Archive for Courthouse Square

A Little Local History

Posted in Biographical, History, Maynooth with tags , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2021 by telescoper

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?