This panel highlights the key heritage sites in Rathdangan and provides an overview of the Rathdangan Heritage Trail, from Killamoat Church to Cranreen Cemetry.
Although a small village today, Rathdangan shows evidence of habitation for millennia, with a Bronze Age burial cist discovered near Cranareen Cemetry, a fort dating from the 8th Century or earlier and a Norman ‘moat’ in Killamoat. A survey of the village in 1668 recorded 18 houses, a substantial settlement for that time.
Rathdangan, or Rath Daingin (meaning the strong fort) got its name from a fort or rath 800m east of the village. Sadly little trace of it remains today. Fortunately the physical evidence of Rathdangan’s rich history is supplemented by memories and stories, many of them recorded in a booklet on the Rathdan Heritage Trail which is available locally.
Rathdangan GAA club enjoyed a golden era during the 1920s and 1930s with senior championship successes and a number of league titles. Links with the GAA were reinforced when the local schoolmaster, Hugh Byrne, served as President of the GAA from 1961 to 1964.
Rathdangan is also defined by geography. Lying as it does on the road from Aughrim to Baltinglass, Rathdangan has long been recognised as a gateway between east and west Wicklow. The ground beyond the village rises northwards towards the broad shoulders of Lugnaquilla, Wicklow’s highest mountain. Today the mountains provide Rathdangana with a scenic backdrop but, in severe winters such as 1947, 1963 and 1982, with fewer transport options, this community was cut off for weeks. This hardship instilled a spirit of self-reliance that remains strong in the people of the area.