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The current issue of Swords Voices 2018 is now available at The Card & Party Shop, Main Street & Swords Museum, Carnegie Library, North street Swords. Phone (01) 8400080. A great read @ €5.00. Read about the Swords of yesteryear.


We will do an initial search for your Dublin Roots for €20.00 and let your know what is available to answer your query.     See SHOP PAGE

FINGAL GENEALOGY (NORTH DUBLIN) is managed by Swords Historical Society Ltd.  Affiliated to the Irish Family History Foundation and founded in 1988, the group is part of a network of county centres throughout the island of Ireland.  Researchers are available to help those who wish to trace their North Dublin roots.  Parish Registers  (C.I & R.C) have been indexed by the group with various other local sources; Headstone Inscriptions, Interment Records, Vaccination Records, Roll Books, Dog Licence Records, etc., all aid to finding that elusive ancestor, local place name or town land.
Visiting recently were Mrs & Mrs Primrose from New Zealand,
Mrs Louise Primrose has ancestors who lived in Donabate,
and worked at Newbridge House. 
Visitors from Oregon, USA 5-9-17.CYNDY BANZER &JOHN KILLIAN
Searching the roots of a friend with the surname Swords.  Not a usual 
name in the town of Swords, but we have found a link and
will continue the research.
Bernadette with Paddy Savage 

 Paddy Savage, Chicago with cousin Joan Savage Geraghty,
at Swords Museum; they traced their relationship with the
help of Fingal Genealogy, Swords.

 Henry Savage & Christine McGrane from Swords married in Chicago. Their son

Patrick (seated) is now 95 years and his son Patrick (centre) makes regular visits to Swords and has created an extensive family tree.

If your ancestors came from the Swords area, they may have attended the Borough School there.  The pupils who received premiums on the 9th Nov. 1814 are as follow:


John McGlew, Sandy Leggett, William Hall, Thomas Farrell, Joseph Moran, Thomas Kennedy, Thomas Murray, Charles Fitzpatrick, Mary Lawless, Elizabeth Moran, Julia Quinn, Bridget Rourke, Sarah Johnston, Hannah Reynolds.


John McGlew, John Dolan, Mary Lawless.


John Wynne, William Toole, Samuel Finlay, John Finlay, Thomas Wheeler. Moran, Joseph Moran, Owen Sheridan, Matthew Nowlan, Rebecca Finlay, Elizabeth Leggett, Elizabeth Reynolds, Margaret Moran, Eleanor Kirby, Elizabeth Leggett, Elizabeth Harpur, Margaret Walsh, Letitia Finlay, Hannah Reynolds.


Richard Blood, James Greene, John McGlew, Richard McCann, Harriet Toole, Elizabeth Brien, Catherine Cuffe, Margaret Plunket.

Should you find a family name in this list, please get in touch for further information.
Invoice for supplies for Borough School, Swords, dated 1816 and
signed by the first Headmaster. Joseph Carmichael
St. Colmcille’s Girls’ N.S. Swords.
Roll Book, 2nd Class 1927.

Anne Daly, Brigid Walsh,  Ellen Troy, Mable Connor, Elizabeth Hand,
Esther Mooney, Lillie McMahon, Mary Courtney, Kathleen Byrne, Patricia Ryan,
Mary Williams, Mina Rourke, Mona McGreevy, Mary Kettle,  Kate Wherity, Elizabeth Norton, Frances Brennan, Mary Conheany, Ellen Rothwell,  Teresa Smyth,
Bridie Connor, Hannah Leggett.

Berni Marks, Alexandra Dermody, & Monica Fitzsimon at the rootsireland. stand - Back to our Past 19th Oct. at the RDS, Dublin.  If you missed the exhibition you may still trace your roots at


The ancient district of Fine Gall comprises that part of County Dublin bounded by the River Tolka on the south and the River Delvin on the north. The name Fine Gall (the tribe of foreigners) was originally used to describe the invading Danes (also known as Oastmen or Northmen) of the 9th century. Today Fingal ( as it is now known) is taken to mean the area which had invaders or settlers like Danes, Normans, English and even a smattering of Huguenots, all leaving behind a hotch potch of surnames. The Huguenots mentioned were a colony of Dutch weavers imported into the town of Swords by Viceroy Sydney to ‘show an example of industry to the lazy natives’. He repaired part of Swords Castle and reported to Queen Elizabeth l that ‘he had forty families of the Reformed Church of the Low Countries (Holland) planted there’. There was also the ‘pot-walloping’ borough of Swords which, from the time of Elizabeth l encouraged ‘strangers’ to settle there; all testaments to the fact that Fingallians are a very mixed race.

It is accepted by local historians that the Celtic sept of Cianachta which occupied Fingal gives rise to the oldest name in the area, that of O’Casey (Casey) from the eleventh century chief of the territory who took the surname O’Cathasaigh. They have given their name to a place in north Fingal called Dalahasey or in Gaelic ‘Dal Ui Chathasaigh’. In pre-Norman times the southern part of Fingal was occupied by the septs of MacGillamocholmog (Coleman today) and O’Donoghue. Other clan names like O’Kelly, O’Hann (Hand) and various forms of O’Donoghue like Dunphy and Dungan have survived the various laws which were enacted to force the natives to discard their Irish names.

In 1016 the annals tell of ‘Sitric, son of Amlaff and how the Danes of Dublin burned Swords’. This was the last Danish raid on Fingal. Possibly this has left the name McKittrick which is still plentiful in the area to this day. According to Fingallian historians the late Patrick Archer and Paddy O’Neill, other Danish names are Kettle, Harford, Hatch and Hall. Also, Eivers (Ivar was a Danish King of Dublin as was Sitric) and Wilsons. When Hamund MacTorquil was defeated and died in 1171 the Danish power in Fingal ceased to exist leaving the Anglo-Normans to rule the district.

These aristocratic families had names like de La Field (Field today), Barnwall, St. Lawrence, Bath, Plunkett, Finglas, Talbot, Cruise, Russell, Taylor, Hollywood, Nettleville, Seagrave, Blakeney. The first Norman Archbishop of Dublin, John Comyn choose Swords as the site for his summer palace, thus strengthening the Norman influence in the area. This was about the year 1200 and within a hundred years the Anglo-Norman family of Taylor had settled nearby. They built a house in 1403 and occupied the ‘great house’ in Swords until 1915.

When I began to work on the indexation of parish registers in 1988, as a native of the area, I did not expect to find surnames which were unfamiliar to me. To my surprise many unusual names were to be found. As well as those already mentioned, if you happen to have an ancestor named Maypother, Orange, Cappoc, Delahyde or Fynes; they are all still going strong in Fingal! A little pocket of people named Phelmer/Felmer was found almost exclusively in the village of Garristown in West Fingal. The name is not mentioned by MacLysaght for has it survived in the area.

The following is a brief run-down on some of the Fingallian names that have stood the test of time. Some local colour has been added to illustrate that despite their mainly Anglo-Norman ancestry, Fingalllians are thoroughly Irish.

BARNEWELL: This Anglo-Norman family was of much importance in The Pale. The family claims lineage from a Barnewell who was a knight in the Army of William the Conqueror. The Crown rewarded their services in 1462 when Robert Barnewall was given the title Lord Trimblestown. The present Lord has visited the area frequently but lives most of the time in Australia. The lands at Turvey were granted to Christopher Barnewall in the sixteenth century. Christopher had received his education at Douai and was recognised as the head of the Catholic aristocracy in Fingal. Worth visiting is the Barnewall tomb at Lusk Heritage Centre.

KETTLE: MacCoition, son of Ketill, is said to be of Danish origin and means a cauldron, perhaps used in sacrificial rites. The most noted bearer of the name in Fingal was A.J. (Andy) Kettle who was born at Drynan ,Swords in 1833, lived through Famine years and grew up to become involved in land wars, in time earning the name ‘Parnell’s right-hand man’. His son Tom also left his mark on the country by becoming a Barrister, M.P., Orator, Poet, Wit and Soldier. Unfortunately, the latter brought about his death. He joined the British Army and was killed in France in September 1916.

LOWNDES: Louns/Lounds a scarce name of Norman origin and derived from the Belgian city of Louvain, in Fingal it occurs mainly in the Swords area. It has been suggested that the family might have descended from Norman Archbishop Henry de Loundres who once lived at the Castle at Swords. The Bishops were feudal landlords and were likely to have other members of their families in ‘the good jobs’ so the suggestion could be true. The name is found in many old records to do with Swords. They were masons by trade and were involved in local committees and the general affairs of the town.

DE LA FIELD: Known as ‘Field’ today, the Anglo-Norman family who settled in Fingal were originally Lords of a district in Alsace. Hubert de la Field is recorded as a tenant in Buckinghamshire in the reign of William the Conqueror and also a John de la Field 1109. His descendents came to Ireland at the beginning of the thirteenth century having been granted lands in Fingal. The name ‘Fieldstown’ is retained to the present day as is the surname Field, but in times the lands passed to the Barnewall family through the female line. Captain James de la Field supported Silken Thomas and in an attack on Dublin, commanded a detachment which attempted to capture Dublin Castle.

SAVAGE: From the Norman le Sauvage meaning a person of wild and untameable nature. They were one of the families who became more Irish than the Irish when they were introduced to Co. Down in 1177 by Sir John de Courcy. They forfeited their estates for fighting against the English. The family has many branches in the Fingal area, principally in Swords. According to the late Joe Savage of the Swords business family, they descended from a coachman who came to work at one of the local ‘great houses’. He married a local girl and settled in the area

TAYLOR: An occupational surname, the original being the Norman le Tailleur, i.e. the cutter which it derives. It can also mean a cutter or hewer of wood. The family has had a long association with the Swords area of Fingal, having built a mansion house in the town in 1403. The family originated in France and this branch settled in Beverley in Yorkshire, England before coming to Ireland. Always loyal to ‘the old faith’ they were rewarded in 1992 when Francis Taylor of the family was one of the seventeen Irish Martyrs Beatified by Pope John Paul 11. They lived through turbulent times; their house ‘Swords House’ was used as a ‘Mass House’ during penal times, being in the centre of the town. They family died out in 1915 on the death of Col James Fitzeustace Forster who had inherited through the female line.

LAWLESS: As expected, the name signifies an outlaw. According to MacLysaght it was introduced to Ireland after the Anglo-Norman invasion. It was one of the ‘tribes of Kilkenny’ but has now no close association with that city, being much more numerous in North County Dublin. The Lawless Memorial Park in Swords (Fingallians GAA) is called after Frank Lawless who was prominent during 1916 Rising.

STAFFORD: An Anglo-Norman name always thought to been be a Wexford name. It has been suggested that the name was introduced to the Fingal area in 1798 when the Wexford men marched to gain support in Dublin and Meath. Many of them were killed in a fierce battle near Ballyboughal in West Fingal. Those who survived were tended by local women and possibly settled in the area.

WESTON: Still numerous in the area, the name an Anglo-Norman toponymic which is to be found frequently in Irish mediaeval records. ?some were settlers at the Plantation of Ulster (c 1609). The most famous member of the family was 1798 heroine Molly Weston who was born at Oldtown in West Fingal. Riding a white horse and dressed as a man, she fought alongside her three brothers at the battle of Tara.

Bernadette Marks © 2001.

View our new video (FINGAL GENEALOGY) to learn about the Fingal
area of North County Dublin and how to trace your roots there,The video
gives an insight into the area's turbulent history, and why so many of it's  people had to emigrate.

Tracing his roots was Bernard Langan from Boston, USA, with Geraldine from our centre.
Patrick Savage from Chicago met Gaye Tanham at our Centre, They discovered a family connection through the Kettle family
AGM of Irish Family History Foundation Ltd ,
 Dublin 2007                                   

FINGAL GENEALOGY as managed by Swords Historical Society Ltd is part of a nationwide network on Genealogy Centres throughout the entire island of Ireland offering a root tracing service to those with Irish roots.

The Fingal Centre began in 1988 when an idea was mooted by Swords Historical Society to
index local genealogical data and in time become part of the Irish Family History Foundation Ltd.

The following pre 1900 Parish Records of Baptisms and Marriage (Roman Catholic) are computerized: (Figures in brackets denote starting dates)-
Balbriggan (1770); Donabate (1760); Garristown (1857); Malahide (1856); Naul/Ballyboughal; (1832); Rolestown/Oldtown (1857);  Skerries (1751);  Swords (1763); Rush (1785); Lusk (1701); Finglas (1812); Baldoyle/Howth; 1784; Clontarf (1771); Arran Quay/Glasnevin/Drumcondra (1731); Blanchardstown (1771);  St. Margaret’s (1856).

Church of Ireland Baptisms, Marriages & Deaths:
Swords (1705);  Balrothery (1782); Holmpatrick (Skerries) 1779; Balbriggan (1850); Balscadden/Balrothery (Deaths only) 1888; Lusk (1811);  Donabate (1811); Kilsallaghan/Clonmethan/Naul (1806)

Search the records on line at

Other sources available: Vaccination Records for Swords and Donabate 1845-1923;
Dog Licence Records for Swords/Malahide 1923; Fingal Interment Records 1935 to 1089.  Roll Books Old Borough School, Swords from 1809; Apprenticeship Records Old Borough School;  Roll Books Swords N.S Boys and Girls 1899 to 1965;    Names of Fingal Men and Women who fought in 1916 Rising.

Please get in touch if you wish us to search for your ancestor.


Pupils at Old Borough School, Swords, 1920s
Visiting Swords during summer 2012 was Kathryn Delafield, an American lady who lives in Saipan... As her family name Delafield is connected with the De la Field family that settled near Swords in a place now called Fieldstown, she took the opportunity to visit while in the area.   She went on a tour of the area with Swords Historical Society members and places of interest were pointed out by ~Sylvia Maxswell Flanagan who lives in the area.   She also visited the farm of Mr. Ward who showed her the ruins of the old church and holy well.
The De la Fields had connections through marriage with other local families, Barnwells and the Taylors of Swords House.
“The highlight of my year was the day I spent with you visiting the Delafield family haunts and Newbridge House.”    Kay Delefield, Saipan.
Jim Connolly, Berni Marks, Kathryn Delafield (Saipan)
and Mary Connolly at Newbarn Mound Summer 2012.
Marilyn Howard O'Connell from Maryland, USA, with Liam Heron from Swords.
Through Fingal Genealogy they have established that they are 3rd cousins.
Liam's mother was a Howard; his great grandfather & Marilyn's were brothers.
They are seen here visiting Swords Museum.


Bernadette Marks

The Borough School at Swords was opened in 1809 and provided education for the poor of the Borough.  There were also many perks that went with being a pupil there, including a supply of free coal to the poor families. Regulations for the school at Swords were approved by the trustees at a meeting held at the Lord Chancellor’s on Thursday 22 November 1810  The rules regarding the supply of coal are as follow:.

COALS:  A coal yard will be established and provided with coals to be distributed in the winter at a price not exceeding 30s. per ton, to such poor families as have children at the school and as many others as the establishment can be extended to.   Those of the former, who are desirous of applying, are to procure certificates from the vicar or curate as in the former instance, but the quantity they are to receive (which in no case is to exceed two tons in the winter) is to depend on the regularity with which their children, respectively, have attended the school in the preceding half year.  For this purpose, the superintendent is to lay before the vicar, or curate, the returns during that period.  Other poor inhabitants will obtain certificates for such quantities as the vicar or curate shall think them entitled to from their industry, honesty and sobriety.  A person will be appointed to distribute the coals to those who produce such certificates and who are to pay for them at the time they receive them.  He is to keep an account of the several persons applying, of the quantities, delivered to each and at what prices.

The setting up of the coal year provided some extra money for those lucky enough to have means of transporting the coals to Swords from Malahide where coal arrived by boat. An old document dated 28th January 1834 illustrates that the scheme was still working very well as the following local people where employed to draw the coals:

James Cruise   (8.2 tons); Matthew Lawless (7.4 tons); Peter Early (4.4 tons);    
Christopher Quinn (4.4 tons); John Long (4.4 tons); Frederick Sandford (4.4 tons);
James Lawless (3.6 tons); John Early (6.0 tons);   William Morgan (4.1 tons); John Richardson (4.4 tons); Michael Casey (4.4 tons); Laurence Keegan (4.4 tons)
Paddy Kelly (4.4 tons); John Lowndes  ( 3.6 tons); John Quirke (3.6 tons); John Dolan (4.4 tons); Barker Reynolds ( 3.0 tons); John Coughlan (3.6 tons); Richard Costello (2.2 tons); Michael Duffy  ( 3.0 tons); John Wilson (1.4 tons).

91 Tons of coal were drawn at a cost of £13.12.4.

The Revd Mr Thomas handed me Cash to pay the above Coal Drawing Account which I did accordingly.

Signed: Thomas Moffett,   Swords June 28 1834.

The system seemed to work well but in 1846 there was an increase in the
demand for the coal.  A Mr Gaffney from Malahide writes to the Governors of the School as follows:  

To the Right Honourable The Governors Swords School – The Memorial of Michael Gaffney humbly sheweth –

That memorialist last Summer laid on 200 tons of Coal in your stores at Swords.  That calculating on past years he though he had stored enough or nearly so but that the sudden and unexpected rise in Coals caused a larger weekly demand on your stores by the poor of Swords than usual.    He begs to state that he has since Christmas given a further supply of thirty seven tons and that it will take about seventy tons to meet the demand till May.

He begs to assure your Honourable Board that on this latter supply he will loose three shillings from the first cost price of the coal at three shillings and not to take the great advance of freight into account that he has given entire satisfaction up to the present time, furnishing you the best article at the lowest price.

He humbly hopes as his profits at anything were very small that you will allow him such addition on this latter supply of about 100 tons as will enable him still to supply you without a very enormous loss to himself. 

And memorialist as in duty bound will ever pray –
Michael Gaffney,
Malahide Feby 9th 1846. 

Mr Gaffney seems to have just kept writing without any punctuation!  By 1846 the ‘Great Famine’ was imminent and records also show that many people converged on Swords knowing that the ‘perks’ were available at the Borough School.  There were several complaints from Swords natives about the distribution of coals, fees and medical assistance to those not long living in the area.  Revd Francis Howard, the Rector at the time and Supervisor of the School got into trouble for granting the coals to those deemed not to be entitled to help; consequently the Governors demoted him from the job. 

You may read more about the controversial story of the Borough School of Swords  
In Greatly Benefited by Robert Whiteside  or
Sewn by Candlelight by Bernadette Marks.  (Both available through Swords Historical Society).
Photo of Mrs Bridget Dalton mother of Bridget Stafford, Swords.
Mrs Dalton was the first mid-wife in Swords.
 Copyright (C) 2016  Swords Historical Society Ltd.