Rewind - Walkinstown

By Sean Heffernan

This week we are hopping on a 239 bus from Lucan Village to the last stop at Liffey Valley Shopping Centre.

From here we switch to a 76, which we will get off at the Ninth Lock Road, to get a 151 bus around the corner.

facebook Linked Image Walkinstown Roundabout

Before the Walkinstown roundabout

We get off that bus on Drimnagh Road, and walk the 5 minutes to this week’s subject matter – Walkinstown.

When you ask people do they know about the area, the reply most would automatically give is “That’s the place with the big roundabout, right?”

And the area was on the tip of many peoples tongues recently when a video of a high speed car chase between a speeding driver and the Gardai started there, and finally ended in Harolds Cross after the offending driver was apprehended by a plethora of Gardai.

Obviously there is more to this part of Dublin 12 than a conduit for passing traffic.

The name is derived from Mr Wilkins who owned a farm in the area in the 15th century, and the area was then known as ‘Wilkinstown’.

The Irish for the Walkinstown is “Baile Bhailcín”;  the word bhailcín means ‘chopped’ in English, so the literal translation of the name would be ‘Chopped Town’.

The area remained a large dairy farm until the 1930’s, when some housing began to be built.

This was the same time the much bigger housing schemes were being constructed in neighbouring Crumlin.

Back then Walkinstown and Greenhills were one area in the eyes of the Catholic church, and they were served by the same church, the Church of the Assumption on Kilnamanagh Road.

Greenhills became it’s own distinct area

Then as the years went by, and more and more houses were built, Greenhills became it’s own distinct area within Dublin 12 with it’s own church, The Church of the Holy Spirit on Limekiln Lane.

If one was travelling up the Greenhills Road upstairs on a bus, you would easily spot the uniquely shaped design of this ecclesiastical building on Dublin’s Southside.

A fascinating fact that I only recently became aware of was that, when the Walkinstown Roundabout first opened in the 1950’s it had a house slap bang in the middle of it.

A man known as Michael ‘Chicken’ Cullen lived in the cottage with his sister Dolly, and try as they might, the council simply could not get him or his sister to budge from their abode.

So for about 20 years, every morning when he looked out his window, he would see cars whizzing past his house.

Then one night without any fanfare he moved into a new house the council had built for him across the road.

One can only imagine how many erratic drivers had ruined his flowerbeds at this point!

A place that many would regard as an institution in the area is Caffrey’s Chocolate Company.

Chocolatier and sugar boiler

Thomas Caffrey was born a year after The Rising in 1917, and in his younger days he spent the summer in the Isle of Man working with his older brother William, a chocolatier and sugar boiler who worked full-time as the manager of a chocolate factory.

In 1948, Thomas decided to setup a chocolate business of his own in Harolds Cross.

Business was so good that he upped sticks and relocated the factory to Walkintsown.

It was in the 50’s, when an idea came to Thomas and he began messing around with Marshmallow, Chocolate and Coconut, spending many hours in the creations lab, testing different formulas until he created a mixture he was happy with.

He named his new confectionary product the ‘Snowball’, and it became an instant hit with people all across Ireland.

Many other companies have attempted to imitate it, but none comes close to the real deal created and still produced in Dublin 12.

My family know not to darken my hall door with a box of Snowballs unless they are Caffrey’s, and Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a box of them in my press!

Over time the range the company produces has expanded, and many a summers day in the 80’s saw my good self twisting a Big Time bar around in my mouth as I sought to bite another chunk of chocolate toffee loveliness.

Macaroon and Mint Crisp bars were another familiar favourite amongst Irish consumers, and a variety pack of their bars has always been gratefully accepted by friends I had popped over to for a cuppa and a chat.

With quite a few industrial premises dotted around the area, from the Long Mile Road to the Mulcahy Keane industrial Estate, the area will continue to be a buzzing part of the metropolis for some time to come.

Or maybe you would fancy an evening visit to the Walkinstown Community Centre on Walkinstown Avenue to try your luck at getting a ‘house’ or a ‘line’ in their very popular bingo nights?

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