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Ráth Maonais
Suburb of Dublin
Rathmines Main Street
Rathmines Main Street
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County Dublin
Council Dublin City Council
Dáil Éireann Dublin Bay South
European Parliament Dublin
Elevation 31 m (102 ft)
Time zone WET (UTC+0)
 • Summer (DST) IST (WEST) (UTC-1)
Irish Grid Reference O244235

Rathmines (Irish: Ráth Maonais, meaning "ringfort of Maonas") is an inner suburb on the southside of Dublin, about 3 kilometres south of the city centre. It effectively begins at the south side of the Grand Canal and stretches along the Rathmines Road as far as Rathgar to the south, Ranelagh to the east and Harold's Cross to the west. It is situated in the city's D6 postal district.

Rathmines has thriving commercial and civil activity and is well-known across Ireland as part of a traditional "flatland" - providing rented accommodation to newly arrived junior civil servants and third level students coming from outside the city since the 1930s. In more recent times, Rathmines has diversified its housing stock and many houses have been gentrified by the wealthier beneficiaries of Ireland's economic boom of the 1990s. Rathmines, nonetheless, is often said to have a cosmopolitan air, and has a diverse international population and has always been home to groups of new immigrant communities and indigenous ethnic minorities.

In the 2006 Census, Rathmines had a population of 36,186.[1]


Rathmines is an Anglicisation of the Irish Ráth Maonais, meaning "ringfort of Maonas"/"fort of Maonas". The name Maonas is perhaps derived from Maoghnes or the Norman name de Meones, after the de Meones family who settled in Dublin about 1280; Elrington Ball states that the earlier version of the name was Meonesrath, which supports the theory that it was named after the family.[2] Like many of the surrounding areas, it arose from a fortified structure which would have been the centre of civic and commercial activity from the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century. Rathgar, Baggotrath and Rathfarnham are further examples of Dublin placenames deriving from a similar root.



Rathmines c. 1911

Rathmines has a long history stretching back to the 14th century. At this time, Rathmines and surrounding hinterland were part of the ecclesiastical lands called Cuallu or Cuallan, later the vast Parish of Cullenswood, which gave its name to a nearby area. Cuallu is mentioned in local surveys from 1326 as part of the manor of St. Sepulchre (the estate, or rather liberty, of the Archbishop of Dublin, whose seat as a Canon of St. Patrick's Cathedral takes its name from this). There is some evidence of an established settlement around a rath as far back as 1350. Rathmines is part of the Barony of Uppercross, one of the many baronies surrounding the old city of Dublin, bound as it was by walls, some of which are still visible. In more recent times, Rathmines was a popular suburb of Dublin, attracting the wealthy and powerful seeking refuge from the poor living conditions of the city from the middle of the 19th century. A substantial mansion, generally called Rathmines Old Castle, was built in the seventeenth century, probably at present day Palmerstown Park, and rebuilt in the eighteenth; no trace of it survives today.

Arguably, Rathmines is best known historically for a bloody battle that took place there in 1649, during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, leading to the death of perhaps up to 5,000 people. The Battle of Rathmines took place on 2 August 1649 and led to the routing of Royalist forces in Ireland shortly after this time. Some have compared the Battle of Rathmines - or sometimes Baggotrath - as equal in political importance to England's Battle of Naseby.

In the early 1790s the Grand Canal was constructed on the northern edge of Rathmines, connecting Rathmines with Portobello via the La Touch Bridge (which through popular usage became better known as Portobello Bridge).

For several hundred years Rathmines was the location of a "spa" - in fact a spring - the water of which was said to have health-giving properties. It attracted people with all manners of ailments to the area. In the 19th century it was called the "Grattan Spa", as it was located on property once belonging to Henry Grattan, close to Portobello Bridge.[3] The "spa" gradually fell into a state of neglect as the century progressed, until disputes arose between those who wished to preserve it and those (mainly developers) who wished to get rid of it altogether. In 1872 a Dr. O'Leary, who held a high estimate of the water quality, reported that the "spa" was in "a most disgraceful state of repair", upon which the developer and alderman Frederick Stokes sent samples to the medical inspector, Dr. Cameron, for analysis. Dr. Cameron, a great lover of authority, reported: "It was, in all probability, merely the drainings of some ancient disused sewer, not a chalybeate spring". Access to the site was blocked up and the once popular "spa" faded from public memory.[4]

The Westminster parliamentary borough of Rathmines had a unionist majority up to independence in 1922. The last Member of Parliament it returned was Maurice Dockrell.

Easter Rising, War of Independence & Civil War[edit]

On 25 April 1916, during the Easter Rising, Captain John Bowen-Colthurst, an officer of the 3rd battalion Royal Irish Rifles, went on a raiding party in Rathmines holding Francis Sheehy-Skeffington as hostage. At Rathmines Road he shot dead 19-year-old James Joseph Coade of 28 Mountpleasant Avenue. Coade had been attending a Sodality meeting at the nearby Catholic Church of Our Lady of Refuge.[5] Sheehy-Skeffington was later shot dead in Portobello Barracks.

Rathmines Church was used as a weapons store during the War of Independence. On 26 January 1920 a fire started at the electrical switchboard in the vestry. There were reports of several members of 'A' Company of the IRA Dublin Brigade entering the church during the fire to retrieve the weapons. The fire caused £30-35,000 worth of damage and completely the destroyed the dome.[6]

During the Irish Civil War, Séamus Dwyer, a pro-treaty Sinn Féin politician, was shot dead in his shop at 5 Rathmines Terrace by an unknown gunman on 20 December 1922. He had been an intelligence officer with the Dublin Brigade of the IRA during the War of Independence.

Also during the Civil War, Thomas O'Leary, a member of the anti-Treaty IRA, was shot dead by the Free State Army. His body was found on the morning of 24 March 1923 "bathed in blood, and apparently riddled with bullets, at the edge of the footpath outside the walls of the Tranquilla Convent" (now Tranquilla Park). A monument was erected in 1933 to mark the spot where his body was found.[7]

Dartry Road in Rathmines was the scene of the still-controversial[8] killing of IRA member Timothy Coughlin by police informer Sean Harling on the evening of 28 January 1928. It happened opposite 'Woodpark Lodge', where Harling lived at the time.

Rathmines Township[edit]

The Rathmines Township was created by Act of Parliament in 1847, and its area was later renamed "Rathmines and Rathgar" and expanded to take in the areas of Rathgar, Ranelagh, Sallymount and Milltown. The township was initially responsible only for sanitation, but its powers were extended over time to cover most functions of local government. It became an urban district under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, but was still usually called a "township". Initially the council was made up of local businessmen and other eminent figures; the franchise was extended in 1899 and the membership changed accordingly. The former Town Hall is still one of Rathmines' most prominent buildings with its clock tower. It was designed by Sir Thomas Drew and completed in 1899. It is now occupied by Rathmines College.

The township was incorporated into the City of Dublin in 1930, and its functions were taken over by Dublin Corporation, now known as Dublin City Council. Rathmines is a local electoral area of Dublin City Council, electing four councillors; the boundaries of the electoral area have varied over the years.

Places of interest[edit]

Church of Mary Immaculate, Refuge of Sinners

Rathmines is well known for the large army barracks which is located there, Cathal Brugha Barracks (known in the past as Portobello Barracks), home to many units of the Irish Army including the 2nd Infantry Battalion.

Another well known feature is the prominent copper dome of Mary Immaculate, Refuge of Sinners Church. The original dome was destroyed in a fire in 1920 and replaced by the current dome when reopened in 1922. The dome was to be used in St Petersburg but the political and social upheaval in this city caused it to be diverted to Dublin.[9]

The Holy Trinity Church (Church of Ireland) was designed by John Semple (architect) (1801-1882) in the Gothic Revival style and consecrated on 1 June 1828.[10]

Church of Ireland, Holy Trinity, Rathmines

Rathmines Library was opened on 24 October 1913 following a grant of £8,500[11] from Andrew Carnegie, to a design by architect, Frederick Hicks.[12]

Rathmines is also home to two well-known primary and secondary schools, St Mary's College (C.S.Sp,) and St Louis Primary and secondary school. Kildare Place National School, situated on the grounds of the former Church of Ireland College of Education is also a highly reputable Church of Ireland sponsored primary school on Upper Rathmines Road.

Recently a new multiplex cinema has been added to the local shopping centre which is the first one in Dublin catering for Digital cinema . This has three screens with plans for a fourth, it shows up to date movies and features 3D movies.


From the 1850s horse-drawn omnibuses provided transport from Rathmines to the city centre. Portobello Bridge, which had a steep incline, was often a problem for the horses, which led to the fatal accident of 1861.[13]

On 6 October 1871 work was commenced on the Dublin tram system on Rathmines Road, just before Portobello Bridge, and a horse-drawn tram service was in place the following year. The following year also the long-awaited (since the 1861 accident) improvements to Portobello Bridge were carried out, the Tramway Company paying one third of the total cost of £300.

Rathmines and Ranelagh railway station opened on 16 July 1896 and finally closed on 1 January 1959.[14]

Rathmines is served by the Luas light rail system. Ranelagh on the Green Line is the most convenient for access to the main street, while the Charlemont and Beechwood stops are also within walking distance of the town.

Dublin Bus routes 14, 15, 15A, 15B, 18, 65, 65B, 83, 140 and 142 serve Rathmines. The area is also served by the Dublin Bus Nitelink routes 15N and 49N on Friday and Saturday nights and on public holidays.

Notable people associated with Rathmines[edit]

  • Cathal Brugha, Irish nationalist, lived on Rathmines Road.
  • Mamie Cadden, midwife, backstreet abortionist & convicted murderer, operated a maternity nursing home, St Maelruin's, at 183 Lower Rathmines Road[15]
  • Aine Lawlor, journalist in rte, and her family are of residence here.
  • Nora Connolly O'Brien, second daughter of James Connolly, was an activist and writer; she was also a member of the Irish Senate. She lived on Belgrave Square, Rathmines.
  • Michael Cleary (priest) was living on Leinster Road, Rathmines when the controversy about his child was first reported.
  • Frederick William Cumberland (1820–1881), architect, railway manager and politician, grew up in Rathmines. His father Thomas was employed at Dublin Castle.[16]
  • Matt Cooper (Irish journalist) and his family are a local resident.
  • Andrew Cunningham, 1st Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope, British admiral of the Second World War.
  • James and Eugene Davy, the brothers that founded Davy Stockbrokers, were brought up in 29 Terenure Road.[17]
  • Vincent Dowling, Director of the Arts, was born the sixth of seven children in Rathmines.
  • Séamus Dwyer, Sinn Féin TD in the 2nd Dáil, Pro-Treaty candidate in 1922 General Election, shot dead in his shop at 5 Rathmines Terrace on 20 December 1922
  • Paddy Finucane, Second World War fighter pilot, was born in Rathmines.
  • Richard Henry Geoghegan lived at 41 Upper Rathmines Road. He was the first Esperantist in the English-speaking world and was a friend of Irish Nationalist leader Joseph Mary Plunkett. He designed the original official Esperanto flag.
  • Grace Gifford, an artist and cartoonist who was active in the Republican movement, was born in Rathmines. She married Joseph Plunkett in 1916 only a few hours before he was executed.
  • Stephen Gwynn Protestant Nationalist MP, writer, poet and journalist lived at Palmerstown Road
  • Lafcadio Hearn, ghost-story writer who settled in Japan, was brought up in Rathmines.
  • Rosamund Jacob, suffragist, republican and writer lived at Belgrave Square and Charleville Road
  • James Joyce was born at 41 Brighton Square and spent some of his childhood at 23 Castlewood Avenue.
  • Thomas Goodwin Keohler (1873-1942), poet, journalist and friend of James Joyce lived at 12 Charleville Road[18]
  • The Earl of Longford had a large house in the Grosvenor park area of the Leinster road between Rathmines and Harold's Cross. The house was demolished and replaced with a modern housing estate in recent decades.
  • Kathleen Lynn, 1874-1955, Sinn Féin politician, activist and medical doctor lived and practiced on Belgrave Road, Rathmines.[19]
  • Madeleine ffrench-Mullen (30 December 1880 – 26 May 1944) was an Irish revolutionary and labour activist who took part in the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916.
  • Éamonn MacThomáis, 1927-2002, born in Rathmines, was an author, broadcaster, historian, Republican, advocate of the Irish Language and lecturer. Noted for numerous RTÉ documentaries on his native Dublin.
  • Constance Markievicz, Irish revolutionary. In 1903 after a visit to the Ukraine, she and her husband Casimir Markievicz returned to live in a house provided by Constance's mother in Rathmines to bring up her daughter Maeve and stepson Stanislaus.
  • John Mitchel was living with his family at 8 Ontario Terrace when he was arrested in 1848.
  • Conor Cruise O'Brien was born in 1917 in Rathmines, the only child of Francis Cruise O'Brien, a journalist who worked for the Freeman's Journal, and Kathleen Sheehy.
  • Walter Osborne, a famous Irish impressionist painter, was born at 5 Castlewood Ave.
  • Seumas O'Sullivan, writer, was born on Charleston Avenue and the family pharmacy operated from 30 Rathmines Road
  • Edward Pakenham, 6th Earl of Longford Irish Nationalist, Senator and writer
  • Arthur Alcock Rambaut, astronomer, was educated at Rathmines School.
  • George William Russell, Irish nationalist and mystic, was educated at Rathmines School.
  • Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, suffragist, pacifist and writer, lived in 11 Grosvenor Place Rathmines.
  • Dora Sigerson Shorter, poet, spent some of her childhood at Richmond Hill
  • Annie M. P. Smithson, novelist, nurse and Nationalist, lived at 12 Richmond Hill until her death.
  • John Millington Synge, a famous Irish dramatist, lived here from February to April in 1908.[20]
  • George William Torrance, composer of church music
  • Maev-Ann Wren, journalist, economist, author, grew up in Rathmines.
  • Robert Wynne, 1760-1838, built Rathmines Castle c. 1820 [21]
  • Ella Young, poet and Celtic mythologist lived in Grosvenor Square

See also[edit]


  • Maitiú, Séamas Ó (2003). Dublin's Suburban Towns 1834–1930. Four Courts Press. ISBN 9781851827237. 
  1. ^ CSO Census 2006 - Population and area of each Province, County, City, urban area, rural area and Electoral Division, 2002 and 2006
  2. ^ Ball, F. Elrington History of Dublin Vol.2 1903 Alexander Thom and Co. p.100
  3. ^ Handcock, William Domville (1899). The History and Antiquities of Tallaght In The County of Dublin. Dublin: 2nd Edition. 
  4. ^ Irish Times, Letters to the Editor, July 1872
  5. ^ http://www.awm.gov.au/journal/j39/kildea.asp
  6. ^ http://comeheretome.com/2013/08/05/the-rathmines-church-fire-1920/
  7. ^ http://comeheretome.com/2013/02/15/thomas-oleary-of-armstong-street-harolds-cross/
  8. ^ http://republican-news.org/archive/1998/January29/29hist.html
  9. ^ Rathmines Church
  10. ^ http://www.dia.ie/works/view/33808/building/CO.+DUBLIN%2C+DUBLIN%2C+CHURCH+AVENUE+%28RATHMINES%29%2C+CHURCH+OF+HOLY+TRINITY+%28CI%29
  11. ^ http://dublincitypubliclibraries.com/story/rathmines-library-100-years-heart-community
  12. ^ http://dia.ie/works/view/36650/building/CO.+DUBLIN%2C+DUBLIN%2C+RATHMINES+ROAD+LOWER%2C+NO.+167+%28CARNEGIE+FREE+LIBRARY+%26+TECHNICAL+INSTITUTE%29
  13. ^ Daly, Mary (1998). Dublin's Victorian Houses. Dublin: A and A Farmar. p. 19. ISBN 1-899047-42-5. 
  14. ^ "Rathmines and Ranelagh station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  15. ^ Kavanagh, Ray (2005). Mamie Cadden: Backstreet Abortionist. Mercier Press. p. 29. ISBN 185635-459-8. 
  16. ^ Simmins, Geoffrey (1997). Fred Cumberland: Building the Victorian Dream. University of Toronto Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-8020-0679-0. 
  17. ^ http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1911/Dublin/Rathmines___Rathgar_West/Terenure_Road/65277/
  18. ^ http://www.jjon.org/jioyce-s-people/thomas-keohler
  19. ^ https://www.rcpi.ie/content/docs/000001/109_5_media.pdf
  20. ^ Robin Skelton J.M.Singe and his world.1971 p. 121
  21. ^ http://www.wynnesofireland.info/genealogy/getperson.php?personID=I416&tree=Tree02

Coordinates: 53°19.5′N 6°15.9′W / 53.3250°N 6.2650°W / 53.3250; -6.2650