Dolphin’s Barn

A crossroads, a canal, a cross and a famous brickworks define the urban village of Dolphin's Barn.


Life, Love The Liberties, Visit

Local historian Cathy Scuffil takes a brief look at the history of Dolphin’s Barn.

The Irish placename for this area – Carnán Cloch – holds clues to the early landscape, referring to a burial mound located at Old County Road. This was used as a boundary landmark for the Riding of the Franchises by the City Corporation when setting the city boundaries.

The name ‘Dolphin’ relates to David Dolphin, a Knight of Kilmainham who was granted lands extending to the area in the Norman era.  The Celtic Cross monument on the crossroads marks the spot where, during penal times, the local Catholic community worshipped secretly in a small wooden barn.  In 1798, a small stone chapel on St. James’s Terrace was erected and served the local community until 1892 when the present church was built.  A large extension was added in the 1960s due to the growing population that followed the opening of the Dolphin House flat complex.

The opening of the Grand Canal Circular line added to the development of the area, with a small harbour and canal dock formerly located on the north (city side) bank near the bridge.  The canal linked the area with the midlands and Shannon area, and supported the distribution of bricks and from the Dolphin’s Barn Brick Company located on the Crumlin Road. The canal was also an important source of water for the White Heather Laundry – also located at the bridge and a limeworks nearby.

The wide crossroad intersecting the South Circular Road was a local meeting place in the early years of the 20th century.  Recruitment meetings encouraging the local young men to join the war effort were held here in 1914, four years later in 1918, another meeting was held to support the anti-conscription movement which drew large crowds.  Eamon Ceannt, one of the signatories of the 1916 proclamation, and later executed for his part in the Rising, lived in Dolphin Terrace.  Many local residents joined him in mobilising at Emerald Square on Easter Monday before marching to take up positions in the South Dublin Union (now St. James’s Hospital) and the outposts at Marrowbone Lane Distillery and Watkin’s Brewery in Ardee Street.

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