Kingstown to Dún Laoghaire – the centenary of changing names
The original site of Dunleary, meaning Laoghaire’s Fort, was located adjacent to the existing West Pier in Dún Laoghaire Harbour and had been a settlement for more than 1,500 years. With the construction of the Harbour from 1817 and the development of the railway in 1834 the centre of the town moved to its current location that we know. A visit to the town from reigning British monarch George IV in 1821 resulted in the name Dunleary changing to Kingstown, in his honour.
1920 was a tumultuous time in Ireland, with the country in the throes of the War of Independence. However, the business of local government continued as usual and in January 1920, the first local elections in urban districts since 1914 were held, using the newly introduced system of proportional representation. In Kingstown, 21 candidates were returned to the Urban District Council, with Sinn Féin and the Labour Party successfully contesting seats for the first time.
One of the newly elected Sinn Féin Councillors was Seán Ó hUadhaigh, who at the Council Meeting on 6th July 1920, proposed that – after a period of a just over 98 years – the name of the town be changed from Kingstown to Dún Laoghaire. Of the 19 Councillors in attendance, the motion was carried by 10 votes to 8, with one abstention. In addition to the Urban District Council, it was agreed that the name change would apply to certain roads, and that the Royal Victoria Baths be renamed the Dún Laoghaire Baths.
It would take some time for the changes to be ratified and implemented in full, especially with relation to the railway, but 100 years ago today, the town was given the name by which it continues to be known today.