The stories told on these pages are from  a collection of folklore compiled by schoolchildren in Ireland in the 1930s. 
The children recorded (over&nbsp740,000 handwritten pages) of this material from their parents, grandparents and neighbours.

These are their stories in their own words.

Donabate and Portrane

SCHOOL: Donabate | ADDRESS: Donabate, Co. Dublin

Martello Tower, Donabate, North County Dublin.
Martello Tower, Donabate, North County Dublin.

Knockaman Hill situated in the Burrow that part of Portrane next to Rush and facing Lambay Island is a much mentioned place in this district. The Danes came over from Lambay and plundered the old church – the remains of which are still seen nearby. A great battle was fought on the Hill. When the present road to the Burrow was being made to re-place the old one nearer the sea and consequently flooded, many skeletons were dug up as the workers approached this hill. Farther inland at least one stone coffin has been dug up – thought to contain the remains of some warrior killed in this battle.

Another hill in the Burrow is known as Chapelbank. On this was a church and graveyard. Some of the graves still remainA well in the Burrow whose waters are supposed to cure is St Macuddies Well.

On the coast at Portrane between “The Tower” opposite Lambay and the one known as “Kings Tower” near the Malahide end are many high cliffs at the foot of which are numerous caves – a few of which are famous in the district – Priest’s Chamber – Chink Well, Bleeding Pig and Mermaid’s Churn.

Priest’s Chamber is not far from the Tower on the Malahide side. Here, during Penal Times, a priest found shelter and said Mass. The rocks inside this cave give an impression of an altar with a priest saying Mass.

Chink Well is nearby at the foot of very steep cliffs. The water from this well is supposed to be a cure for Whooping Cough. I once heard a very old aunt say that to be really effective this water should be procured before sunrise.

Bleeding Pig a well known rock from which water drips red. – probably due to composition of rock The rock itself is the shape of a pig – hence the nameMermaids Churn – a cleft in a rock about a foot wide. At full tide the sea rushes up with great force & through the cleft throws white foam Ghost’s

Reillys Hill on the front Avenue to the Mental Hospital is surrounded by trees and said to be haunted. The lands were once owned by a man Mr Evans who lived in Portrane House – now the residence of the Medical Superintendent Mr Evans had a servant named Reilly, who took advantage of his master’s illness to steal timber from the woods at night. One night crossing this hill he met “Mr Evans” who ordered him to leave back the timber. It transpired that Mr Evans had just died so ’twas his ghost appeared to Reilly.

A secret tunnel is supposed to lead from Portrane house to the coast, and was used in the days of smuggling.

Turvey House said to be the oldest house in Ireland, at present occupied by Mr Counihan has a secret passage also. It was from here that Mabel Bagenal eloped with Hugh O’Neill and the window through which she escaped is still painted out.

Newbridge House on the other side of the road from Turvey is also supposed to be haunted. An ancestor of the present owner, Mr Cobbe, is supposed to drive past the front door at midnight in a coach, drawn by headless horses – the only sound made being the opening and shutting of a gate.

Hearse Road Young and old in the district would think twice about walking along this road at midnight It is a short stretch, with trees on either side, joining the main Dublin Belfast road with what is known locally as the Swords Road.A hearse, driverless, is supposed to go up and down this road every night.

Ha Ha wall. A short stretch of wall on Turvey Avenue – before you reach Turvey House from Donabate. The story goes that a man decided to frighten a friend of his and dressed himself in a white sheet, and sat on this wall, when he knew his friend must pass. Chancing to look sideways he saw a “real ghost” who said “Ha – ha” and disappeared.

In the grounds of Turvey House is a patch of grass which grows red A fellow named “Dan” murdered his mother and sister and wiped the murdering knife in this patch of grass. Dan was later taken and hanged at the Bridge below “Westons” on the Dublin – Belfast road before you turn off for Lusk.

The bridge is still known as “Dan’s Bridge”As children we were all afraid to pass the pump outside “An Dún” beside the Catholic Church, at night because we were always told that a man stood there with his head in his hand.”Captain Butty’s Bush” – a thorn bush opposite the gate of the present quarry on the Swords Road was also the “seat” of a ghost but no one ever seemed to know what form the ghost took.


The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0789, Page 315” by Dúchas © National Folklore Collection, UCD is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

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