The earliest documentary evidence for the family in the Blessington area dates back to 1727. However, no specific details are known of their role in the
earlier quarrying locations at Woodend, Threecastles, or Golden Hill.
The first documentary evidence for their involvement in granite quarrying relates to Ballyknockan. During the boom in the Irish economy in the 1860s many new quarries opened there.
In 1862 James Freeman married Margaret Commons and also took over the quarry at Ballyknockan which had been operated by Bryan Hanlon in 1853. Local lore says that prior to Bryan Hanlon it had originally been operated by Costellos, who were one of the original Ballyknockan families listed in the Cobbe rentals for Ballyknockan in 1771.
James Freeman died as Irish economy crashed in 1879 and his widow, Margaret, was evicted from the quarry in May 1883. By 1888 the occupier was John Brien and the quarry has since then been known as 'Johnny Brien's quarry'.
The Valuation Office records show that it was sublet on many occasions and that, on occasions, part of it was used for dumping of spoil from adjoining quarries.
The final phase of working this quarry was from about 1917 until about 1930 by James Freeman, the grandson of the man who worked it up to 1879.
At this time James Freeman carried out some of the reconstruction work in Dublin following the Rebellion of 1916.
Created December 2012.