Famous People – Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan planned to live in Greystones.

This is the  house across the road from our school

on Trafalgar Road in Greystones.

Chloe and Kelyn’s Granny and Grandad live there.

It is called Brooklands.

In the summer of 1922 Michael Collins and his fiancée

Kitty Kiernan planned to buy this house,

once they were married.

Tragically Michael Collins

was killed in an ambush

in West Cork on 22nd August 1922 .

Michael Collins is a famous Irishman.

He was a leader in the Irish struggle

for independence.

A Quiz about Greystones – over 50 questions

  1. Where is Greystones?
  2. Is it by the sea or inland?
  3. Who were the first people to live near Greystones?
  4. Where did these Stone Age people live?
  5. How do people know that there were Stone Age people in Rathdown?
  6. What evidence did they find?
  7. Why did they settle in Rathdown?
  8. What kind of houses did they live in?
  9. Draw a picture.
  10. What did they eat?
  11. What did they hunt?
  12. What did they gather?
  13. Who helped them to hunt?
  14. What did they give the wild dogs in return?
  15. How did the wild dogs become tame?
  16. Why are Stone Age people called Stone Age people?
  17. Why did the Stone Age people start to farm?
  18. What animals did they keep?
  19. How did they stop the animals from escaping?
  20. What came after the Stone Age?
  21. What did the people use bronze for?
  22. Why was bronze better than stone?
  23. King Heremon built a ring fort at Rathdown.
  24. Rath is a word that means ring fort.
  25. What came after the Bronze Age?
  26. What did people use iron for?
  27. Why was iron better than bronze?
  28. Why did the Vikings come to visit Rathdown?
  29. Why did the Vikings come from the cold, cold lands to the North.
  30. How do we know there were Vikings living in Wicklow.
  31. What does Wicklow (Vyking Alo) mean in the Viking language?
  32. Windgates comes from a Viking word. Gata means r_ _ _ in Viking.
  33. There was a battle between the Irish and the Vikings at Delgany in 1021. Who won it?
  34. The O’Byrne’s and the O’Tooles were called the wild Wicklow tribes.
  35. What did they do to the castle at Rathdown?
  36. Dermot McMurrough was King of Leinster.
  37. He wanted to be king of all Ireland.
  38. Who did he invite to help him fight this battle?
  39. The chief Norman was called Strongbow.
  40. Why do you think he was called this?
  41. The Normans lived at the castle at Rathdown.
  42. They made it stronger.
  43. How did they do this?
  44. All this time who was living in Greystones?
  45. Why?
  46. Why was Greystones called The Grey Stones?
  47. Who gave Greystones its name?
  48. Greystones was a good fishing place, so who went to live there?
  49. ***Where did Frederick Burnaby live in Greystones?***(This is a trick question)
  50. Why is Frederick Burnaby famous?
  51. His wife was Elizabeth Whitshed. Why was she famous?
  52. What turned Greystones into the big town it is today?
  53. Do you like living in Greystones? Why?
  54. If you had a time machine when in history would you like to visit Greystones? Why?
  55. Will the Story of Greystones have a happy ending?
  56. What do you think Greystones is going to be like when you are a grown up?
  57. How can you make Greystones a better place?

Killincarrig Castle

Killincarrig Castle was a manor house

built about 1620.

This manor seemed a popular place

for both soldiers and rebels to stay over the centuries.


During the Eleven Years War (1641-1653)

the castle became a stronghold

by the Catholic Confederates.


MacDara Conroy via Compfight

After that in 1649, legend has it that Oliver Cromwell

an English leader came to stay.

He was considered to be a hero in England,

but a villain in Ireland, responsible for

great loss of life in Ireland.

Kento Friesian Stallion Friese. via Compfight

The legend says that Cromwell

spent a night in Killincarrig Castle

and that he posted some troops there

while he went south in search of his horse

which had been stolen by the Irish rebels.

On the same trip, he ransacked Kindlestown.


The Battle - Battle of Wisby 1361 Lars Lundqvist via Compfight

Later in history, during the 1798 rebellion,

the Irish rebels hid there after to avoid getting caught!

Some of us have visited this ruin.

It is in a lady’s back garden and is a protected structure.

rust means peace brka via Compfight

Evidence of Killincarrig’s past has been found

such as old muskets, pistol balls, gunpowder measures

and other such equipment which were found in

and around the castle.

A019-00608 Andrew_Writer via Compfight

We think we are lucky to live in a place

that has such a rich and interesting history.


Lots of great information about Killincarrig Castle

on Greystones Guide. Check out THIS link.

As always please supervise children online. 

The internet is a portal to the outside world.



Kindlestown Castle

Harbour View Neil Dorgan via Compfight

Kindlestown Castle was built by Norman nobleman,

Walter de Bendeville sometime around 1225.

In 1377 the wild O’Byrnes captured the castle.

It was taken back by the Normans

and in 1402 the O’Byrnes tried to capture the castle again but were defeated.

The castle gets its name from Albert de Kendley who owned both this castle

and Rathdown castle for a short amount of time.

There is more information about Kindlestown Castle HERE on Greystones Guide.


Please supervise children when they are researching online!

Rathdown – Evidence in the Landscape (cropmarks)

An aerial survey by Cambridge University

in July 1970 found cropmarks that showed Rathdown

was a medieval village or town

with signs of a castle, church and houses.


You can see the original photos HERE.


Can you work out where the village and castle

may have been from the markings on the ground?


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

Click on this LINK to read more about cropmarks.

Click HERE for a very detailed excavation

at Rathdown dating from 1997.

The Coming of the Railway

IMG_4810.jpg Stephen_G via Compfight

Greystones was put on the map

with the coming of the railway.

The railway was built between 1854 and 1856

and joined Bray to Greystones.

Building the railway was a difficult job

because the railway line had to pass through solid rock.


Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859) was the engineer.

Tunnels were blasted through the rock using explosives.

The train station was built on the line

dividing the properties of two landowners:

the La Touche Family of Bellevue House to the East of Greystones

and the Hawkins-Whitshed family of Killincarrig House to the North.


It was only when the railway was officially opened in 1855

that many more people came to live in Greystones.

Many of them worked in Dublin and went there by train.

This is still true today.

The Dart first came to Greystones in 2000 AD

and Greystones continues to grow.


Click on this LINK to see some great pictures of the Greystones railway on the Greystones Guide and HERE for more details on the coming of the railway to Greystones on Peter McNiff’s blog featuring Noel Kennedy’s ‘History of Greystones’.

Rathdown Castle

The very first visitors to Greystones,

came during the Stone Age.

They didn’t stay where our town is today,

but instead they stayed at a place now called Rathdown,

just to the north.

North Circle stone

 Jim Champion via Compfight


In the Bronze age King Heremon came

and built a fortification

in this sheltered spot in 1699BC.

DSC_2425 Joachim S. Müller via Compfight

Rath means fort in Irish.

This is where the area of Rathdown gets its name.


Many hundreds of years later the Normans built

a proper castle at Rathdown.

The Normans were invited to Ireland in 1169

by the King of Leinster, Dermot MacMurrough.

You can read some background to that story and how

Dermot married his daughter to a Norman warrior

called Strongbow HERE


The Normans built Rathdown castle soon after they arrived.

The Book of Howth names John, grandson of Domhnall MacGiollamocholmog,

chief of the Uí Dúnchada clan,

as the first owner of the castle in 1270.

Coincidently, John was also son in law of Dermot MacMurrough.


Dermot MacMurrough was the King of Leinster and was infamous

because he invited Norman soldiers to Ireland to help him win back his Kingdom.

Infamous means he was famous for all the wrong reasons.

He invited the Normans and promised to reward them with land.

They arrived in 1169 and took power in Ireland.


You can read more about Dermot MacMurrough on the

Ask About Ireland website

The MacGiollamocholomog clan later

sensibly changed their names to Fitz Dermot.

TRIM CASTLE - COUNTY MEATH, IRELANDCreative Commons License William Murphy via Compfight

This isn’t THE castle but this is what

it probably looked like as it was a Norman castle.


The wild Wicklow tribes, the O’Byrnes and O’Tooles

burnt down the castle in 1301.

2013 Thanksgiving Day Bonfire in Hull Jeff Cutler via Compfight

However it was rebuilt again from 1308

by other Norman families.


In 1534, a castle,

20 houses,

a watermill

and a creek were recorded at Rathdown.

Aerial photographs taken in 1970 were able to show signs

of the village and castle at Rathdown.

You can read about that HERE.


In the 19th century a crazy landowner

started dismantling the castle

to make walls and sheds on his farm.

Textures, Orkney May 2010 Cole Henley via Compfight

His name was Colonel Tarrant

and we feel he has a lot to answer for,

as he destroyed our heritage.


Finally the last stones of the castle were used

to make a railway bridge in the 1850s.

An uneven skylineCreative Commons License Broo_am (Andy B) via Compfight

Aerial photographs of the fields

where the castle once stood show

outlines of ancient fields, houses, paths and roads.



Famous People – Colonel Frederick Burnaby & Elizabeth Whitshed

Greystones - The Burnaby HotelCreative Commons License William Murphy via Compfight

Lots of places in Greystones are called after Colonel Burnaby.

Who was he?

Colonel Frederick Burnaby was a Victorian celebrity:

a soldier, adventurer, and writer.

He and his new wife Elizabeth Whitshed travelled

to North Africa on honeymoon,

but due to delicate health,

Elizabeth returned to Greystones.

She then moved to Switzerland for health reasons.

Colonel Burnaby was killed in action

(near Khartoum in Sudan) in 1885.

These are from the archives:

See more also from the archives:

Click HERE to see a timeline for Colonel Frederick Burnaby

and Elizabeth Hawkins Whitshed.

The Harbour


Romain Al’l via Compfight
Greystones always had a natural harbour.

In 1897, a man made harbour was built.

It was a disaster.

It was built facing North/North East.

Storms came in from the North and North East.

Boats were smashed against the harbour wall

The insurance companies wouldn’t insure a boat in Greystones harbour.

So the harbour was empty of fishing boats.

The harbour was used for small boats

belonging to summer visitors and water sports.


Then a harbour wall was built

and in 1968 the base of the Kish lighthouse

was towed into the harbour to provide more shelter for the boats.

But the big fishing boats never returned.


Then in the new millennium there were plans to build

a marina costing more than 300 million.

There were plans for a new harbour and beach,

a public park and a boardwalk,

new shops and apartments

and new facilities for water sports.


But the recession came and the money ran out.


The new harbour is built and recently a sailing club was added.

Slowly but surely it is turning from a concrete place

to a place with trees and places to sit.


This history of Greystones harbour has been

a story of a battle against the sea and plans that have gone wrong.

We hope this story will have a happy ending.
Untited Pavel Tishkin via Compfight

We found information about the harbour in
A Centenary Booklet for St.Patrick’s Church (1964) by Samuel French
We also used ‘Greystones; Its Past’ written by James Seery in 1989

Greystones Harbour, Civil&Maritime Works – Sean Mason – Engineers Ireland

The Middle Ages – The Village at Rathdown

Knaresborough Castle DoorCreative Commons License Stephen Bowler via Compfight

The village at Rathdown did well from 1308 under the Normans:

the Le Brun and then the FitzGerald families.

In 1534, a castle,

20 houses,

a watermill

and a fresh water spring were recorded at Rathdown.

In the early 1990s, Dr. Leo Swan reported that photographs taken from the air showed signs that there was once a large village there.

In the Middle Ages there were about five hundred people living at Rathdown, and further south at Greystones was deserted.


More about Greystones Harbour

Noose Mike Dean via Compfight

This project is about Greystones Harbour.

The Centenary Magazine for St Patrick’s Church from 1964 said that from 1939-1964

“The harbour having ceased to serve any commercial purpose has fallen into decay. The groyne has gone.”

“What is a groyne?” you may ask.
It is a sea wall built to stop erosion.

But what is erosion?
It is the gradual breaking down of the land, in this case the coast.
About one-third of the pier had been washed away.
The boat slip and the dock was all that was left.

But from 1954 work was done so the rest of the pier was safe,
and the seafront looked good for tourists.

So you can understand what had happened to the harbour,

we need to go back a lot further in time.
There was always a natural harbour at Greystones.
It was the only safe harbour for fishermen to pull into from Bray to Wicklow.
But a harbour wasn’t built there to start with.
There wasn’t even a town or a village where the natural harbour was.
The nearest village was north at Rathdown.

There was lots of herring to be caught at Greystones.
It was called a ‘good fishing place’ not a town or a village.

Over the years there has been a lot of erosion by the sea between Greystones and Bray.
A lot of the coast was washed away.

Fishermen and the people of Greystones wanted a harbour
to help the fishing industry,
so that they could import coal
and Bangor slates to build for the tourists who came to sail and fish.

“Between 1885 and 1897 the Commissioners of Public Works constructed at a cost of £20,678 14s. 8d:
1. A concrete pier 200 feet long measured on the wharf coping and 35 feet wide exclusive of the parapet. Two flights of steps were provided in the wharf and six mooring posts.
2. A concrete boat slip 156 feet long or thereabouts and 20 feet wide.
3. An inner dock for small boats around which the approach road to the pier was diverted.
4. A concrete groyne 345 feet long or thereabouts.”

Very quickly after the pier was built it became obvious that the harbour gave no safety to boats.
Its entrance faced north northeast. Storms usually came from this direction, so that large waves rolled right into the harbour and put the boats moored or anchored there in danger. In storm force winds they were trapped and could not put to sea to ride out the storm.

On 14th October 1892, there was a storm. Three men ran out on the pier to cast off the mooring ropes of a schooner called ‘The Mersey’, so that she could be beached. As they were returning a huge wave broke over the parapet and the three of them were swept into the harbour and drowned. This tragedy put all Greystones into mourning as nearly every person was related to the victims of the disaster.

Again in October 1911 three schooners, the ‘Vellenhellie’, the ‘Reciprocity’, and the ‘ Federation’ were tied up in the harbour when an unexpected storm arose. They had to be scuttled or run ashore and were all wrecked. Luckily the crews were rescued by the rocket apparatus.

Since that date no insurance could be got for boats coming to Greystones and the pier was left to fall into disrepair. This meant that the local fishermen couldn’t to compete with the trawlers landing their catches much nearer to the Dublin markets. Meanwhile Greystones was developing from a small fishing village to a seaside resort. Greystones men become tradesmen and builders instead of fishermen.

We found information about the harbour in

We also used ‘Greystones; Its Past written by James Seery in 1989

Viking Links to Rathdown, North of Greystones

Hooray for the sun! Reiterlied via Compfight

Evidence of Vikings in the area

1. The Viking settlers used coins that were Anglo Saxon from abroad

until 997AD when they opened their own mint in Dublin.

An Anglo Saxon coin of the time before the mint was open

was found at Rathdown.

Experts say that this means there were Viking settlers at Rathdown

or that Vikings in the area traded with the Irish at Rathdown.

2. Other signs of Vikings in the area include

that the road connecting Bray and Greystones, is called Windgates.

Windgates comes from the Viking word ‘gata’ which means ‘road’


3. There is a famous Irish history book written in the 17th century.

It is called ‘The Annals of the Four Masters’

In this book there is an account of the battle at Delgany in 1021

in which the King of Leinster beat Sitric,

the king of the Vikings from Dublin.

The book says that after the battle,

the Irish that had won killed any Vikings that were left.


There was a big battle in Bray too.

It was at a place called Sunnybank now

When the Vikings and the Irish fought there

it was called the ‘Bloody bank’.

Sunnybank in Bray is on the Dublin Road

near Ravenswell School, Amphibian King and Lidl.



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

King Heremon builds a rath at Rathdown

In 1699BC, during the Bronze Age  King Heremon came

and built a rath at Rathdown.

That is how Rathdown, which is to the north of Greystones got its name.

Mesolithic camp site Wessex Archaeology via Compfight

Imagine 1700 BC was the year the last species of mammoth

became extinct on Wrangel Island in the Artic Ocean!

People were living in Rathdown that long ago!

The mammoth at the Royal BC MuseumCreative Commons License Ruth Hartnup via Compfight

Click HERE to learn a couple of extra facts about mammoths.

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

Annals of the Four Masters

Plantin-Moretus Museum Kotomi_ via Compfight

The Annals of the Four Masters is a history book written between 1632 and 1636.

The books contains information about

the family history of the kings and chieftains,

battles and wars with the Vikings, Normans and English invaders.


The Annals of the Four Masters mentions Rathdown

to the North of Greystones.

The Annals say King Heremon built a rath there towards the end of Bronze Age (500BC)

You can read more about the Annals of the Four Master on the ‘Ask about Ireland’ website.

Please note: the picture above is just an illustration.  It is not from the real Annals of the Four Masters.

Famous People – Elizabeth Hawkins Whitshed

White pyramid No_Mosquito via Compfight

Elizabeth Hawkins Whitshed lived at Killincarrig House in Greystones. She was born in 1861. Her father was Sir St. Vincent Hawkins Whitshed.  He died when she was eleven. When she was eighteen she went to London in 1879 to be presented at the court of the English Queen, Victoria. She met Colonel Frederick Burnaby and they got married soon after.

She was very impressed by Colonel Burnaby. He was a celebrity of the time. He was six foot four, a soldier, an adventurer, traveller, balloonist and writer. At the time of his marriage Burnaby was working for the eldest son of Queen Victoria. He was in charge of the horses belonging to the Prince of Wales. They traveled to North Africa after their marriage. But Elizabeth became ill. In 1880, she returned to Greystones to have her only child Harry St. Vincent Augustus Burnaby.

In 1882, the doctor advised Elizabeth to go to live in Switzerland. It was thought that the climate in Switzerland would be good for her health. This seemed to work because the following winter Elizabeth climbed Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Switzerland. Elizabeth went on to become a famous lady mountaineer, a writer, a photographer and an expert on the Alps. You can read more about that time in her life if you click on this LINK . There is also a lot of information about Elizabeth HERE on the Our Wicklow Heritage in an article by Rosemary Raughter, of the Greystones Archaeological and Historical Society.

Elizabeth Whitshed called the Burnaby Estate in Greystones after her husband. There is a road in the Burnaby called Whitshed Road. Elizabeth lived to be 73.

Exciting Interactive Link – Historic Environment Viewer from Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

211 of 365 - We passed the setting sun. Fearghal via Compfight

Just put the name of your home place in the search box and click on the dots to see places of historic interest. We put in Greystones, Delgany and Charlesland in the search box and were amazed with what we found.

Historic Environment Viewer from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

‘Copyright Government of Ireland. The content of this application is owned and operated by National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. This copyright material is licensed for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence’.

What was the Bronze Age like? What is its link to Greystones?

Casting Bronze Age SwordsCreative Commons License Karsten Wentink via Compfight

The Bronze Age was the time between the Stone Age and the Iron Age. Bronze is a mixture of tin and copper. Bronze is harder than stone or either of the metals (tin and copper) from which it is made. Because bronze is stronger it could be used to make stronger tools and weapons. These discoveries led to improvements in the way people lived their lives.

Casting Bronze Age SwordsCreative Commons License Karsten Wentink via Compfight

The Bronze Age was happening in Europe around 4000BC.  But it did not begin in Ireland until settlers came from France arrived in Ireland around 2000BC. They knew how to make tools and weapons from bronze. They taught the Irish how to do this.

You can read more about the Bronze Age on the ‘Ask About Ireland’ website HERE and a powerpoint about The Bronze Age on the Seomra Ranga website HERE.

Casting Bronze Age SwordsCreative Commons License Karsten Wentink via Compfight

According to the Annals of the Four Masters, people lived in Greystones during the Bronze Age. A rath was built near the end of the Bronze Age in Rathdown to the north of Greystones by King Heremon.

Famous People: Isambard Kingdom Brunel


Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: LEOL30 via Compfight

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born in 1806.

He was an engineer who designed steamships, bridges and tunnels.

He engineered the railway line between Bray and Greystones.

This was a challenging job

as tunneling through rock was needed.

The arrival of the railway in Greystones

has made our town what it is today.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Nagesh Kamath via Compfight

You can read more about Isambard Kingdom Brunel HERE 

on the BBC Primary History website.


More than 100 Years of The Holy Faith Sisters in Greystones


In 1903 Rev. Nicholas Donnelly

Parish Priest of Bray and Greystones,

asked the Holy Faith Sisters

to take charge of a school at Blacklion.


It was situated to the left of

the entrance to Applewood Heights.

The Sisters already had convents in

Newtown since 1892

and in Kilcoole since 1897.


From 1903–06 Sisters Mary Dionysius, Joanna and Anthony

travelled from Kilcoole each day by pony and trap

to teach in Blacklion School.

They were driven by one of their students.


In 1906 the Sisters came and built a convent

beside the church in Greystones

on land bought from the La Touche family.


Sisters Mary Winifred, Peter, Bertrand and Reginald

stayed in Kilcoole Convent

for a two weeks or so until the convent at Greystones was completed.

Seven pupils were enrolled at first but these numbers gradually grew.

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.