Flatrock is located north of St. John's, near Red Head. The name "Flatrock" has been called by some one of the oldest names associated with Newfoundland. It was more than likely derived from the rock formations that are found in the area. The formations are described by J. B. Jukes in his Excursions in and about Newfoundland: "Along the south side of this little cove, the thick red sandstone dips at a slight angle towards the sea, forming a long, smooth, sloping pavement, whence the name of the place."
According to E.R. Seary (1976), Flatrock first appears on English maps in 1630-1640. It was settled by the late 1700s or early 1800s, mostly by Irish people. Dennis Maher, born in 1780 in Tipperary, Ireland, moved first to Nova Scotia and then to St. John's, before finally settling in Flatrock. The first family to settle there was the McDonalds and they are supposed to have had the first child born in Flatrock, John. Other early inhabitants include: Richard Waterman (1820), Solomon Gosse (1821), William Martin, Edward Whalen, James Burke, and James Reddy or Ready (Seary 1976). By the 1860s Kehoes, most notably John Kehoe, and Mahers had arrived. By 1871, the Holahan (perhaps an early derivative of Houlihan) and Power families lived there. According to Lovell's Province of Newfoundland Directory for 1871, residents at that time included the Allen, Bulger, Burden, Carew, Cockran (Cochran), Doyle, Goff, Grace, Hickey, Holahan, Kavanaugh, McDonnell (MacDonald), Maynard, Murphy, Parsons, and Stamp families, to name a few. Most were of Irish origin.
Many of the early family names can still be found in the community today. The Maher, Kehoe, Houlihan, and Power families, for instance, remained part of the community in the late 20th century. Local landmarks, such as Maher's Rock and Houlihan's Marsh, are named for prominent families.
This is a largely Roman Catholic community.
MacEdward Leach collected from nine people in Flatrock in 1950:
Photo courtesy of Dr. Beverley Diamond, Memorial University of Newfoundland.