“Thank Heavens we are living in Rathgar” sang Jimmy O’Dea over eighty years ago. The lyrics of the song still ring true of Rathgar, which maintains a slight village-like existence in the midst of the not-quite metropolis. While Ráth Garbh, might translate as “rough ringfort”, there’s nothing rough about the tree-lined streets and squares of this southside suburb.
Rathgar, in the Middle Ages, was simply a farm belonging to the Convent of St Mary de Hogges. By the mid 14th century the Segrave family had built Rathgar castle, whose fortunes waxed and waned with the passage of time (no trace of it remains). It was the eighteenth century before Rathgar began to take the shape we see today.
Highfield Road was laid out in 1753, and this made the development of the suburb possible. Zion Church and Christ Church were built in the 1860s, by which time Rathgar was a sizeable community.
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