Today I surprised myself when I discovered that I was in Rathfarnham Village. I must admit that I had thought that the area surrounding the Yellow House Pub was Rathfarnham Village.
I was in Bushy Park and left it via the new pedestrian bridge bridge which lead to Dodder View Road. I looked up and noticed a church tower at the top of the hill across the road and as I did not know what church it was I decided to investigate. I walked up Church Lane only to arrive at the main street in Rathfarnham, a street that I have never visited before.
Rathfarnham Protestant Parish Church on the Main Street was built in 1795 to replace the church in the old graveyard. Beside the church is the old schoolhouse that dates from early in the nineteenth century. Immediately adjoining is Church Lane at the corner of which is a bank built on the site of a Royal Irish Constabulary barracks that was burned down by Anti-Treaty IRA forces in September 1922 during the Irish Civil War. In the lane is an old blocked up doorway of an early eighteenth-century type. Church Lane leads to Woodview cottages, which are built partly on the site of an old paper mill. The mill race previously mentioned passed under Butterfield Lane to the paper mill and continued on below Ashfield to turn the wheel of the Ely Cloth Factory. It was later turned into the Owen Doher River at Woodview Cottages. Until recently, when the new road was made to Templeogue, the old mill race could still be traced through the grounds of Ashfield where its dry bed was still spanned by several stone bridges.
The paper mill, of which some old walls and brick arches still survive, has been described as the oldest in Ireland but there does not appear to be any evidence to support this. The earliest reference to a paper mill here is 1719 when William Lake of Rathfarnham presented a petition for financial aid but we hear of one at Milltown as far back as 1694. In 1751 William and Thomas Slater whose works were destroyed by fire in 1775 made paper here. Archer's survey of 1801 mentions two paper mills here, Freemans and Teelings, and both Dalton in 1836 and Lewis in 1837 state that one paper mill was still working and from 1836 to 1839 the name Henry Hayes, Rathfarnham Mill appears in the directories. If this can be identified with the mill at Woodview cottages it must have become idle soon afterwards as it is designated "Old Mill" on the 1843 edition of the O.S. map. In 1854 when this mill had neither water wheel nor machinery an attempt was made to re-open it for the manufacture of paper but it came to nothing. The mill race has now been completely removed to make way for a housing development.
At the end of the main street, on the right, the road to Lower Rathfarnham passes the site of the earliest Constabulary barracks. This closed down in 1890 when the establishment was transferred to a house named Leighton Lodge near Loreto Abbey.
RATHFARNHAM POST OFFICE
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