Friday, 26 June 2020

Chapelmidway Church Co Dublin

                                             Above Image: The entrance gate

                                              Above Image: The East facing wall

                                             Above Image: Roof markings on wall.

                                         Above Image: Segmented East doorway

                                                   Above Image: A fireplace?

                                        Above Image: Vaulted roof in the chamber

Chapelmidway draws its name from its location which is halfway between St. Margaret's and Kilsallaghan both also recorded as being ecclesiastical sites.
The remains of this medieval church circa early 15th century are situated on elevated ground within a walled enclosure.The Church which was in use certainly up to the dissolution of Irish m
onasteries and churches by Henry VIII between 1536-1541 was recorded in 1615 as being ruinous. The final nail in the coffin was struck by Cromwellian forces who mostly destroyed it in 1649 as they moved towards Drogheda. In later years the grounds were used for burials with the earliest stone recorded here as being from 1740.
A narrow lane leads up to graveyard from the roadside and we were greeted on both sides by barking dogs who sprang into action literally at the sound of a leaf being trod on. To be fair they were in adjacent garden enclosures which were fenced and so presented no physical inconvenience to the us.
On first sight of the ruin it appears to be a square structure with a doorway in East side and the remains of a narrow tower on the East/North Corner. On looking inside the doorway the chamber within was quite small, too small for a church and had what looked to be the remains of a fireplace on the inner West wall. Strangely too, the room was vaulted and from this I could only assume that this was a supplementary part of the church and not the main nave or chancel. As I discovered later it is in fact the remains of quite a large West tower and what I thought to be a small tower on the corner was actually remains of the East/North corner of this larger tower. Evidence is also present of an extended building with the sloped mark of a former roof on the taller part of the East wall. Apparently a reasonably large church had once been attached as some of its foundations were discovered almost 25 feet to the East of the ruins.There is also evidence of a former staircase on the outer South wall leading up above the vaulted chamber.This area is partially covered in ivy.
The ruins that have survived have left us a most unusual looking structure and are well worth a look. Hidden from view now by the modern housing on the roadside it would be so easily overlooked but once you enter the enclosure it is just feels soaked in history.
To find the ruins take the junction 5 exit for Finglas from the M50 onto the N2. Once on the N2 drive approx 500m and take the exit left for Coldwinters. This leads to a T-junction where you turn right and drive 1.4Km to Kilshane Crossroads. Turn right here and drive to the next roundabout where you turn left onto the R122. Drive on for approx 900m and then take a left at the sign pointing to St Margaret's (R122). A few metres on you reach a T-junction. Turn right here and follow this road until you have passed a left hand turn signposted for Mulhuddart (R121). 500m further on you will reach a small row of bungalows on your left. The lane way up to the ruins lies between the 2nd and 3rd house. There is just enough room to park at the foot of the lane.

Monday, 15 June 2020

O'Brien's Tower Co Clare

                                         Above Image: An Branan Mor Sea Stack

                                     Above Image: Part of the Pathway to the tower

                                   Above Image & Below Image: Views of the Cliffs

Cornelius O'Brien a wealthy landowner of the estate of Birchfield and of some 10,000 acres was a parliamentarian representing County Clare for around 20 years beginning in 1832. His legacy appears to live in the existence of this tower and the various improvements he paid for in making it accessible to visitors more than in the fact that he was a well to do landlord. Many speak today of his treatment of the tenantry in harsher words than those in the day who applauded his vision of early tourism.
The castellated tower was a folly he built to impress visitors and indeed some of his lady friends as well with it's commanding views of the famed Cliffs of Moher
There was apparently also a tearoom built inside along with a staircase to the top and a large cast iron table outside. He built the tower in 1835 and with new pathways leading to it attracted flocks of people. The tower over time was weathered by the salt air sweeping in from the Atlantic and in 1970 it was decided to renovate it and open a small visitor centre nearby. Between 2005 and 2007 a larger brand new centre was constructed into the landscape and covered over so that it blended pleasingly into its surroundings
Today you can visit the centre and if by car it will cost 8 Euro per adult for entry, a price I find a bit punchy if I might say. This fee includes entrance to the centre, car parking and access to the cliffs. To enter O'Brien's Tower it is another 4 Euro. But truth be told the views at ground level are spectacular enough. I like the look of this little tower as it stands like a sentinel above the vast ocean that sweeps up against the cliffs with the next port of call just above the 53rd parallel being Belle island off the North coast of Newfoundland.
If you are on foot you can bypass the visitor centre and it is on an  honour system that you will pay at the centre. Locals tell me that it is a right of way to the cliffs and have never been asked to show a ticket. But if you wish to have the visitor experience inside you can always opt to pay at the visitor centre itself.
We were impressed by both the new pathways and the views from there. The tower is well worth a visit and I have heard that since my visit it has been newly rendered with lime to match how it originally looked, From the tower area you can look down also on the magnificent sea stack called "An Branan Mor" and the distant Hags Head which I hope to visit as soon as this pesky virus moves on.
One word of advice try and visit early in the morning or late evening to avoid crowds, tour buses etc.
This site can become extremely busy at times.
To find the tower take the N67 South from Lisdoonvrna and follow the signs for the cliffs. Approx 2Km out of the village take a right hand turn onto the R478 again following the "Cliff" signs. Drive for approx 8KM on the R478 until you see the car park on the left. This is where you pay the entrance fee, so if you are just walking up to the cliffs only then it would be advisable for the driver only to park the car and join the others on foot as the charge applies to each person in the car. Alternatively if visiting during June - August a shuttle bus serves several towns to the cliffs. See info here and prices here

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Old Kiltartan Church Co Galway

                                              Above Image: The entry gate

                                                Above Image: The East gable

                                          Above Image: Entry Door in North wall

                                                 Above Image: Inner East gable

                                       Above Image: Interior of East gable window

                                                   Above Image: Tomb Niche

                                                Above Image: Inner West gable

This medieval church ruin lies a little over two miles North of Gort in County Galway. The church is dedicated to St. Attracta a contemporary of St. Patrick.The dedication is a little surprising as the patron saint in this area is generally St. Colman and a number of places have been named after him. His remains are buried in the nearby site of Kilmacduagh (see previous post here).
While the church commemorates St. Attracta the townland of Kiltartan is taken from the Gaelic Cill Tartain, or Church of Tartan.
We found the ruin while travelling in the area and stopped for a look. It was sited in an oval shaped walled enclosure. where a metal swing gate allows easy entry into the cemetery. The peace and solitude of this location is almost deafening, the silence broken only by the occasional crows that seem to congregate for some reason in graveyards.
You can enter the ruin by way of a nicely arched doorway in the North wall which is gated but thankfully unlocked.
The remains measure approx 65' x 25' and all walls are standing although there is some degree of deterioration on The West gable which also has a growth of the dreaded ivy attached to it.
Inside the ground is a bit rough underfoot but there are quite a few graveslabs peppering the floor which aid in moving around. A very tall and prominent yew tree is growing within the walls..
In the inner North wall an arched recess is located containing a crucifix and what looks to be the remains of the font from the church. This recess at first I thought might been a Sedlia or seating for priests but on closer inspection appears to be a Tomb Niche.
There are several narrow windows in the church but the most interesting is the triple lighted window of the East wall which is the most decorative.
Local history records that the church was used as a protestant church after the reformation and when it fell into ruin is unclear. Two facts available are that it is listed as ruinous in 1837 on the Ordnance Survey map of that time and also that a new larger Protestant church was built in Ballyhugh, Gort around 1810. So the larger church may have taken the congregation and closed up the smaller church as was the case with many small churches at that time..
To find the ruin take the N66 heading North on the main street out of the village of Gort and when you reach the roundabout take the third exit signposted for the R458 to Ardrahan. Drive for approx 2.5KM until you have passed through a small crossroads with the L8525. About 80m past this a small road forks to the left. Turn onto this road and continue for another 100m where it forks again. Stick to the left hand fork and you will find the ruins on your right approx 300m ahead. You can park easily enough in the small car park adjacent to the ruin.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Old St Fintan's Chapel Sutton Co Dublin

                                Above Image: Entry gate and keeper's cottage ruin

                                             Above Image: Bellingham family plot.

                                                Above Image: West gable door

St.Fintan was a 6th century monk later canonized and was associated with the important monastic site of Clonenagh. It is still unsure how his association with Sutton came about. The fact that the name Sutton is derived from Gaelic "Sui Fhiontain" which translates to The Seat of Fintan would indicate some relationship with him in some form or other. To locals the old graveyard at Sutton is the resting place of Fintan and the small church was a shrine to him bearing his remains when they were transferred to Sutton when Clonenagh ceased to be in the 12th century. The little church is thought to date to the ninth century leaving the idea of it being too early a construct to be a shrine still shrouded in mystery. There is a non-extant holy well named after him not to far from the graveyard and the new church also bears his name. So one would assume that he had some connection with the area.
The chapel ruin was probably used later as a local place of worship and at approx 16' x 8' in size must be one of the smallest chapels in the country, but I believe the little church of St Benan on Inishmore in the Aran Islands is thought to be the littlest at approx 12' x 7' in size.
When I visited St Fintan's I found the chapel at the West end of the old graveyard. There is the ruin of an old keeper's cottage at the entrance gate. The East window of the chapel is bricked up leaving only two small windows in parallel with each other on the North and South walls. The doorway is in the West wall and is gated and locked and the interior looks quite overgrown. On my visit the small belfry on the West wall was covered in ivy and so is what remains of the roof. I Believe the walls slant up at an angle but the apex of the roof is missing being replaced by a metal grill. This too is overgrown at the moment. The belfry mentioned was a later addition to the chapel giving more evidence of it being used as a small place of worship. At its North wall a fenced area has been erected to contain the graves of members of the Bellingham family.
When the chapel fell into ruin is unclear but there is a print in the National Library by Eward McFarland from 1853 depicting the chapel as ruinous.
To find the ruin take the R105 towards Howth and turn right at Sutton Cross onto Greenfield Road. It is signposted as the scenic route. After approx 900m the name of the road changes to Carrickbrennan Rd. Continue for another 800m and you will see the new cemetery on your right. The old graveyard entry gate is just beyond this. You can park at the wall of the new cemetery.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Rockbrook Standing Stones Co Dublin

                         Above Image & Below 4 Images: Southern stone (X4 on map)

                         Above Image & Below 3 Images: Northern stone (X3 on map)

                         Above Image: Boundary stones (X1 & X2 left to right on map)

                                       Above Image: Gatepost stone (X5 on map)

                                      Above Image: Boundary stone (X6 on map)

                                Above & Below Image: Paddock stone (X7 on map)

                            Above Image: Map showing stone positions.(Kilmashogue
                                                     stone is X8 on map)  Map © Google Maps

We set out to see this pair of standing stones only knowing the name of the road that they could be found along. The Tibradden Road is a narrow road and virtually impossible to find a safe parking spot on so we by passed the entrance to it at the junction with Mutton Lane and continued on to the next left turn which is a small cul-de-sac named St. Brendan's Terrace and parked there. We then walked back to Tibradden Road and we were glad we did as while walking the 300 or so metres down to the field which contained the stones we came across what looked to be two further stones set into the boundary wall acting as gateposts to a now bricked up gateway. (X1 & X2 on map above)  We found two more just beyond the point where we could see the pair of standing stones in the field again set into the wall acting as gateposts.(X5 & X6 on map). X5 has a metal gate attached that just would not open) It is most likely that these are not the original positions of these 4 stones but then again one of two might just well be.
With no proper access gate we had to clamber over the boundary wall to get access to the field stones. The ground was lower in the field than on the road so we just looked along the inside of the wall until we found a spot a bit higher. There were one or two cows in there but no prohibitive signs. The two stones in the meadow we named X3 and X4. X3 is the more Northern of the pair and stands at approx 2.0m in height and leans at an angle to the East. The Southern stone X4 is approx 1.8m high and is more straight only leaning slightly Westward. Although these stones aligned with each other they did not appear to have any distinct alignment with the boundary wall stones. They do appear to have an alignment with yet another stone which we discovered was positioned in a field on the opposite side of the road and on private ground in what appeared to be a paddock. A better view can be had from the fence on Cloagh Road which is a road leading off Tibradden Road about 80m past position of the field stones.The stone appears to approx 1.5m in height and again is leaning, this time in a Southerly direction.
If in fact that the alignment is deliberate then the 4 boundary stones may have originally been positioned to form a series of way markers, but to where?  The stones at Rockbrook we think may be associated with another standing stone that is positioned in nearby Kilmashogue. It is marked X8 on the map. (see earlier post here) The stone there aligns with the wedge tomb in the woods and further than that the Fairy Castle passage tomb on Two Rock mountain.(see post here) Take away all the modern roads and buildings and you may have had the makings of a Bronze age trail to an important burial site high on a mountain. It is food for thought anyway. Interestingly none of the 8 stones we have seen are marked on any Ordnance Survey map which I find curious as they certainly have some historical significance. There may be other stones hiding from view along Tibradden Road as the wall in parts succumbs to overgrowth or some may be hidden in the trees beyond it, but what we came across was proof enough for us that this was more than an ordinary site and the origins and meaning of these stones are still shrouded in mystery.
To find the standing stones take the Edmondstown Road (R116) leading South from the roundabout with Taylor's Lane and drive for approx 2.2KM until you pass the Merry Ploughboy pub on your left. About 300m past the pub take the next left turn (a road sloping down adjacent to the main road) About 120m along, the road veers to the left with another road going straight on. The road veering left is Tibradden Road down which you will need to walk and the road straight on is Mutton Lane. Drive onto Mutton lane and park in the road which is next left. This is St. Brendan's Terrace. Walk back to Tibradden Road and follow our route on foot as mentioned above.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Old Killiney Church Co Dublin

                                               Above Image: The entrance gate.

                                          Above Image: The North facing doorway

                                            Above Image: Interior of East gable

                                            Above Image: A worn ancient cross

                                                     Above Image: Stone font

                                              Above image: South facing window

                                        Above Image: West facing lintelled doorway

                                          Above Image: Buttress on East gable

This old parish church ruin is really two churches in one and is one of the most interesting examples of its kind. It is situated in an elevated area within a stone walled graveyard nestled among some private houses in Marino Avenue West.
The church is called Killiney which is derived from the Gaelic "Cill Inion Leinin" which translated is "Church of the daughters of Lenin" (and no, not Vladimir Lenin!). Lenin was the son of Garrchon and his daughters were all saintly ladies who it is thought lived in this area as there has been an ecclesiastical presence here since the 6th century. One of his daughters Bridget (aka Brighit or Briga) was also associated with Tully Church in Loughlinstown (see earlier post here).
As mentioned the church is made up of two sections. The original Section on the South was constructed in the 11th century while the Northern part was added in the 16th century before the dissolution of which it fell victim to in 1541. The lands and church were passed over to the Church of Ireland deanery at Christchurch in Dublin and was manned by clergy from nearby Dalkey. To what extent its usage was is unsure but it is recorded as being in ruin and ivy covered by Samuel Lewis in his 1840 publication "A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" The earliest gravestone found here dates from 1791.
We attempted to visit these ruins in the past but to no avail as the gate was always locked. It was not possible to get a good view from outside but it was surprising when we eventually got inside to see how large it was. Information on how to access the ruins came purely by chance as a reader of this blog put me wise. The key was located behind the counter of the "Cafe de la Gare" at the DART railway station in Killiney. A very helpful lady gave us the key on the promise of bringing it back.
Opening the locked gate felt like entering Hodgson Burnett's secret garden and we were full of anticipation. I have to say we weren't disappointed in the least and particular mention must be made to the grounds inside which are very well maintained.
We entered the Church itself by the Southern doorway which I believe is called the "Choir Arch". Once in here we discovered as mentioned how much larger the interior was than what we expected. Both sections are in remarkably good shape and all walls with small exceptions remain upright and  roofless, although the older part is missing the top half of its West gable. The horrible ivy described by Samuel Lewis in his gazeteer is no longer traceable making the interior open to full inspection. The two sections are divided by the original North wall of the church in which several arched openings were made to provide access to the newer section which seems to have been utilized as an aisle of some sort.
On the West side is a solid lintelled doorway which unusually has (and could be so easily overlooked) a "Greek" styled cross carved on its underside, Also within the older part of the ruins you will find a number of interesting artefacts, There is a plain and very weather worn cross, an old font belonging to the church and a couple of interesting grave slabs.
Altogether this was a really enjoyable visit although re-locking the gate took a little time as the lock had a short shackle and frustratingly needed to be positioned in a particular way to close properly. On returning the key we refreshed ourselves after the lock ordeal with a nice coffee break in the cafe!
To find the ruins, take the M50 motorway Southbound and exit at junction 16 onto the R118. Drive for approx 1.3KM and you will cross a bridge over the N11. About 500m further take the second right hand turn onto Wyattville Road. Follow this road through a small roundabout and a crossroads with Church Road (you will see a stone obelisk monument on the right) Drive straight on through the junction onto Military Road and approx 220m later you will reach a staggered crossroads with the R119 (Killiney Hill Road). From here you can find the ruins by turning left and 150m further take a turn onto the narrow Marino Avenue West. The Gate to the ruins are tucked away on your right between two houses about 260m up the lane. You can park at the gate but be careful not to block any other gates. You will of course need a key. So before you take the left hand turn off Military Road to visit the ruins, continue on straight through the crossroads with Killiney Hill Road to the next junction (very narrow so watch for oncoming vehicles) then turn left onto Strand Road. The DART railway station is on your right about 200m along. There are plenty of disc parking spaces around if you need them. The key is available at the station cafe (Cafe De La Gare). Don't forget to lock the graveyard gate when done and return the key.