Road Travel: 1700 - 2000 

  After a troubled century, peace, of a kind, had returned by 1700. The first of the Penal Laws was passed in 1697 and, although they affected Catholics in regard to their religion, education, civil rights and their ownership of land, they did not interfere with a Catholic's right to trade. Peace brought increased trade.
  The main trade in the Rathcoole area was the increase in the amount of wool being exported to England. Every day carts of wool on their way to the port of Dublin passed through the village of Rathcoole. The wool came from the West Wicklow area. It came down by what we now call the Kilteel road. It became known as the Woolpack road. Rathcoole had fairs on 23 April, 18 June and 9 October. Increased trade called for better roads.
  The road from Dublin to Waterford went through Rathcoole and Naas and in the early 1700's it was in need of improvement. In 1729 it was decided that a toll road or turnpike would be built at a cost of £7,000.
  A new inn, The Old Munster Arms Hotel, was built on a site stretching from the Garda Station to the entrance to Coolamber. It became a coaching inn when a weekly coach service between Dublin and Limerick began around 1760, a journey which took four days to complete. Fresh horses, supplied by the Royal Garter Stables near the present Citywest, took the coach to the next coaching inn: there was one at Blackchurch and another at the Red Cow.


Toll Charges 

  1729 1733  1763 
Coach + 6 horses  1/- 1/6  2/- 
Coach + 4 horses  6d 1/-  1/6 
Coach + 2 horses  6d  6d  6d 
Tub of butter  1d 
Horse load of eggs  1d 
Horse load of dead fowl  2d 
Horse load of rabbits  2d 

  In June 1763 it was decided that all freemen of Dublin could take their own goods in or out without paying any tolls. Any goods coming in to the city for one's private use were exempted from tolls.
  From the beginning of 1791 the Cork Mall Coach passed through Rathcoole every day. The directors of the turnpike got £200 a year tolls from the Irish Post Office. The Post Office insisted on the coach timetable being observed and contractors were fined a shilling for each minute's delay. By 1850 the Dublin to Cork route could be covered in 18.5 hours with the coach travelling at an average of 9 miles an hour. In 1861 a horse drawn bus service began between Dublin and Naas.

The Tram 

  In the 1880's the Dublin to Blessington tram service began. The line was laid from the roadside in Terenure village. It crossed the road several times as the engineers tried to lay it with as few bends as possible. The No. 15 tram from Nelson's pillar brought people to Terenure. Then they transferred to the Blessington tram.
  blessington tram
  The trams were drawn by a steam engine, which had a very tall smoke stack so that smoke would not be blown over the top of tram. The carriages had an engine with a driver's cab at each end. The tram carried goods as well as passengers and special trams ran for Punchestown Races and for the Dublin Horse Show. The first class passengers travelled in the lower deck, the third class were on the upper deck. The top was covered in but the sides were open.
  tram ticket

  The line was on the right hand side of the road at the Embankment with a stop for Rathcoole and Saggart. Initially there were three trams daily in each direction but the service increased later. Eventually there was a tram nearly every hour. The road from the Embankment to Terenure was nicknamed "the longest graveyard in Ireland", due to the number of white crosses, marking the sites of fatal accidents. The last tram for Blessington left Terenure at 6.15 p.m. on Saturday 31 December 1932 with the last tram arriving at Tallaght at 11.20 p.m.
  tram 1947
Number 15 Tram in Rathmines, 1947

20th Century

  An increase in traffic came with the invention of the modern bicycle, pneumatic tyre and motor car. In 1909 the closed top double decker bus came into production. In 1920 the Road Fund was established with the licence money collected from motorists to be used for road building and maintenance. Over the next forty years the Naas Road through Rathcoole was maintained. Traffic increased through the village, so it was decided to bypass Main Street.
  In the early 1960's the village of Rathcoole was bypassed with the construction of the Dual Carriageway, which was opened in 1968. A third lane between Rathcoole and Newlands Cross, a flyover, a footbridge and a connecting road to Saggart were completed in 1999.
  new carriageway
Photo taken by Seán Worrell
  Main source:
"A History of Saggart and Rathcoole Parishes"
by Maeve Mulryan Moloney.
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