Saturday, 12 October 2019

Old Mulhuddart Church Co Dublin

                                                Above Image: The entrance gate

                                         Above Image: North wall entrance door

                                  Above Image: The vaulted ground floor of the tower

This forlorn little ruin is all that remains of the medieval parish church of Mulhuddart. More precisely the land is called Buzzardstown named after William Bossard, one of the Norman settlers. The church dates back to the fourteenth century with the tower being an addition possibly about a century later. The addition of the tower blocked the original entrance and so a new doorway was created in the North wall.
The church stands on a hill which once afforded fine views of the rural countryside but it now finds itself dwarfed by urbanisation. The church is dedicated to the virgin Mary as it is in close proximity to an important holy well which is now housed in a small chapel shaped structure on the roadside opposite the church. This well also gave a name to the local area of Ladyswell,
The church remained in use until the early 1600's although since the reformation mass could no longer be said there and so it was passed to the protestant community. A royal visit in 1615 had stated the the church was in good repair but with such a low protestant community to support it, the church finally fell in ruin as attested by Archbishop Bulkeley in 1630. It has remained a ruin since then.
I visited this site one day during a lunch break from work as it was close by. While not being awestruck by it, I did find the nature of the structure interesting, especially the vaulted lower room of the remains of the tower. A local tale tells of a company of men belonging to Col. Foulkes took refuge from a storm in the ruins in 1690 during the Williamite wars only to find themselves discovered by the Jacobites and killed outright. I felt that especially in the vaulted area there was still a tinge of something in the air that didn't seem quite right. I wasn't aware of the killings until later when researching the site but it still sticks with me that death had left a stain of some sort there.
What remains today are parts of the nave and chancel but most of the tower which would have been quite sturdy is non-extant. A modern graveyard has emerged beside the church which began around 1891. The old graveyard surrounding the ruins contains some very old stones. Access is easy by way of a swing gate at the roadside and the ruins are worth a visit if you happen to be in the area.
To find the ruins do as follows. From the junction with Snugborough Road at the North end of Blanchardstown village drive straight on towards the Shopping centre. When you reach  the roundabout take the third exit and continue up this road until you reach a major junction with Blanchardstown Rd North. Continue straight across this junction and drive for approx 600m until you reach a right hand turn for Church Road with Circle K service station on your left. Turn right onto Church road and go straight ahead on the next roundabout. Approx 700m on after the roundabout you will see the graveyard on your right hand side. You can park alongside the graveyard wall 

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Charleville Castle Co Offaly

                                              Above Image: The entrance door

                                          Above Image: The fabulous main stairs

                                                Above Image: The great ballroom

                                           Above Image: The door of the red room

                                  Above Image: The octagonal ceiling in the red room

                                            Above Image: The haunted staircase

                                               Above Image: The library room

                                   Above Image & Below Image: The ruined church

                                      Above Image: Ruinous section of the castle

Chareleville is a wonderfully atmospheric and magnificent looking castle set deep in the forest of Charleville demesne. The castle has been partially restored through  public donations and work is ongoing on the ruinous sections and the church.
In 1641 Thomas Moore built a fine mansion here and the estate later changed hands to Charles William Bury. In 1798 the Earl of Chareleville decided to build a new edifice and so the castle we see today was created between 1800 and 1812 from a design by architect Francis Johnston who is noted for designing the General Post Office building (GPO) in Dublin.
While the castle was not always occupied it was continuously improved upon and was host to many guests including Lord Byron.
From 1912 onward the castle was unoccupied and had its roof removed in the late 1960's. In 1971 restoration work began and later a charitable trust was formed. The trust is now under the management of Dudley Stewart and a host of volunteers handle the daily functions including tours of sections of the castle.
We contacted Dudley to enquire about a visit and he told us that currently there was activity at the castle so a proper tour might not be possible but he didn't dissuade us from coming.
when we arrived at the gates of the demesne we had to take a lengthy drive up a forest road to reach the castle. Along the way the were nice little touches in this atmospheric forest such as little hobbit-like doors in the tree trunks. Eventually the castle came into sight and it was magnificent.
The "activity" at the castle mentioned by Dudley was in fact a film crew shooting scenes for an Irish comedy horror which turned out to be the 2019 movie "Extra Ordinary" which in fact premieres this week. The film crew seemed oblivious to us and on advising them that Dudley had approved our visit we were offered coffee and told we could look around but be silent during the actual filming. We stayed a while but were really not able to move about much as the crew were set up in various locations. We decided then to take a look at the castle from the exterior and phoned Dudley to arrange a tour on the following week when the crew had completed filming.
We returned and were given an excellent tour by a young French girl who was one of the volunteers. She advised us that certain upper sections were Dudley's private apartments and so were inaccessible. Apparently the second floor is still in bad need of restoration.
The ruinous parts of the castle can only be viewed externally but the mix of ruin and restoration makes for a nice visit.
The castle has been the focus of paranormal investigation over the years and some of the volunteers have witnessed some events.We were shown a very creepy photo one of them took showing a spectral figure Notably, one of the back staircases is haunted by the ghost of a young girl called Harriet who in the late 19th century while trying to slide down the long banister fell to her death in the hallway below. Several visitors have claimed to have seen her on the stairs. The renowned photographer Simon Marsden visited here and was struck by the eeriness of some of the halls and rooms. He recorded this in his excellent book "The Twilight Hour: Celtic Visions From The Past"
A most unusual room is the octagonal red room and our guide advised that strange things have happened there. As it is  a bedroom she had the opportunity to spend a night in there but she had not experienced anything strange. One occupant she told us heard something strange at the door and when he tried to open it he could not. He pounded on the door to no avail eventual damaging it and you can still see this today. His wife apparently had left the room and on hearing the commotion returned and had no trouble opening the door as it was unlocked.....
I must say I found the red room and indeed the library room both a bit creepy. I couldn't put my finger on it but they definitely had a vibe about them. In the library there is also a secret passage that leads to the old church. There are a few other secret closets and false doors along the way and I must say we really enjoyed the trip. The tour cost.8 Euro each which goes towards the running of and restoration of the castle. One tip though contact Dudley before you make a visit as there are times you may turn up and find it closed. The contact numbers are as follows:  Landline 00 353 57 9323040  or Mobile 00 353 87 7664110

To find Charleville take the N80 heading Northwards to Tullamore from Portlaoise.and continue on this road for approx 40KM passing through Mountmellick and Killeigh. Approx. 6KM out of Killeigh you will reach a roundabout named the Clonminch roundabout. Turn left at the roundabout onto the N52 for Nenagh and Birr. Pass straight through the next two roundabouts. On the third roundabout named appropriately the Charleville roundabout turn right through the gates into Charleville demesne.A drive up the narrow forest road brings you directly to the castle where you can park, Be aware that along the forest road there are several speed bumps which are not that obvious and even at slow speeds can be a bit jarring when not expected.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Burgage Crosses & Standing Stone Co Wicklow

                                           Above 3 Images: St Mark's high cross

                                        Above 2 Images: The secondary high cross

                              Above & Below Images: The 17th century grave marker

                           Above Image & Below 2 Images: The standing stone

At one time there was a medieval church and castle at Burgage More near Blessington in Co. Wicklow. Whereas partial remains of the castle remain (see earlier post here) only small fragments of the church remain. In the 1940's the area was flooded to create a reservoir and so some historical items were removed from the site and relocated to the Burgage cemetery near to Blessington.
Among the items were two early stone crosses. The first known as St Mark's cross or previously St. Boaitin's cross is situated at the Southern boundary wall of the cemetery..Unlike many Celtic style crosses it does not have the quarter piercings in the ring around the arms.It stands approx fourteen feet high and has a weather worn inscription which appears to be in old Gaelic. It is composed of granite and stands tall and slender and appealing to the eye.
The second cross which is a few metres adjacent to the first also has no perforations in the ring and it stands approx four and a half feet high. Similar to St Mark's cross the arms are quite wide but on this cross one of the arms is missing. Apparently local folklore tells of a man who broke off the arm but it fell upon him sinking him permanently into the ground!
The crosses were not the only items saved from Burgage More. Many old gravestones were removed to preserve the memory of those buried there and these were randomly placed in the new cemetery. Amongst these as pictured above is a gravestone marked 1690. This has to be the oldest legible one that I have come across on our travels. On closer inspection it appears to be dated July 14th 1690 as the date of death but only the first four letters of the name are visible and they are WILL.
The cemetery and nearby castle remains are very interesting to visit. As a matter of interest if you leave the cemetery by its main gate and turn left and travel to the second turn left along this road (Troopersfield) in the grounds of a factory near the perimeter fence on the North West corner of the junction is an ancient standing stone. Initially it took a little while to find it but we eventually did. It appears to stand between four and five feet high with a slight tilt.
To find the high crosses take the N81 from Dublin to Blessington. Just past the main street there is a left turn onto Troopersfield (L8858). Turn onto this road and continue for approx 700m and you will see the cemetery on your right. There is a small area to park outside. If you continue on past the cemetery you will eventually reach the the end of the road where a 7 or 8 minute walk will across a field to the shore and Burgage castle

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Old Mayne Church Co Louth

                                               Above Image: The entrance gate

                                          Above Image: The two nave doorways

                                          Above & Below Images: The East gable

                                                 Above Image: The West gable

                                          Above Image: A large fissure in the wall

We came across this nice little ruin on a narrow lane just North West of the picturesque fishing village of Clogherhead in County Louth,
There is not a lot of information  available regarding the ruins other than it is known as "Mayne Church" and that it dates from the late medieval period. It is a simple nave and chancel structure and all four walls are standing, The west wall has an extension for a belfry while the East gable has a single large arched window, There are doorways in both the North and South walls.
Within the ruins the space has been used as consecrated burial ground with a number of large grave slabs one of which is a Priest's grave memorial positioned near the West wall and is inscribed to the memory of Reverend James Corigan. It is dated November 23rd 1795. Apparently Faulkner's Dublin Journal in March of 1793 reported that a certain Fr Corigan was thought to be holding weapons in a hay haggard for distribution to locals in the event of a rebellion, Whether this was the same man buried in Mayne we can only speculate,
There aren't many other features within the church apart from a couple of small alcoves in the walls and the presence of a small Motte in the field beyond the Southern boundary wall of the graveyard but it is nonetheless worth a visit to this ruin if in the area.
To find the ruin take the R166 from Drogheda and drive for 8KM to Termonfeckin. Follow the R166 through Termonfeckin until you reach a crossroads the other side of the village. Take the right hand turn for Clogherhead again following the R166. After 5KM you will reach Clogherhead. Follow the R166 through the village and a short distance out of the village you will pass a crossroads with St Michael's Church on your right. Continue straight on passing a local road the L6279 on your left then  250m further there is a narrow lane that leads up to the ruins. You can park outside the entrance gate..

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Tintern Abbey Co Wexford

                                     Above Image: Entrance archway to the right

                                        Above Image: The South transept window

                                             Above Image: Remains of the nave.

                                     Above Image: Window in the North facing wall

                      Above Image: The Tintern stream that runs through the demesne

This fine Cistercian abbey was founded as a result of a storm at sea. The recorded facts are that the then Earl of Pembroke, William Marshall on gaining the title of Lord of Leinster was returning by ship to Ireland when it was caught up in a severe storm, The Earl fearful of losing his life vowed that if he made it safely to land he would found a monastery at his landing point to provide sanctuary for any future travellers who found themselves in trouble, The ship managed to land in Bannow bay and true to his word he established a fine monastery for the Cistercian order in 1200AD on land near the bay. The Earl named the abbey Tintern after the one he was patron to in Wales but to distinguish the two he called the Welsh abbey Tintern Major and the newly established one Tintern De Voto (Tintern of the vow).
A number of monks from Wales were transferred to Ireland to inhabit the new abbey. The abbey remained in use until the dissolution in 1536 when Henry VIII then granted the lands to Anthony Colclough, The Colclough's made renovations to the abbey over the years and in the 1790's turned the huge tower into a residence. This became the Colclough family home until its last resident Lucy Marie Biddulph Colclough turned the estate over to the Irish Government in 1959 and it has been in state care ever since.
When we visited we were really impressed by the huge cruciform shape of the ruins. It is certainly a very imposing edifice. The large South arched window has been renovated and now it stares out over the estate like a huge glass eye. Unfortunately on our visit there had been a recent damaging event and so access to the interior was temporarily prohibited, But this did not deter us from viewing the entire exterior and the attractive grounds. Access is now again possible and you can view the ruins of the nave, chancel, chapel, tower and part of the cloister.
The abbey's opening times are April 2nd to October 28th from 10am to 5pm. Admission to the interior is 4 Euro per adult, 3 Euro for seniors, 2 Euro per child or 10 Euro per family. A guided tour is available.
To find the ruins take the R733 Westwards from Wellington Bridge. After approx 6KM you will see a left hand turn onto the L4041 signposted for the Ring of Hook, Turn left onto the L4041 and after approx 1KM you will see the gates for Tintern abbey on your right. There is ample parking at the end of the drive at the abbey.