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Rathcoole - History

Rathcoole (Rath Cumhaill) is said to derive its name from the fact that Finn McCumhall's father built a rath there. After the Anglo Norman conquest the lands of Rathcoole were the property of the Metropolitan See and in the thirteenth century they formed one of the smaller manors of the Archbishop of Dublin.

The village, like Saggart, was ruled by a portreeve. Over the succeeding centuries Rathcoole became a place of considerable importance. The first stage on the coach road from Dublin to the South of Ireland, it contained several fortified houses and was maintained as a defensive outpost of the Pale. By the time of the 1641 Rebellion, however, Rathcoole was a stronghold of the Irish. Most of the village's inhabitants seemed to join in the rebellion, chief amongst them the Scurlock family who had owned the manor of Rathcoole since 1470. By 1648 the Irish forces had been depleted and a garrison was set up by the government. Under its protection the village thrived . In the seventeeth century, around the time of the Restoration there were 30 English and 123 Irish inhabitants and the town was still under the rule of a portreeve, James Willion. A new inn, The Old Munster Arms Hotel, was built. It became a coaching inn when a weekly coach service between Dublin and Limerick began around 1760, a journey which took four days to complete. Fresh horses, supplied by the Royal Garter Stables near the present Citywest, took the coach to the next coaching inn: there was one at Blackchurch and another at the Red Cow.

There has been a manor at Rathcoole since about 1300. However, the current house at this site was built c.1750, by the Clinch family who owned extensive property at Hazlehatch and had business interests in Dublin City. Rathcoole House is a five-bay two-story house. The kitchen and milling room were in the basement; a large hall, dining room and drawing room on the ground floor and five bedrooms on the first floor.. The Clinch family's period of occupation ended in the early 1800s. 18 year old John Clinch was executed in 1798, after being charged with membership of the rebel army. Shortly afterwards, the remaining members of the Clinch family moved to their Dublin house and the house and land at Rathcoole was let to Patrick Sheil of Coolmine, who eventually bought the entire property in 1831. His family resided there until 1962. The older part of the house was demolished in 1933. The remaining building is now derelict.

Felix Rourke, a well known United Irishman, was born in Rathcoole in 1765. His father was a farmer who also kept the turnpike gate and a posting stage on the Naas Road. Felix fought on a number of occasions during the Rebellion of 1798. He also took part in Robert Emmet's failed rising of 1803, for which he was indicted for high treason. He was found guilty and was hanged in Rathcoole on 10th September in that year. A monument to commemorate the participation of Rathcoole locals in the 1798 Rebellion was unveiled by the Táinaiste Mary Harney during the rebellion's bicentennial year in 1998. The monument is situated beside the courthouse on the main street.

In the early 1960's the village of Rathcoole was bypassed with the construction of the dual carriageway, which was opened in 1968. A third lane between Rathcoole and Newlands Cross, a flyover, a footbridge and a connecting road to Saggart were completed in 1999.