In 1804 the great fear of an invasion by Napoleon resulted in the building of a chain of Martello towers along the east coast from Sandymount to Bray, a distance of about 12 miles fourteen towers were built. These towers were modelled on the tower of Mortella in Corsica which the British navy had great difficulty in overcoming, despite its very small garrison. These towers on the south side of Dublin Bay are of very fine and strong construction being made of very large interlocking granite blocks. Many still stand today although some have succumbed to the sea or developments. The towers and adjacent artillery batteries controlled interlinked fields of fire along the coast. A large military camp was maintained at Laughaunstown to augment the garrisons. The great harbour (then the world’s largest) was constructed between 1817 and 1821 using granite from Dalkey quarries nearby.
In 1821 George IV arrived in Dublin via Dún Laoghaire which was subsequently named Kingstown in his honour. It was renamed Dún Laoghaire in 1920. In 1843 a workhouse was opened at Loughlinstown (now the location of Loughlinstown Hospital) as a response to the poverty in the area. During the famine years approximately 1500 people were buried there in the pauper’s graveyard.
In December 1834 the first commuter railway in the world was opened between Dublin and Dún Laoghaire. This was extended to Dalkey in 1844 and to Bray in 1854. This was followed by another railway further inland from Harcourt St. to Bray. This line known as the ‘Harcourt St Line’ was closed in 1959. In modern times this line route has been restored as far as Bridesglen near Shankill and now carries the Green Luas line of Dublin’s new trams.
Trams had run to Dalkey from the 1880s until the middle of the 20th century. In 1879 the land league was formed to seek agrarian reform. In 1884 Michael Davitt held a great meeting at Kill of the Grange It fought evictions and secured fixed rents for tenants. Its founder Michael Davitt received a gift of the land league cottage now Roselawn in recognition of his achievements. He lived there from 1888 to 1896. Charles Stuart Parnell the land League’s first president held a monster meeting at Deansgrange on 21 September 1891. It was to be his last great public event, He was totally soaked by rain there and again in Creggs and caught a chill from which he never recovered.
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