Looking South towards the house called Carrig Eden you can see the grey rocks in this photo.

Greystones - County Wicklow [Ireland]Creative Commons License William Murphy via Compfight

Here is a photograph of what the grey rocks or as the sailors called them ‘grey stones’ look like close up.

Greystones - County Wicklow [Ireland]Creative Commons License William Murphy via Compfight

Links for Learning – The Vikings on GridClub.com

Norse Warriors Andrew Becraft via Compfight

Click HERE for a Viking Game on GridClub.com.

Review: You have to pay to join usually, but this game seems to be free to start. Play it a couple of times and you will get better at it. You will learn some interesting facts about Vikings. We liked the graphics A LOT.

Links for Learning – The Vikings

LEGO Collectible Minifigures Series 7 : Viking Woman wiredforlego via Compfight

Review: We learnt a lot of useful information about the Vikings from this website from Snaith Primary School in East Yorkshire.

It is written for seven and eight year olds and we found it interesting. We found it easy to read and we liked the graphics a lot.

Click HERE to see.

Please note all images and multimedia on this link are Copyright Thinking Things 2016.

Children’s Work – Modelling Making – Stone Age Shelters

We had fun making models of stone age shelters.

We used twigs for branches,

elastics for vines, ropes and strips of leather,

felt pieces for animal skins

and plasticene for daub. 

Stone age man moved from place to place in search of food.

They had to put up shelters quickly but they were not meant to last.

Still in The Stone Age

It is the 14th October and we are still in the Stone Age.

We have learned that the Stone Age is called the Stone Age

because it was a time that tools and weapons were made of stone.


We learned that there was a cliff fall at Rathdown in 1992.

Stone flints were found in the rocks and stones that fell.

That is how people know that people lived at Rathdown

during the Stone Age.

Mollusc shells on marine beach (Cayo Costa Island, Florida, USA) 24Creative Commons License James St. John via Compfight

Because we are both animal lovers and own dogs,

we really enjoyed learning about how man and dogs

became friends when Stone Age man went hunting.

Man and dog helped each other hunt.

That way they both got fed.

You can read more about how dogs

became loyal to humans HERE.

Man’s best friend is the dog.

This is still true today.

'Man's Best Friend', United States, New York, Hamtpons, Sag Harbor Chris Ford via Compfight

We sketched Stone Age man wearing animal skins.

We drew man’s best friend.

We are making a collage of a deciduous forest.

Ireland was covered in deciduous forest during the Stone Age.

West Branch Research and Demonstration Forest (25)Creative Commons License Nicholas A. Tonelli via Compfight

The opposite of deciduous is evergreen.

Deciduous trees lose their leaves.

The leaves turn yellow, red and brown in Autumn.

Then they fall off the trees.

Evergreen trees stay green all year round.

#adventure #wildlife #outdoors #pine #newjersey #jersey #wandering #tabernacle digital_rex via Compfight

We have been working in 2D.

We are planning to do some work in 3D.

We are going to build a type of shelter

that Stone Age man would have used long ago.


Stone Age man was a hunter gatherer.

He would move around to hunt animals and gather food.

He gathered berries, nuts, seeds, mushrooms,

leaves, birds’ eggs and shellfish.

So they needed a shelter that was

quick and easy to build.


We built a model of the kind of shelter they used.

To make this we used tree branches, twigs,

leaves and material that can look like animal skin.

We used plasticene too. You can see it HERE


We will also do some work on the First Farmers.

When we have finished working on the Stone Age,

we will move on to the Bronze Age.


By Jack and Sean

How Stone Age man and dogs made friends

mans-best-friend Collaborative art by Jack and Sean

Evidence for the relationship between man and dog

goes back to the very start of history.

Getting fed by man, made dogs loyal to humans.

But there were a number of reasons

to keep a dog in the Stone Age.


1. Dogs helped with hunting other animals.

They helped humans track animals,

flush them out of the undergrowth

and bring animals down.


2. Dogs acted liked babysitters,

protecting children from wild animal

while their parents would be away hunting.


3. Dogs gave off body heat,

warming up their homes

and acting like a blanket.

Schools Long Ago – Interviews with parents and grandparents

Micklehurst Primary theirhistory via Compfight

Students interviewed their grown ups, their parents and grandparents

about what school was like when they were young.


The earliest account was from 1938.

“Many children walked and when it rained they ran.

Some drank a little bottle of milk at break time.

The boys wore shorts, a jacket and cap.

The girls wore a smock or pinafore

over their clothes to protect them.

When it was cold children

would wear their coats in school”.


This is an account from 1946:

“There were 55-60 boys in a class

and the classroom was heated by a fire.

The children all sat in rows of desks all facing teacher.

In the summer term, many children came to school barefoot”.

Some people remembered high windows.

They let in plenty light but the children

couldn’t look out and be distracted.


“There was wooden desk with a top that lifted up

where we kept our books, copies and pencils.

We enjoyed playing with friends, chasing,

football, hurling, skipping and hopscotch.

Great times, loads of fun no worries”


“When we are eager to grow up and leave school,

we hear people say that they are your happiest days

and we aren’t sure if we believe them but later

you realise they were right and your school friends are friends for life”


Thanks to all the ‘older people’,  who agreed

to be interviewed about school long ago.

We can see that some things are the same

and some things are very different.

Why Stone Age people settled at Rathdown

DSCF2126 Urban_Mongoose via Compfight


So the question is why do you think

people long ago decided to live at

Rathdown rather than Greystones?

We think these early settlers chose to live in Rathdown

• Because it was more sheltered,

(Greystones would be wild and windy.)
• There was the sea and a fresh water spring nearby.
• They could eat the birds and animals in the wood.
• It was on a hill. They could see their enemies coming.


We think these early settlers chose to live

north of Greystones because it was more sheltered.

There were the advantages of living beside the sea

and having a fresh water spring nearby.

Woodland birds and animals

could have been a source of food.

Teachers can find more Stone Age resources

by clicking on THIS LINK.

The Stone Age – and its links with Greystones.


Let’s start at the very beginning …

The Stone Age was the time when stone

was used to make tools and weapons.

The Stone Age lasted  approximately 3.4 million years.

The Stone Age ended about 2,000 years BC.

The Stone Age ended when people learned

to use metals like bronze and then iron.

In 1992, part of the cliff at Rathdown fell into the sea.

Among the rocks and stones were found artifacts like flints.

These artifacts showed that people had lived at

Rathdown from Stone Age times.

Click on this link from Encyclopedia Britannica Kids

on Scoilnet to see what an artifact is.

Click on this link to see a newspaper article from the

Bray People in 1992 reporting the find.

The flint at the top of this post was found

in our school yard in 2006.

Read about how it was discovered here.