- of Golden Hill and Ballyknockan

Daniel Doyle held the lease to Golden Hill quarry from 1796, when George Ponsonby acquired the Kilbride estate.  At his time Doyles replaced Tassies as quarrymasters at Golden Hill.


Michael Doyle, the famous stonemason of Golden Hill was probably Daniel's son.  whose His gravestone at Kilbride cemetery contains inscriptions which indicate that he was head of a Masonic Lodge. 


Thomas Brady, a land surveyor, mentioned in the Tithe Book of 1828 and the OS surveyors' notebooks in 1838, lived at Kilbride Lodge, (which was later renamed Glen Heste), and was a member of this family. 


In 1817 Doyles lease on Golden Hill quarry expired.  Worse still, George Ponsonby, from whom Doyles held their lease for the quarry, died suddenly.  Ponsonby's widow, Lady Mary, took until 1824 to dispose of the Kilbride land.  This left Doyles time to organise their move to a new quarry, at Ballyknockan, which they did in conjunction with Patrick Olligan, to whom they were related, as Patrick Olligan's father was a brother-in-law of Michael Doyle.


The Doyle and Olligan quarrying operation at Ballyknockan was successful because of the partnership of Olligans and Doyles.  It is likely that the Dublin end of the operation was run by Patrick Olligan, the quarry at Ballyknockan by Michael Olligan and the transport operation by John Olligan, Patrick's brother.  In addition, they had yards in Dublin to support their granite carters and the Dublin building sites.  They opened a transport support depot at Hempstown, to compensate for the 50% increase in the journey distance from Ballyknockan to Dublin compared to the Golden Hill to Dublin journey distance.


When the quarrying moved to Ballyknockan in 1824, the former workforce at Golden Hill remained living nearby - at Kilbride, Oldcourt and Woodend - and for many years, these men trekked across the hills from their homes near the former quarries on Mondays and home again on Fridays and became known as 'the Walkers'. 


Over time the workforce expanded at Ballyknockan using local men who were trained as stonecutters by 'old hands'. 


One famous stonecutter still remembered for his role in training the new and local recruits at Ballyknockan in the 1820s is Paul Duffy. 

1838 map showing the former Golden Hill and Kilbride quarries
1838 map showing the former Golden Hill and Kilbride quarries


Doyles operated a second quarry at Kilbride, located about 300m behind the church.  This most likely provided a different type of granite, possibly for large blocks suitable for columns.   This quarry was worked sporadically until the late 1830s.


The Doyle-Olligan partnership operation of Ballyknockan quarry continued until Michael Doyle died in 1843.  In his will, he left his share in the quarry '1/2 and 1/2' to John Brady and Patrick Reilly.  We can only assume they were either married to Michael Doyle's daughters or were integral to the success of the business, or both.


After Doyle's death in 1843 the partnership operation of the quarry at Ballyknockan broke down and soon Olligan, Brady and Reilly were operating three separate quarries at Ballyknockan.

Advertisement for John Doyles quarry, 1906
Advertisement for John Doyles quarry, 1906

Michael Doyle's sons and subsequent generations of the Doyle family continued to be involved in the quarry at Ballyknockan for the remainder of the 1800s and into the 1900s, but as stonecutters rather than partners, and some of these Doyles became famous stonecutters in their own right.


Around 1900, one of Michael Doyle’s descendants - John Doyle -  opened his own quarry at Ballyknockan, for which we have an advertisement, dated 1906.










Created by John Hussey December 2012.