Aughrim, Co.Wicklow is known as Aughrim of the O’Byrnes (Eachdhruim Uí Bhroin). It is situated 80km south of Dublin and 13km inland from Arklow. The name Aughrim has been in existence since 1500. The Irish name ‘Eachdhruim’ is translated as ‘the horse’s ridge’.
Aughrim is famous for its granite and is often referred to as “The Granite City” due to the large amount of local buildings constructed using granite. Granite was quarried extensively in the townsland of Tinnakilly until 1952. In 1934, a consignment of 450 tonnes of cut granite was exported for the foundations of the Cathedral in Liverpool. It was hoped at that time to obtain the full contract but due to a trade dispute at Liverpool docks, a lesser quality granite from Devon was used. A fine example of Tinnakilly granite can be seen at Templerainey Catholic Church in Arklow. Tinnakilly granite was also used in the Shannon Hydro-Electric Scheme in the 1920’s at Ardnacrusha. It came highly recommended by the state geologist due to its low porosity. Many of the original stone masons were from Wales and settled in Aughrim. Their descendants still live in the Aughrim area, with names such as Evans, Ellis and Fenton.
Aughrim is steeped in history and many historical figures had a close connection with Aughrim and the surrounding areas. In 1798 General Joseph Holt of the United Irishmen was engaged in a battle with Hunter Gowen of the Crown forces at Rednagh Bridge on the edge of Aughrim.
Billy Byrne of Ballymanus and Michael Dwyer of Glen of Imaal were other figures from the area associated with the 1798 rising. A commemorative memorial was erected in the centre of Aughrim village in 1998 to honour the memory of those involved in the 1798 rebellion.
One of the best remembered local figures was Anne Devlin who was born in Cronebeg (1778-1851). She was a niece of Robert Emmet and helped plan the 1803 rebellion while she was his “housekeeper”. After the rising she was arrested and tortured but she refused to identify any insurgents and was imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol for three years. A marble plaque was erected in her honour and can be seen on the bridge in Aughrim next to the Market Square House.
A factor that was very influential in the growth of Aughrim was the construction of the railway line in 1864. It served the areas of Aughrim, Ballinglen, Tinahely and Shillelagh and met the Dublin-Wexford rail line at Woodenbridge. The construction of the single platform station in Aughrim cost £490. Cutbacks due to coal shortages during the Emergency (second world war) saw the branch to Shillelagh close in 1944. The intention was to re-open the line after supplies improved, however this closure was made permanent in 1945 for passenger traffic and in 1952 for goods.
Aughrim has many buildings of historical interest, and these have been included in the Co. Wicklow building survey conducted by the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. If you wish to find out more, click here to get to the website where you can search and browse for the building survey. It includes local churches, bridges and houses in Aughrim.
The old flour mill in Aughrim dates back to the 17th century. It was owned by the Fogarty family and provided employment for the area for many years. After the railway line was constructed through Aughrm, Fogarty’s Mills approached the board of the railway company and arranged for a siding from Aughrim station into the mill. The rail branch was closed in 1952, and in 1963 the flour mills ceased production. The railway bridge to the mill is still in use today for walkers to take a shortcut from Killacloran into the village.
The Holy Year cross was erected in 1950 at the summit of Tinnakilly Hill, just above the granite quarry. It can be seen illuminated by night, and is accessible from the Sean Linehan walk.
For GAA enthusiasts, Aughrim is the location of the Wicklow Co. GAA home grounds “O’Byrne Park”and both hurling and football matches are regularly played.
For details of upcoming matches, visit http://www.wicklowgaaonline.com/