Tuesday 26 April 2016

Old Knockcommon Church Co Meath

                                              Above Image: The entrance gate

                                              Above Image: South wall window

                                        Above Image: Remains of South doorway

                                    Above Image: East gable & remains of window

I came across this modest ruin on a back road off the N2 in County Meath. Access is by way of an unlocked gate in the boundary wall that lead you to the remains are of a simple Church with nave and chancel. The walls stand to approx. half of their original height with the East gable a little taller. The arched top of the window in this gable is now missing and the gable area appears to be utilised as a form of shrine. There is a very nice ornate window in the South wall and remnants of a doorway with a matching aperture facing it on the North wall. There is scant information about the Church only that it is medieval in date and would have been amongst one of the numerous parish Churches that dot this area. The Church is listed as simply Knockcommon Church on the 1837 Ordnance survey map not really indicating what state it was in structurally but it is listed as being in ruins on the later 1888 map. Ivy is encroaching now but the graveyard is maintained so this may hopefully be cut back at some future date. The ruins are located in what is a very bucolic setting with only one or two cars passing while I was at the site to disturb the stillness.
To find the ruins take the N2 heading North towards Slane and about 4Km before you reach Slane You will encounter a staggered crossroads with a restaurant called The Copper Pot on your right. Take the right hand turn directly after this restaurant and follow this road for approx. 1.7Km until you spot the graveyard on your left. You can park easily alongside the entrance gate.  

Thursday 14 April 2016

Fennor Castle & Church Co Meath

                                    Above Image: Part of Medieval tower on top left

                              Above Image: North facing aspect with medieval tower

                                                Above Image: Medieval Church

                                 Above Image: Church with Castle in the backround

                                       Above Image: Boundary wall of graveyard

This interesting looking ruin greets you by the roadside as you enter the village of Slane from the South. The ruins overlook the nearby River Boyne. Its history is very patchy as far as the original builder goes but structurally it appears that it is a combination of a medieval tower house and a 17th century stronghouse. Adjacent to it in the same field are the ruins of a small medieval church set in a walled graveyard. While listed on the 1837 ordnance survey map as Fennor Castle & Church it is only on the 1888 map that they are listed as in ruins. I suspect though the Church was in ruins far earlier.
The castle consists of two storeys and has evidence of a basement and an attic. The ground floor would have had a vaulted ceiling. On both the West and East gables are remains of tall chimneys. The taller section on the North face which really only comes properly into view from that aspect is part of a medieval tower possibly the type of £10 tower that were built at the behest of Henry Vi in 1429 to defend the pale. The remainder of the ruins are of a typical type of strong house popular in late Elizabethan times.
The Castle today stands in ruin in a field with an awkwardly high boundary wall making access difficult. There is evidence on the West boundary wall by a locked field gate that I found of a stone stile which would in the past have given access to the graveyard but there are no discernible steps now to climb over. Sheep wander around both the Castle ruin and the square boundary wall of the graveyard. A wooden fence surrounds the Castle and I believe that the field is maintained as private property although there are no signs to state this. There are some farm buildings opposite the West boundary wall and I suspect this would be the owner of the land. Being confined to an outside view it is still actually possible to see all aspects of the Castle and indeed on the Northern boundary you get a close-up of the church as well which consists of a simple nave and chancel. The overgrowth of ivy is beginning to take hold here. Again access to the ruins is only through the field as there are no other gates in the boundary wall.
Certainly worth a visit to see these ruins anyway in an area that has many other historical sites nearby.
To find Fennor Castle & Church simply take the junction 5 exit for the N2 off the M50 motorway and follow this road. It becomes the M2 for a brief time and then at a roundabout near Ashbourne simply take the left hand exit that becomes the N2 again. Follow this road for approx. 18KM until you reach the outskirts of Slane. You can’t miss seeing the Castle on your left. There is a little left hand turn just before the castle signposted L16002 and you can park up along the houses here.

Tuesday 5 April 2016

Kenure Portico Co Dublin

                                                    Above Image: Initial view

                                     Above Image: Fine stone work on the columns

                                       Above Image: Some of the rebars exposed

Well you don’t come across something like this every day. At first I thought this was some sort of folly but in fact this fine portico is all that remains of Kenure House a large mansion that was built in 1827 on the site of an earlier house that was destroyed by fire. The house was designed by architect George Papworth who also amongst others designed Knights Bridge in Dublin (now known as Sean Heuston Bridge). The portico was added to the house in 1840. Kenure was the ancestral home of the Palmers the last one to reside there being Colonel Roderick Henry Fenwick-Palmer who strived to upkeep the property but in 1964 rising expenses on the estate drove him to auction off all the contents and sell the house to the land commission. Most of the land went to Dublin County Council who would eventually build St Catherine’s housing estate there. From 1965 to 1967 the house was leased for use in film productions and film producer Harry Alan Towers filmed parts of three films there namely “Ten little Indians”, “The Face of Fu Manchu” and “Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon”. The film "Ten Little Indians" in particular extensively used the house as a location. Subsequent to this period the house fell vacant and the Council found it hard to find a buyer. It remained vacant for more than a decade suffering dilapidation and vandalism. An act of arson put the house in a worse state and so in 1978 the council decided to demolish it. The only remaining part left standing was the portico and thanks to some local Rush residents who protested strong enough the Council reconsidered its proposed demolition. It now stands isolated and strange looking in the centre of a green area surrounded by modern housing.
I have to say it is quite sad to see these ruins as the once great house might have made a great visitor attraction if it had not suffered the fate it did. Walking around the great columns gives almost a sense of being in some huge Grecian ruin. The rebars (reinforcing rods) stick out of the top displaying how the mansion was wrenched away from the portico. Some of the rods are beginning to show on a couple of columns as well where the stone has crumbled. The inevitable graffiti artists have left their mark by curiously daubing the letters A L O N  E on the bases of the columns. Seems a bit apt as the portico does look so lonely and abandoned. This strange remnant has the effect of real surprise as you drive around a bend in the approach road and it suddenly comes into view. If in the area take a little time out to have a look at this unusual site.
To find the ruin take the R128 heading Northwards from Lower Main Street in Rush. This is the road opposite Hackett's Victuallers. Drive for approx 1.8Km until you reach the old graveyard on your left. There is a left hand turn just past this with a sign pointing to St Catherine's Estate. Turn left and continue up this road which is called The Drive. You will see the Portico at the top of this road in a green area. You can park at the shop which is located adjacent.  

For an image of what Kenure House originally looked like visit here.