The so-called abbey in Mungret, County Limerick. There had been a monastery here, supposedly founded in the mid-sixth century by Saint Nessan, but due to frequent assault and despoliation over subsequent centuries, no trace of the original buildings survives. Instead, what can be found here dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries. In 1179 Donal Mór O Brien, King of Leinster granted the monastery and its lands to the Bishop of Limerick, and this subsequently became a parish church for Augustinian Canons Regular. The building is divided into three sections, the oldest part at the east end being the chancel, followed by the nave and then, at the west end, a square tower added in the 15th century and incorporating living quarters for a priest. Following the 16th century Reformation, the building continued to be used by the Church of Ireland until replaced by a new church designed by the Pain brothers in 1822 and located a short distance to the west of the older structure. The Pains’ work – which took the form of a Greek cross – did not survive long, since falling numbers of parishioners meant the new church at Mungret closed just 55 years later in 1877, before being unroofed in 1900, with much of the stone then reused to build a parochial house in nearby Raheen.
In the grounds of St Paul’s church, Newtownforbes, County Longford, this is believed to be the grave of Charlotte Brooke, a woman today too-little remembered or celebrated. Born around 1740, she was one of 22 children (only two of whom survived to adulthood) of Irish novelist and dramatist Henry Brooke whose Gustavus Vasa was famously the first play banned under the 1737 Licensing Act: it appears the Prime Minister Robert Walpole the villain of the piece resembled him. From an early age, Charlotte Brooke enjoyed a passionate interest in the Irish language and literature, translating many ancient texts into English so that they could reach an audience beyond these shores: her most celebrated work, Reliques of Irish Poetry, was published in 1788. By that date, she had become impoverished, her own money having been invested in a failed industrial scheme run by a cousin. As a result, she ended her days dependent on friends, dying in County Longford in 1793. Her body is thought to have been buried here, although her name is not on the stone, which instead carried the names of other members of the Brooke family.
On high ground offering superlative views over the surrounding countryside, this is St Osnadh’s church, Kellistown, County Carlow. It dates from 1810 when built with assistance from the Board of First Fruits, replacing a mediaeval church, the remains of which stand behind the present structure. St Osnadh’s is small and plain, with no windows on the north or west sides and it seems never to have been supported by many parishioners; as early as 1891 an observer noted that it was ‘no longer alas used for Divine Service, and apparently since the demise of its Rector, Rev. Garret, has been more or less closed.’ (This is presumably a reference to the Rev James Perkins Garrett, who died in 1879). Meanwhile, by the same date ‘the burial-ground is being quietly grazed by two goats; a donkey, and occasionally a pig, is allowed to stretch its limbs in a wild chase.’ The grounds today are no longer home to sundry livestock, but the church is a roofless shell.
South-east and to the rear of Kilkea Castle, County Kildare are the remains of a 13th century church, once associated – as was the main building – with the FitzGeralds, Earls of Kildare (and later Dukes of Leinster). Only the east gable and the remains of a chapel to the north survive, along with fragments of monuments to this once-mighty family. Inserted into a wall, for example, is a carving of a chained and collared animal, which might be a dog or perhaps a monkey which featured on the FitzGerald arms. Aforementioned arms can also be found on another stone. Kilkea Castle is today an hotel.
After Monday’s post about the remains of the once-splendid Barry residence in Castlelyons, County Cork, readers might be interested to see this: a mausoleum erected not far away in the graveyard of Kill St Anne Church. Dating from c.1753, it commemorates James Barry, fourth Earl of Barrymore who had died five years earlier. Born in 1667, the earl had enjoyed a distinguished military career, supporting William of Orange and then participating in the War of the Spanish Succession during which he rose to the rank of Lieutenant-General. However, late in life, he became a supporter of the Jacobite cause and in 1744 was arrested and imprisoned; following the failure of Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s attempted rebellion the following year, the elderly earl was released. He died in January 1748.
His mausoleum in the old village graveyard is constructed of rubble limestone, the eastern facade having an advanced and pedimented centre of red brick, the Serlian opening surrounded by red marble-limestone, its wrought-iron gates topped with an earl’s coronet. To the rear of the groin-vaulted interior is the deceased’s monument composed of different coloured marbles. Completed in 1753, it was the work of David Sheehan and John Houghton, the latter responsible for the angels and presumably the half-length figure of the earl inside a central medallion. Wonderfully unexpected, it is a little bit of Roman baroque in the middle of the Irish countryside.
The skeleton of a former parish church at Rathbarry, County Cork. It dates from 1825 when constructed at a cost of £1,900, of which £1,000 was provided by John Evans-Freke, sixth Baron Carbury who lived in nearby Castle Freke: the family mausoleum is immediately south of the church. The building is more elaborate than most such structures erected at the time with help from the Board of First Fruits, the three-storey buttressed tower finished with a slender pinnacle in each corner, and the main entrance on the west front being via a projecting narthex. Inside the chancel and below the east window are the surviving portions of late-19th century mosaic work provided by the ninth baron and his wife. The church ceased to be used for services in 1927, just over a century after it had been finished.
On the south wall of the chancel in a now ruinous late-medieval church in Ardrahan, County Galway can be found a monument to the Taylor family who for many centuries lived nearby in Castle Taylor, a house abandoned in the 1930s and now just a shell. The inscription reads: ‘This monument was erected by Capt. John Taylor and Walter Taylor Esq. for them and their posterities, 1747.’
Built close to the shoreline of the river Shannon 210 years ago in 1812, only the three-stage tower remains of a little Church of Ireland church at Mount Trenchard, County Limerick. In the immediate grounds are the graves of Mary Spring Rice, a daughter of the second Lord Monteagle, who was among the group responsible for bringing a large number of rifles for the Irish Volunteers from Germany on board the Asgard in July 1914. Also buried here is her cousin, Conor O’Brien, grandson of William Smith O’Brien: a keen sailor, he also helped bring arms to Ireland at that time and then in 1923-25 circumnavigated the world in his yacht Saoirse. A plaque on the gateway into this peaceful little site records their names and those of others from the area involved in gun-running activities during the same period.
After Wednesday’s post, here is a somewhat larger memorial, found at Cregaclare, County Galway. This little Gothic mausoleum commemorates John Charles Robert Bingham, fourth Baron Clanmorris who lived in nearby Cregaclare House (since demolished) and who died in 1876. Dating from 1890 and set within the ruins of a late-mediaeval church, the mausoleum was erected by Lord Clanmorris’s widow, Sarah Selina Persse who was also interred there following her death in 1907. The couple’s remains stayed inside the building until 1947 when removed to a graveyard in nearby Ardrahan.
For lovers of old funerary monuments: this one now set into the wall of St Mary’s Church in Magheraculmoney, County Fermanagh. The inscription reads as follows:’
Here lieth intered James Johnston late of Banagh Esq.
Who died April 15, 1757 aged 66 Years’
Originally from Scotland, the Johnston family had settled in this part of the country at the start of the 17th century and came to own over 7,000 acres in Fermanagh.