Prehistoric and Early Christian History

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  • History of Tallaght

St. Maelruin

The documented history of Tallaght dates back to Early Christian Ireland, but the many archaeological sites in the area suggest the presence of Bronze Age, and perhaps even earlier, settlers in the area.
The placename Tallaght is derived from the words támh leacht, meaning a plague burial place. The earliest mention of Tallaght in recorded history is the account of Parthalon in the Annals of the Four Masters.

In legend, Parthalon the Greek was one of the early invaders of Ireland. A plague was said to have killed nearly 9,000 of his followers and they were buried in Tallaght and its environs. The area came to be named Taimleach Muintire Parthalon. However, the burials that have been found in the Tallaght area to date are all normal pre-historic interments, mainly of the Bronze Age. Nothing suggesting a mass grave has so far been recorded here.

A more reliable record of Tallaght's early history can be traced back to the eighth century AD when St. Maelruain established a monastery in the area. Very little is known of St. Maelruain himself, but the monastery became a centre of learning and piety.It was particularly associated with the Céli Dé spiritual reform movement. St. Maelruain died in 792 and a festival was held in his name every year until 1874. By this time, the festival had become an occasion for drinking and fighting and was regarded with disapproval by the Church authorities. As a result, it was discontinued.

St. Maelruain's Church, which belongs to the Church of Ireland, now occupies the site of the original monastery. The present-day church was built in 1829, replacing an earlier church. The tower from the earlier church is still in existence.