We are the Ballsbridge, Donnybrook and Sandymount Historical Society

Michael Pegum, Beatrice Doran, John Holohan at the Ballsbridge, Donnybrook and Sandymount Historical Society AGM. Photo Eoin Meegan.

Last week the Ballsbridge, Donnybrook and Sandymount Historical Society held their AGM in the Hive in Herbert park. Chairperson of the society John Holohan got proceedings off to a start and relayed news of the future plans for Herbert Park, including the construction of a new bridge across the pond similar to the one there for the Exhibition of 1907, although not as elaborate. The Bandstand is to be moved and some of the shelters put back. Sadly the pergola, which was located just above the pond, will not be reinstalled. However a row of cherry trees has been planted there which will provide a natural cover. Next the Society’s Honorary Secretary Adele O’Connor read the financial report of the year which was then followed by some very interesting talks.

First up was Dr. Beatrice Doran who presented a stimulating paper on Alderman George Roe (1796-1863). George Roe operated a famous distillery in Dublin, at one time the largest producers of whiskey in the world. They produced the famous Geo. Roe & Co whiskey (a new commemorative version has recently been brought out by Diageo). The distillery  closed in 1926 but some of the buildings are now incorporated in Guinness. Roe was a Liberal politician and succeeded Daniel O’Connell as Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1842. He was greatly loved by all Dubliners and apparently his funeral was one of the biggest in the city. This talk was followed by an equally stimulating paper on the Millrace in Donnybrook by Dr. Michael Pegum. The millrace was situated at the top of Beaver Row, just at the back of Aston’s pub, and it powered a number of industries in the region, including Wright’s Hat factory, a saw mill, a calico and cotton mill, and a flour mill. It remained in operation up until 1949.  Back in August road works at the northern end of Rampart Lane, close to Donnybrook House, exposed the culverts providing evidence of the extent of the millrace. Michael was fortunate to get photos of them before they were covered over.

The Ballsbridge, Donnybrook and Sandymount Historical Society has been going strong since 2006 and they organise a number of talks and excursions throughout the year.  Among the activities of the year gone past were talks by local historian Charles Lysaght, author of “Memories of Merrion”, Maeve Casserly, “Why 1918 Matters”, and a second talk on the famous RTE programme Radharc. Also Tim Carey, “Dublin Since 1922,” from his book of the same title. Cllr Dermot Lacey on his book on scouting in Donnybrook, “All the Red Ties” And Patricia McCarty on Servants, more for show than domestic duty, from her book “Life in the Country House in Georgian Ireland.” The society also did some day excursions, such as a tour of the new building at the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, and a tour of the Merrion Square Sculpture with Elizabeth Prendergast, as well as a tour of the Chester Beatty Library,

The talks which are open to the public are held in the Pembroke Library in Ballsbridge at lunchtime. Excursions and other events are for members only. However, the society love to welcome new members. Membership is only €10 for individual and €15 for family membership. Great value, so maybe something you might want to consider for the New Year.

By Eoin Meegan