This information is from Chapters of Dublin History

Dolphin's Barn

The district known as Dolphin's Barn, which lies to the west of Harold's Cross between that place and Kilmainham on the South Circular Road, formed portion of the lands belonging to the Priory of the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem at Kilmainham. It was originally called Karnanclonegunethe, and probably derived its present name from the Dolphin family, members of which are frequently mentioned in deeds of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries relating to Dublin.

One of them, David Dolfyn, who was in 1237 about to be sent to England with treasure belonging to the State appears to have been a tenant of the Kilmainham Priory, as it was found necessary to provide that he should not be summoned to the court of the Hospitallers during his absence, and a further indication of his connection with the neighbourhood is the fact that his companion on his journey was to be John de Kilmainham.

During the succeeding century many mills were erected in the Dolphin's Barn neighbourhood owing to the motive power provided for them by the city watercourse which, as stated under Harold's Cross, passed through the district. This adaptation of the course for purposes other than a domestic one led to frequent complaints as to the contamination of the water. Particularly in the beginning of the seventeenth century, when, owing to the influence of Sir Thomas Roper, Baron of Bantry and Viscount Baltinglas, from whose family a place near Dolphin's Barn called Roper's Rest obtains its name, a mill "which caused much filthred" was allowed to stand on the course without interference.

But when it was proposed to erect a tuckmill in its place the Corporation awoke to a sense of their duty and ordered Mr. Mayor at the first beginning of any nuisance or corruption to have it pulled down with the help of workmen and labourers.

At the time of the Commonwealth the village of Dolphin's Barn contained "two very fair houses," a mill, and five thatched cottages. It was then completely separated from Dublin, and portion of the lands were known as Chillam's Farm from a Drogheda family of that name which had owned it before the rebellion.

Its population was returned as numbering seventeen persons of English descent and fourteen of Irish. After the Restoration one of the houses rated as containing three hearths was occupied by William Budd, and another rated as containing two hearths by Sampson Holmes.

During the early part of the eighteenth century Dolphin's Barn was celebrated on account of the hurling matches which were played there, and the death there in 1761 of "an eminent tanner and weaver," Mr. John Stephens, may perhaps indicate that it still preserved its character as an industrial centre.

The great event in the neighbourhood in the later part of the eighteenth century was the construction of the Grand Canal which completely altered its appearance. As first designed the canal started from James' Street, and the channel which leads from the Liffey at a point near Ringsend, and joins the original channel between Dolphin's Barn and Kilmainham, was a subsequent addition.

Before the advent of railways the canal carried passengers in what were known as fly-boats. These boats were light and narrow, and obtained their name from their being drawn by two or more horses which were ridden and proceeded at considerable speed. For this traffic the harbour with the adjoining hotel (now a private hospital) at Portobello, on the channel leading to the Liffey, was opened in 1807, but until then the fly-boats started from James' Street.

In the accompanying picture one of the fly-boats is shown going to the latter place, and passing through a lock near a bridge on the South Circular Road, which from its shape has become known as Rialto Bridge, but which was originally named Harcourt Bridge from the first Earl of Harcourt who was Lord Lieutenant when the canal was opened (1).

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