Sunday, 24 November 2013

Old Harristown Church Co Kildare

                                          Above Image: The entrance gate

                                 Above 2 Images: The South wall and doorway

                                          Above Image: Remains of the font

Talk about ancient places. The remains of this medieval Church lie in the bucolic backwaters of Kildare in a quiet town land called Harristown. The large Demesne here was most associated with the prominent Eustace family and Harristown House became the seat of the LaTouches.
The old Harristown cemetary is situated down a narrow road and contains stones dating back to the 18th century. The ruins of the parochial Church stand in the centre of the enclosure.
Like many of its kind from this period it would have served as a parish Church up until the dissolution and most likely fell into ruin as the parishes combined and churchgoers dispersed. It is most definitely stated as being ruinous on the 1837 OS map and has certainly crumbled a lot more since then.We came across it on our travels in the area looking for a ruin in Nurney and so stopped to take a look.
The entrance to the graveyard is by way of a small unlocked gate in the West wall by the roadside. Alternatively if you like climbing then there is a stone stile to the left of the gate. Most of the South and West walls of the Church still stand with a portion of the North wall also in evidence. The East wall at the rear has all but disappeared. The overall state of these ruins evoke a tangible feeling of real antiquity.
The long rectangular shape of the structure measures approx. 21m x 7m and there is an entrance doorway in the South wall. You have to stoop down to enter here as the ground level outside is higher than the interior. Within there are some salvaged carved grave markers and the remains of a baptismal font basin which lies a bit abandoned looking on the leafy ground. The ruins seem quite undisturbed and I would imagine that not a lot of visitors pass its way apart from relatives visiting some of the more recent graves. I wonder does it even register in most peoples minds at all. Still, finding one of these medieval Churches especially when unplanned  peaks my interest. There are virtually no pictures of these ruins online so hopefully the above will redress this.
To find the ruins take the M7 Dublin to Limerick motorway and at junction 13 take the exit for Kildare. At the top of the exit ramp take the exit left for the R415. Drive for approx. 7KM until you reach Nurney. Just before the large white Church there is a right hand turn. Take this turn and approx. 200m along take the first left turn. Drive for 1.5KM until you reach a forked junction. Take the left hand road and about 100m along you will see the ruins in the graveyard on your left. You can park just along the roadside here.

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