Ciara O’Brien of Wicklow County Library Services recently posted an article on the County Wicklow Heritage website about an Irish Tourist Association survey of towns and villages of Ireland, carried out in the 1940s. The surveys for Wicklow are held in Local Studies Section in Ballywaltrim, and Enniskerry was one of the villages surveyed, in May 1943.
So if you were visiting Enniskerry 70 years ago in 1943, what would you be able to do? Let’s turn back the clock:
Upon arriving, you would need to sort out your accommodation. Two hotels are listed: Mount Maulin Hotel (phone Enniskerry 19) and Glenview Hotel, both of which had 10 bedrooms. These had the luxury of indoor sanitation, with one toilet for every two bedrooms in Mount Maulin and one for every four bedrooms in Glenview. Both are licensed. What about our our local hotels we know and love? I have a feeling the surveyor got a bit confused – the returns include Enniskerry and Kilmacanogue as a sub-section of Enniskerry parish, and I think he must have just left out the Enniskerry village hotels.
If hotels (and indoor sanitation) weren’t your thing, you could stay in one of the local guest houses. This included Mrs Lydia Keegan, Ballinagee House (5 bedrooms); Mrs Harper, Crone (4 bedrooms); one each for Guards McGrath and Flanagan (no details), Miss Gannon, Killogue Villa, Kilmac (2 bedrooms) and J Kavanagh, also Kilmac (3 bedrooms). Ms F. S. M. Walsh, Clonroe, Enniskerry offered 4 bedrooms and the luxury of indoor sanitation. The house is situated at the top of the Ballyorney road.
Of course if you knew the right people, there was a chance you could stay in one of the local mansions listed: Powerscourt, Charleville, Hollybrook, Tinnahinch, and Kilcroney (by now a Country Club). Don’t even think about camping unless you know your Scout’s Promise: only Baden Powell Boy Scouts are allowed on Powerscourt Estate.
People to help
The village’s population is recorded as 145, and it is described as a “typical Tyrolean village nestling in a nicely wooded glen, beside the Dargle River, and near the entrance to the Powerscourt Demesne. There has been no change here for over a century, as Lord Powerscourt will not permit innovations.” Despite the reported innovative reluctance of Lord P, the water has been laid on by him and maintained by him – hence no water rates in the village. (Come back your Lordship! All is forgiven…) Both the water system and the sewerage system (provided by the Board of Health) are very good. The Board of Health has installed Ladies and Gents Public Conveniences in the village. There is an obelisk with clock and fountain on a dais, which was erected by Powerscourt in centre of village. The village has electricity and public lighting is provided by a local co-op syndicate.
The Post Office is central in village and has telegraph, telephone, and M. O. You can get photographic supplies at Windsor’s, and William Seery or John Tallon offer a taxi service and bring you touring where you can take holiday snaps. If you have your own transport, Richard Seery runs a garage. If you are more traditional, Joe Troy runs a hacks (hackney?) horse service. CIE bus services run to Bray and Dublin. Wednesday is a half-holiday though, so don’t expect too much activity then.
Gone Fishin’ (and hunting and shooting and…)
Once settled into accommodation, the next thing is to get out in that fresh country air. After all, the area boasts “the most celebrated scenery in the county and abounds in charming vistas of diverse and highly impressive character.” First up; angling. The local river, the Dargle offers small brown trout, averaging 1/4 pound. Suitable flies for the pros are Butchers or Orange Grouse. There are several preserved stretches on the river – that in Powerscourt Demesne is the preserve of Lord Powerscourt, and is available at 2 shilling 6 pence (2/6) a day. That flowing through Tinnahinch is the preserve of Lady Grattan and from Tinnahinch bridge up is that of Mr Davis, new proprietor of Charleville. The County Wicklow Anglers Association has the lower Dargle; membership fee 10/6 payable to secretary George Moore Esq, 40, Dollymount Avenue, Clontarf, Dublin.
Don’t like fishing? Well the Kilcroney Sports and Country Club (phone Bray 277) is just the thing you need. There are 4 lawn tennis courts (2 grass, 2 hard); price 2/6 for visitors. There is also an 18 hole golf course over wonderful natural country, and attractive to the proficient golfer as well as to the beginner. The club house is separate and complete in every detail, catering for both Ladies and Gentlemen. The local professional is the Irish Champion H Bradshaw, and the annual fees are: Ordinary members: £5 5s; Lady Ass. £5 5s; Country Members: £2 2s; Overseas Members: £1 1s; 5 day members (Mon – Fri) £3 3s. Green fees for visitors are 2/6 per day and 5/ on Saturday and Sunday.There is a nineteenth hole, as the club is licensed. If he likes fishing and she likes golf, the Country Club also have one bank of the Dargle preserved for fishing…
Shooting is available at Glencree Forest by permission of the Irish Land Commission and Lord Powerscourt. Hunting with hounds is available courtesy of the Bray Harriers and there is Point to Point at Calary Bog, Sugar Loaf mountain.
Fancy a Walk?
Powerscourt Demesne is open to visitors every day at the following rates: – Pedestrians and Pedal cyclists – 6 d per person to Demesne; Motor Cyclists: 2/6; Motor Cars: 5/- per car. “However, visitors are not now admitted to the Terrace or Gardens, this restriction being imposed owing to damage caused by thoughtless or wanton visitors.”
“The ‘Lover’s Leap’, a huge rock projecting from the side of the Glen, is a popular rendezvous and overlooks the deep ravine in both directions from a height of 300 ft. over the river. The sea is visible to the east, beyond the top of the wooded slope on the left. The ‘Moss House’ and the ‘View Rock’ also provide extended views. The lofty ranges of Kippure, with Powerscourt in the foreground, is a conspicuous and impressive sight and Tinnahinch House, in a verdant vale, forms another pretty view. Near here, the glen is spanned by a bridge, having a castellated gateway, which conveys the water-pipes from the Varty Reservoir at Roundwood. Numerous winding paths ascend the glen sides and command very pleasing views of the various aspects of the valley.
The Scalp, a deep narrow gap in the mountain, two miles north of Enniskerry, presents a remarkable spectacle and is visited by many thousands of curious sightseers each year. It is a natural chasm forming part of a magnificent rocky defile. Glen of the Downs, three miles past Kilmacanogue, is another very popular spot with visitors to Wicklow. It is a charming ravine over a mile long, with wooded banks rising to about 800 ft. on either side.” Quite.
There are three clubs: the Ancient Order of Hibernians Club, the Church of Ireland Parochial Club, and the aforementioned Kilcroney Golf and Country Club. No mention of public houses, surely an oversight as indicated above, given that licensed premises are identified. Dancing is available at the British Legion Hall (Proprietor Sam Tallon, Hon. Sec.); Butler’s Ball room (Scalp); and Hayden’s Ball Room (Scalp).
After the fun on Saturday, don’t forget duties on Sunday: a range of choice includes St Mary’s (RC, Enniskerry) 8.30 am – 12 noon; Kilmacanogue (RC) 8.30 am – 12 noon; Curtlestown (RC) 10 am; OMI Glencree (RC) 10.30 am; St Patricks (CoI, Enniskerry) 11.30 am and 7 pm; Kilbride (CoI) 11.30 am and 4 pm.
Now sure, why wouldn’t you visit?
Many thanks to Ciara O’Brien for highlighting these archives. They are available to view in Ballywaltrim Library.