Back into the backwaters of Ireland’s ancient East. I visited this quite well known but off the beaten track church ruin in Co. Kildare.
The medieval Church of Bodenstown has a shrouded history. It certainly predates 1352 as it is mentioned in records dating to that time. It would have served as a parish Church and was certainly in ruin by the nineteenth century. It is known today as the resting place of one of the leaders of the 1798 rebellion Theobald Wolfe Tone who was buried here in 1798. Whether the Church was in use at that point is unclear but because of the positioning of the tomb within the Church it would appear that it was no longer in use and the ground within considered hallowed. Every year on the last Sunday in June there is a republican orientated pilgrimage that takes place and a special commemoration section and podium have been constructed adjacent to the South wall.The Church measured roughly 39ft x 23ft and what remains today are the West gable and North and South walls. It’s a very peaceful spot and appears to be maintained well. There is some ivy growth beginning to take hold on the North wall but otherwise the remains are still quite sturdy.The entrance doorway is still complete and is positioned in the West gable and the interior ground has been partially paved especially around the area of Wolfe Tone's tomb. The Church stands in the centre of the graveyard on slightly elevated ground and access is by way of a gate at the roadside or a stepped stone stile in the enclosure wall.
To find the ruins take the N7 heading West and exit at junction 7 signposted for Straffan. At the top of the exit ramp circle the roundabout and cross the bridge over the N4 and on the roundabout on the other side take the first exit again signposted for Straffan. Continue down this road and turn right at the next roundabout onto Straffan road. Continue for 1km until you reach a left hand turn onto Barberstown Road signposted for Killeen Golf Course. Take the left turn and drive approx 3.5km and you will reach a small crossroads. Go straight through and you will find the ruins approx 1km along on your left hand side. You can park easily enough at the boundary wall.