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The present-day Carlingford area was originally inhabited by the Burramattagal clan. The area adjoins present-day Ponds Creek valley and is adjacent to the headwaters of Hunts Creek that flows west into Darling Mills Creek and the Parramatta River.
Despite speculation that the suburb may have been named for the town of Carlingford in County Louth, Leinster, Ireland, it was in fact named in honour of Lord Carlingford, the British Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies between 1847 and 1860. Originally a hilly rural area known for its citrus fruit, after World War II the farms and orchards of Carlingford were displaced by housing and today the suburb is largely urban.
Frederick Charles Cox, a former mayor of Parramatta, was one of the district's leading orchardists. A butcher by trade, with a shop in Parramatta, he became an alderman and mayor of Parramatta and lived at Blenheim, now demolished, on Pennant Hills Road. Together with the Mobbs, Spurway, Sonter and Eyles families, the Cox family achieved some acclaim with their orange orchards. As their district came under the municipality of Dundas in later times, members of these families were closely associated with the corporation as aldermen and mayors.
An extension of the private railway from Clyde, which was once destined for Dural, terminated at Carlingford, with the line bisecting Cox's property. The station opened as Pennant Hills on 2 April 1896, then, as part of the state government railway line, it became known as Carlingford on 1 August 1901. It was then that this essentially rural area developed a village centre and today there is a small shopping centre near the railway station and a large complex at Mobbs Hill.
Carlingford is mainly known for the K13 Submarine Memorial, a monument dedicated to all submarines and their crews lost between 1914 and 1955. Located at 304 Pennant Hills Road (near the Attention Road corner), the park and the memorial were donated by CA Freestone, a Parramatta businessman who had served on the K13. Designed by architect Douglas Snelling, and sculpted by Gerald Lewers, the memorial was unveiled in 1961.
The suburb is also known for James Ruse Agricultural High School, a public agricultural high school that is one of New South Wales's most academically successful schools.