ENNISKERRY AND POWERSCOURT
LO CAL HISTORY
All material is copyright of contributing authors. Journal Formatting © Enniskerry Local History 2012 Cover Photo: Movie Set at Enniskerry (Joe Walsh) ISBN-13: 978-1481207935 ISBN-10: 1481207938 www.enniskerryhistory.org Page 2
Journal of Enniskerry and Powerscourt Local History, 2012, Vol. 2
Contents Introduction Michael Seery 5 Memories of Glencot, Enniskerry
Enniskerry Memories Úna Wogan & Angela Wogan O'Neill 13 Clock Tower Romance
John Wall PP
The Reverend Ernest Hamilton Whelan
Growing Up in Enniskerry 1940 - 1966
The Leyland Link Joe Walsh 31 The Widow Dixon Michael Seery 37
Journal of Enniskerry and Powerscourt Local History, 2012, Vol. 2
Introduction M IC HA E L SE E RY
his is the second volume of the Journal, and the theme of this volume is "Memories of Enniskerry". I am delighted that there are seven contributions under
this umbrella covering a range of time periods, events and different societal aspects of the village. As the website www.enniskerryhistory.org has grown since its launch in December 2010, it has become clear that a lot of people have great stories to tell about their memories of Enniskerry. The aim of this volume is to provide a platform for these stories. And what stories they are! Over the coming pages you will read about people and places in the village covering a time span of almost two centuries. Denise Haddon opens this volume with an article on her childhood memories of Enniskerry, during the second World War from the viewpoint of the house at Glencot, just at the Bog Meadow bridge. Angela Wogan O'Neill continues this theme, and in conversation with Úna Wogan recounts the people she grew up with from the 1930s onwards. Two articles provide the perspective of a visitor to Enniskerry. John Wall describes how his parents met at the Clock Tower while visiting the village by way of decoding the Roman numerals and Joe Walsh highlights the vital role of the bus link to the village's community. In his article, Tommy Delaney provides a detailed account of his childhood and early adult years in the village, with fascinating detail of every day life and adventures of a young country boy. Finally, two articles reach back into the nineteenth century to recount the lives of two of the village's well-known inhabitants. The first is Judy Cameron's article on Rev. Ernest Hamilton Whelan, where aspects of his life are reconstructed from his diaries. Finally, an article on Widow Margaret Dixon and her relationship with the Powerscourt Estate by Michael Seery brings us back, geographically to the beginning: Glencot was very close to Dixon's Well. I hope you agree that the span of these articles gives a great flavour of the lives and experiences of many of the village's inhabitants and visitors. Please feel free to use the Page 5
website www.enniskerryhistory.org to comment and add more information on any of the articles you have read. It is this two-way exchange of information that has seeded the contributions to this volume, and as an approach is a very rich source of finding out more about our shared local history. The journal is freely available online and has been lodged in the National Library of Ireland as well as relevant local libraries for posterity. I would like to thank the contributors for their time in preparing and submitting their contributions, and hope that these will inspire others to share their own local history. Michael Seery, December 2012.
Journal of Enniskerry and Powerscourt Local History, 2012, Vol. 2
Memories of Glencot, Enniskerry D E N I SE HA D D O N
first went to Enniskerry before I was born! My grandmother had brought her terminally-ill daughter from England to have one last holiday in Fethard-on-Sea, her
own native village. This was in the summer of 1939, and war broke out while they were there. The family persuaded my grandmother to stay in Ireland (‘don’t bring Frankie back to the bombs‘) and so she had to look for a small place to rent rather than stay in lodgings. She saw an advertisement in the paper for a place in County Wicklow, somewhere called Enniskerry, which looked suitable, so up they went. My mother went to join them when her own husband was about to go off to the war. It was from there that Bill Seery, who lived in a cottage on Kilgarron Hill, took my mother in his taxi to Holles Street Hospital the night before I was born, in August 1941. My father arrived on embarkation leave the next day and, being a Sunday and there being no buses, he had to walk from Dun Laoghaire to Enniskerry, using Cattie Gallagher as his guide. He knew that once he got there, he could get to The Scalp and then on to Enniskerry. He stayed in Prosser’s hotel. A young waitress there was so busy looking at him that she poured his soup into his lap! Auntie Frankie died two months later and is buried in Curtlestown. My father was killed by a Japanese sniper in Malaya in early 1942, and so we stayed, on and off, in Enniskerry until it was time for me to start school and we all went back to England.
he house – it is really a hut and is still there – was called Glencot. It was in the grounds of a large bungalow called Glensynge. Glensynge was owned by an
English lady, Mrs Lang, and she lived there with her unmarried daughter, Elsie, and a companion, Irene Oldfield. I think they were Quakers. They had a large number of dogs and numerous cats. They were known to be animal lovers so any strays got taken to them! The grounds were extensive, some cultivated with a lovely lawn and shrubs, a big area where they grew soft fruit, a small orchard and a large vegetable garden. They Page 7
Mrs Lang, the old lady on the right of the photo, owner of Glensynge; Irene Oldfield, the companion; and me, aged about 3. My favourite dog, Jessie Carr, is on Mrs Lang's lap, and Monty the black labrador is at the front.
This is Glencot, with my grandmother, Mary Cooper, at the window, and my mother, Betty King, outside. I have no idea of the date. I'm wondering if it was before I was born.
Memories of Glencot, Enniskerry kept bees and Elsie Lang was often to be seen in full bee-keeper’s outfit. They also had several ducks which laid quite a lot of eggs and a lovely pond. Dotted around the grounds were a few small dwellings which they rented out. There was one amongst some fir trees, lived in by a school teacher. I have forgotten her name. In another larger one was an old Indian Army officer called Pat Wilkinson who was a friend of Irene Oldfield’s. He had been a student at Trinity College, knew Lady Gregory and was at the opening of The Playboy of the Western World when some of the spectators rioted. He had several cases of beautiful Indian butterflies which he had caught and had mounted while serving in India. In another dwelling was a Mr and Mrs Harty and their daughter, Mary, with whom I used to play. Further up the hill near the road was a family called Ryan, with a daughter called Doreen, who also played with Mary and me. I don’t think any of these dwellings had running water or electricity. There was a communal ‘toilet’ somewhere in the grounds which the tenants took it in turns to clean. It consisted of a hut, placed over a stream, over which had been built a bench with a hole in it. I don’t remember being bothered by it at all – just that my visiting English aunt used to find it very difficult!
lencot consisted of three rooms: two bedrooms and one all-purpose room. It had a small wood-burning stove on which the kettle sat and a two-ring cooker which
was run on oil. It was very cosy. Lighting was by oil lamps and there were candles in the bedrooms. We filled our jugs and saucepans and bowls from the beautiful spring water which gushed out of the wall below Glencot. It was surrounded by buddleia trees and to this day the smell of buddleia takes me straight back to Enniskerry. For nearly a year, when I was 3, my twin cousins came to stay, and they used to sleep in a little hut beside ours. We used to go out with Miss Oldfield to walk the dogs every afternoon. I can’t remember all their names, only Monty, the black Labrador, Ben, the greyhound, Jillypup, the golden retriever, and my own best pal Jessie Carr, a little mongrel with a curly tail who used to run round to me every morning when she was let out. We collected wood for the stove during these walks, and to this day I have difficulty walking past a nice-looking piece of wood! We used to walk across the Bog Meadow to Mass on Sundays, and indeed I used to run across it alone to meet my gran coming home from daily Mass. There were scarcely Page 9
This was taken at my aunt's grave in Curtlestown. I'm about 5. My grandmother, Mary Cooper, is behind me. May O'Rourke is on the right of the picture, and Aunt Maggie is on the left.
any cars then, and everybody knew everybody so it was very safe. We used to get Bill Seery to take us up to Curtlestown for the annual Pattern. But a lot of people used to walk all the way. There were of course the lorries taking the men up to Glencree to cut the turf. There is nothing like the smell of burning turf! I used to love going to Mrs Windsor’s shop and if I was lucky I’d get an HB ice cream. There was another shop called Quigley’s round the corner. What did they sell? Is there anyone who remembers? We got our meat from Mr Magee. I remember standing at the end of Magee’s yard and hearing the pigs squeal as they were slaughtered. John Magee was behind the counter as a very young man. I thought he was very tall. Occasionally boys would knock at the door selling rabbits for a few pence, and I watched in amazement as my gran skilfully skinned them. I was only aware of the scarcity of tea because a tramp once knocked on the door and said ‘can ye spare a grain of tea?‘ and my gran said ‘we haven’t enough for ourselves‘. I did know that there were food shortages in England because if we went over we’d always pack some things in with our luggage, and we regularly sent my other aunt a bar of chocolate hidden inside a rolled-up newspaper. Page 10
Memories of Glencot, Enniskerry Only the older people will remember that you could roll up a newspaper in a special wrapper and send it at a cheap rate. There were regular shopping trips into Dublin, which I hated unless we were going to Bradleys near Trinity College to buy me shoes. You always got a ride on their rocking horse and were given a big balloon to take home. And lunch at Bewley’s was always a treat. The Dublin and Bray buses used to start and finish outside the Protestant school. There was a bus once an hour. I always felt sick on the Dublin bus but the conductor used to tell me that he’d always been sick on the bus when he was a little boy and look at him now! I used to play with Guard McGrath’s daughter – Deirdre I think her name was – and Mairead Tallon. My mother and grandmother became friends with the O’Rourkes – Mr O’Rourke, and his daughter May, and Aunt Maggie – in the big house just below Glensynge and the derelict bus garage. It was a lovely house with a huge garden with a tennis court, and it had trees with delicious plums trained along the wall beside the driveway. When the old people died, May sold up and moved to England. There was the occasional drama. One day a lorry’s brakes failed as it was coming down Kilgarron Hill, and it crashed into the wall of one of the houses by the Protestant school. I just remember the smashed lorry and wall, and not whether the driver was badly injured. A more pleasant excitement was the occasional showing of films in a building along the Bray road. I don’t remember what the building was but seem to remember a garage being nearby. After we moved back to England and up until my late teens, we spent every summer in Ireland. Bill Seery used to meet us at Dun Laoghaire and take us to Windgates on the Greystones side of Bray Head where my mother had a small holiday house built. Over the years since then we always came back to visit Enniskerry, to look at Glencot, to visit Irene Oldfield and Pat Wilkinson when they were still there, to visit my aunt’s grave in Curtlestown. It’s a place of bitter/sweet memories, and for me, the one place where my parents and I were together as a little family, Enniskerry, then Bray; where my dad caused quite a stir by changing nappies and pushing the pram – unheard of in 1941 Ireland for a man to do any such thing! Denise Haddon (nee King) lived in Enniskerry from 1941 to 1945, returning annually (more or less) ever since. Page 11
Journal of Enniskerry and Powerscourt Local History, 2012, Vol. 2
Enniskerry Memories Ú NA WO G A N W I T H A N G E L A WO G A N O ' N E I L L
was born in Enniskerry in 1934. We lived at Church Hill House on Church Hill. My Grandmother Sarah had established a guest house on the premises in earlier
years and although she passed away in 1930 and the guest house no longer opened for business we had one final guest who boarded in the house up until the early 1960s. Eleanor Grant Robinson, or Robbo as she was known to us, lived with us during all my childhood and beyond and was really a substitute for the grandmother we didn’t have the chance to know. She was a great character, known by everyone in the village and quite eccentric in her ways. She used to tell us she was once engaged to “young Powerscourt” but I’m not sure if this was true or which Powerscourt she meant. Robbo loved fresh flowers and would be delighted when she spotted a funeral arriving in the graveyard nearby. As soon as the ceremony was finished she’d scoot up the road and collected whatever fresh flowers took her fancy and place them in vases around our house.
y grandfather Michael was still alive when I was small child and I remember him well. He used to take me to Prossers to meet Mr Coogan. At night time I
used to listen out for callers to the house. Old Mr Dunne would call and I would get up and sit with him and my grandfather watching them play cards and slipping whiskey into their tea. Dick Kavanagh was another of my Grandfather’s friends that would call to the house. I loved him because he had a pony and trap which he would bring every Sunday to mass. Also in the house was my father Paddy, my mother Ellen and my two younger brothers. My mother was from Kilternan and she and my father married in Glencullen. She died when I was eight years old. When she died my mother’s sister Molly (Connolly) and later her daughter Maeve helped my father look after us. It must have been hard for them as they would walk from Kilternan several times a week to help him. Really everyone in the village was very good to us but I suppose everyone Page 13
Úna Wogan & Angela Wogan O'Neill knew everyone else at that time. My father worked for Wicklow County Council for many years as the Water rate collector for the village. He looked after the any problems with the water and also did building work around the village.
ost of the children in the village went to Enniskerry school where Mr and Mrs Corcoran and Miss Smithers taught us. Our next door neighbours were the
McGrath’s on one side and Dick and Mammie Seery on the other. I used to play with Nuala and Noel Seery, Deirdre McGrath, Peggy Deeley and Betty Doyle from the Dublin road. We’d play building huts at the back of the forge where Tom Arnold and Ben Ryder worked. Nan Walsh lived in the house beside the forge and she would lend us a saw or hammer when we needed one. Although Seerys moved to Kilgarron and later to Monastery we’d meet up and go to Knocksink in the summer. We had no interest in going to Bray to the sea as the river in Knocksink was as good and we had great fun making dams across the water. A big attraction was “Little Peggy’s” grave which was near the gate off the Beech Walk. We’d pick cones for the fire in the graveyard and sometimes pick snowdrops and bluebells at the Summer Hill Hotel. Another wonderful place to pick flowers was at the Blue Bell Dale through the Powerscourt farm gates and also in Powerscourt we’d collect walnuts and crab apples in the Autumn. We’d really spend a lot of time visiting houses around the village. Up through the Bog Meadow and across the water gaps where Rafferty’s house was, to Mammie Seerys or Barney Coogan’s mother. We’d go to Mrs Langs past the sand pit. We’d catch baby crows and bring them home to try and make pets out of them. The rule was that we had to be home for dinner at one o'clock and tea at five o'clock. As we had no watches we must have driven people mad asking for the time.
n the village was my aunt Molly’s (Tallon) shop where most people bought their groceries. Although her door was open during lunch hour she’d give you a telling off
if you entered the shop during that hour. We’d buy our sweets in Mrs Buckley’s shop, she’d only allow us a penny worth of sweets per day, and get our milk from Magee’s. The Actons ran the post office. I remember many times sitting and chatting to Kit Farrell who used to weed and clear the channel at the footpath edge. He’d very graciously share his “Billycan” of tea with me as we chatted on a warm summer’s day. A big event in the village was the procession every year and also the ploughing match with Gymkhana Page 14
Enniskerry Memories and sports bands, the Bross and Reed band from Glencullen and the Tug of War.
ther people living in the village were Garda and Mrs Flanagan next to the barracks, the Dundas family, McNultys, Garda McGrath and his family and Nan
Wogan on the upper end of Church Hill. Below our house was Joe and Monica Seery, next Nan Cullen’s house, and then Mr Griffith who lived next to the courthouse. Tallon’s shop was the other side of the courthouse and Prossers, Actons and Buckleys were on the same side of the village. Troy’s shop was at the beginning of “Blackberry Row” where Ned and Mrs Doogan, Mr Woodcock and Bill Seery lived in the houses next to the Estate Office at the bottom of Kilgarron Hill. On the Dublin road next to the church was Canon Kennedy’s house, after the library; towards the village were the Doyles. The cottages down into the village from the Dublin road had Ben & Mrs Ryder, Bridget Coogan, Parky White and Garda Kennelly. Quigley’s shop. Mr Steele’s house (I think he was a teacher in the Church of Ireland school), and the priest’s house was next to Windsor’s shop. Sam Tallon and Miss Cosgrave lived in the Powerscourt Arms Hotel or “Tallon’s” as we knew it. Magees lived one side of the Powerscourt school and the other side at the bottom of Church Hill where the Corcorans, then the Wickhams (another Garda), the Deeleys and Mrs Good also lived on that side.
owadays going out to Enniskerry makes me very sad as all the people that meant a lot to me are gone. No more John Magee, Mammie and Dick Seery or Dick
Kavanagh. Growing up in the village was like being around a large extended family and we spent a lot of time with all these people we knew so well. It was a very happy time in my life, a great place to grow up. Úna Wogan is a native of Enniskerry studying the genealogy of several local families. This article was written in conjunction with her aunt, Angela Wogan O'Neill.
Journal of Enniskerry and Powerscourt Local History, 2012, Vol. 2
Clock Tower Romance J O H N WA L L P P
n the summer of 1932 two Belfast-born girls, Angela and Molly, had recently moved to Dublin. Their new friends wanted to show them the beauty of the surrounding
countryside – so, naturally, they took them on an outing to Enniskerry. Sure enough, the young women were entranced by the beauty of the place and now in the sunshine of that Sunday afternoon, while waiting for the return bus, they sat looking up at the clock tower in the centre of the village and wondered what the letters MDCCCXLIII might mean. Their query was overheard by two young men who were standing behind them, Michael and Myles who, in the fashion of the day, were dressed to the nines in plus-fours and cloth caps. Both were young detectives from Dublin Castle and they too were on the outing with some friends. Michael spoke up in his Cork accent “The M is a thousand” he said “and the D is five hundred. Then, the three Cs make three hundred. So we add all that up: one thousand plus five hundred plus three hundred – that makes 1,800. Now the XL is a bit tricky – because, you see, X means ten and L is 50 but you subtract the ten from 50, so XL is 40, OK? Good. Now III is three, as you’ll see on a clock. So the entire number is 1000 + 500 + 300 + 40 + 3 which equals 1843—the year the clock tower was built” “Smart fella!” exclaimed Angela admiringly. Michael blushed. He was smitten. By a happy, planned coincidence they got sitting close to each other on the bus back to Dublin. And so began a life-long romance. Three years later Michael Wall and Angela Casey were married in Dublin—their best man was Myles Saul and the bridesmaid was Molly Parkes Keenan. My sister and brothers are very familiar with this story because we heard it frequently as young children when were taken on Sunday drives to the hills—usually via the clock tower in beautiful Enniskerry—by the lovers themselves, our parents, Angela and Michael Wall. Fr. John Wall is Parish Priest at Enniskerry.
Reverend Ernest Hamilton Whelan (1853-1910)
Journal of Enniskerry and Powerscourt Local History, 2012, Vol. 2
The Reverend Ernest Hamilton Whelan J U DY C A M E R O N
he Reverend Ernest Hamilton Whelan began his ministry in Enniskerry in 1876, just before Christmas. He joined Powerscourt parish, (Rector, Rev Henry Gal-
braith,) as his first appointment, and served there as curate until 1883, when he was appointed Rector of Kilbride Church, Bray. He was a popular and effective minister in Kilbride until his death in 1910.
amily tradition tells that he was always an energetic and musical man – he played the organ, wrote hymns and chants, took choir practises, encouraged his children
to play piano and violin, and that he was choral director of at least one public choir. In the early years of his curacy, he kept a diary which provides an entertaining and fascinating glimpse of life in a country parish in the 1870s. All his parish visits took place on foot. Enniskerry parish stretched over miles of mountainous territory. He wore out his shoes tramping from one farm to another, climbing walls, fording rivers, crossing fields, leaping over fences, in all weathers. He would come home exhausted and wonder why he kept falling asleep over his sermon. He seems to have lodged with a Mrs Buckley in the house next to Powerscourt School, now Ferndale. From this convenient place he could keep an eye on village life, run up the hill to the church and rectory, sing with the school, catch the bus to Bray and visit a good number of his parishioners. His outer rounds took him up Glencree and Ballybrew; another to Lacken and Glaskenny; another to Cookstown; another to Ballyorney and the waterfall. He might visit six or eight families in one round. In spite of this punishing schedule, he found time for much social activity. He was young, single and a fine musician and was welcome in the homes of all the gentry where there was a piano (and pretty daughters). Evening entertainment depended to a great extent on music, especially in the winter. He would sit at the piano for hours singing or accompanying; when friends came to stay, they were roped in for duets, Page 19
Judy Cameron quartets, or glees; he carried a key in his pocket for tuning some of the more frightful pianos, and expected to work running repairs on harmoniums. In summer there were tennis parties and picnics, and swimming in Knocksink. In the winter of 1878/9 there was hard frost for nearly two months when many hours were spent skating on the frozen Powerscourt ponds. In Dublin he spends time in choral singing and in Greystones he visits his sister (one hour thirty-five minutes walking from Enniskerry).
he Reverend Ernest does not skimp his duties, however. He repays the hospitality he receives by gardening, or by rolling and trimming the grass tennis courts. He
teaches in the schools, both at Annacrevy and Enniskerry, organises school outings and takes part in concerts, Bible classes, and evening meetings of the Temperance Society. The hardship of those days and the poverty is clear from two concerns, often repeated in the diaries. Firstly, the unremitting attempts by the church to rout the demon drink. Both clergy had taken the Pledge, and constantly encouraged (even brow-beat!) their parishioners to do the same. They saw the damage drink could do to poor families, and deplored the bad example set by the gentry. Secondly, the tragic loss of life among infants; Enniskerry had a reputation as a healthy place to live with clean air and good water, but the clergy were forever burying babies and TB stalked the valley. The medical profession were helpless in the face of such diseases.
n 1881, Ernest married Miss Deborah Carnegie, one of the many maidens mentioned in the diary, and they moved into Weston, at the top of the Church Hill. In 1883
he was appointed Rector of Kilbride in Bray, and transferred to the Rectory there. He and Deborah had three sons and four daughters. Later in life, Whelan gained a BMus from Trinity, and is reported at the organ over many years with the Diocesan Choral Union at the turn of the 20th Century. He, his wife and a baby son are all buried in Powerscourt graveyard, along with members of the Carnegie family and some of his descendants.
or the present day people of Enniskerry, this diary holds a double attraction. It turns the spotlight on a way of life long past, with no telephones and few bicycles,
where all transport was horse-drawn and all communication was by hand written and Page 20
The Reverend Ernest Hamilton Whelan hand-delivered letters; where houses were lit by lamps and candles and village shops sold everything from shoes to sealing wax; where even the well-off suffered from a restricted diet and new shoes produced terrible blisters. But the diary also delights the local reader because it brings to mind whole families who still live in the valley of Glencree, or who have lived there within living memory. Great grandfathers and mothers, cousins and aunts reappear for a moment, remembered for a kindness paid to the curate or a sadness recorded with sympathy. Babies long forgotten, or never known, have their brief place in the world acknowledged, a happy wedding is described, and a little detail in the life of some well known resident catches the eye of a descendant across the other side of the world. Judy Cameron is studying the history of the Parish of Powerscourt. She has transcribed extracts of Ernest Whelan’s diary which have been printed in the Newsletter of Powerscourt Parish and can be found on the internet at www.powerscourt.glendalough.anglican.org.
Tommy Delaney standing outside of the Wayside Cafe which was run by my great aunt Harriett Windsor in 1943. (Now Spar)
Pat and Tommy Delaney
Journal of Enniskerry and Powerscourt Local History, 2012, Vol. 2
Growing Up in Enniskerry 1940 - 1966 T OM M Y D E L A N EY 1940 to 1944
he memory of first three and a half years of my life is of course a blur. However starting early in 1944 I do have memories of incidents in my life that my Mother
told me “Tommy you could not remember that, you were only three and a half ” but I do, so here we go. We were living in the upper gate lodge cottage of Chatterton’s house on Kilgarron Hill. Daddy was working in Northern Ireland at that time along with many Enniskerry men who had found work through Lord Powerscourt in the north, because many of the men up there were fighting in Europe during the Second World War. One day Mammy told me that Daddy was coming home from Belfast and that if I stood at the front gate I would be able to see him coming up Kilgarron hill. The front gates at that time were wrought iron and to me it seemed they went all the way up to the sky. So I am standing at the gates at the time Mammy told me he would be coming up the hill from the bus down in the village, and suddenly there he was walking up the hill carrying a cardboard suitcase in one hand and a small dray in the other, it was painted bright red with two wheels with wooden spokes and the wheel rims and the axle hub were painted black and it also had two shafts. He had made it for me after he finished work in Belfast. He worked for the fire service up there and could be called into action at any time as there were frequent bombing attacks on Belfast. I liked living there. Mrs Chatterton used to give Mammy fruit and vegetables from the garden and people going up and down Kilgarron hill would sometimes stop and talk to me and even give me sweets. The picture “Henry IV” was being filmed in the field across the road in Powerscourt estate and there was a door in the stone wall and some of the extras in the picture would come out for a smoke break, and some of them gave me a wooden sword and shield; they were props used in the picture. Page 23
Tommy Delaney 1944 to 1948
e were a family of five at that time, Daddy, Mammy, my brother Pat two and a half, and my sister Kathleen was one. Mrs Chatterton decided the cottage
was two small for a family of that size so we had to leave. We then moved down to live with my Granny Arnold on the Bray Rd. My Grannies house at that time was the second on the right as you headed to Bray, I was sad to see it had burned down when I was at home two years ago. This was a great place to live it had a big garden with a pond with fish in it. The back garden went all the way up to Dunne’s field, this area of the garden was part wetland and part wooded; there was a footpath which ran from the back yard up to Dunne’s field. When snow fell in winter time I would go up to the field and go flying down the hill on a sled that my grandfather made up at the forge. Two of my Uncles, Gussie and Joe Arnold would come with me and one time my Uncle Gussie was “Driving” the sled and we went flying into the thorn bushes at the bottom of the field and I had cuts on my hands and knees as well as my face. I believe my Uncle Gussie sheltered behind me. My Grandfather was the village blacksmith and one of my favourite things to do was go up to the forge and watch him shoe horses and donkeys. I got to know some of the local farmers who sometimes kept me entertained with some “Tall Tales”. When walking to or from the forge I would go up through Dunne’s field then through the property occupied by the Silver Vale hotel then continue along the Beech Walk which passed by the Cemetery attached to St Patrick’s Church where I always stopped (and still do when I am home) and read the inscription on the headstone erected in memory of a little girl buried there. I became friends with Johnny Roe who lived up the road towards the village and at an early age he taught me how to hand fish in the river, I also learned from him how to make a net out of chicken wire to catch fish which I think was illegal. The Roe family were good neighbours they had lots of friends who visited from outside of the village and always had great parties to which I was sometimes invited. The family living down the road from Granny’s was the McGurk and Holden family’s. Granny used to send me down to their house to buy some buttermilk from Mrs McGurk. Mr Holden who also lived there was as I remember a man whom you could Page 24
Growing Up in Enniskerry 1940 - 1966 set your watch by, and always had a cheery hello when you met him. We moved to live in Monastery in 1946 but because I enjoyed living at Granny Arnold’s so much it was about another three years before I move to live in Monastery full time, so as I proceed you may find me switching from stories of Monastery to ones about Granny’s. When we moved to Granny’s house I had two uncles still living there, they were Uncle Gussy and Uncle Joe. Uncle Gussy was the oldest of the two still at home and then there was Uncle Michael who at the time was serving with the RAF and was stationed in Japan and Uncle Dick who lived in Dun Laoghaire and worked as projectionist at the Pavilion Cinema. Uncle Gussy would take me with him when he went to check his “snare line” to see if he had caught any rabbits. I think the snare was supposed to be more humane than the rabbit trap, but I am not sure if being a rabbit at that time I would have been more comfortable bleeding to death from being caught in a steel trap or being eaten by a hungry fox who happened by at night, or the more humane strangulation in a snare, but that’s the way it was then and rabbit was an inexpensive and tasty meat to have for dinner. Talking about rabbit traps, Granny had a cat who had a front leg cut off by a trap while roaming through the fields at night and Granny was sure the cat was in pain and asked Grandfather to take it up to Dunne’s field with the 22 rifle and put it out of its misery, but he did not want to do it saying the cat would manage but Granny persisted and eventually he gave in. He carried the cat up to the field then set it down and stepped back a bit to take aim. Well the cat must have decided that things were not as they should be and took off. The great white hunter raised the gun and fired hitting the cat in the lower jaw. How did he know that’s where he hit it? Well, when the cat showed up a couple of weeks later, acting very nervous, and who could blame it they noticed its lower jaw had been badly injured by the gunshot. Now Granny was beside herself and asked Grandfather to put it in a sack and dispose of it in the river which flowed just across the road from the house. Well again he did not want to do it but Granny persisted and one afternoon the river was in flood from heavy rain he decided to do the deed again and put some stones in a sack to weigh it down and dropped it in the river. That very night as they were asleep upstairs the cat, all wet climbed in through the bedroom window and there never was an attempt ever again to harm that cat and as Page 25
Tommy Delaney long as I can remember the three legged cat with a crooked jaw lived what appeared to be a contented life. Many readers may read the tale about the cat in dismay and wonder about me including it in my story, but that’s what growing up in Enniskerry was like back then. Many of you will remember the hydroelectric dam which was located just below the chapel down on the river in Knocksink. This dam provided power to Powerscourt house and some of the businesses and houses in the village. My Grandfather Arnold, as well as running the forge, also took care of the dam. The dam was used as far as I know just to provide electric light so in the afternoon about an hour and a half before dark he would head over to Knocksink and sometimes he took me with him, we would walk over a wooden catwalk above the dam to the wheel which opened and closed the sluice gate at the bottom of the dam. When the dam was not in use the sluice was left open to allow the water and fish to pass through. When he closed the sluice gate the river would begin to back up until it reached the top of the dam and started to flow over it. There was a large pipe buried beneath the ground which carried water from the dam area to the powerhouse which was located about eighty feet from the dam in the direction of the chapel and lower Knocksink gate. This powerhouse had an upper floor and a lower floor, the turbine was located on the lower floor and the water coming in from the dam powered to turbine. I can still remember the whine the turbine would make as it started to speed up. There were fringe benefits to having the dam where it was, the local lads were very aware that when the sluice gate in the dam was closed the water downstream drained away and this left pools of water where the fish and salmon were confined until water began flowing over the top, this gave a narrow window of time for those who liked the taste of fresh caught fish, or the opportunity to sell a fine salmon to a local hostelry. My uncles were not afraid to borrow the key to the lock for the sluice gate which my grandfather kept in a waistcoat pocket which was hung on a nail in the forge and head over to Knocksink (along with some of their friends) and close the water off and do a little fishing, this was done mostly when the salmon were running. I am sure there are some of you out there a few years older than me who remember taking part in this sport.
Growing Up in Enniskerry 1940 - 1966 1945 to 1948 (Saint Mary’s School)
must say these are some of my favourite memories, with Mrs Corcoran teaching infants and baby infants. I was there I believe for two years and to this day I still
remember Mrs Corcoran using bright coloured chalk to help us visualise what the numbers one through eight etc, looked like, four was 4 large dots arrange as the four corners of a square, and so it went. Do you remember? . . . . .. . . . . .. I then went into Miss Smithers’ class I enjoyed being in her class and I think most of us boys have fond memories of being there. After that Mammy sent me to St Peters in little Bray, there was a teacher working there named Tony O’Rourke I think she went to school with him in Enniskerry when she was young. I enjoyed my time there and stayed until 1952. Getting to Bray involved taking the Enniskerry to Bray bus number 85, there were two crews who operated the service Tommy Reid, driver and John O’Reilly, conductor. Christy Healy as conductor with Mutt Maguire, driver. Christy was a character and was never short of a salty or sharp comment if you were late and he had to hold the bus for you, now those of us who came running down the Monastery Rd, Church hill or Killgarron hill with our breath in our fist were often late and had to listen to Christy’ comments. 1952 to 1955
y first secondary school was Westland Row Christian Brothers and let me tell you I hated it and told Daddy and Mammy that I was not going back for a
second year. Why did I hate it you might ask? And I will answer “Brother [ ]“. There were two brother [
]s teaching there one was a soft spoken kind gentleman and the
other was not, and I had the other one for most of my subjects. He had arms like tree branches and hands like shovels and I felt those hands on the back of my head, or as he came down on my hand like a ton of bricks with the leather strap. The hand at the back of my head was because I was guilty of sitting quietly reading as instructed by him, and the other was because one day I ran down the stairs at lunch time and Page 27
Tommy Delaney sprained my ankle and made the mistake of telling him I had run down. He gave me six of the hardest smacks on the hand that he was able to and informed me that the reason for doing so was to remind me that in future I should walk down the stairs, he then shipped me off to hospital with a student who had a car. I went to good old Bray Tech from there and was very happy having teachers like Miss Fox, Willie Griffin, Brendan Carroll, and Dan Grace. Miss Fox was very interested in photography and liked to develop and print her own pictures as I did and we had many conversations about that. When lunch time came at Bray Tech some of us would like to go down to the sea-front often at the harbour end particularly when there was a storm blowing, I remember being down there one time with my friend Seamus Doyle and a chap from Shankill, I believe it was the day the lighthouse fell into the sea, we got soaked and the teacher sent us down to basement to sit by the oil furnace to dry out.
believe that I had the greatest friends growing up in and around Enniskerry and those friendships have left me with a treasure of great memories of the countless
days, weeks, months, and years we spent in each other’s company. I met Seamus Doyle when we moved in next door to Mr and Mrs Doyle in 1946 on the top road in Monastery, we lived at number thirteen. Seamus and myself quickly became friends and that friendship lasted for many years both at home and a several year stint in Birmingham, with the odd weekend trip down to London, eating and drinking at the Friar Tuck and just having a good time. The friendship continued when we returned to Enniskerry. The early years in Monastery meant going over to Knocksink to get firewood which many people in Monastery did in those days. It was not just collecting firewood; but the summer months were spent trying to build a pool for swimming by building a dam of rocks we called it “the flies bend” because there was already a fly hole and a boat hole. We went to swim there as friends and as family’s and our mothers would bring sandwiches and we would have a picnic. 1953 to 1966
he memories that I have of life in Enniskerry in the fifties and sixties years are very good except for the death of my brother Pat in a tragic accident on the Page 28
Growing Up in Enniskerry 1940 - 1966 Dublin Rd just up from Darlington’s gate at the Barry’s Wood bus stop. He got off the Dublin bound bus at about 1.05pm on Sat. the 31st of January 1953 and ran across the road behind the bus. A car travelling towards the village struck him and he died a short time later in Loughlinstown hospital. He was almost 11 years of age. This time was extremely difficult for my parents. The friends I enjoyed being with were Seamus Doyle, Jack Kearns, Dick Seery, John Murphy, Jack Behan and quite a few others who touched my life at some time or another, including those other friends who made up the diamonds band, Colm Corcoran, George Mc Nulty, Noel Keogh and Kevin O’Connor. Dick Seery was Enniskerry’s answer to a character out of the TV series Happy Days, He wore blue jeans with the bottom of the legs turned up about 4 inches, he also wore western style shirts had his hair combed back at the sides always had a smile on his face and the local girls just drooled over him, and he was it seemed perpetually attached to his bike which he kept in excellent shape. I remember one Sunday Dick, Seamus Doyle Jack Kearns myself set off across the old long hill on bikes to Roundwood, continued to Sally Gap then home via Glencree. This was the best part of the trip as we all know it is downhill all the way to Enniskerry (except for Shop River). Some other adventures we pursued were wandering through Powerscourt estate—who among us did not do that—we used to go into the old cemetery next to the house and look into the small holes in the door of an old burial vault (using a flashlight) and look at two skeletons on the shelves to the left the coffins had long ago decayed and one of the skulls was lying on the ground. There are many more memories; too many to put down on paper at this time, and I recently spent an afternoon with my lifelong friend Seamus Doyle reminiscing on those long ago days and it was a very enjoyable visit. Tommy Delaney lived in Enniskerry from 1940 to 1966.
Journal of Enniskerry and Powerscourt Local History, 2012, Vol. 2
The Leyland Link J O E WA L SH
ow vital a good transport link is to an area, to a community. For us growing up in Kilternan in the 40’s and 50’s the green Leyland bus representing the C.I.E.
44 service from College St. to Enniskerry was a lifeline to visit and explore a village quaintly different to anywhere else along the entire route. You knew when you had arrived. The bus stopped and switched off. It was the terminus. You now had the freedom of Enniskerry. The houses and buildings looked different. There was even an attractive old hotel in the centre of the village that had an historic aura about it. I had never in my limited travels ever before been where a huge granite clock-tower monument seemed to act as the epicentre. You could actually mount some steps on it and walk all around to examine its details more closely. The setting round about was not all sedate. There were shops of all kinds at a glance and in particular there was Windsor’s where the ice-cream cone was a special treat. You could even hire a taxi there too! A group of us normally arrived together. Vinnie Butler would often come on board at the Scalp. Our mission was normally to challenge the locals in a football game in the Bog Meadow. These, at times, to put it mildly, could be quite robust. I had a bad experience one day, having been given the all clear to travel by my dear mother who was a real softie, but on one condition; that I get back home before my toil-weary father did for his tea. Grandfather had preached to him against the vice of wasting good time and his attitude was the same. Happily he grew to realise the dangers to Jack (and himself) of “all work and no play”. Anyway, back to the action: as I crouched to collect a low ball, my eye took the full force of a local hob-nail boot! A prize-fighter’s “shiner” bloated out instantly. I left the scene in resignation, and took the next bus home to face the music! It was not always war in the Bog Meadow. You dressed up and looked respectable there on Sports Day. Page 31
Joe Walsh Many a film we saw at Noel Roe’s Cinema/Ballroom of Romance emporium just down the Dargle Road. For our patronage he was competing with the Odeon, subsequently known as the Apollo Cinema in Dundrum. If the pocket money was healthy the Sandford in Ranelagh was a contender. Locals of course could assess the offerings at the Royal and Roxy in Bray, just a handy single-decker run away. Getting back to the Enniskerry venue, sad to relate but there was yet another early exit for me from here too one Sunday! We had brought along a younger brother, Brian, to introduce him to the movies and just when the M.G.M. Lion in the opening sequence went into his bellowing/head rotation routine he became implacably scared and had to be taken home – another early departure from terminus 44.
hen secondary school beckoned we again met up with some of the locals. The Enniskerry lads, Matt Kennelly, Sean Woodcock and George McNulty were
heading for Westland Row CBS while we were on the Synge St. roll-call. The morning bus was really crowded with a cross-section of students, male and female, workers and commuters. On Monday mornings we invested in a weekly ticket, hand-written by the conductor. With a full bus, one frequently heard the three bell signal, meaning no more stops to collect passengers only when alighting. That green bus was a type of institution in many ways. Not only did you know the passengers, you knew where they sat. You knew the team of driver and especially the conductor by name. You knew his moods and mannerisms. He knew a bit about you too. You even got to know how partial the driver was to a full throttle! The homeward trips from various schools, with more space and fewer adults around, were rather more noisy and open to expressions of rivalry, but harmless really. There was, of course, no CCTV as a deterrent. The trip too afforded an opportunity for, let’s say, two-way romantic evaluations!
here was an interesting local evolution in the Gaelic versus Soccer codes during those years. Lads from Kilternan such as the McDonnells were useful soccer
players as was Vinnie Butler, having honed their skills in Sandyford, Glencullen and early Wayside Celtic teams. They still relished their Gaelic nonetheless and played in various Enniskerry teams with more than a little success. I am told the classic giveaway soccer signals of body swerves and so called “shimmies” did not go down well when used against certain other Wicklow opposition, especially when the latter were Page 32
The Leyland Link made to look and feel foolish by “being sent the wrong way”. This might result in an angry plea to teammates to inflict appropriate retaliation on “that soccer so-and-so”! The lifting of the infamous Ban in the seventies, thankfully, was accompanied by quantum changes. We had talented players from Enniskerry; the likes of Pat and Dick Seery, Sean Woodcock, Liam Keogh, Jack Kearns and Jimmie Byrne actually playing soccer with Wayside Celtic. The late Jim Bradshaw born in Golden Ball who played soccer with Barnaville (from Barnacullia) went to live in Kilmacanogue and made a huge contribution to soccer in Co. Wicklow, a tradition followed by his son. Catering for sport of another kind, Butler’s Hall in the Scalp became a Mecca for male and female table tennis players from Bray CYMS, Enniskerry and, of course, members of the host and local families. Late night tournaments and challenges running into the small hours were common, thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Butler and the goodies in the kitchen of her tearooms. A notable but modest, talented and popular participant was the late Alan Kelly Senior (1936-2009), 47 times capped for his country,and then playing with Bray Wanderers or Drumcondra before joining Preston North End. He was of course father of goal keeping sons Gary and Alan Jnr.
y connections with Enniskerry were not just through sport, entertainment and school-going friends. We had frequent chats with the legendary and lov-
able Andy (“A”) Doran who was the ploughman on Fox’s Verney Farm, only a stone’s throw from my home on the Glencullen Road. The same Fox family were related to Charlie Keegan, the first ever Irish World Ploughing Champion and former President of the N.F.A. His win which was greeted with much local, nay national, adulation was in Austria in 1964. He farmed in Enniskerry all his life and through his talent in ploughing a straight furrow, he enjoyed seeing many parts of the world. I was thrilled to see how his memory had been marked in 2002 near the river bridge in Enniskerry with a site known as the “Ploughman’s Corner”, comprising a plaque with citation and a granite bench with words denoting it as his seat. Happily Andy is remembered too, with a Pitch and Putt Challenge in his name held annually in Glencullen. My later contacts with Enniskerry were also maintained through the lorry work of my father, Charlie Walsh, who had many good friends and customers in the village and the area in general. He was a great friend of fellow trucker, Robbie Kavanagh, a friendship that still holds strong today between his widow, Lily, and our family. My Page 33
Sports Day at the Bog Meadow, Enniskerry
Charlie Walsh, Blacksmith, Kilternan
The Leyland Link father drew sand and gravel from Coogan’s pit and turf from the bogs of Glencree for numerous cutters as well as that saved by us as a family enterprise aided by some men he hired from year to year for their expertise. I have unhappy memories of the discomfort imposed on us by the midge population of the area while working in the late evening loading up the last load for the day. He also hauled timber out of Knocksink Wood. His Ford V8 truck was a familiar sight on the roads and tracks around.
he establishment of Ardmore Studios, Bray, in 1958, gave cast and crew easy access to a myriad of diverse and wondrous locations. It became a major national suc-
cess story and a real world showcase to the treasures of the Garden of Ireland which hosted the lion’s share of the 100 plus films made over an 85 year period. It is appropriate that the Excalibur Film Drive proudly graces the local area, such is the versatility of its magnificent scenery. As part of the sylvan and historic settings the iconic John Hinde post-card picture of the village makes it instantly recognisable. It is no wonder that so many discerning artists over the years have perched at their roadside easels using that very same vantage point, thereby perpetuating the image of a location that is a little special – the village of Enniskerry. Joe Walsh is a writer with a keen interest in local history.
Journal of Enniskerry and Powerscourt Local History, 2012, Vol. 2
The Widow Dixon M IC HA E L SE E RY
rs Dixon’s Barn is part of Enniskerry lore. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the Roman Catholic community used the barn as a place of worship,
until the coming of age of the 7th Viscount Powerscourt, who granted land to build a new church at Knocksink Bridge, which was completed in 1861. That the image of the barn and the name Dixon continues to resonate locally a century and a half later says much about its symbolism; which is a kind of confusing blend of penal laws and English rule and the rule of the minority religion. In this essay, I have used the Guardian Minute books of the Powerscourt Estate to piece together the life of Widow Dixon during the period 1847 – 1857. The estate was in guardianship following the premature death of Richard, 6th Viscount Powerscourt, in 1844. Since his son, Mervyn, was only eight, the estate was run by three Guardians until 1857, when Mervyn came of age. The Guardians were Richard’s wife, Elizabeth Frances Jocelyn, her father Robert Jocelyn, the 3rd Earl Roden, and Revd William Wingfield, Richard’s cousin. Day to day management of the estates (in Wicklow, Wexford and Tyrone) was conducted by Captain Cranfield, the Estate Agent. This was the second minority of the century. The 5th Viscount also died young, also leaving his son aged just eight. Very few records exist from that period. In contrast, and perhaps because of the paucity of accountability in the first minority, the minority of the 7th Viscount is meticulously recorded, and the centrepiece of all these records is the minute books of the Guardians, which noted anything to do with house and estate management. There are five minute books in all, but unfortunately the first one is lost.
f course the first question regarding Mrs Dixon—or Widow Dixon as she was known—is who was Mr Dixon? The earliest relevant record I can find is a rental
of 1814, for William Dixon, who paid £17 rent for land in Enniskerry. As we will see below, this is the year Mrs Dixon was widowed. Whether William was Margaret’s Page 37
Michael Seery husband or not is difficult to say, but given the location, there is little doubt they were related. According to the Griffith Valuations, Dixon held two pieces of land. The first was in Monastery townland, and consisted of the house at Glenbrook (opposite the Bog Meadow entrance) including lands bordered by the river bank and the Monastery road. The second was a marshy plot at Knocksink. The first reference to Margaret in the Minute Books relates to a request for rent reduction, submitted in 1844. This was similar to many requests at the time, perhaps prompted by the death of Lord Powerscourt a year earlier. There appears to have been great disparity in rents across the estate, and the Guardians went to great lengths to try to establish a uniform rental rate. To achieve this, they conducted several surveys, culminating in the impressive and beautifully recorded Brassington and Gale Survey, which became their benchmark for rental agreements. Margaret Dixon is included in the Brassington and Gale book, listed as a tenant in Monastery. Dixon’s request, submitted in 1844, but only noted in 1848 was: Requests reduction in rent at Monastery Farm No 20. Hampton Valuation £47-12-2, £2-11-10 per acre; Brassington and Gale is £3 3s per acre, £20 value of building pa annual total £77 17s 2d. Farm is in lease. [Minute No. 189, 27th December 1844] The response was: Farm is in lease for lifetime of W Buckley aged 36 which makes a great difficulty for the Guardians but it appears that on the surrender of the lease it would be e— to reduce the rent to Brassington’s valuation. This note tells us that was Dixon paying above the Brassington and Gale Valuation (which itself was higher than another valuation conducted by Hampton), and that she was sub-letting the farm from W Buckley. This was common practice at the time, where middle-men often made more profit from land than landowners themselves. It is something that the Guardians worked hard to eradicate over the period of the minority, with some success. Soon after this note in 1848, a second minute is logged. Formerly paid her rent regularly but – the business has declined for some years; – her lodging house not occupied as formerly; – her rent is very high. Other public houses established in Enniskerry contrary to a promise made to her – the land is difficult for cultivation – outlay on house is £500. Impossible for her to hold the tenement any longer – Requests Lord Roden to sanction her application Page 38
The Widow Dixon to the Court of Chancery to be released from the arrear now due by her on her surrender of the lease of lands of Monastery, and to be allowed some reasonable pecuniary assistance such as the circumstances of her case may justify (see No 189) [Minute No. 239, 8th February, 1848]
argaret Dixon therefore ran a lodging house, which must have been licensed, and it would appear that this pre-dates some other licensed premises in the
village—most logically the Leicester Arms (Prosssers). There was a row in the early 1850s between the Guardians and Lord Monck of Charleville about whether a new public licence should be granted, and a minute in relation to this states that there were 56 houses in the village and already four public houses – “one Public House for every fourteen houses” (Minute No. 751). (The focus of the row was not that an additional public house was needed, but that the Roman Catholics wanted one “for themselves”). The response to this request for financial assistance is unfortunately almost impossible to read, but from the context, and what appears later, it appears that reductions in rent were agreed to, in line with Brassington and Gale, along with some allowance in arrears. Despite offering to surrender lands, Mrs Dixon must have been allowed to stay, for a further minute in 1850 states: The offices attached to her house and lodging house in Monastery are in a ruinous state. Requests the assistance of timber and slates to repair them. [Minute No. 495, 10th October 1850]
equests of this nature were common, and the Guardians generally agreed to them as it was good estate management. Captain Cranfield was instructed to allow
wood from the estate, sufficient for the repairs, to be provided to Mrs Dixon. There is no mention in the response about slate. By 1852, things were becoming more desperate for Mrs Dixon. A minute in June 1852 records a plea by her: Has been a widow for the last 38 years. Resident on the estate for upwards of 50 years. Paid her rent regularly till the bad times commenced. In 1848 a considerable amount of arrears were extinguished. A sum of £75 was left, and subsequently paid by her. In consequence of this and of losses in crops a large amount of rent is now due. The publick business of her house injured by the new Page 39
Michael Seery road. Will pay £83 if all arrears are forgiven and ejectment proceedings stopped. To raise this sum will sell her stock and all available property. Will pay her rent punctually for the future one half year within another. [Minute No. 793, 15th June 1852] This tragic minute links several pieces of information together. It shows that the early rent record of William Dixon, 1814, was the year Mrs Dixon became a widow. It confirms that there was some monetary assistance provided in her appeal of 1848. It also states that the new road (most likely the new Bray Road) had split her property and damaged her business. There were several appeals to the Guardians for compensation in regard to the damage the new road caused to their property. In reading the response—which is heartless—it is probably necessary to remember that the Guardians were legally bound by the Court of Chancery who appointed them to do whatever was best for the maintenance of the estate: There is a large amount of arrears due, and even if it were not, there is no prospect of Mrs Dixon being able to pay the rent from the very bad state of the lands, and the apparent want of industry on the part of her son. There would be no use therefore in leaving the Farm with the present occupiers, and Lord Powerscourt’s Guardians must take the necessary steps for recovery (William Wingfield). Mrs Dixon replied with a further plea directly to Colonel Wingfield, a relative of William: Requests his interference with the Guardians. Her late husband’s payments were good and his rents high. Until the road was changed, she paid her rents regularly. Is now at the mercy of the Guardians. The arrears are £200 out of which £50 has been paid. If this sum is allowed on the Monastery Farm, it will leave £80 which she would be able to pay in three separate instalments. The holding in Knocksink she would assign. Is 72 years old and a widow 36 years. The time for redemption ceases on Saturday. [Minute No. 874, 27 January 1853] Colonel Wingfield forwarded the letter to the Guardians and enclosed a note “recommending Mrs Dixon as honest and industrious”. Mrs Dixon again requested of the Guardians on 1 February: … to give her time and she will pay arrears and rent of the place she lives in. Has paid 5 Guineas per acre. Requests the Guardians, in her old age, to let Page 40
The Widow Dixon her have the house she lives in, with the garden attached and the small field by the river side, at a small rent, for her future subsistence. (The field contains 2 acres, 2 roods and 14 perches). [Minute No. 874 continued, 7th February 1853] The Guardians finally responded: I think that this old tenant now e— [unreadable] and who formerly paid a high rent should have her house and garden and a small field for her life for three years again, having been ejected from her Farms and the new Road having injured her.
uccess for Mrs Dixon! In the immediate aftermath, the battle for who would take the remainder of her lease-holding began. The farms held by her contained just
over 18 acres, valued at over £37 rent. Following her appeal, she was left a house, garden and a small field and the remaining 14 acres was to be let. The holding contained a second “very good house” but which needed a new roof. It was proposed that a stable and coach house should be added (these repairs later quoted by the Bray builder E O’Kelly, responsible for much of Enniskerry’s ‘Alpine’ look, to be £108 for alterations and £30 for ornamental work, which were agreed to by Louch, the estate architect – Minute No. 916). Given Mrs Dixon’s new rent would be £3, the second house would be let for £30, and the remaining land £23, Captain Cranfield estimated that the new rent achievable for this holding would be over £56, an increase on what was obtained before of £19, which would cover costs of construction and repair. No fewer than six tenants were interested in acquiring the land, including William Williams, whose mill across the river was falling into serious disrepair. W Wilkinson was accepted as tenant for the house, garden and small paddock; W Hillman was the tenant for the farm. In what must have been a separate plot, John Philpott proposed to pay £2 per acre for the land formerly occupied by Mrs Dixon, consisting of over “2 acres of arable land and 2 acres of moory land extending from the New Bridge to the Wooden Bridge”. The Guardians accepted, with the exception of land along the river bank, which they wished to keep for plantation (trees) (Minute No. 882). The final note in this regard relates to the amount of arrears to be struck off for Mrs Dixon: over £48 for her Knocksink Farm and over £104 for her Monastery Farm. The Guardians agreed to write them off (Minute No. 883, 7th March 1853). Page 41
Michael Seery Mrs Dixon settled quickly into her new living arrangements, and made requests on 1 June 1853 for “a few poles to divide her little Paddock”, and on 9 December 1853 for “8 joists 14 feet long to put a loft over her stable”, both of which were agreed to [Minutes 926, 986]. A request on 16 October 1855 that her house may be repaired, as: She wishes to give up her licence and let part of her house to respectable people. Is too old to attend a Public House [Minute No. 1212, 16th October 1855]. The request was declined. She tried again in 17 November, stating that Lady Londonderry (Viscount Powerscourt’s mother, who had remarried) “promised to make her comfortable”. The curt response was: “will do nothing” [Minute No. 1354]. By 1857, there were no more references to Widow Dixon, She would have been over 75 years old at this time. Several questions remain for me. When did she die? Where did her son go? Where was her barn? And why, more than 150 years later, do we still remember her? Michael Seery is a local historian. The Minute Books of the Guardians of the 7th Viscount Powerscourt are available to view in the National Library of Ireland.
POSTSCRIPT My thanks to Úna Wogan and Judy Cameron for providing more information on this intriguing lady after this article was first published online. Úna writes that a letter to the Freeman's Journal on 26th Jan 1872 from Fr. Thomas O'Dwyer notified readers that Mrs. Dixon had died on the 25th January. The priest added that "it is well known to the Catholic public that the late Mrs Dixon gratuitously supplied her “barn” at Enniskerry for the Holy Sacrifice of the mass…” Judy writes that there is evidence to suggest that the "barn" was in fact attached to Mrs Dixon's house and that "she made an opening in her parlour wall, from which the gentry were invited to view the mass. A later visitor describes how the opening was closed up when the new church was built, and the barn became redundant." Finally, thanks to my father, Donal Seery, for reminding me that the well near what was Mrs Dixon's house is still known locally as Dixon's Well. Page 42