1st January 1837
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A snapshot of pre-famine local history, as described in the "Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" by Samuel Lewis, 1837. (The information collected here was submitted by members of the local gentry and clergy of the time).

CLONTARF, a parish, in the barony of COOLOCK, county of DUBLIN, and province of LEINSTER, on the northern shore of Dublin bay, 2.50 miles (E. N. E.) from the General Post-office, Dublin city centre ; containing 3314 inhabitants, of which number, 1309 are in the village. Clontarf stands in a very richly wooded and finely cultivated country, and is distinguished in Irish history as the scene of a sanguinary battle, which put a final period to the Danish power in Ireland. But although this memorable battle takes its distinguishing name from this parish, it is probable, from the numbers of human bones discovered in excavating the ground for streets on the north side of Dublin, and at Knockbrush Hill near Finglass, that the scene of action embraced a much more extended tract of country. On the first invasion of Ireland by the English, O'Brian and O'Carrol, who came to the assistance of Roderic, the last king of all Ireland, at the siege of Dublin, took post in this vicinity. The principal lands in the parish appear to have been vested in a religious house founded here in 550, and erected into a commandery of Knights Templars in the reign of Hen. II., which, on the suppression of that order, became a preceptory of Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, and was one of the chief appendages of the grand priory of Kilmainham. Sir J. Rawson, the last prior, after the surrender of this house and its revenues, was created, by Hen. VIII., viscount Clontarf, with a pension of 500 marks per annum. Since that period, the possessions of the establishment, after passing through various hands, were erected into a manner and conferred by the Crown on Admiral Vernon, whose descendant, J. E. Venables Vernon, Esq., is the present proprietor. This place was burned in 1641, by the parliamentarian general., Sir C. Coote, on the 15th of December. The present village is of considerable extent, and is much frequented for sea-bathing by visitors from the north of Dublin ; and the scenery in many parts is highly interesting. It was formerly a fishing town of some importance, and along the water's edge are still many wooden buildings, called the Clontarf sheds, formerly used for the purpose of curing the fish taken here. Several neat lodging-houses have been erected and numerous pleasant villas and ornamented cottages have been built in detached situations. Near the strand was formerly the Royal Marine charter school ; the buildings now belong to Mr. Brierly, who has erected large hot and cold sea-water baths. Opposite to Dollymount is an extensive causeway stretching into the sea, erected by the Ballast Board to deepen the channel between Poolbeg, or the south wall lighthouse and the north wall light. From this causeway is a long strip of sandy ground, called the North Bull, which is partly green, extending towards the hill of Howth, and surrounded on all sides by the sea; and off the sheds is a profitable oyster bank. The parish comprises 1039 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, and valued at £5283 per annum. On the shore is the shaft of a lead mine, which has been opened at different times since the reign of Jas. I., and although it afforded a considerable quantity of rich ore, both of the common sulphate and cubicular kinds, the operations have invariably been unsuccessful from the influx of sea water. The Drogheda, or Grand Northern Trunk railway from Dublin to Drogheda will, when completed, pass through this parish ; and there is a constabulary police station.

  • Clontarf Castle, the seat of J.E. V. Vernon, Esq., was one of the most ancient castles within the English pale, and is supposed to have been erected either by Hugh de Lacy or by Adam de Frepo, one of his knights, to whom he granted the lordship ; the old castle was taken down in 1835, and a handsome mansion in the later English style, with a tower of Norman character, is now in progress of erection, from a design by Mr. W. Morrison.

There are many handsome seats and pleasant villas : the principal are

  • Furry Park, the residence of T. Bushe, Esq. ;
  • Sybil Hill, of J. Barlow, Esq. ;
  • Clontarf House, of Mrs. Colvill ;
  • Elm View, of W. C. Colvill, Esq., formerly the seat of Lords Shannon and Southwell ;
  • Verville, of C. A. Nicholson, Esq.,
  • Convent House, of the Hon. Arthur Moore, second Justice of the court of common pleas;
  • Dollymount, of T. and L. Crosthwaite, Esqrs. ;
  • Prospect, of R. Warren, Esq.;
  • Bellgrove, of R. Simpson, Esq.;
  • Beachfield, of J. Tudor, Esq. ;
  • Clontarf, of B. Mitford, Esq.;
  • Ivy House, of R. Ellis, Esq.;
  • Danesfield of J. Campbell, Esq. ;
  • Seafield House, of T. Gresham, Esq. ;
  • Merchamp, of E. Shaw, Esq. ;
  • Thornhill of H. O'Reilly, Esq, ;
  • Bay View, of F. L'Estrange, Esq. ;
  • Baymount House, of J. Keily Esq., formerly far some years the residence of Dr. Trail, Bishop of Down and Connor ;
  • Bedford Lodge, of W. I. Moore, Esq. ;
  • Rose Vale, of Sir E. Stanley, Knt. ;
  • Strandville, of Alderman Tyndall ;
  • Strandville House. of W. Minchiner, Esq. ;
  • Melville, of R. Peter, Esq. ;
  • Moira Lodge, of W. Taylor, Esq. ;
  • Fort View, of S. Morris, Esq. ;
  • Sea View, of Capt. Dundas ; and
  • Crab-lake, of W. Leckie, Esq.

The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Dublin, and in the patronage of the Crown : the tithes amount to £220. By a clause in the act of Explanation in 1680, the tithes and altarages were settled on the incumbent and his successors, at a rent of £6. 2s. 6.25 d., per ann. The church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, occupies the site of the ancient monastery, and was rebuilt in 1609 ; it is a small neat edifice, with an elevation above the western entrance perforated for a bell, and contains several ancient monuments in good preservation.

In the Roman Catholic divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising the parishes of Artane, Clontarf, Clonturk(Drumcondra), Coolock, Glasnevin, Killester, Raheny, and Santry ; there are chapels at Clontarf, Coolock, Ballyman near Santry, and at Annesley bridge. Clontarf chapel was built after a design by P. Byrne and Son, on a site near the sheds, presented by Mr. Vernon; and M. Carey, Esq., bequeathed £1000 towards its erection. It is a spacious and elegant structure, in the later style of English architecture, 152 feet in length and 63 feet 6 inches an breadth, and forms a striking ornament to the place. In the village is a Carmelite monastery, consisting of five laymen, who carry on their respective trades as a means of supporting the institution; among these is an extensive bakery, which supplies the neighbourhood and part of Dublin with excellent bread ; attached to the establishment is a neat chapel. There was formerly a nunnery, the inmates of which removed to Cabragh about 12 years since, and the house is now occupied by the Hon. Judge Moore.

In the old chapel is a male and female school, supported by the interest of accumulated receipts at charity sermons, amounting to £700, and of a bequest of £500 by M. Carey, Esq. : the average number of children is about l00. The parochial school, to which Mr. Vernon has given a house a rent-free, is supported by subscription ; an almshouse for 12 widows is supported by Sunday collections and charity sermons ; and a loan fund was established in 1835. In making some alterations at Elm View, silver coins of Hen. II. and brass coins of Jas. I. were found ; and at Dansfield a Danish sword was dug up in the garden, in 1830.

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