A Little Local History

I’ve lived in Maynooth for over three years now and for a large part of that time my home was a flat on Straffan Road near Court House Square. Across the road from where I lived is Lyreen House (sometimes called Larine House). The Lyreen, incidentally, is the name of the small river that runs through Maynooth, on which the old mill was built.

The house was built in the 1780s and is now used as a day care centre. Towards the rear it has a very pleasant walled garden; from the side looking across Straffan Road it looks like this:

The car is not always there. Note the rather unattractive grey pebbledash rendering which is I’m afraid rather ubiquitous on old buildings in this area. I think this is because many of these buildings are made from limestone which needs to be protected from weathering. There is a lot of this rendering on the South Campus at Maynooth University too.

Anyway, I walked past Lyreen/Larine House every time I went to work without ever really thinking about its history. Then, yesterday, I saw this:

The picture at the bottom shows Lyreen House as seen looking South from Court House Square, with Straffan Road to the right. The article in the local paper explains that during the War of Independence a hundred years ago, it was for a time used as a barracks for the Black and Tans! I had absolutely no idea about that until yesterday!

Nowadays the view looking North through Court House Square towards Main Street is this:

The white building to the right is Brady’s pub. The structure you see is a monument to the victims of the Great Hunger in a pleasant seating area that is often used for craft fairs, musical performances and other gatherings. Or at least it was in the pre-Covid era.

What you don’t see is any sign of a Court House. That is because it was destroyed by the IRA in 1920. This is what it looked like after the attack.

The War of Independence in County Kildare didn’t see anything like as much violence as other parts of Ireland, abut that didn’t mean there wasn’t a strong Republican presence here. When rumours circulated that the British were going to use the Court House as a garrison the local IRA decided to deny them that opportunity by setting it on fire (though they first ensured that everyone inside was taken to safety).

The Old Court House lay derelict for many years and was eventually demolished. Then a public convenience was built on the site. This was not only an eyesore but also a smelly and unpleasant place that people generally avoided. It  was then demolished and the monument was constructed in 1993.

I walked through Court House Square last night on a rare trip out of my house to collect a takeaway for my dinner. I noticed that the Christmas lights and nativity scene were still there, almost a month after Christmas. I wonder when they’ll take them down?



9 Responses to “A Little Local History”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    I noticed that the Christmas lights and nativity scene were still there, almost a month after Christmas. I wonder when they’ll take them down?

    Perhaps around the time I send out my Christmas cards…

    An Irish friend once said to me, “The Spanish have no idea how to unwind. In Gaelic we have three distinct words for mañana, but none conveys the same urgency.”

    • telescoper Says:

      A literal translation of “mañana” into Irish is “amárach”..

    • One of my children was born prematurely while we were on holiday in Spain. After the waters broke (which doesn’t necessarily mean a premature birth, and at almost 34 weeks the child was old enough to not need them anymore), we went to a local hospital. A physician examined my. wife and I asked her if she had an idea when the baby would come. Her answer: mañana, which, in this case, meant really, really quickly.

      All went well. The baby had newborn jaundice (which has nothing to do with the premature birth) and so had to stay in hospital for a week under a UV lamp. My wife stayed there with him, while I organized everything. We had bought everything in advance, of course, but it was all at home. I managed in my very bad Spanish (fortunately my wife spoke Spanish reasonably well even then, and now teaches it). The most difficult thing was travelling to Malaga before the consulate closed at midday in order to get a passport, the photo (which wasn’t allowed to show anyone but the baby) was rather difficult.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    I think this is because many of these buildings are made from limestone which needs to be protected from weathering.

    Most of the great houses and churches in England are built of limestone of various types, and are open to the weather. Is the form of limestone quarried in Ireland particularly friable, or is there some other explanation?

  3. […] a rainy Saturday afternoon in Maynooth so I thought I’d post another bit of local history like I did last week. This is another thing I’ve just found out and thought I’d share. This is a view I took […]

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