The liberties of Dublin

Published in Features, Issue 5 (Sept/Oct 2012), Medieval History (pre-1500), Volume 20

In Dublin there were six liberties, all of which were originally under ecclesiastical control (and the first three of which give their name to the modern district in the city’s south side). St Sepulchre, ruled by the archbishops of Dublin, was created before 1199 and consisted of three parishes in the city and extensive lands in the county. Thomas Court and Donore was initially governed by St Thomas’s Abbey and thereafter by the Brabazons, later earls of Meath, and in the 1830s had a population of 22,000. The deanery of St Patrick was a tiny area around the cathedral, controlled by its dean and chapter. Glasnevin or Grangegorman, ruled by the dean and chapter of Christchurch Cathedral, consisted of a small enclave centred on the cathedral itself, together with a large area of Dublin city and county. Kilmainham, originally controlled by the Knights Templar and later by the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, was laicised at the Reformation and included an area to the west of the city stretching as far as Lucan and Chapelizod. All were abolished in the 1850s. The sixth Dublin liberty, St Mary’s Abbey, constituted before 1229, had ceased to exist by the early nineteenth century.


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