One of my favourite maps I have come across is one drawn to mark out an alternative route from the village to Kilmalin avoiding the steep incline of Kilgarran Hill. I have drawn a representation of this map, and while it lacks the elegance of the original, it does indicate how much information it contains.
The existing road (yellow) passes through the village and proceeds up the hill, by the hospital (which became the estate office) before hitting the steep incline of Kilgarran. The new road (pink) aimed to avoid this steep incline by departing the road just after the hospital and following a direction that would today lead us behind the GAA pitch, across Maguire’s fields and up to the junction at Kilmalin. The map is rich in information regarding this area, showing houses and lands occupied by Mr Magee, Mrs Dixon, Tim Quigley, Edward Ward, and significant holdings by John Buckley. It rejoins the existing road at Kilmalin at a point marked “Old Hospital – Thomas Bassett”.
Why was the road never built? Accompanying the original map (and not shown here) are the ‘sections’ – a height profile of both roads, and it’s fair to say horses of the time (and school children of future generations) would have had a much easier climb from the village to Kilgarran and Kilmalin. Perhaps part of it was built – the alignment roughly follows what is now the back avenue to Kilgarran House. But I don’t think it goes any further. My guess is that the proposal never got off the ground because it coincided with the death and subsequent minority of 6th Viscount Powerscourt in 1823. Or perhaps the tenants on the affected land weren’t too keen. Whatever the reason, it is a really fascinating part of local history.
The village detail is shown below. Note that there is no Bray road, no Knocksink road, no Town Clock… One of the small buildings on the North side of the river, opposite what is now the Bog Meadow, (bottom of map) is probably the old infant school house.