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
|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
|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
|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
|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.
|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.
Number 15 Tram in Rathmines, 1947
|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.
Photo taken by Seán Worrell
"A History of Saggart and Rathcoole Parishes"
by Maeve Mulryan Moloney.
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|Old Photos||Rathcoole 1798|