‘The PURE Mile’ (approx. 1.6 km) is an environmental initiative of the PURE (Protecting Uplands and Rural Environments) project which aims to foster a greater appreciation and awareness of our country road scapes by rewarding and acknowledging the local community efforts.
(Download text version: The Macreddin Mile.)
This is the story of just one mile of townland deep in Wicklow and more so the people and neighbours that reside here.
Given that the natural stone in the area is granite and indeed the proximity of our Pure Mile to Aughrim, historically known as The Granite City, it was decided to highlight our local landmarks with cut granite and stone.
All the Community-contributed granite from their homesteads, some of these were cut gable stones or gate posts.
Macreddin Mile Field names and places of interest Approaching Macreddin Mile from Aughrim direction.
1. Nolan’s Bank
A number of gentle ascents for this 200m stretch are known as Nolan’s Bank. We are unsure how significant is the name, or if it is a family name once part of the locality, but previous generations generally identified this part of the road from Aughrim as Nolan’s Bank.
2. O’Hara’s Inch
The O’ Hara’s name is one of a number that no longer exists in the locality and this field, owned by Liam Fanning, a descendent of the O’ Hara’s, has its own claim to fame.
A debate in Tompkins pub (O‟ Toole‟s) in Aughrim many years ago as to whether the footballers of Macreddin or Aughrim were the better was decided in a match played here. Aughrim players lined out in the name of Tinakilly Rovers as the Team was then known. A very competitive game resulted in a win for the Macreddin side.
3. The Brow
This parcel of land was once a number of smaller fields each with their own name. There was The long Follow, The Bridge Field, Keating’s Field and Strahan’s Brow.
With the more modernised farming in the late sixties and seventies and bigger and higher output machinery, smaller fields were an inhibitor to daily output. The four fields gradually became one and today locals are content to call the land The Brow.
4. The Little Bridge
The Little Bridge, so-called to distinguish it from the Big Bridge close by.
A number of small streams make up this little river, one of which forms a boundary between the townlands of Macreddin and Cronawinna. Just before the Big Bridge, this river merges with the Ballycreen River and then flows on to Aughrim.
5. The Dip Tub Through
This little gate passed thousands of sheep annually for their twice-yearly dipping. Winter dipping was compulsory in the eradication of sheep scab and County Council inspectors overseen and made sure all aspects of the regulations were complied with.
Summer dipping was a necessity in the control of the blowfly. Local farmers organised their slot for the use of the tub and often helped each other to get through big numbers.
6. Strahan’s Haggard
Every farmer’s yard in older times had a Haggard. This was where winter feed was stored in Ricks and the harvest was brought in for threshing.
The Strahan family homestead and yard was here and while the haggard is long gone and Hayshed’s replaced the Ricks, to the senior people in the area it is still remembered as Strahan’s Haggard gate.
7. St. Credin’s Graveyard
Here you have to take a left turn and follow the road to the graveyard and come back.
It is believed that the monastery was at this site, where the present Macreddin Lower Graveyard exists. The holy water font, which is used for present-day cemetery masses here, is believed to date to monastery times as it was found buried on this site.
When you are back to the main road and continue upward, then you can see “The Fatten Field” right side of the road.
8. The Fatten field
This field, now a modern-day driving range, was known in previous times as the Fatten Field. The origin of this name is not sure but possibly as the name implies it was where the stock was prepared for market.
Older people in the area can remember before the arrival of tractors to Macreddin members of the Strahan Family turning out their horses there after a day‟s work plowing or haymaking. There was often a sport horse or two there as well.
Next, the left side you see Reilly’s Road and right side “The Fair Green Field” stone sign. When you have spotted both then you can continue to walk a Reilly’s Road to see “Castle Park” and very old St. Brigid’s Church.
You can spot the left side of the road “Castle Park” stone sign before church that comes next to the right side of the road.
9. Reilly’s Road
Takes you to Sheanabeg and gets its name because on the way there is a small ruin where it is believed a Reilly family lived. This road continues through Cappagh, Rosahane and into Aughavannagh.
10. The Fair Green Field
The fair was held in Macreddin on every Whit Monday and when people could not make a bargain they used to fight with blackthorn sticks.
After a while, a fair was held in Aughrim, and Macreddin fair died out by degrees because Aughrim fair was near the railway station.
Dealers came from far and wide to trade. Entertainment was also provided with musicians, fortune-tellers, matchmakers and the like. However, the fair was notorious for its faction fighting.
Local folklore tells that houses in the neighbourhood had an ashplant or blackthorn stick at the ready for the fairs. In the later years of the fair’s existence when some semblance of law and order was introduced, one old lady, a regular attendant was heard to lament,
“Twelve O’Clock at the fair of Macreddin and not a blow struck yet. Ah god with the good oul days”.
The last fair was held around 1880. Charles Stuart Parnell from nearby Avondale was a regular visitor to the fairs.
11. Castle Park
A castle was erected in this area between 1625 and 1629. It was known as Carysfort Castle after Henry Cary who was Lord Deputy at the time. In 1641 the garrison at this castle was withdrawn to Dublin and the castle was then left in the custody of a few unarmed English men.
The O’Byrne’s intercepted a supply of arms sent to defend the castle and then took the castle.
It is believed that this castle went to ruin in the late 1600s following Cromwell’s invasion. Settlers soon moved down to Aughrim as the elevation was high in Macreddin.
The 1835 commissioner’s report described Carysfort as a “small village, containing a few houses of the humblest class” with a “thinly-scattered population in the neighbourhood, and neither trade or commerce of any kind in the village, and there seems to be no occasion whatever for reviving the corporation.”
The Archaeological Inventory of County Wicklow 1989 states all that survives of Carysfort Castle “is a granite wall (L 5m: H 3m) to the SW of St. Brigid’s church in the modern graveyard”. Locals assume the castle stone was used in St. Brigid’s Church and in Macreddin National School so this wall might not, in fact, be actual castle remains but be that of the school.
Indeed Macreddin played an important part in political life. In the 17th century, it was the headquarters of a Military Depot and Borough under the control of a sovereign and 12 Burgess and had the privilege of returning two members to the Irish House of Commons in College Green in Dublin until the union in 1800. This field is known as Castle Park.
12. St. Brigid’s Church
St. Brigid’s Church in Macreddin was the local place of worship, serving a large area, being a curacy of Rathdrum parish before Aughrim parish was established in 1890.
This eighteenth-century thatched church was burnt down in the 1798 rebellion and was re-built in 1803 by Fr. Kavanagh to the structure it is today.
Behind the church in the right corner is the old “Church Walk” lane where you can walk back to the main road.
Macreddin National School was also on this site. In 1889 this school had 30 pupils from an area of 2 – 2.5 miles around the school. The land on which Macreddin School stood belonged to the parish and was originally part of Carysfort Commons. The school closed soon after 1889 with pupils then transferring to Ballycreen or Aughrim.
The Grove Gate
If you come back to the main road from Reilly’s Road or “Church Walk” lane, then you can see another side of the road “The Grove Gate” sign.
“The Grove Gate” (A grove is a small group of trees.), but this not anymore part of “The Macreddin Mile” walk because these trees fell and they had to be removed.
You can see also Cronawinna Lane in the right opposite of the “Church Walk” lane.
This is an old road in a townland called Cronawinna (There are two hundred acres of land in Cronawinna.). It leas across the hill from Cronawinna to Rathdrum. It is known as the “High Road”, but It is not used now as it is closed up.
Ireland’s most patriotic Anne Devlin and her family originally came from Cronawinna!
Sunday the 16th of September 1951 was a very important day in the history of Aughrim. On that day Mrs. Sean T O’Kelly’s wife of President O’Kelly came to our village to unveil a plaque erected on the bridge and commissioned by the Dublin-Wicklowmens Association in honour of one of the Irelands most patriotic people Anne Devlin.
13. Gallow’s Lane
Many young men from the district fought in the battles of 1798, for example; Vinegar Hill or the Battle of Hacketstown and some were executed at this place, known as Gallow’s Lane.
It’s hard to think that such a beautiful view has been the last view for some people before they were executed.
14. Church of Ireland Church
A chapel of ease opened here in 1869 to replace the Church of Ireland chapel at Sheana. It was called Chapel of Ease as it was not the main Church (Mother Church) in the Dioceses and was only licensed for Baptisms and Funerals. Marriages took place in the Mother Church which at the time was Balinatone.
The first Perpetual curate (called Rector or Incumbent later in the 1870s) was William St George Sargent – born 1810. The land for the Church building was donated by William Strahan –Great grandfather of Jack King who previously owned the land where Macreddin Village is now built.
It was deconsecrated in 1991 and is now a fine private residence. There is a tower built to the left rear which can’t be seen from this shot, and it very much adds to the character of this little building.
The Macreddin Pure Mile ends here.
If you continue to walk about 10 minutes uphill and then you will see
the right side of the road old Ballycreen National School, 1894
(part of the “Ballycreen” Walks).
The name Moycredin / Macreddin
Is believed to come from “plain of Cridan”, Cridan being a Celtic Christain saint, formally a powerful chieftain at the time of St. Kevin, Glendalough. The word magh means plain.
Other variations of the name are Criotan, Credan, Credanus or Cridanus. Indeed the ancient manuscript, ‘The Latin Life of Kevin’ describes how Credin was killed by his enemies but brought back to life by Kevin.
Macreddin was granted to the monastery of St. Saviour, Glendalough, in the 12th century. It was later transferred to the Priory of All Hallows and on the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII it was transferred to Dublin Corporation.
According to the website of Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae, Saint Criotan of Macreddin is commemorated on May 11th. It states that he was a British saint who came to Ireland as a student and eventually opted to stay in Leinster.
It is believed that the monastery was at this site, where the present Macreddin Lower Graveyard exists.
The holy water font, which is used for present-day cemetery masses here, is believed to date to monastery times as it was found buried on this site.
Folk stories from Macreddin Village:
The Fairies took him!
One time, here in the vicinity of Aughrim there was a man going home from prayers and he had to go to Macreddin.
His name was Mick Byrne. This evening he was with some friends and just beyond the “Tinker’s Gate” he was taken from beside his friends and left on Donnelly’s Brow. This is the farm Mr. Pat Fanning has now.
Well, he roamed about, and (and) still could not get out. At length, he began to shout and Tom Donnelly happened to hear him. So he got a lant(h)ern and went to where he heard the shouts and got him half dead under a big bush.
He asked him how he got there and he told him his story to Tom always said Mick was taken with the fairies.
Long ago a poet lived in Macreddin.
His name was Billie Magee. He was born about the year 1820. Once he made a song about marriage in Cronawinna. This old poet was a farmer. He used to go to a neighbour’s house and get the people there to help him to compose his songs.
This old poet was also a great fiddler. Whenever there was a dance in the vicinity he would be sure to get a job playing for the dancers.
There are the ruins of an old castle in Macreddin.
They are opposite the Cemetery. It is so old that no living person remembered it. The horse-men used to bring their horses to drink in a river through, a tunnel which is from the Castle to the river. It goes under the corner of the lower cemetery.
There are also the ruins of a school in Macreddin. It was closed when the new school was built in Ballycreen in 1894.
The Catholic Church in Macreddin was a thatched Church in former years. It was burned down twice during the Penal times in Ireland.