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A History Of Swords Co. Dublin

A History of Swords Co. Dublin

Saint Colmcille founded the town of Swords in the 560 AD. The saint is said to have blessed a well that was the large source of drinking water for the people of the town. He gave the name ‘Sord’ which means ‘pure’ and also means ‘the water source’. The street patterns and the round tower in the town indicate early Christian settlement.

A North Germanic tribe was known as the ‘Danes’ burnt Swords on multiple occasions from 1012 – 1166 AD. O’Melaghlin, King of Meath assumed monarchy in town and attacked the Dunes to free his country from the foreigners. After a long struggle, he was deposed by Brian Boru, who was the king of Munster. King Brian Boru broke up the ancient dynasty, and after his death in 1014, King Malachy assumed power. The very famous round tower at Swords is where king Brian Boru had his funeral, the tower is also an indicator of the early Christian community.

The round tower which still exists is about 75 meters tall and is the only portion that survives from the monastic establishment. An adjoined church was built later, and the illustration of the church appears that of Gorse’s Antiquities. The episcopal palace that is still there was designed to defend the subjects of the town from the Dunes who would attack from time to time. The palace sheltered the entire town of people within its thick walls and protected them during attacks.


For the safety and better establishment of the town, there was a royal mandate in 1578 to fix boundaries to determine the limits. The boundaries were 2-miles on every side of the town. Sir Charles Coote, the Governor of Dublin in the Irish uprising in the 17th century, marched to swords to attack the rebels.

Richard Talbot, of Malahide, in 1788 Initiated the construction of a navigable canal and started a cotton mill at Swords. The canal was to connect the Malahide harbour through Swords and to the Fieldstown river in County Meath. He intended to transport inland more cheaply, and he suggested that the goods must be carried by road. Alas, he died even before the completion of the project.

Fast forward to the 1900s’ Swords was slowly transforming in terms of transportation, especially. The farmers used ponies to travel from Dublin to Swords and back. Donkeys were only used rarely by dealer sand tinkers. Different kinds of passenger services were becoming popular like the mail car with one horse, Savages car service, Caffrey’s long car and Savages long car with two horses.


The town has a strategic vision to create a city that is new and sustainable. Being the seventh largest area in the country, Swords is one of the new emerging towns with a rich historical past.

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