Image by infomatique
Balbriggan is thirty two kilometers north of Dublin city, on the Belfast–Dublin main line of the Irish rail network. Commuter rail services serve Balbriggan railway station, which opened on 25 May 1844 and closed for goods traffic on 2 December 1974. It is estimated that about 2,200 commuters use the station every working day. The town is also located next to the M1 motorway (the section known as the Balbriggan Bypass), which was completed in 1998. Prior to this, the main Dublin-Belfast road went through the centre of the town, with major traffic congestion on a daily basis.
Balbriggan is the most northerly town in Fingal (although the village of Balscadden lies further north within the county), and is situated very close to Drogheda.
The River Bracken, also known as the Matt River, which flows through the town, once formed a lake known locally at "The Canal" or "Head"(of water). The water was sluiced through a canal and tunnels down to the Lower Mill where it turned a waterwheel to drive the cotton manufacturing machinery. The retaining wall of the reservoir collapsed in the 1960s and the area was reclaimed through land-fill in the early 1980s to create a public park.
The Sack of Balbriggan
The assault on the village’s population by the British Black and Tans based in the nearby Gormanstown military barracks on 9 September 1920 was one of the more infamous acts of the Irish War of Independence. This event, known as the "Sack of Balbriggan", resulted in the destruction of 54 houses and a hoisery factory, and the looting of four public houses. The attack received much international attention due to Balbriggan’s position close to foreign news correspondents in Dublin. A subsequent delegation from the United States pledged to rebuild thirty homes in the village and a local factory. Other deaths followed during the war, most noticeably those of Séamus Lawless and Sean Gibbons who were bayoneted to death by the British forces on 20 September 1920. A plaque on Bridge Street in the town commemorates their murder.