Blessington Town (Baile Coimín)

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Title

Blessington Town (Baile Coimín)

Subject

Heritage Trail

Description

This historic town is the ideal start and end point for a loop tour around Blessington Lakes.

Creator

ActiveMe

Source

http://blessington.info/history/trail/trail.php

Short Interpretive Text

This historic town is the ideal start and end point for a loop tour around Blessington Lakes. Some of the historic monuments in the town include the Credit Union House, Downshire Monument, Saint Mary’s Church of Ireland, Tyrrells House, Tram Marker, Toll House and the Horseshoe Arch.

Interpretive Text

This historic town is the ideal start and end point for a loop tour around Blessington Lakes. The Irish name for the town is Baile Coimín. The English name Blessington, first found in 1607, is a translation based on false etymology: the original Irish name seems to have been interpreted at the time as Baile Comaoin(e), ‘the town of the blessing’. This English version was itself gaelicised in the 18th century and we find Baile na mBeannacht, ‘the town of the blessings’, in manuscripts alongside the original Irish form.

Some of the historic monuments in the town include the Credit Union House, Downshire Monument, Saint Mary’s Church of Ireland, Tyrrells House, Tram Marker, Toll House and the Horseshoe Arch.

Blessington, a tree-lined estate town, complete with square was built by its landlords, the Boyles and the Hills. Blessington's founder was Michael Boyle, Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland, who in 1667 acquired an estate of 17,000 acres and was given a charter to establish the town. The estate was inherited in 1778 by Wills Hill, Earl of Hillsborough, later the first Marquis of Downshire. The new town centre is situated in Boyle's original demesne and is the first major change to the layout of Blessington in 200 years. The Tram Marker in the town was for the steam tram which began operating in 1888 between Blessington and Terenure. Seven years later the tram was extended to Poulaphouca where the waterfall was a popular scenic spot and attracted many visitors. On one side of the marker are the letters DB [Dublin to Blessington] and on the other BP [Blessington to Poulaphouca]. The tram continued to operate until 1932. This service ended at the end of December 1932 and was replaced with a conventional bus service.

Archbishop Boyle’s mansion, was described by a contemporary source described as one of the finest in the country. The house, built in 1673, was surrounded by a demesne, deerpark and formal gardens which included grand avenues and ponds and canals. The house was burnt during the rebellion of 1798 and never rebuilt. The Credit Union House was built as a market house and courthouse at the end of the 1830s by the third Marquis of Downshire. Stones from the ruin of Blessington House were used in the foundations.

St Mary's is the only existing building associated with Archbishop Boyle and has been in regular use since it was dedicated in 1683. The building was enlarged in the 19th century with the addition of side aisles. The 17th century church tower contains the original bells, which bear Archbishop Boyle's coat of arms and the date 1682, as well as what is believed to be the oldest working turret clock in Ireland. The adjoining churchyard is the burial place of the nineteenth century diarist, Elizabeth Smith who lived in Baltyboys House, four kilometres from Blessington. Sir Alfred and Lady Beit of nearby Russborough, are also buried in the churchyard.

There are a number of other impressive monuments and buildings in the town. The Ulster Bank was built around 1830 and used in the nineteenth century as an inn. The Toll House is a well-preserved late Georgian building dating from around 1810. The Downshire Monument commemorates the coming of age in 1865 of Arthur Hill the Downshire heir at the time. On the death of his father in 1868, Arthur inherited the family estates and became the fifth Marquis of Downshire. He died six years later aged 29.

The Blessington Greenway , a 5.5 km walking trail, starts from the town and runs south via the Avon Ri Outdoor Centre to the historic eighteenth Century Russborough house.

Burgage Graveyard on the outskirts of the town contains graves that were moved from the old cemetery at the old village of Burgage before it was flooded as part of the reservoir construction. The old headstones, high crosses and the remains of the deceased were exhumed and reinterred at a cemetery, just south of Blessington village. A pre Norman cross inscribed slab made of granite was also moved to the Burgage cemetery. It measures 1.7m in length and tapers from 0.74m at the top to 0.22m at the base. It is decorated on one side only and the decoration consists of an incised ringed cross with a crosslet with expanding arms and a short head at the base.

Cycle Parking

Yes

Parking Available

Yes

Category of Interest

Archaeological, Cultural, Natural, Architectural, Historical

County

Wicklow

Nearest Town

Blessington

Geolocation

Social Bookmarking

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