What’s in a Name? Dun Leary – Kingstown – Dún Laoghaire: A Visual History

07 December 2020 / News
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In 1821 the name Dunleary or Dun Leary was changed to Kingstown to mark King George IV’s visit to this bustling and rapidly developing town. In 1920 it was officially given the name Dún Laoghaire, referring back to the original Irish name for Dunleary. It was a deliberate political act during the War of Independence, an act of defiance against the old order in Ireland. In the years following the establishment of the Irish Free State, the use of Kingstown gradually diminished and was replaced in the consciousness of visitors and residents of the town by variants of the name – Dunleary, Dun Laoire and Dún Laoghaire.

Book and Exhibition

dlr Libraries acquired nearly 700 postcards of the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area from the sale of the Seamus Kearns Collection of Postcards in 2019. These images form the basis of a publication entitled What’s in a Name? Dun Leary – Kingstown – Dún Laoghaire: A Visual History and an accompanying exhibition at dlr LexIcon and online at  https://libraries.dlrcoco.ie/events-and-news/online-exhibition#dunleary  The publication and exhibition were curated and edited by David Gunning, dlr Archivist in Residence, Nigel Curtin, Local Studies Librarian and dlr LexIcon Librarian Marian Thérèse Keyes.

Resource for Teachers

As part of this Decade of Centenaries celebration, a Primary Schools resource featuring five Lesson Plans for teachers has been prepared by Dr Séamus Cannon and Ríonach O Callaghan in association with Blackrock Education Centre. These Lesson Plans cover topics such as the origin of Dún Laoghaire, Martello Towers, the derivation of Early Christian and more recent Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown placenames, royal connections and growth of the harbour. A link to these excellent resources for teachers can be found at https://www.scoilnet.ie/go-to-primary/theme-pages/history/placenames/

Talks and Videos

During the month of December a series of talks and videos tying in with What’s in a Name? will be made available on YouTube. The links are provided below. We hope you enjoy the series. Keep an eye out for banners up the town promoting the centenary of the name change and thanks to many shop owners and to our colleagues in County Hall for installing colourful decals in many shop windows featuring postcard images of the town some 100 years or more ago.

YouTube videos:

Design a Postcard Competition

Finally, we are delighted to announce a Design a Postcard competition as part of this initiative. Full details here. Closing date for this competition is Friday 15 January 2021 and we hope to print a limited number of the winning entries.

This initiative is supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media as part of the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 programme and also by the Dormant Accounts Fund and Blackrock Education Centre.


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