A WALK ALONG THE RIVER DARGLE – BRAY COUNTY WICKLOW APRIL 2017
The River Dargle is a river that rises in the Wicklow Mountains, on the southern slopes of Tonduff 642 metres (2,106 ft). It flows down the Glensoulan hanging valley, to fall over the 121 metres (397 ft) Powerscourt Waterfall. The Dargle then flows through the Glencree valley where it is fed by the River Glencree, before flowing east for a further 13 km (8.1 mi) where a small tributary the Swan River joins opposite the People’s Park, Little Bray. The final section 1 km (0.62 mi) section reaches the Irish Sea at Bray Harbour. The river’s name in Irish refers to the tint of red in the rocks at its source.
Sir Walter Scott visited the area in 1825 and mistakenly assumed that Dargle was the name for any glen, etc. He used the word in his novel Redgauntlet seven years later: Glen, nor dargle, nor mountain, nor cave, could hide the puir hill-folk.
About 1838 the eminent judge Philip Cecil Crampton, who lived at St. Valery House, by the Dargle, became a supporter of the temperance movement: to show his fidelity to the cause, he emptied the entire contents of his wine cellar into the river.
The folk song Waxies’ Dargle makes an indirect reference to the river. Non-religious holidays in Dublin – especially tradesmens’ days off – were traditionally referred to as a “Dargle Days” (from the habit of the Irish upper classes, of travelling off to the banks of the Dargle, to picnic and engage in field sports such as tennis, on such days). The “Waxie’s Dargle”, on the other hand, is a humorous reference to the annual outing of the Dublin shoe-makers and repairers (who were known as “Waxies”, from their habit of periodically running a ball of wax along the string as they stitched) to Irishtown on the River Dodder.