Loughshinny - Fingal, Co Dublin, Ireland

The Picturesque fishing village of Loughshinny (population 800) lies mid-way between the town of Rush and Skerries in North Fingal. The little bay with its harbour and safe sandy beach is a popular picnic location in summer.

On the south side of the bay the angular folds of the layered limestone and shale cliffs, some 20 metres high, are of interest to the geologists. The fossils in the rocks are some 325 million years old and the upper few metres of the cliff is made up of boulders clay deposited at the end of the ice age.

Above the cliffs on the headland of Drumanage is the remains, of the largest promontory fort in Ireland. This dates from the late bronze/early iron age and still has the earthen ramparts intact right across the western side of the headland. There has been some speculation and debate as to whether the Romans may have visited here but local tradition has it that this was the fort of the trader Forgal Managh, the father of Emer who became the wife of the great Ulster hero Cuchulainn.

The courtship of Emer and Cuchulainn is well documented in "The Tain" as well as the battle at Forgal's fort when Cuchulainn jumped over the ramparts with the aid of his javelin.

The Vikings were the next to settle in this part of Fingal. Having become established on Lambay Island in 795 they raided the monasteries on Holmpatrick Island, off Skerries. Lusk and the small secluded harbour at Loughshinny must have seen many a longboat pulled up onto the shore. They stayed 400 years and intermarried with the local people and left their name for the area - Fingal, the land of the fair haired strangers. In Loughshinny the little clump of land close to the harbour is still known as "The Greenhouse" probably from the viking custom of putting sods of earth on the roofs of their houses. Some Viking surnames still survive in the area.

Next came the Normans and the lands at Loughshinny became the property of the De La Hayde family who hailed from Stodham in Bedfordshire having settled there from Normandy, shortly after the invasion of William the Conqueror in 1085. In 1220 Cosmo De La Hayde was the last Abbot of Holmpatrick Abbey before it was transferred to the mainland 1224. The family grew in importance until by 1533, under Henry V111 Richard De La Hayde of Loughshinny was Chief Justice in Ireland. Richard is buried with his wife Eleanor in Holmpatrick Grave yard in Skerries where his tombstone, bearing the De La Hayde coat-of-arms, can still be seen.

After the Cromwellian campaign and the 1641 rebellion the De La Hayde's lost all their property and the lands at Loughshinny were ceded to one John Aston, Gentlemen in 1659. By the 1770's, when Luke Dempsey was properties of Loughshinny copper mines where open and experienced miners were brought over from Germany and Belgium. The mines were a thriving industry for some time because of the demand for copper for ammunition. After the Napoleonic wars when the price of copper fell the mines became uneconomic and closed down in 1812.

In 1803 the Martello Tower was erected on Drumanagh headland. It was one of series built on headlands and islands each side of Dublin as defense against Napoleon to protect the city but was never brought into use.

In the 19th Century when the lands at Loughshinny became the property of Lord Holmpatrick of Skerries what became known as the seaweed war took place between the farmers of Rush and the landlord of Skerries. It concerned the claim of the Rush farmers to free access to the foreshore at Skerries and Loughshinny to gather seaweed which they used extensively as fertilizer for their crops. The landlord build a wall across the foreshore opposite Shenick Island in Skerries which the Rush men pulled down. The case went to court and dragged on for the next 20 years. The landlord eventually won and imposed a levy of one shilling for every load of seaweed. This however was very difficult to collect as the farmers avoided paying any way they could. The landlord's men used to lie in wait for farmers with their horses and carts loaded with seaweed as they came slowly up the steep Curkeen hill. The farmers then resorted to taking the seaweed from Loughshinny strand, which was difficult for the landlord to patrol.

In 1913 the Daily Mail sponsored a great air race around the British Isles. A contestant, Harry Hawker, from Australia having completed three quarters of the journey suffered a leaking fuelpipe in his Seaplane and crashed into the middle of Loughshinny bay. He and his co-pilot were rescued by local fishermen who also stripped the plane for souvenirs.

In more recent times another fuel pipe features in the story of Loughshinny as the North Sea Gas Interconnector pipeline comes ashore just south of Drumanagh headland. This major engineering project funded by the European Union was completed in 1995.

Nowadays Loughshinny is a peaceful place with a vibrant local community. The Development Association which is elected annually to represent the community is at the hub of activities and keeps a watchful eye on public works and development to benefit the whole community. There are sea scouts and sports clubs and recreational associations to suit young and old.

Since, 1994 the village has an official "Twinning" arrangement with the French village of Quistinic in Morhihan, Brittany. Exchanges take place every year between groups of school children clubs and interested people in both communities. Festivals and cultural functions are attended in both villages and in general the concept of being "European" is encouraged by getting to know and appreciate each others language, culture and traditions. The old De La Hayde coat-of-arms was revived and is now adopted at the symbol of Loughshinny for official twinning purposes.

Fishing for crabs and lobsters still forms a big part of the local economy while the fertile farmland surrounding the village still supplies vegetables and flowers for the Dublin market.

Except for some new housing and a new school the appearance of the village has not changed substantially over the years. The village still retains that old world charm within a stones throw of Dublin city.

Marian Bentley
Loughshinny & District Development Association