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An Charraig Dhubh
Location of Blackrock
centerMap highlighting Blackrock
Irish grid reference
Province: Leinster
County: Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown
Dáil Éireann: Dún Laoghaire
Dialling code: 01, +353 1
Postal district(s): County Dublin
 - Minimum: 0 m (0 ft)
 - Maximum: 80 m (260 ft)
Population (2006) 20,701

Blackrock (Irish: An Charraig Dhubh) is a suburban town and district located south of the city of Dublin, County Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, in Ireland, 3 km (1.9 mi) northwest of Dún Laoghaire.


Location and access

It covers a large area, rising from sea level on the coast to 90 metres (300 ft) at White's Cross on the N11 national primary road. Blackrock is bordered by Booterstown, Mount Merrion, Stillorgan, Deansgrange and Monkstown. The town has a range of industries, notably in the IT and service areas.



Blackrock railway station opened on 17 December 1834.[1]

  • Dublin Bus also serves the area with multiple bus routes.
  • The Blackrock bypass was built in the late 1980s and officially opened by Councillor Anne Brady on 24 March 1988. The bypass is part of the N31 which joins the ferry port at Dún Laoghaire to the national Primary Route network.


"Blackrock Dolmen" (1987) by Rowan Gillespie with the church St. John the Baptist in the background

Origin of the name

Blackrock is named after the local geological rock formation to be found in the area of Blackrock Park. Most of it is now buried under the park, but it is said that it is possible to see it just north of the pond. The rock itself is a limestone calp that when wet appears black, this giving the name Black Rock. For the construction of the railway in 1834, the rock was extensively used for the wall cappings between Williamstown and Blackrock and can also be seen in the walls of the train station at Blackrock.[2][3] Interestingly, St. Marys Chapel of Ease on St. Mary's Place, nicknamed the "Black Church", is constructed using the same Black Rock (limestone calp), although the rock used in its constructed is locally sourced to the church.[4]

The Rock Road

The Rock Road, which forms the South Western boundary of the park, is said to form part of one of the oldest roads in the country, having been part of the ancient Slíghe Chualann constructed by the High King of Ireland several centuries before St. Patrick, to connect Tara with South Dublin and North East Wicklow. The road it appears facilitated the O'Tooles and the O'Byrne's to pay their unwelcome visits to the neighbourhood of Dublin.[5]

In 1787, the Blackrock road was such a common place for highway robberies that in an attempt to put an end to these crimes, a local meeting was held at Jennett's Tavern in Blackrock and chaired by the then Lord Viscount Ranelagh. The meeting concluded where one of the outcomes was "Resolved, That we will give a reward of £20 to any person who will apprehend and prosecute to conviction any person guilty of a robbery upon the Blackrock-road, from Dublin to Dunleary, Bullock, Dalkey, Rochestown, Cabinteely, and Loughlinstown". In fact, in 1826, Rev. George Wogan the curate of Donnybrook, was murdered in his house in Spafield Place near Ballsbridge. Later that evening of his murder, two bandits were apprehended for a highway robbery on the Blackrock Road and confessed to the murder and were hanged. This illustrates the danger faced by travellers of the Blackrock road at one time in the past.[6]

Blackrock Park

View from Blackrock railway station (1834). The Williamstown Martello tower is depicted in the distance to the left of the train track surrounded by water at high tide.

Blackrock had a beach that was a popular bathing place until the construction of the railway just away from the shoreline. The space between the shore and the railway created an area that flooded with sea water at high tide. This created a malodourous salty marsh similar to that at Booterstown marsh. This marsh was a cause of local discomfort for years until it was decided by the Blackrock Town Commissioners (established in 1860) to fill the area in and create a park. The park, which stretches from Blackrock to Booterstown (encompassing Williamstown), was created in the early 1870s and the granite gates at the main entrance once belonged to a house called Vauxhall. The gardens at the entrance were part of the gardens of the old house.[2][5]

The Williamstown Martello Tower, located in Blackrock Park, was built between 1804-1806. When the tower was built, it would have been surrounded by sea water at high tide as it was built in the inter-tidal beach area. The tower became isolated from the sea when the construction of the railway took place, but sea water still flowed into the area at high tide. It wasn't until the filling in of the area to form the Blackrock Park that the tower was to be on dry land. That part of the tower which is visible today is actually the first floor as the ground floor is bured underground.[3]

Blackrock Baths

Blackrock Baths

The Blackrock baths were provided for by the railway company in 1839 and were built beside the Black Rock train station. It was possible to buy a special train ticket that also permitted you entrance to the baths. In 1887 the baths were rebuilt in concrete with a large gentlemen's bath and a smaller ladies bath. In 1928 the Urban Districk Council bought the baths for £2,000 and readied them for the Tailteann Games. The baths, with its 50 metre pool, were well known for their swimming galas and water polo and could accommodate up to 1,000 spectators.[7]

Eddie Heron (1910-1985) lived in Sandycove and is known for his achievement as 36 years undefeated Springboard and Highboard Diving Champion of Ireland. A plaque commenerating him is located on the railway bridge that crosses over to the baths.

Thomas Joseph Crean on 11 September 1891, while swimming with fellow students near Blackrock, he helped rescue a 21 year old art student named, William Ahern. Crean noticed Ahern was in trouble and together with a young solicitor named Leachman from Dundrum, he managed to bring him ashore. For his bravery he was awarded a medal by the Royal Humane Society.

The decline in use of the baths started in the 1960s when indoor heated pools started to appear. Dun Laoghaire Corporation closed the Blackrock Baths in the late 1980s and by 1992, due to lack of maintenance, parts of the baths were dismatled.[7] The baths can still be seen near the train station along with the diving board. They have since been sold to developers Treasury Holdings, who have raised the possibility of building high-rise apartments on the site.[8]


Talbot Lodge before demolition

There are many fine houses of historical and architectural significance in the area that are still existing today or have been demolished.

Frescati House built in 1739, was a fine example and was the childhood home of Lord Edward FitzGerald at one time. Frescati, after much local protest to save it, was demolished in 1983 and Frascati Shopping Centre now stands in its place.[9]

Maretimo House built in 1770 as a summer residence for Nicholas Lawless, 1st Lord Cloncurry, from his main house in Lyons, Kildare. His son Valentine Lawless, 2nd Baron Cloncurry gave land beside the house for the building of the Roman Catholic Church, St. John the Baptist. At the time of the construction of the Dublin and Kingstown Railway, Lord Cloncurry was compensated amongst other things with a private railway bridge and harbour. Maretimo house was demolished in 1970 and apartments of the same name now reside in its place. The private railway bridge can still be seen today, but is not cared for and it's once elegant walkway has been replaced by a corrugated iron walkway.[7]

Blackrock House built in 1774 by John Lees (1737–1811), is one of few 18th century houses built with red brick. It has some fine features such as a two-storey red brick porch. It also features a large coach house, stable yard and gate lodge. Lees was also compensated with the construction of the railway as a tunnel was built through his land. There is a ruin of a small summer house near Lord Cloncurry's harbour. The house is still here to be seen today, although it is currently divided into flats.[7]

Rosefield (previously Belleville) was demolished in 1983 to make way for the Blackrock Clinic. Rosefield was one of the first seaside villas built on the Fitzwilliam estate around 1750.[7]

Talbot Lodge was an 18th century villa that was later doubled in size. It was bought by the Sisters of Charity and became part of the Linden Convalescent Home. It was sold to developers where it was demolished in December 1989.[7]

Religious Orders

There is a large religious association with Blackrock going back over many years.

The Anglican (Church of Ireland) parish built two churches in the area. The Booterstown parish was established in 1821 from the Donnybrook parish and the first church built was St. Philip and St. James Church in 1822 on Cross Avenue. To follow was All Saints Church on Carysfort Avenue in 1868.[7]

The Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul (Catholic) founded St. Catherine's Seminary in 1939 with the purchase of the house Dunardagh, Temple Hill.[7]

The Dominican Order (Catholic) came to Blackrock in the 1830s with the purchase of the house Sion Hill on the corner of Mount Merrion Avenue and Cross Avenue. They setup Sion Hill Convent, a girls school called Dominican College Sion Hill and Froebel College of Education. They also run an Adult Education Centre and St. Catherine's College of Education for Home Economics between 1929 and 2007.[10]

The Holy Ghost Fathers (Catholic) came to Blackrock from Paris and established Blackrock College in 1860 with the purchase of Castle Dawson. They later bought Williamstown Castle in 1875, Clareville in 1899 and Willow Park in 1924. All of these buildings, except Clareville, exist today and form Blackrock College and Willow Park School.[7]

The Kellyite sect was formed by Rev. Thomas Kelly (1769–1854) who broke away from the Church of Ireland. He built a church called Christchurch on Carysfort Avenue. The sect did not last long and in 1872 the church was handed over to the Church of Ireland. In the early 1960s the church was demolished as it was surplus to needs. The old church was located where the car park is on the corner of Carysfort Avenue and the Blackrock Bypass.[11]

The Methodist congregation established a church on George's Avenue in the 19th century. The church is still extant but disused. They moved to a new church beside the town hall on Newtown Avenue. The congregation consolidated with Dun Laoghaire around the middle of the 20th century. Since then Blackrock is used as a community meeting place called Urban Junction.[12][13]

Opus Dei (Catholic) established Rosemont secondary school off Temple Hill around the late 1960s, early 1970s.[14]

The Presbyterian (Church of Ireland) congregation built St. Andrew's Church on Mount Merrion Avenue in 1899.[7]

Religious Sisters of Charity (Catholic) arrived in 1864 with the purchase of Linden and established Linden Convalescent Home. They later bought Talbot Lodge which became part of the Convalescent Home.[7] The home was sold in the late 1990s to developers who built the Linden residential complex. More recently in 2003 the congregation expanded Our Lady's Hospice to Blackrock with the opening of The Venerable Louis and Zelie Martin Hospice.

The Roman Catholic parish of Blackrock was established from Booterstown in 1922. The first church in the area was built on Sweetman's Avenue in 1823 and later in 1845 a much larger church on Temple Hill was constructed called St. John the Baptist. Another church was built in 1967 on Newtownpark Avenue called the Church of the Guardian Angels.

The Society of Friends (Quakers) have their Dublin burial grounds located at Temple Hill. Their meeting house is located on Carrickbrennan Road, Monkstown.[15]

Notable People

Lord Edward FitzGerald (1763-1798) was born and lived in Frescati House for a part of his life. He was an Irish aristocrat and revolutionary and was one of the commanders in the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

James Stephens (1825–1901) at one time lived at 82 George's Avenue, Blackrock and was a founding member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.[16]

Charles Kickham (1828–1882) lived at James O'Connors former house of 2 Montpelier Place, off Temple Hill. He was a novelist, poet, journalist and one of the most prominent members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.[16]

Lieutenant General Harry Hammon Lyster (1830-1922) was born in Blackrock and was an Anglo-Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

William Edward Hartpole Lecky (1838-1903) was an Irish historian and publicist born in Newtown Park. He is noted for his chief work of A History of England during the Eighteenth Century.[16]

Sir William Orpen (1878–1931) lived in a house called "Oriel" on Grove Avenue, just off Mount Merrion Avenue. He was a portrait painter and official war artist during the first world war. Some of his work is permanently on display in the National Gallery of Ireland.[16]

Maurice Walsh (1879-1964) lived on both Stillorgan Park Avenue and Avoca Road in Blackrock. He is noted as a novelist and best known for his short story The Quiet Man amongst others.[16]

Eamon de Valera (1882-1975) lived in a few houses in the area including "Bellevue" on Cross Avenue 1933-1940. He was educated and taught at Blackrock College. He retired to Linden Convalescent Home after his Presidential term ended and on 29 August 1975 he died there.[16]

The writer James Joyce (1882-1941) lived in 23 Carysfort Avenue known as "Leoville" for one year in the early 1890s.[16] This house is still extant. In his book A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man he makes reference to the local parish church St. John the Baptist.

Kevin O'Higgins (1892-1927) once rented "Lisaniskea" ("Lios na Uisce") next to the village during 1923-1925. He later moved to "Dunamase" on Cross Avenue and was the Minister for Justice in the Government of The Irish Free State. He was assassinated on the Booterstown end of Cross Avenue on his way to mass at his local parish church on 10 July 1927 by members of the IRA. It is believed that he was assissinated for ordering the execution of many republicans, including Rory O'Connor (Irish republican), during his tenure in office. Rory O'Connor was Kevin's best man at his wedding in 1921.[3][16]

Brian O'Nolan (1911–1966) lived at 4 Avoca Terrace and later at 81 Merrion Avenue. He was an Irish novelist and satirist, best known for his novels At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman written under the nom de plume Flann O'Brien.[16]

Rowan Gillespie is an Irish bronze casting sculptor of international renown, who created the "Blackrock Dolmen" sculpture in Blackrock. He works out of Blackrock with a purpose built bronze casting foundry in a house called "Clonlea".

Ryan Tubridy was born in Blackrock in 1973 and went to Blackrock College. He is an RTÉ presenter of radio and television shows and the current host of the long-running chat show The Late Late Show.

Blackrock today

Blackrock street scene


Blackrock Clinic, a private clinic (in the Williamstown locality) which was built on the site of Rosefield House.

The town hall was completed in 1865 while the Carnegie Library and the Technical Institute were built in 1905. The site for the Technical Institute was presented to the Town Commissioners by a resident, William Field MP, in 1898.[17]


Blackrock Market entrance

Blackrock village is quite a large commercial centre with Cafes, Bars, Restaurants, Boutiques, Hairdressers and Barbers, Pharmacies, Supermarkets, Art Galleries, Antiques and Home Improvements. There are some notable bars in the village such as Jack O'Rourkes, O'Donohues, Sheehans, Tonic and The Wicked Wolf.

The Blackrock Shopping Centre was built in 1984 by Superquinn who manage the development and are the anchor store.

There are also many high street finance branches for AIB, Bank of Ireland, EBS, National Irish Bank, Permanent TSB, Ulster Bank and the Blackrock Credit Union.

There are many office buildings that house large corporations such as Canada Life Financial, Zurich Financial Services and AIG. Also car delaers such as Carroll & Kinsella Motors, Maxwell Motors (generally BMW) and Eco Aer (eco electric vehicles).

The Blackrock Market was setup in 1996 just off the Main Street and has a range of independent sellers who sell all sorts of items like bean bags, candles, stamps & coins, second hand books and antiques. There are also food sellers of crepes, cakes and ethnic food. The market is open Saturday and Sunday, but some stalls open during the week also.[18]


Primary schools

For a more comprehensive list of schools in Blackrock and it's hinterland, see the link below (Primary Schools in South County Dublin).

  • Benincasa, Mount Merrion Avenue
  • Carysfort N.S.
  • Guardian Angels N.S.
  • Willow Park (at Blackrock College)
  • St. Augustine's
  • All Saints
  • Ss. Philip and James' N.S., under the ethos of the Church of Ireland
  • Our Lady of Mercy N.S.

Secondary schools

Third level


  • All Saints, Carysfort Avenue (Church of Ireland)
  • Church of the Guardian Angels, Newtownpark Avenue (Roman Catholic)
  • St. Andrew's, Mount Merrion Avenue (Presbyterian)
  • St. John the Baptist, Blackrock (Roman Catholic)
  • Ss. Philip and James, Cross Avenue, (Church of Ireland)

See also


  1. ^ "Blackrock station". Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  2. ^ a b MacCóil, Liam (1977). "The Book of Blackrock", The Blackrock Council of Community Services, Carraig Books
  3. ^ a b c Carey, Tim (2009). "Did you know?", Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council p99, 124, 156 ISBN 9780955782923
  4. ^ Costello, Peter (1989). "Dublin Churches", Gill and Macmillan, p214 ISBN 0717117006
  5. ^ a b DLR County Council
  6. ^ Blacker, B.H (1860). "Brief sketches of the parishes of Booterstown and Donnybrook", p92, p175
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Pearson, P (2001). "Between the Mountains and the Sea" Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County, The O'Brien Press ISBN 9780862789770
  8. ^ Green Party hosts public meeting on future of Blackrock Baths
  9. ^ Roches sale puts reclusive retail dynasty in limelight for last time - National News, Frontpage -
  10. ^ St. Catherines Past Student's Union
  11. ^ Smith, Cornelius F. (2001). "Newtownpark Avenue: Its people and their houses", Albany Press. ISBN 0-9540-34-0
  12. ^ Dun Laoghaire Methodist Church
  13. ^ Urban Junction
  14. ^ Rosemont School
  15. ^ Quakers in Ireland
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i Tom Roche and Ken Finlay (2003). "Blackrock, Dun Laoghaire and Dalkey (Along the coast from Booterstown to Killiney)"
  17. ^ AAI | Postcards of Ireland
  18. ^ Blackrock Market
  19. ^ Rosemont Secondary School for Girls

External links


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