This resource for Primary Schools has been prepared by Dr Séamus Cannon and Ríonach O Callaghan in association with dlr Libraries and Blackrock Education Centre. It is funded by the Dormant Accounts Fund and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media as part of the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 programme.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Libraries acquired nearly 700 postcards of the area from the sale of the Seamus Kearns Collection of Postcards in 2019. These images form the basis of a publication entitled What’s in a Name? Dun Leary – Kingstown – Dún Laoghaire: A Visual History, an accompanying onsite and online exhibition featuring a selection of these postcards and a series of talks and videos to mark the centenary of the name change from Kingstown to Dún Laoghaire in 1920. In 1821 the name Dunleary or Dun Leary was changed to Kingstown in honour of King George IV’s visit to this bustling and rapidly developing town. In 1920 it was officially given the name Dún Laoghaire, referring back to the original Irish name for Dunleary.
It was a deliberate political act during the War of Independence, an act of defiance against the old order in Ireland. In the years following the establishment of the Irish Free State, the use of Kingstown gradually diminished and was replaced in the consciousness of visitors and residents of the town by variants of the name – Dunleary, Dun Laoire and Dún Laoghaire.
This resource includes Lesson Plans that cover topics such as the origin of Dún Laoghaire, Martello Towers, the
derivation of Early Christian and more recent Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown placenames, royal connections and
the growth of the harbour.
An introduction to King Laoghaire who gave his name to the location of his Dún. King Laoghaire was High King of Ireland in the fifth century. The High King was the most important king and other kings had to pay him homage and taxes. When he was High King, Laoghaire built a fort beside a small estuary on the south side of Dublin Bay, near the location of the Purty Kitchen nowadays. It was called Dún Laoghaire after him.
Introduction to the history and construction of Martello towers using scoilnet maps. The ‘dún’ of Laoghaire was at the mouth of a small stream on a very rugged, uninhabited coastline. In 1804, the British government built a Martello tower on the site of the ‘dún’ and the dún was destroyed. The tower was one of many built on the Irish coast at that time, but what were they for?
Many placenames in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown begin with Kill or Kil: Killiney, Kilmacud, Kiltipper, Kiltiernan. ‘Cill’ in Irish means church. There are many other places named after saints. The name Dalkey is of Viking origin and means ‘Thorn Island’. Study the placenames given in this lesson three resource pack.
We’ve seen that names of places have historical origins that explain something of our past. Many of them come from Irish, such as dún, cill, baile, Inis, gleann. Lesson plan four details some other Irish words that are frequently encountered in local placenames and looks at the European influence on some names. Geology, local flora, animals, and one-time prominent Irish personalities are also important in naming conventions..
In 1821 the name Dunleary or Dun Leary was changed to Kingstown in honour of King George IV’s visit to this bustling and rapidly developing town. In 1920 it was officially given the name Dún Laoghaire, referring back to the original Irish name for Dunleary. It was a deliberate political act during the War of Independence, an act of defiance against the old order in Ireland. In the years following the establishment of the Irish Free State, the use of Kingstown gradually diminished and was replaced by variants of the name – Dunleary, Dun Laoire and Dún Laoghaire.
Special thanks to Tony Dunne and Adela Fernandez
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