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.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Old Churchtown Church Co Kildare

                                                  Above Image: Entrance stile

                                         Above Image: The North wall & doorway

                                        Above Image: The South wall & doorway

                                         Above Image: Lintel over North doorway

                                              Above Image: Remains of a font

This ruin of a medieval parish church lies in the townland of Raheenadeeragh near Athy in Co. Kildare. It is at least 800 years old as it is recorded as being granted to St. Mary's Abbey in 1219AD. Both the East and West gables are virtually non-extant leaving only the North and South walls nearly at their original height. How long it has been ruinous is unclear. It is listed on the 1897 ordnance survey map as being in ruins but on the earlier 1837 version it is listed as church and graveyard.
The ruins are situated in an open graveyard which can be easily accessed by a stile. We found that ground level within the walls which was once the nave and now gravelled was higher than that outside of the walls. There are two doors one in each surviving wall. The Northern doorway has a wooden lintel while the Southern one a rounded arch. The north wall has a topping of ivy but the south wall remains mostly devoid of it.
There are not many features other than what has been mentioned apart from the broken remains of a font which lie in the graveyard. The ruins are certainly worth a look if you happen to be in the area but they are a little off the beaten track,
To find the ruins take the junction 3 exit of the M9 motorway and the the N78 for Athy  Once in Athy continue until you cross the river bridge and the take the first turn right onto the R428 for Stradbally.Drive for approx 1.2KM and pass by the right turn for the L8068. Continue for approx. 0.4KM and take the next right hand turn. It is signposted for Churchtown. Drive for approx 3.2KM where the road forks. Take the right hand road and the graveyard is approx 30m on your left. You can park at the boundary wall.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Old Nobber Church Co Meath

                                            Above Image: The Cruise grave slab

                                            Above Image: The West wall & belfry

                   Above Image & 2 Images Below: Some possible ancient grave markers

                                          Above Image: Edward Balfe grave slab

                                     Above Image: Grave slab of Murtagh the priest

Very little remains now of the medieval parish church in Nobber Co Meath. The name Nobber is derived from the gaelic "An Obair" meaning "The Work". The church was built on a former non-extant monastic site and was dedicated to St John the Baptist. During the middle ages the parish of Nobber thrived but by the 17th century it had slipped into decline and the church was ruinous by 1641.

All that is left standing today but still looking dramatic is the West wall and belfry tower which was added to the church in the 15th century. With the innards now exposed it shows that the ground floor was vaulted within the tower. Originally it consisted of four storeys. A fragment of the North wall is also present..

On our visit we got talking to a local grounds warden who was very informative and pointed out the grave slabs present at the site. The most striking is that of the effigial tomb slab of Gerard Cruise and Margaret Plunkett which was once within the old church but has now been set upright in a monument in the car park. There are two other slabs to be found in the graveyard date to the late 17th century one of them belonging to a priest called Murtagh the other to one Edward Balfe. The graveyard contains many interesting ancient stones and high crosses and is well worth a walk around. The more modern building adjacent to the ruins is that of a Church of Ireland church built in 1771 is now closed for worship but has been transformed into the George Eogan Cultural & Heritage Centre.

To find the ruins take the M3 heading North and after junction 10 the motorway ends in a roundabout. Take the third exit on this roundabout then the first exit on the subsequent roundabout following the N52 for Dundalk. Drive straight through the next two roundabouts and on the third take a left turn still following the signs for the N52 to Dundalk.Continue on this road for approx 12KM through Carlanstown and Stahalmog until you reach a T-junction with the R162. Turn left here and drive for approx 4KM until you enter Nobber..Look for Keogan's Bar on you left and turn left up the laneway just before the bar. You will find the car park of the graveyard at the end.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Castledermot Monastic Site Co Kildare

                                             Above Image: Entrance stile

                                       Above Image: The Romanesque arch

                                         Above Image: The Southern cross

                                         Above Image: The Northern cross

                                    Above & Below Image: The hogback grave

                                    Above & Below Image: The swearing stone

                              Above Image: Second smaller marker with a hole
                                      Above Image: Possible part of a font?

                                        Above Image: Small ancient cross

                                       Above Image: Possible foundations?

                                     Above & below Image: The round tower

                                        Above & Below Image: Unusual font

This is a very interesting site located on a back lane in the village of Castledermot.This was once a self contained monastic site originally founded in 812 A.D.and it still contains some ancient remnants.
The 10th century round tower now has a castellated top instead of its original conical one, It stands approx 65 feet high and unusual for a round tower has its doorway only slightly above ground level.
It stands adjacent to the more modern Church of St. James which itself incorporated some of the masonry from the original medieval church.
Within the grounds are two of the original high crosses dating from the 9th century one on the North side of the church, the other on the South side. To my eyes the Southern cross is the more decorative of the two and stands at approx 6 feet high.
We visited this site on a bright sunny day and it was a pleasure to stroll around the grounds. Access to the grounds is by way of a quite narrow stile and I found it a bit of a squeeze, The gates remain locked so it was really the only way in,
Apart from all of the above there are several other interesting and unusual things to see,
Just South of and adjacent to the Southern cross is a hogback grave stone, This is the only one of its type in the country and is said to resemble the shape of not only a hogs back but a Viking long hall,
Just North of the Southern cross is a gravestone with a hole in it. There is a larger one East of the Southern cross which is locally known as the "swearing stone" and it said bargains were struck by both parties shaking hands through the hole.
The graveyard appears to be littered with various unusual stones and an interesting font located near the fine Romanesque arch which was a doorway to the medieval church.
We spent quite a while here wandering around and were not disturbed by anyone. If you visit you are likely to have the place to yourself.
At the other end of the village are the ruins of the old Abbey (see earlier post here) which you could incorporate in your visit,
To find the monastic site and its ruins take the M9 motorway and exit at junction 3 and take the R747 heading East, Drive for approx 2KM until you reach a T-junction with the R448. Turn right onto the R448 and continue on this road for approx 11KM until you enter Castledermot. Look for Doyle's pub on your left and take the left hand side lane way just beside it. This is called Church Lane, You will find the site about halfway down on your left. There is room to park at the graveyard wall.