Rath Eanna (trad.),
Rath Eanaigh (modern)
|Dáil Éireann:||Dublin North East, Dublin North Central|
|Dialling code:||01, +353 1|
|Postal district(s):||Dublin 5|
|Area:||3.88 km2 (1.50 sq mi)
(Civil Parish, excluding sea)
|Elevation:||20 m (66 ft)
|- Maximum:||45 m (148 ft)|
Raheny (Ráth Eanna or Ráth Eanaigh in Irish) is a northern suburb of Dublin, the capital city of Ireland. It is an old area, referenced back to 570 AD (Mervyn Archdall) but after years of light settlement, with a main village and a coastal hamlet, grew rapidly in the 20th century, and is now a mid-density Northside suburb with a village core.
Raheny is situated on the coast of County Dublin, about 8 km from Dublin city centre and 7 km from Dublin Airport, and has been for centuries within the jurisdiction of Dublin City Council, formerly Dublin Corporation. The historic county (now Fingal County Council) boundary lies close by. Nearby areas include Killester, Clontarf, Artane, Kilbarrack, Coolock, Donaghmede, and the skyline is dominated by Howth Head.
Raheny is bisected by the Howth Road (R105) and the R809 (coming from Bull Island, in turn Watermill Road, Main Street, Station Road) and is also accessed from the Malahide Road (R107), the coastal James Larkin Road (R807) and the R104 (including the Oscar Traynor Road and Kilbarrack Road).
Raheny railway station, opened on 25 May 1844, overlooking the village centre, serves the DART suburban railway system and the Dublin-Belfast main line, and parts of Raheny are served by other DART stations, Harmonstown and Kilbarrack, on the same line. Raheny is also served by Dublin Bus (routes 29A, 31, 32, 32A, 32B, and the rare 105 and 129, and at night, 29N and 31N) and has a taxi rank. There are three service stations, one at each end of the area and one at a motor dealership in the village centre.
Much of the district is situated on gently rising ground, with a bluff overlooking Bull Island at Maywood and Bettyglen, and further rises from the village centre to the station and then to Belmont, a hill which once featured a windmill. Opposite and beyond Belmont was once an area of sunken land with limestone quarries but this was infilled, much of it with urban garbage, and later levelled and converted to a city park, Edenmore Park.
At the heart of Raheny lie the remains of a large ancient ringfort (or rath) from which the area gets its name. The rath extends under the centre of the modern village, from beside the Santry River, including some marshy ground, to the Roman Catholic church, Windsor Motors, the Scout Den and the two St. Assam's Churches. Some excavations were carried out in the 1970s, giving an idea of its size (probably c. 110m across) and structure. The old church and graveyard complex behind the village plaza may reflect a remnant of the rath, as does some embankment behind the scout den.
During the 19th century, significant changes to the village, especially the centre, occurred, as a result of work on the Howth Road by the Telford engineering company; prior to this, the road entered the village at the bottom of the central hill, turning sharply coastwards at the top of Main Street. Works to straighten the road resulted in reduction of the old rath.
There was, at least by the 19th century, a hamlet, a "second Raheny", Raheny-on-the-Strand, at the point known as the "Whip of the Water", where the Howth Road (and Fox Stream) met the sea. There was a beach road here, later washed away, then succeeded by the tram line to Howth. The current coastal road, the James Larkin Road, is a much more recent construction.
The ruined St. Assam's Church, dating from a 1712 reconstruction of a 1609 building, is believed to be the successor to early religious settlement. The later St. Assam's Church, opposite it, was built in 1864, in the period when Roman Catholics regained the right to have their own churches.
Raheny was also the site of two holy wells. The first of these, St. Ann's Well, gave its name to St. Anne's Park. The site of this well is still visible under a stone cupola by the Boating Lake in the park, but it has been dry for several decades, despite efforts by municipal authorities to restart it. The second well, dedicated to the patron saint of the area, St. Assam, lay in the field which now holds the Church of Our Lady Mother of Divine Grace. When last recorded, it was marked by a depression in the ground but was later, in the 20th century, covered over, and its waters diverted into the Santry River.
The "Celtic-style" cross on display in the village (now on the main plaza but previously placed in at least three other locations) is a memorial to a 19th century missionary from the area to India, paid for by locals in India.
In a sign of prosperity, Raheny in the 18th century also had a water mill near the mouth of the Santry River and two windmills, one on the Howth Road, one on Belmont hill, as well as a stone quay.
Large panels describing highlights of the area's historical and natural sights in English and Irish, and with maps of the central village area, stand either side of the central crossroads. In addition, in 2006 the Raheny Business Association placed blue historical plaques, with wording co-ordinated with the Raheny Heritage Society, on or near 15 historical buildings.
Several explanations exist for the origin of the name Raheny: one (from Ráth Eanna) is that it means the ringfort of Eanna, an early local chief, another (Ráth Eanaigh) is that the name derives from "Eanaigh" an old Irish word for marsh or swamp. Yet another (by MhicNamara, deriving from Rath Ain Abha) comes from "Noble Fortress of the Sea". It is a matter unlikely ever to be fully resolved, as the origins of names, especially in areas within the Pale, were lost. Locally, most use Ráth Eanna while officialdom now tends towards Ráth Eanaigh. Until the mid-20th century, many local residents pronounced the English language name as something more like Rahenny, or Ratheny.
Although there are a range of similar names (such as Rahanna), the name Raheny is nearly unique in Ireland, occurring in just one other locality, a portion of the rural town of Lusk. This once-significant monastic and civil centre in north County Dublin is not far away but no connection is known.
In addition to the Santry River (historically Skillings Glas), Raheny is also crossed by the Naniken River (previously named Ballyhoy after a townland through which it passes), the Fox Stream and the Blackbanks Stream, all monitored by Dublin City Council. Both the Fox and Blackbanks Streams flow from the limestone area above Station Road, which used to hold caves and quarries. The Fox Stream runs through Walmer lands, under Tuscany Downs, but is today smaller than historically, as some of its flow is diverted by pipe into the already larger Blackbanks Stream.
According to a chronicle of the ceremony of "Riding the Franchises", the Fox Stream used to mark the northern boundary of Dublin City.
A major feature is the nearly 5 km beach known as Dollymount Strand, on the nature reserve of North Bull Island, shared with Clontarf. Parklands include the two largest Dublin municipal parks, North Bull Island itself and St Anne's Park (formerly the home of the Guinness family of brewing and later banking fame), which is also shared with Clontarf, as well as Edenmore Park (with a pitch and putt course and playing fields), Springdale Road Park (along the Santry River) and many small green areas.
There is excellent walking and cycling on the sea front (one can walk or bike from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, with problems only in the Docklands area), on North Bull Island, in St. Anne's Park and around the leafy streets.
A feature of Raheny is Dublin's second busiest municipal library branch, near the village centre. The district also holds St. Francis Hospice and St. Joseph's Hospital (administered by Beaumont Hospital Board), as well as a small local Health Centre, a Credit Union, a Garda Siochana station, located opposite the national school complex on All Saints Drive, and one of Dublin's three Driving Test Centres, at the St. Anne's shopping plaza.
Local amenities include many shops, some at a small shopping centre, based around a Supervalu store, and some across several small shopping plazas. There are several financial institutions, a fitness club and multiple doctors, dentists and specific and alternative health providers. The area's swimming pool, separate from but adjacent to St. Paul's College, closed to the public in 2006.
Until recent years, Raheny had one of just a few hotels in the north suburbs; this shortage was reduced by the building of a range of hotels near Dublin Airport, 7 km away. The Sheiling Hotel, in the former Fox Hall, and a part of the small Regency Hotel group, ceased operation in early 2008, after planning permission had been granted, after an appeal, to redevelop the main house, a protected historic structure, as apartments, with additional apartment blocks adjacent.
In addition, the district features a range of bed-and-breakfast establishments.
There are several pubs, the best known including the Cedar Lounge, the Station House, the (Raheny) Inn, and the Watermill, and eating places include the Watermill and three restaurants, one of the three old schoolhouses in the village centre, at the top of Main St, one on Watermill Road, in the former Raheny Hardware building, and one in St. Assam's, as well as a coffee shop with dinner service, under the main shopping centre.
Raheny has Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland (Anglican) churches, one of the former massively overlooking the centre of the village (with feature belfry and baptistry), the latter beautifully sited on the approach to the village centre from the city.
Aside from the central Roman Catholic church, the Church of Our Lady Mother of Divine Grace, of the Catholic Parish of Raheny itself, and its now little-used predecessor, St. Assam's Church, the district is served by the pyramid-style church of Kilbarrack-Foxfield Parish, by St. Benedict's, of Grange Park Parish, and by St. Brigid's, of Killester Parish, and by the chapel at the Capuchin Friary. A number of other Roman Catholic religious orders also have local presences. Prior to the restoration of local worship, Rahenyites had for centuries to attend Mass in Coolock or, later, Clontarf, or in local houses.
The Church of Ireland church, for the Anglican Parish of Raheny (now in Union with the Parish of Coolock), All Saints Church, which was built at the expense of members of the Guinness family, has some wonderful architectural features and is considered by many as being one of the most beautiful churches in Dublin. Before this church was built, Raheny Parish was served by the older church in the centre of Raheny, an earlier St. Assam's Church, dating back to 1712, and previously to 1609 and before.  All Saints has a Rectory in the grounds, as well as a community hall and a well-preserved gate lodge for the verger.
There is also a large Plymouth Brethren meeting hall in "new" Bettyglen.
The neighbourhood has a boys secondary school, St. Paul's College, Raheny (attended by approximately 600 pupils in 2006) and one of Ireland's largest girls secondary schools, Manor House, as well as Ard Scoil la Salle, on Raheny Road, a mixed second level facility.
There is a primary school complex just behind the village centre, with a mixed junior school, Scoil Ide, and distinct boys' and girls' senior schools, Scoil Assaim and Scoil Aine respectively. There is also a mixed primary school, Springdale National School, on Springdale Road, overseen by a Board of Governors, with an endowment which includes rent from some of the area's historic buildings at The Crescent. There is a special national school at St. Michael's House and another general primary school in the Grange Park locality.
Many of the local business interests, and some civic entities, are members of the active Raheny Business Association (RBA), a form of chamber of commerce. The active Raheny Tidy Village Group, mentioned above, receives sponsorship from local businesses and groups, especially from the RBA, which also provides it with a part-time co-ordinator.
The 73rd Raheny Scout Group (Scouts) meet at their dedicated den on the banks of the Santry River, opposite the Church of Our Lady Mother of Divine Grace on the Howth Road, and Guides in the shared Assembly Hall of the three National Schools on All Saints Drive.
Raheny has had for many years a voluntary Tidy Village Group, which drives activities for the Tidy Towns competition, and has helped the area win a number of civic awards. In 2006, the Raheny Business Association began to sponsor a part-time paid Coordinator to help the group in its work. Consistently scoring well in the Tidy Towns competition, Raheny received a Highly Commended rating in 2008, and the detailed report noted potential, with some further organisation, to win the competition outright.
There are a number of sports clubs. The famous Raheny Shamrock Athletic Club (Running, Track and Field) operates from behind the Scout Den, and manages the annual Raheny Five Mile Road Race, and other events. Also present are Raheny GAA Club and Raheny United F.C. (the largest local soccer club, formed from the joining of two earlier clubs and with a very strong women's section with numerous international players), both of which field a wide range of teams from under age (academy) to senior sides.
Belgrove FC soccer club play their home matches at St Paul's College, and Grange Woodbine FC soccer club play their home matches at Woodbine Road.
The area was also once home to St. Vincent's GAA.
Out on Bull Island, there are two golf clubs, St. Anne's G.C. at the Raheny end, and the Royal Dublin Golf Club lying between Raheny and Clontarf, and there is a "par-3" public golf course in St. Anne's Park, and a public pitch-and-putt course at the Station Road end of Edenmore Park.
There are public tennis courts at St. Anne's Park, and Raheny Tennis Club operates from there. St. Anne's also has a model car racing track.
A range of Residents Associations have existed but many have faded as areas have matured. One, the St. Anne's Residents Association (SARA), with some allied bodies, does operate a community hall on All Saints Drive, while the Grange Woodbine Association has facilities on Station Road. An umbrella body, the Federation of Raheny Residents, was very active up to the 1980s but has been little seen in recent times, aside from working on a (decorative but working) Millennium Clock, now sited in the village centre. Many other voluntary groups operate in the area, some secular, such as the Raheny Drama and Variety Group, and some church-related, such as the local conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
A special form of community organisation is the Maywood Avondale Bettyglen TV Association (MABTVA), which provides a local TV cable service (most of Dublin is served by one of two large TV cable systems), using its own receiving station.
The "Raheny News", a four page bulletin, printed on distinctive green paper, and aimed at keeping residents of Raheny informed of current happenings in the area, is produced weekly throughout most of the year by a group of local people. Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland parishes also produce bulletins. Raheny is part of the service area of community radio station NEAR FM. From time to time, postcards of the area are published.
In Dáil Éireann, Raheny is split between the constituencies of Dublin North Central & Dublin North East. The splitting of the district, with electoral stations either side of the village centre (the Library and the National Schools complex), has been a source of local anger for many years.
Long-serving politicians for the area include Michael Woods, who lives in neighbouring Kilbarrack, Liam Fitzgerald and Tommy Broughan, with newer figures including Patrick Crimmins, long the coordinator of the local business association. Past figures include the late ex-Taoiseach Charles Haughey and Councillor Niamh Cosgrave, the latter in a rare move bring removed from the City Council for non-attendance.
The civic district (civil parish) of Raheny comprises at least the townlands of Ballyhoy, Bettyville, Charleville, Edenmore, Foxlands, Glebe, Maryville, Mountolive or Mount of Olives, North Bull Island, Raheny North, Raheny South and (the) Snug. Some historic records also note the village centre as a distinct entity, "Raheny Town". Foxlands now contains Avondale, Maywood and Bettyglen, while Mountolive (and parts of Swan's Nest) now include several roads and estates, notably "Tuscany Downs" whose naming caused ministerial comment and public discussion about inappropriate naming conventions.
The civil parish is still maintained in law, and its boundaries were last reviewed during 1985, with their extension to a greater part of Dublin Bay.
Other housing developments in Raheny include St. Anne's, situated on parts of the former Guinness estate not retained as public park, Cill Eanna and Ennafort, Avondale, Maywood, "New" and "Old" Bettyglen, St. Assam's and Foxfield, Ashcroft, Belmont, Grange Park and Grange-Woodbine. There are a number of housing units for older people, notably in St. Anne's and at Avondale, and a Garda Retirement Home.
Starting in the mid-2000s, Raheny, most of which was laid out with semi-detached and terraced houses with good gardens front and rear, has seen a surge in infill development, especially on corner sites, and the arrival of a small but growing number of apartment developments (the area previously had almost no apartment buildings).
All of one and part of another of Raheny's townlands were largely developed by Dublin Corporation to form a new district of Edenmore, in one of its largest ever housing projects. Although still part of the overall district, and shown in addresses as Edenmore, Raheny, the new area, with its own schools, small shopping centre (including one of Dublin's highest-turnover pubs), church (Roman Catholic: St. Monica's), health centre, and some sports teams, is increasingly distinct.
The locality of Harmonstown, straddling the boundary between Raheny and Artane, lies just over the railway line from the Ennafort housing development in Raheny.
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