Donnybrook, My Hometown

Donnybrook My Hometown

Local history enthusiasts gathered at Elm Park Golf and Sports Club on April 10th for a much-anticipated lecture by Dr Beatrice M. Doran, author of Donnybrook: A History.

The author spoke of the popularity of her new book. “The local bookseller said, as far as he could see, everyone in Donnybrook was getting a copy of Donnybrook: A History for Christmas whether they liked it or not!” The book has nearly sold out of its first printing and is now entering a second.

In her lecture, Dr Doran shared highlights from the book, as well as a number of photographs and stories collected since publication. In addition to the well-known and well-documented accounts of the Donnybrook Fair and Irish International Exhibition, the book and lecture covered many more obscure, but equally fascinating, Donnybrook stories.

Present day Beaver Row along the Dodder is named for a nineteenth-century beaver hat factory that operated on the site. The factory was built by three Wright brothers in 1813 and was staffed mostly by Wesleyan Methodists from the north of England. For their employees, the brothers built cottages, a hall, a school, a footbridge and a Wesleyan Methodist church, all on Beaver Row. Records are unclear as to when the factory closed, but by the end of the nineteenth century very little remained of what was once a large industrial centre. The Methodist Church still stands on private property on Beaver Row.

An often overlooked but unique building in Donnybrook is the Bus Garage. When it was completed in 1952, it was the only building in the world to have a concrete shell roof lit by natural light along its entire length. In 1955, a European Featherweight title boxing match was held in the garage, and 10,000 spectators packed the building. The bout, between defending champion Ray Famechon of France and challenger Billy Kelly of Derry, lasted for thirteen rounds before Famechon was declared the winner by points. The attending audience was furious at the result and attacked the referee. Police had to intervene and escort the man from the building as the crowd booed and broke their seats.

Dr Doran is currently working on her next book, Donnybrook: Then and Now. The lecture was sponsored by the Ballsbridge, Donnybrook and Sandymount Historical Society, which hosts a variety of events of local historical interest. For more information about forthcoming happenings, visit their website at

Pictured, left to right: B.D.S. Historical Society Committee Members Angela O’Connell, Chairman John Holohan, Presenter Beatrice Doran, David Siggins, Brian Siggins, Hon. Sec Gail Wolfe. Picture supplied by Cory Hanson.

By Cory Hanson

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