top of page

Finglas, Co. Dublin

Presentation by Jason Neeson

Neeson Ireland Tours

email :


Finglas has a population of 32,000 people and is located 5km north of the city center and 5km south of Dublin airport. The name Finglas comes from the Irish words "Fionn Ghlas " which means Clear Stream, the clearstream was a river that flowed through Finglas and into the tolka river. The river is now contained in a concert pipe and is under the N2 road that travels through Finglas from the city and north towards Co. Derry via Slane in Co. Meath. See Map Below.

1816 Old Map Of Finglas





The patron saint of Finglas is St Canice and the oldest building within Finglas is St Canice's Abbey. This Abbey that we see today was built with stone between 10th and 12th century but it was believed that the first church would have been built using timber in 560AD. Unfortunately the abbey is now a ruin but it was once an important monastery in Ireland.

1816 Old Map Of Finglas

St Canice's Abbey

St Canice's Church of Ireland

The oldest gravestone within the cemetery is dated from 1647 and it is for the Ryves family and Sir Edward Bagshawe, plus there is also a Sir Daniel Treswel who died in1670. These two graves are located within the abbey so this shows that these people were of high importance. There is also a vault belonging to The Bayly family located within the abbey. There are over a thousand recorded people buried in the graveyard, but most likely there is many more that are not recorded.

The Nettercross is approx. 3 meters tall and it is made of granite. The cross has been in Finglas for over a thousand years and it is possible that the monks at St Canice's craved the cross in the 10th century. The meaning of the word "Netter" is lower, so Finglas was the Barony of the Nettercross and around Tallaght in South Dublin had was known as the Barony of the Uppercross. In 1649 the cross was dismantled and buried as the people of Finglas were afraid the Oliver Cromwell's army would destroy it. The cross lay buried for almost 160 years until Rev. Robert Walsh found it in 1816 and erected it in the graveyard on the southern entrance.

The Nettercross

The Nettercross

"The discovery of the body of a Viking woman buried 1,100 years ago with a collection of artefacts is extremely significant, the National Museum of Ireland said today. The find was made at a site in Finglas in north Dublin where builders were constructing 48 apartments".

The Irish Times Newspaper 2004

The National Museum, Skeleton

When St Patrick arrived in Finglas he first baptised the local people in the river Tolka. The name of the river then was called The Tolga river, which is 1 of 3 rivers that flow through Dublin.

The river rises in Dunshaughlin in Co. Meath and flows through a number of parkland, e.g.. Blanchardstown, Tolka Valley, Glasnevin Cemetery, The Botanical Gardens, Griffith Park and into Ballybough before entering the sea at Fairview. 

There is lots of wildlife on the river including swans, ducks, Kingfishers and herons. I have seen foxes and mink while walking in Tolka Valley Park.

St Patrick's Well

St Patrick's Well


St Patrick stopped at this well for a drink of water. The water was clear, clean, refreshing and over time people travelled to get water from this well believing it had healing properties, particularly for sore eyes and ulcers. That holy well is still there today amongst a housing estate, just off Mellowes Road.

In the 1770’s, a Turkish doctor named Achmet Borumborad wrote a pamphlet on the well’s abilities. He made use of government grants in order to open a fashionable Spa in the area. The Spa was closed when the good doctor was revealed to be no such thing, and was actually one Philip Joyce from Kilkenny, with no formal medical training.

Finglas, Cardiiffsbridge B&W photo (2).j

The area around the river Tolka in Finglas was know as Cardiffbridge and it became a village in its own right. There was a mill on the river and a Iron works, plus there was a pub called The Jolly Beggerman where the people would go gather there for any news. The pub remained there until the 1945 when it then became a shop, the doors were closed when the last habitants left the area in 1976. Fishing was a popular pastime and playing cards on the bridge.

The lands in Finglas belonged to the prominent landowners such as The Kerdiffs, The Luttrell's, and The Barry's and where mainly used for agriculture use and stayed that way until 1940's, when the new housing development started. Looking through the records for land owners and houses in Finglas during 16th - 20th century, it was very interesting to discover that many of the important members of Irish elite lived in Finglas. The Archbishop of Dublin stayed in the mansion In The Finglas Abbey which was known as The Court, also over the centuries "The Court" was home to the Lord lieutenant of Ireland, John Talbot and Lord Chief Justice, Walter Fitzsimons. Walter Kerdiffs has also lived in The Court and was recorded as been a Judge of Law. The Kerdiffs have being recorded as living in Finglas since the arrival of the Normans.


There is only one photo that I can find relating to The Kerdiffs Castle and it is a painting from the mid 18th century that shows the ruin of a castle. The artist is Gabriel Beranger 1729-1817 and it is part of a collection of painting from the artist which is held in The National Library.

Cardiff Castle Image.jpg
Finglas Village Image

                        Farnham House

                                          St Helena's House

                 Johnstown House

                                             Ballygall House

          Finglaswood House

                        Glenhill House

                                      Rosehill House 

Farnham House was built around 1760 by the first Lord John Maxwell, Knight of Co.Cavan. He lived there until he died in1768. In1814 Dr. Duncan established a hospital in the house. They used the hospital until 1959.  The house was demolished and replaced by a convent for a Spanish order of nuns


St Canice's Abbey

St Canice's Roman Catholic Church
St Canice's Roman Catholic Church

Image is of the front entrance of the church. The architecture is of Romanesque design. The foundation stone was set on 2ist November 1920

press to zoom
Foundation Stone
Foundation Stone

The foundation Stone was laid on 21th November 1920. This day is also known as Bloody Sunday.

press to zoom
The roof of St Canice's Roman Catholic Church
The roof of St Canice's Roman Catholic Church

Top of the tower is covered in Green Lead. This finish is common on the rooftops of churches and historical buildings throughout Ireland.

press to zoom