Ancestry UK

Bird's Nest Home, Kingstown / Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

The Bird's Nest at Kingstown (now known as Dun Laoghaire) was founded in 1859 in memory of Mrs Whately and Mrs George Wale, the wife and daughter of the former Protestant Archbishop of Dublin. It was one of a number of homes run by Ellen Smyly, in association with the Irish Church Missions.

On April 11th, 1861, the foundation stone for a new building was laid at site on York Street (now York Road), Kingstown. The home housed up to 150 boys and girls aged from 4 to 12 years.

Bird's Nest Home, Kingstown, Dublin, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

Bird's Nest Home, Kingstown, Dublin, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

Applicants to the Home were required to be at least seven years old, destitute and free from disease, and able to provide their parents' marriage certificate. The children of mixed marriages, or of Roman Catholic parentage were given preference, others being eligible for other institutions. The friends of a few of the children paid £8 a year for their maintenance. 80 of the children were 'adopted', i.e. paid for by various ladies. The children are mostly trained for service.

Bird's Nest Home, Kingstown, Dublin, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

Bird's Nest Home, Kingstown, Dublin, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

The Bird's Nest had a branch home called Nead le Farrige, at Spiddal, County Galway.


Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.

  • Records for Smyly's homes (including emigration records) are physically held at the Representative Church Body Library in Dublin. However, access is restricted to staff of the Smyly Trust to whom initial enquiries should be directed at 15 Rock Hill, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland (+353 1 283 2071,


  • Smyly, Vivienne The Early History of Mrs Smyly's Homes and Schools (c.1976, privately published)