Below 4 Images: Ruins of the Medieval Church
Two ruins for the price of one!
Just north of the Village of Prosperous in the Ballynafagh Townland lie the ruins of two churches. The larger is the former COI church of Ballynafagh built in the 1830’s and was maintained until the 20th century but then fell into disuse and was eventually de-roofed in 1985. The smaller ruins are the scant remains of the original medieval church which sit on a mound at the South-East corner of the larger church. Both are contained in a rectangular walled enclosure which is located surprisingly like an island in a field of wheat.We visited these ruins on two occasions once when the crop was harvested and again when the crop was in full flourish. I think the latter trip was more interesting as the ruins sat in a sea of wheat which undulated in the wind like an ocean. Access is via a gate at the roadside of a narrow lane. A short trek through a trodden pathway in the wheat brings you to the gateway of the enclosure, the gate itself detached and lain against a wall inside.
The large 19th century Church is still upstanding but beginning to show signs of decay and brambles are slowly beginning to take hold. It is a very bold looking ruin, each corner having sharp finials rising to the sky from four of the twelve buttresses. There is a fine large Arch window on the East wall but all of the windows and the door have been partially bricked up so no internal access is available. There are the remains of a sacristy attached to the North wall and the bell tower stands proudly over the whole affair. One lone large tree shelters the North-East end of the enclosure.
On a mound quite close to the South-East corner of the large church lies the remains of the original medieval church, diminished now to its North wall and foundations of the Eastern gable. Scant though its remains are, they are still a visible window on the past. It’s interesting that both ruins are in so close a proximity attesting that maybe this was deemed ancient hallowed ground and also the fact that they are placed in an unusual location.
Spotting the picturesque ruins from the road would surely entice anybody to stop and take a closer look and indeed its aesthetic has provided inspiration for painters and photographers alike. A really interesting visit was had and I would recommend it to you.
To find the ruins take the Junction 7 exit of the M4 motorway for the R406 heading South for Straffan. Drive for approx. 5KM until you reach a roundabout at Barberstown. Turn right off the roundabout onto the R403 for Clane. Drive until you reach Clane and the road swings left onto the Main Street. Drive about 100M and take the right turn continuation of the R403 at the restaurant called “The Tigger”. The road is signposted for Prosperous. It is a 4KM drive to reach the crossroads in Prosperous. Turn right here at the church and about 700m along, the road divides. Take the left hand fork and drive for approx. 2.5KM. You will pass a sign for “The Kildare Maze” on your left and the left hand turn for the ruins is about 600m past this. Once on the lane way you can park at the small gate entrance to the field on your right about 300m up the lane.