Lusk is a small town in Fingal, County Dublin, Ireland. The town is located about 23 km (14 mi) north of Dublin city centre. The name “Lusk” is said to date back to Saint MacCullin, who founded a church there c. 450. Oral tradition suggests MacCullin may have either lived in or been buried in a cave and that the name “Lusk” derives from an old Irish word Lusca meaning ‘cave’ or ‘underground chamber’. MacCullin died in c. 497 and his feast day was the 6th of September.
The area was known as Bregia in pre-Christian times and is known to have been birthplace to Cú Chulainn’s wife, Emer. Thus we find a 20th-century tradition among old Lusk families of naming daughters Emer.
Lusk Round Tower
The only remnant of an Early Christian foundation is the Round Tower. It stands about 27m high and retains its original conical cap. There are nine storeys including the basement. The flat-headed doorway is now less than 1m above ground level. The Round Tower is attached to a square tower built in the 15th or 16th century with three matching round towers at its corners. The large tower houses several medieval tombs including that of James Bermingham (1527) and the double-effigy tomb of Christopher Barnewell and his wife Marion Sharl (1589). The monastery itself had a violent history, having been pillaged and destroyed in 835 and burnt in 854. In 1089 the church was burnt again with 180 people inside and the abbey was devastated yet again in 1135. Austin Cooper first mentioned the tower in 1783 as being in good condition, though there were no floors or ladders at that time. These were fitted in the 1860s, along with a wood and cement roof by the rector, Dr. Wm. Reeves. He also filled up a breach in the second storey that led to the square medieval bell tower, and possibly another at the level of the belfry battlements. Metal grills were fitted into the windows in 1977. The present church was built against the east wall of the belfry in 1847 after a storm damaged the former (and much larger) building in 1838. The belfry is thought to date from approximately 1500. Other Items of Interest: The church on this site houses the Lusk Heritage Center and is currently underwent restoration.
Lusk Heritage Centre comprises of a round tower, a medieval belfry and a 19th century church. They form a unit, although they were built over a period of almost a thousand years. The belfry now houses an exhibition on medieval churches of North County Dublin and also the magnificent 16th century effigy tomb of Sir Christopher Barnewall and his wife Marion Sharl.
In the 2000s, Lusk had an exploding population. The Central Statistical Office notes that 62% of all private dwellings in Lusk were built in the five years between 2001 and 2006. Census figures for the same period show a population boom from c. 2500 to over 5200.
During most of the 20th century, the population remained fairly static. Census returns for 1901 and 1911 show a population boom from about 300 to 600. In the early 1950s, the Survey Gazetteer of The British Isles quotes a population of 513 for the village. Due to massive emigration in the 1950s and 1960s the later population actually declined. In the mid-1950s for instance, the total number of children in the old NS, boys and girls, hovered around 120. The present NS opened in 1956 with about that number.
Fingal is a very old district being about 4 thousand years older than Dublin City. Lusk was the capital of Fingal and was an important village over a very long period. There were originally five provinces in Ireland, the four current ones being Leinster, situated on the eastern area of the island, Munster to the south, Ulster to the north and Connaught to the west. The fifth province was royal Meath, so called because the
high king of Ireland had his castle in Meath. In banter the present Meath men would on occasions brag that Meath was a province and Dublin never was,would get the reply ,When Meath lost fingal they lost their provincial status. The flag of Fingal is a black raven on a white background. This emblem was adopted as Fingal’s flag after the Battle of Clontarf, now part of Dublin City, in 1014. Brian Boru the king of Munster gathered an army from all over Ireland and finally defeated the Vikings. The black raven standard was captured at the battle, and this was a decisive act in ending the battle. Alas, as one Viking, “Brudar” by name, was leaving the battlefield he saw King Brian praying in his tent and the last to die was the king. Brudar hit him on the head with a battle-axe. Lusk was a very old religious area with a round tower built circa 9th century. This round tower was built to look out to sea as Vikings raided Lusk on many occasions and burned the Village. The pickings were good in Lusk as the monks had gold and silver chalices and other religious objects. The round tower built of stone could not be burned. The monks would take refuge in this tower with their valuables. The entrance to the tower was 15 feet above ground level. Ladders were used to reach the entrance and pulled up by the monks. Lusk had a monastery founded by St MacCullin, which was older than St Mobhi’s monastery in Glasnevin. At one time, Rush, now a much bigger town, did not exist but was part of the parish of Lusk.
The Port of Lusk: In the olden day’s Lusk was a port. This is surprising as Lusk is not on the coast. The story harks back to the Viking days when small boats could sail into Rogerstown estuary. When a boat was spotted with a black raven on the sails the alarm would be raised. Panic would ensue and the monks would take their valuables up into the tower and sit it out. They would wait there until the danger passed. There was a strong culture in Lusk from the turn of the century and one man who was foremost in promoting this was Thomas Ashe. Thomas was from Lispole, Dingle, Co Kerry and he came to Lusk as headmaster of Corduff primary school. Thomas was founder member of the round towers GAA football and hurling clubs founded in 1906 and the Black Raven pipe band in 1910.