The town is referenced in James Joyce's short story The Dead. Gabriel Conroy, the main character/narrator, mentions his brother is a Catholic Priest in Balbriggan. Lewis's Topographical Directory of Ireland, 1837, states that BALBRIGGAN, a sea-port, market, and post-town, and a chapelry, in the parish and barony of BALROTHERY, county of DUBLIN, and province of LEINSTER, 15 miles (N. by E.) from Dublin; containing 3016 inhabitants.
County: Dublin North
Scene: early 20th Century street scene
Date: circa 1910
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Read about Balbriggan below
Balbriggan (Baile Brigín in Irish) is a town in north county Dublin, Ireland. The 2002 census population was 10,294 for Balbriggan and its environs. The 2006 census figure are likely to be higher and will be available during 2007.
According to P.W. Joyce the name arises from 'Baile Bhrecan' which literally means 'Brecan's Town'). Brecan is a common medieval first name and there are several other Brackenstowns in Ireland. There is also a possible link to the Bracken River. In this case the name could derive from Bhreac-in (Little Trout). Many locals however have traditionally felt that Baile Brigín means 'Town of the Little Hills', due to the relatively low hills that surround the town.
There is no chronological consensus about the 'foundation' of the town, other than there may always have been a small settlement of fishermen, weavers and some sort of agricultural trade post.
An eighteenth Century Traveller describes Balbriggan as ' ..a small town situated in a small glin where the sea forms a little harbour - it is reckoned safe and is sheltered by a good pier. The town is resorted to in Summer time by several genteel people for the benefit of bathing.'
The town has a sad place in history as it was subjected to the brutality of the Black and Tans in September 1920, an event known as the 'Sack of Balbriggan' when the town was burned and large numbers of its inhabitants were rendered homeless. It was also the location of the 19th-century Smith's Stocking Mill, which made stockings for Queen Victoria, as well as men's 'Long-Johns' called Balbriggans.
The town is referenced in James Joyce's short story The Dead. Gabriel Conroy, the main character/narrator, mentions his brother is a Catholic Priest in Balbriggan.
Lewis's Topographical Directory of Ireland, 1837, states that BALBRIGGAN, a sea-port, market, and post-town, and a chapelry, in the parish and barony of BALROTHERY, county of DUBLIN, and province of LEINSTER, 15 miles (N. by E.) from Dublin; containing 3016 inhabitants.
According to Ware, a sanguinary conflict took place here on Whitsun-eve, 1329, between John de Bermingham, Earl of Louth, who bad been elevated to the palatine dignity of that county, Richard, Lord De Malahide, and several of their kindred, in array against the partisans of the Verduns, Gernons, and Savages, who were opposed to the elevation of the earl to the palatinate of their county; and in which the former, with 60 of their English followers, were killed.
After the battle of the Boyne, Wm. III. encamped at this place on the 3rd of July, 1690. The town, which is situated on the eastern coast and on the road from Dublin to the North of Ireland, owes its rise, from a small fishing village to a place of manufacturing and commercial importance, to the late Baron Hamilton, who, in 1780, introduced the cotton manufacture, for which he erected factories, and who may justly be regarded as its founder. It contains at present about 600 houses, many of which are well built; hot baths have been constructed for visiters who frequent this place during the bathing season.
In the environs are several gentlemen's seats, of which the principal is Hampton Hall, the residence of G. A. Hamilton, Esq.
The inhabitants are partly employed in the fishery, but principally in the cotton manufacture; there are two large factories, the machinery of which is worked by steam-engines and water-wheels of the aggregate power of 84 horses, giving motion to 7500 spindles, and spinning upon the average about 7400 lb. of cotton yarn per week. More than 300 persons are employed in these factories, to which are attached blue dye-works; and in the town and neighbourhood are 942 hand-looms employed in the weaving department. The principal articles made at present are checks, jeans, calicoes, and fustians. The town is also celebrated for the manufacture of the finest cotton stockings, which has been carried on successfully since its first establishment about 40 years since; there are 60 frames employed in this trade, and the average produce is about 60 dozen per week. There are on the quay a large corn store belonging to Messrs. Frost & Co., of Chester, and some extensive salt-works; and in the town is a tanyard.
The fishery, since the withdrawing of the bounty, has very much diminished: there are at present only 10 wherries or small fishing boats belonging to the port. The town carries on a tolerably brisk coasting trade: in 1833, 134 coal vessels, of the aggregate burden of 11,566 tons, and 29 coasting vessels of 1795 tons, entered inwards, and 17 coasters of 1034 tons cleared outwards, from and to ports in Great Britain. The harbour is rendered safe for vessels of 150 tons' burden by an excellent pier, completed in 1763, principally by Baron Hamilton, aided by a parliamentary grant, and is a place of refuge for vessels of that burden at 3/4 tide. A jetty or pier, 420 feet long from the N. W. part of the harbour, with a curve of 105 feet in a western direction, forming an inner harbour in which at high tide is 14 feet of water, and affording complete shelter from all winds, was commenced in 1826 and completed in 1829, at an expense of £2912 - 7s - 9d, of which the late Fishery Board gave £1569, the Marquess of Lansdowne £100, and the remainder was subscribed by the late Rev. Geo. Hamilton, proprietor of the town. At the end of the old pier there is a lighthouse.
The Drogheda or Grand Northern Trunk railway from Dublin, for which an act has been obtained, is intended to pass along the shore close to the town and to the east of the church. The market is on Monday, and is abundantly supplied with corn, of which great quantities are sent to Dublin and to Liverpool; and there is a market for provisions on Saturday. Fairs are held on the 29th of April and September, chiefly for cattle. A market-house was erected in 1811, partly by subscription and partly at the expense of the Hamilton family. The town is the head-quarters of the constabulary police force of the county; and near it is a martello tower with a coast guard station, which is one of the nine stations within the district of Swords. Petty sessions for the north-east division of the county are held here every alternate Tuesday.
The chapelry of St. George, Balbriggan, was founded by the late Rev. G. Hamilton, of Hampton Hall, who in 1813 granted some land and settled an endowment, under the 11th and 12th of Geo. III., for the establishment of a perpetual curacy; and an augmentation of £25 per annum has been recently granted by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners from Primate Boulter's fund. In 1816 a chapel was completed, at an expense of £3018 - 2s - 2d, of which £1400 was given by the late Board of First Fruits, £478- 15s - 2d., was raised by voluntary subscriptions of the inhabitants, and £1139-7s., was given by the founder and his family. This chapel, which was a handsome edifice with a square embattled tower, and contained monuments to the memory of R. Hamilton, Esq., and the Rev. G. Hamilton, was burned by accident in 1835, and the congregation assemble for divine service in a school-room till it shall be restored, for which purpose the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have lately granted £480. The living is in the patronage of G. A. Hamilton, Esq.
There is a chapel belonging to the R. C. Union or district of Balrothery and , Balbriggan, also a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists. The parochial school and a dispensary are in the town.
Buildings of note
Balbriggan Market House is a 5 bay 2 storey building dating from 1811.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has located a passport production facility in Balbriggan. There is also a proposal to relocate the Drogheda International Seaport to the north (Bremore area) of the town.
Transport & communications
Balbriggan is situated 32 km north of Dublin city, on the Belfast–Dublin main line of the Irish rail network. Commuter rail services serve the town, which is also located next to the M1 motorway, the Balbriggan Bypass, which was completed in 1998. Prior to this, the main Dublin-Belfast road went through the centre of the town, with major traffic congestion on a daily basis. Balbriggan is the most northerly town in Fingal (although the village of Balscadden lies further north within the county). The town is very close to Drogheda.
Balbriggan is currently experiencing a building boom as a result of the demand for housing within the wider Dublin region. The population has exploded in recent years, due to new developments on the northwest of the town. Most residents in these new estates have had no previous connection with the town, and there are many from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Unfortunately the infrastructure and services have not been put in place to cope with this new population, and there is strain on schools, public transport and other services.
The River Bracken, which flows through the town, once formed a lake there known locally at 'The Canal'. This lake was reclaimed through land-fill in the early 1980s to create a public park.Also there is a park behind the Catholic Church comprising of two Soccer pitches and a Cricket pitch
Sport Gaelic Athletic Association
O'Dwyers GAA was founded 1918 and currently fields juvenile hurling and football teams from U-7 to U-18. There is two adult male football teams that play in AFL4 and AFL9, a female adult team that play in Ladies AFL3, a Junior 1 Hurling team and a Camogie team.
Balbriggan Football Club
Formerly known as Clonard Celtic (founded 1882), this club amalgamated with another club in the town, Balscadden Blues, in the 1990's. Balbriggan F.C. now fields numerous under age teams from under 8's right up to under 18's. The senior team currently plays in the Leinster Senior League and work has now been completed on their new clubhouse located in Bremore, Balbriggan.
Glebe North Football Club
Established in 1945, this club is the most successful in the town. Several past players have received international honours; both Anthony Guildea and Michael Reid were capped for Ireland at junior level. Market Green, the club's ground opened a new clubhouse on 31st. May, 1998.
Hyde Park Football Club
Ringcommon Wanderers Football Club
Established in late 1999, this club is the newest and probably the smallest in the town. Players hail from Balbriggan, The Naul and Balrothery. Currently it consists of womens and mens senior teams only. The Ringcommons Sports Centre is the clubs homeground, facilities include 2 soccer pitches and floodlit training areas, 18 hole Pitch and Putt course, a Rugby pitch and plans are underway to open a further number of full size soccer pitches. The clubhouse is second to none and includes a completed and soon to be opened, bar and a large meeting hall, offices, kitchen, changing rooms, toilets and showers.
Balbriggan Rugby Club, (founded 1925). Currently fielding two adult teams, playing in the Leinster League, Div.3 and Provincial 2nd's, Div.3, also fielding underage teams from U7's through to U18's. The Club is based at Ring Commons Sports Centre but from the start of the 2007/2008 season will move to a brand new state of the art, purpose built facility at Balrothery, Co. Dublin
Balbriggan Cricket Club
Balbriggan Golf Club