Places – Glasthule

Glasthule, Google Maps
Glasthule — view at Google Maps
Glasthule aerial
Glasthule, aerial view with the Dublin mountains behind

Glasthule — a small suburban village and parish some 7 miles south-east of Dublin, on the southern bound of Dublin Bay, and about a mile along the shore from Dún Laoghaire (then called Kingstown).

On 18th century maps it's shown as a few huts upon a ford on a stream (Irish glas = stream; thule = Irish Tuthail, the clan name "O'Toole"). Something of an industrial boom came to the area in the 19th century – granite quarried in the nearby hills furnished the harbour-works in Kingstown – and Glasthule grew to a village of labourers' cottages. Railways brought the wealthy, attracted by the sea-air and views across Dublin Bay. By the 1900s Glasthule was an admixture of humble cottages (it was thought to have some of the worst slums in Dublin) and elegant Victorian villas.

Flikr: Infomatique: Glasthule celebrating Bloomsday

In the 1860s it was made a Catholic parish, known popularly as the "Parish by the Sea". It's always been sleepy, and it's sleepy still – albeit now with boutique shops and delicatessens, and a yearly celebration of Bloomsday.

Wikipedia: Glasthule
Presentation College, Glasthule
Presentation College, Glasthule

Presentation College, Glasthule — founded by the Presentation Brothers in 1902, as a secondary school (high school) for boys. It was closed in 2006, and is maintained now as a Brothers' house.

presentation glasthule crest
School crest
Direct us, O Lord

The school motto was Dirige nos Domine – "Direct us, O Lord"; and the crest represented the Star of the Sea upon a rippling Dublin Bay.

Presentation College, Glasthule
Chemistry lab, 1909 – Presentation College, Glasthule
Presentation College, Glasthule
Juvenile rugby team, 1924 – Presentation College, Glasthule

The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1911 reports of schools run by the Presentation Brothers — "In the colleges, special attention is paid to the teaching of experimental science. Classes are taught in connection with the Intermediate Education Board and Technical Department. Students are prepared for the Civil Service as well as for the National University."

NLI, St Joseph's, Glasthule
St Joseph's Church, Glasthule, with the priests' house beside
photographed pre-1914

St Joseph's — parish church of Glasthule. Designed by Ashlin and Pugin in the "Catholic Gothic" style, which eschewed local stone for Aberdeen granite and Bath stone facings.

Rose Window, St Joseph's, Glasthule
Rose Window, St Joseph's, Glasthule

The church was dedicated in 1869, on October 10th, "The Feast of the Dedication of the Churches of Ireland". Mass that day cost 10 shillings per person or £1 for a family of three – Maxwell Sweeney, Parish by the Sea, Dublin 1969.

St Joseph's Parish website

the Banks — there's no record of anywhere in Glasthule called "the Banks". But L.A.G. Strong in his autobiographical novel The Garden, set in Glasthule in the period, does describe a "Fishbank":

dublin slum cottages
Slum cottages in Dublin, ca 1913
"... the Fishbank, then one of the foulest slums in Ireland. It looked clean enough, from a little way off: row upon row of uneven, lopsided whitewashed cottages, some roofed, some thatched, spilling crazily about the hill between the tram-lines and the water ... the filth and degradation of the inhabitants needed to be seen and smelt. Children, clad in one garment, or in nothing at all, rolled and sprawled in the festering gutters." – Strong, The Garden, 1931.

Glasthule certainly had its slums. The Irish Times Sept 19th 1908 reports that the poor of Glasthule were housed in places "scarcely fit for pigs or cattle".

Print, 1840s

Ballygihen House — a "villa" type Victorian house, built around 1840, at the prosperous Sandycove end of Glasthule. As the print shows the garden originally contained an artificial hill which was topped by a statue of Neptune gazing out to sea. In 1856 the house was acquired by the Sisters of Mercy and was transformed into a convent. For a few years in the 1860s, before the building of St Joseph's church, a wooden chapel in the gardens served as the sole Catholic rendezvous for the entire neighbourhood. The sisters left in 1886 and the house it seems returned to being a residence. In the 1920s it once more became a convent – as the novelist George Moore laments in his autobiography Hail and Farewell, 1914 "the gentry have gone and the big houses are in ruins, or empty or sold to nuns and monks, who are the only people who can afford to live in fine houses."

In 1984 the house was demolished to make way for a "purpose-built retirement complex for the elderly". Ballygihen as a locality scarcely exists now save in streetnames: Ballygihen Avenue, Ballygihen Villas.

The parochial survey of Ireland, 1814, gives the meaning of Ballygihen (albeit of a different Ballygihen: this one in County Laois) as Baile-gein, "Kindred's-town". It's pronounced "bally-guy-an".