Tuesday, February 5, 2013
The Charms Of Finglas (1858)
This potted history of Finglas comes from Irish Miscellany, a periodical published in Boston in the years 1858 and 1859. Unfortunately the author's name isn't given.
About three miles from town, on the Ashbourne road is the far famed village of Finglas. There are few who have not heard of it, being equally celebrated for its 'May sports'—its ass races, its pigs, with their tails shaved, and a host of other amusements—as for having been, from time to time, the theatre of some important scenes in Irish history. Indeed, there are few villages in Ireland can lay claim to much greater antiquity than the village of Finglas. It is supposed by many to have been a place of some notoriety even before Christianity was introduced into this country, from the May sports to which I have alluded, as these are known to be the remains of feasts instituted to celebrate the spring, or perhaps in honor of Ceres, the goddess of grain and husbandry. One thing is certain, that those feasts are evidently of Pagan origin. The Romans and many other nations had games and feasts in honor of spring. In England they were very common till the time of Henry the Eighth, when some commotion arising at one of them, of which he was a spectator, he expressed his personal dislike to them and also reprimanded the mayor of the town secretly. After this they gradually disappeared in England; but May day is still a kind of holiday in most villages throughout England and Ireland. I think I am not in error by asserting that Finglas existed long before Christianity in this country, for in the first years of the Christian era, we find the author of it (St. Patrick,) residing in this town. He also founded an abbey here; and it should be a place of some note, and consequently of some age, to induce him to go to so much expense at that early period.
In the year 1014, Brian Boru marched by Finglas, going to the memorable battle of Clontarf, where he lost his life. During the time the Danes were masters of Dublin both before and after the battle of Clontarf, they frequently plundered Fingall, and it is reasonable to suppose that Finglas had its share from them.
In 1171, Dublin, being in the possession of Strongbow and the English adventurers, was closely besieged by the monarch Roderick O'Connor, and reduced to great straits. Strongbow was about to surrender, but the Irish insisted on such extravagant' terms as broke off the treaty. It was then advised to make a sudden and desperate sally on the besiegers; and, accordingly Miles de Cogan and five hundred chosen men broke in on the Irish lines at Finglas, and entirely routed them.
I rather think this battle was fought about half a mile one side of the town, at a place called Finglas Wood, on the banks of the Tolka river. There is an old quarry there, which is almost filled up with clay, and some time ago, the soft part of it was broken with a plough, when a great number of human bones were found, though greatly decayed, and several pieces of rusty armor, so eaten away that it could not be said to what part of the body they belonged, also broken swords. Tradition says there was a great battle fought there, but ascribes it to the Danes and natives. Another circumstance that makes me think this is the spot is, there is a very steep hill rising over the quarry and along the river on that side, which would be extremely favorable to such an encounter as the above must have been. It is probable that it was down this hill that Miles de Cogan rushed with such irresistible force, on the Irish host, and nearly took King Roderick prisoner, who was at that time enjoying the then luxury of a bath.
In 1271, Fulke de Saunfort, Archbishop of Dublin, dying in his manor at Finglas, his body was conveyed to the Chapel of the Virgin, in St. Patrick's Cathedral, and there deposited.
In 1532, we find this town giving the title of baron to some family; for in the rebellion of Silken Thomas, the Archbishop (Allen) and Baron Finglas were obliged to shut themselves up in the castle, and stand to their defence. I cannot say to what family the title belonged.
In 1649, Cromwell's army marched through Finglas going to the siege of Drogheda, and threw down the ancient cross. The enclosed is a sketch of Finglas, taken from a field opposite to Dr. Duncan's Lunatic Asylum, which is the house seen to the left of the drawing. The air of Finglas was formerly accounted the best about Dublin, and hither all the victims of disease were ordered, before the mountain air of Dundrum was brought into notice. However, it is still considered salubrious, as there are no less than three lunatic asylums within a quarter of a mile of each other. To one of them we have already alluded, the other two belong to Doctors Harty and Gregory. They are all tasty buildings—particularly St. Helena, the seat of Dr. Harty. Tradition says that King James slept a night, during his retreat, or rather flight, from the Boyne, in the house now occupied by Mr. Savage, Finglas Wood— it is just beside the quarry before mentioned.
In 1690, King William III had his army encamped at Finglas after the battle of the Boyne; and from Finglas he went to the Church of St. Patrick, to return thanks to the Almighty for his victory over the unfortunate James.