Welcome to Kilmacanogue, gateway to Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains, situated at the foot of the Great Sugarloaf Mountain on the main route from Dublin to Wexford. The ancient Irish name Cill Mocheanóg meaning the Church of Mocheanóg refers to an early Irish saint who founded a monastic settlement here around 650-750 AD. Mocheanóg was a disciple of Saint Patrick who came from Wales and had strong associations with Glendalough.

In 1834 the population of Kilmacanogue was 2,797 and by 1891 it had fallen by 40% to 1678, mainly due to famine and emigration.  In 1910 Kilmacanogue was a delightful residential district, pleasantly situated amidst beautiful scenery and inhabited principally by country gentry, Dublin merchants, retired clergymen, and professional gentlemen. Today this vibrant village has almost 1,000 residents. A great number of walkers visit this area and the nearby mountains. The winding country roads are a haven for cyclists offering spectacular scenery.

Points of Interest in Kilmacanogue

Great Sugarloaf (Ó Cualann also Beannach Mhór) is 4km west of Kilmacanogue. Its isolation from other hills, steep slopes, and conical shape makes it appear much taller than its 501m height above sea level. It is composed of Cambrian quartzite and is an erosion-resistant metamorphosed sedimentary deposit that once formed part of the ocean floor. The mountain has been a landmark for all those travelling along the east coast including pilgrims and scholars on the way to and from the monastic city of Glendalough.

The original ‘Old Post Office’ was located on the Little Sugarloaf side of the main road. It was commissioned in 1864 and John Doyle was appointed first postmaster. Around 1940 the post office was transferred across the road to the blacksmith’s house beside the old forge.  This building was demolished in 1985 to facilitate road widening and the post office moved to its current location. Members of the Arnold and Keenan (Donnelly) families have run the post office continuously since 1881.

Cumann Luthchleas Gael or the Gaelic Athletic Asociation (GAA) is a sporting and cultural organisation that has a presence on all five continents. It is a volunteer led community based organisation that promotes the indigenous Irish games of hurling, gaelic football, camogie, handball and rounders. There is a proud tradition of Gaelic games in Kilmacanogue and the first local team was formed in 1889. The home of Kilmacanogue GAA club is Fitzsimon Park.

The premises, now known as The Glencormac Inn, were first licensed to John Pluck in 1822. It is believed locally that prior to this it was known as ‘The Ale House’ and has been continually licensed and operated as a public house to this day. First registered as Hotel Kilmacanogue it has since undergone many name changes. In 1928 John Talty transferred the property to Edward Connolly when it was called Sugarloaf Hotel. In the late 1940s the Inn was sold to Patrick Sweeney and it became Sweeney’s Roadhouse. In 1964 it became the Glencormac Inn Public House but locally it is known and loved as Sweeney’s Pub and continues to operate as a hub for the local community.

The present church was built c.1824 on a commonage fenced in by the local community near the original church founded by Saint Mocheanóg.  The bell tower was added in 1826.  The church has a hard Gothic style plan with richly carved cut stone and intricate internal woodwork.  St. Mocheanóg’s church possesses the monumental architectural qualities of a great cathedral and is an important part of Ireland’s architectural heritage.  Situated on a high point overlooking the village, it is a focal point for the community and the entire area.

In the 1870s James Jameson, a member of the famous whiskey family, built a house at Glencormac.  The Jamesons owned some 80 acres of which 20 were laid out as pleasure grounds and gardens.  The courtyard and stables known as Jameson’s Corner were used to store grain and to supply fresh horses for the grain carts which served the original distillery in Dublin.  The Jameson family owned Glencormac House until 1958 when it was converted into a hotel.  In the late 1950s and early 1960s the hotel was frequented by many international stars filming at the nearby Ardmore Studios.  These included Elizabeth Taylor, George Peppard and James Mason.  Senior Government Ministers often entertained visiting international leaders at the hotel.  The estate and hotel provided employment for many locals of Kilmacanogue but in 1967 Glencormac house was completely destroyed by fire.  Avoca Handweavers acquired the property in 1987 and built a shop on the site of the house.  Many specimen trees of the former Glencormac Gardens established in the 1880s are still present, among them are tall eucalyptus, giant redwoods and yew trees which are over 800 years old.  The most special tree is the weeping Monterey cypress which dates from 1881 and it is one of only two mature specimens of the tree in Europe.

The Old School Parish Hall, situated in the grounds of the church car park, was built in 1834 and was funded by contributions from the local community.  During its earlier years it served as a school and home to the head teacher.  It continued to be used as a school for some 126 years until a new school was opened in 1960.  The building still serves the community as a hall where voluntary groups and organisations meet on a regular basis.

The marsh provides wildlife passes for small mammals with its fish ladders and culverts.  This site is of international importance for the rare fen invertebrate community that it supports.  Species include the Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion Puella) and Blue-tailed Damselfly (Schnura Elegans), two species of fly endangered within the E.U. (Oxycera falleni and Oxycera morrisii) and a rare fly species Parthelophilus consimilis.  Plant species include Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), Common Spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza Fuchsii), rushes (Juncus effuses) and a collection of small sedges.

This graveyard was founded in the 6th or 7th century.  The enclosing wall was built by the local Catholics.  The graveyard used to be the main Catholic cemetery for the Bray area until St. Peter’s cemetery was established in Bray in 1843.  Many tombstones bear the names of Bray families dating as far back as the 12th century.  Occasionally deceased members of older Kilmacanogue families are buried here.

The old graveyard is the original site of St. Mocheanóg’s Church which is likely to have been founded in the 6th or 7th century.  Today there are no obvious traces of the early history of the church.  However, in the graveyard are the ivy covered ruins of a stone church that probably dates back to the 12th century and modified during the 13th century.  The ruins consist of a small nave and chancel church with the remains of the chancel arch still surviving intact.  The original east window that would have illuminated the altar also survives.  The church was still in use as late as 1630.

The hexagonal ‘Penfold’ type freestanding cast iron boxes were introduced in the 1860s with the Kilmacanogue example being moved here in 1910.  The Kilmacanogue letter box was fully refurbished in 2011 and is located on the Roundwood road just outside of the village.

The Quill or Old Road from Kilmacanogue to Kilmurray formed part of the Dublin/Wexford road until after 1812 when the new N11 road was realigned to the east along its present route.  This new road became the main mail coach road south of Bray to Wicklow replacing the coastal route through Windgates, Blacklion and Kilcoole.  The original 13th milestone can still be seen on the Quill Road safely embedded into a gate pier close to its original site at the stream dividing Kilmacanogue and Kilmurray.  This marks thirteen Irish miles (26.6 km) from central Dublin.

This semi-natural woodland is situated within a glacial overflow channel just south of Kilmacanogue and  was designated a Nature Reserve in 1980.  A total of 21 bird species hold territory here.  Among the most abundant species are wren, robin, blue tit, chaffinch and great tit.  Blackcap and jay also breed here and the rare wood warbler has also been recorded.  Grey wagtail breed along the stream.  The site is notable for the presence of rare bryophytes and myxomycete fungi.  Glen of the Downs is also notable for some rare invertebrates, including Mycetobia obscura (Diptera) which is found only in one other locality in Britain and Ireland.  The woodland can be explored by walking the 4km loop trail starting at the entrance car park off the N11 southbound.