Local History – Shankill

This is an extract from “A Hundred Years of Bray and its Neighbourhood From 1770 to 1870 by An Old Inhabitant”. This little book was published in 1907. It’s an interesting read for anyone familiar with the area; not only for what it tells us about the 19th century but nowadays also for the light it sheds on the attitudes and concerns of the time it was written.

For those readers unfamiliar with the places mentioned, it must be of limited interest, for which I apologise.

About a hundred years ago [i.e. in the early 1800s] there were a good many cottage farmers on Shankill.

[Note: The place referred to here is not the present village of Shankill but “Old Shankill”, on the hillside about a mile to the west of the present village, and now deserted.]

They were a hardy race, though they seldom tasted butcher’s meat. The women were so strong that they carried incredibly heavy loads of corn down to the Bray mill to be ground, and returned with the flour, and their few purchases in Bray shops added to the weight of this. If the traveller wandering over the slopes of “Catty Gollagher” (Carrickgolligan) asks how people could have made a living out of such a poor soil, I can only say they did it.

[It’s interesting that these small-holding tenants were growing wheat, rather than potatoes. It may explain why the people of this part of the country were relatively unaffected by the Famine. The mill was near Bray bridge, in what is now the Maltings development of townhouses, about 2 miles from Shankill.]

Although I and may others remember when Sir Charles Domvile turned them off Shankill, I have not been able to fix the exact date. One person I have consulted says 1856, another 1864 or 1866, a third 1868. My own impression is that it was early in the 1860s.

[The event described here is the Clearance of the land where tenants were evicted from their homes and land, usually to replace them with sheep. This caused great hardship and massive displacement of people throughout Ireland and Scotland in the 18th century. Sir Charles Compton Domvile had inherited the lands at Shankill and Rathmichael in 1857 with 95 tenant families. Almost all had been evicted from their holdings within 10 years. The area is still largely deserted.]

Sir Charles, at the same time, evicted a Mr Tilly, who held a large farm from him. One of Mr Tilly’s fields near the Shankill station was let out in small lots, and the people who had lived on Shankill settled down there. This was the beginning of Tillystown.

[Tillystown, to the south of where Shankill Church now stands, developed into the present village of Shankill.]

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