History of Saggart


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History of Saggart


Saggart Village 1905

Origin of the Name

The village developed around a monastery founded by a monk called Mosacra in the 7th century and some remains can still be seen near the entrance to rhe burial ground opposite the church. TEACHSACRA means house of Sacra. This also becane Tasagard, then Saggard and to-day Saggart. A church stood on the site of Mosacre's Monastery and was in use until the late 1600s when it was noted to be in a ruinous state.Some remains of the structrue were found during grave digging.

In the burial ground there is  a large granite stone with a double celtic cross in slight  relief dating from the 10th century and is known as the Pilgrims Stone.

Main street early 20th century.

Norman Times

King Henry 11 formed  four Royal Manors out of land that had belonged to the Danes at Newcastle, Saggart, Crumlin and Esker.That is how the lands of Saggart and Rathcoole came to be known as the King's land. Kingswood is a local place name.

Saggart became an important manor town ruled by a provost. The principal building was a water mill, which was leased in 1296 by Henry Ash and later Henry de Freyne.The O'Byrnes and O'Tooles continued during these times to attack the English northwards from Brittas through Saggart. Three castles were built at Saggart as a defence. However in 1311 Saggart was desrtoyed. The houses were made of wood and thus easy to burn. In 1470 the people of Saggart made a truce with Esmond O'Toole. They put themselves under his protection.

Swiftbrook Paper Mills

The closure of the paper mill in 1968 brought to an end  a 200 year old part of Saggart village life, a village alive with the crowd of workers making their way to and from the mill.The McDonnell family  owned the mill for over a hundred years. .Closure signalled the end of paper manufacturing in Ireland. 

 Swiftbrook paper mill was established by the river Camac. The name of the mill was taken from the brook which came from Brittas, down through the well wooded Slade and across lands owned by St. Patrick's Catherdral. Dean Jonathan Swift was Dean at the cathedral and thus the name Swiftbrook. A mill race was constructed around 1760. The work involved the making of a weir across the Camac, with provision of a sluice in the townland of Aghfarrell.Mill ponds and smaller filtering ponds were built to provide clean water. The excellent quality of the paper was due to the purity of the water used.

The paper was made from rags. Bags were distributed to each house from the Belfast mills so that they could be collected for the mill.There is no record of this being done in the Saggart area. Early in the morning a string of carts, heavily laden with paper, left the mills on their way to Dublin. They would return in the evening laden with sack of rags. The rags were sorted and only the best linen ones were used.The rag house was a three storeyed building at the Lower Mill.

In the early 1790s Joseph McDonnell saw a business opportunity  in the production of high grade paper suitable for making bank notes. The paper made in Saggart was described at the time as being "almost equal to the Dutch".  Swiftbroook manufactured most of the paper used in the Irish Government Offices.

In 1870 the mills were bought by the Drury  family. The paper won prizes in 1882 and 1887 for quality The Drurys bought a steam engine for 5000. Water power continued to be used. After 1870  a chimney 100 feet high and 6-8 feet in diameter could vbe seen for miles around billowing smoke into the air.

In the 1930's 400 people worked in the mill. The mill was an integral part of Saggart life. It had its own forge, lathe house, gas house and carpenters shop. The trademarks on the paper were  Ancient Irish Vellum and Erin. 

   Swiftbrook Mills 1938

Picnic in the Slade of Saggart

In the early 1900's  the Tramway Company was advertising "Ways to spend Saturdays". One way was to take the tram to the country and picnic in the Slade of Saggart. Other local stops were at Fortunestown Lane, Jobstown, Mt. Seskin Road, Mahon's Lane, Old Saggart Road, Crooksling, Brittas and The Lamb.Eventually there was a tram nearly every hours.

Verschoyle Family    

Tassagard House, the home of the Verschoyle family was a very imposing building. It was situated on Garter Lane, the road into Saggart village from the Naas Road. The Verschoyles were the land agents of the St. Patricks Hospital estate from the year of the Act of Union in 1800.  

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