Rathdown is Wicklow’s ancient hidden heartland. Located on the southern slopes of Bray Head, just north of modern Greystones, this jewel of a site has revealed ‘evidence of a continuum of human occupation from at least the Early Neolithic through to Late Medieval settlement.’ (Eogan and O’Brien,2005)

Rathdown has a fascinating story to tell. The chapters and characters read like a who’s who of Irish history :

Hunter-gatherers, farmers, cereal-growers, High-King Erimon, Beaker people, Romans, Celts, Leinster kings, Vikings, Hiberno-Norse, Diarmuid Mac Murchada, Strongbow, Normans, Henry II, Henry III, the O’Byrnes, the O’Tooles, Silken Thomas, Henry VIII, Oliver Cromwell……

…….treachery, land-grabbing, punishment blinding, massacres, arranged marriages, hidden treasure…..

……and through it all, the intriguing story of the noble Gaelic Mac Gilla Mo-Cholmoc  clan. Unlike near neighbours the O’Byrnes and O’Tooles, the Mac Gilla Mo-Cholmoc family of Rathdown, through clever negotiation with the Norman invaders, were the only Gaelic clan allowed to hold on to their lands and entitlements.


Eoghan, James and O’Brien, Richard, Final Report of Excavations at Rathdown Upper, Co. Wicklow, Archaeological Development Services, 2005.

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