Thursday 18 May 2017

Old Bodenstown Church Co Kildare

                                             Above Image: Entrance gate

                          Above & Below Images: Tomb of Wolfe Tone within ruins

                              Above Image: Church entrance viewed from within

                                   Above Image: Church entrance exterior view

                                      Above Image: Commemoration plaza

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.

Monday 8 May 2017

Ballyshanemore Castle Co Kilkenny

                               Above Image: North facing wall with ogee window

                                       Above Image: View of East facing wall

I came across this tall sturdy tower house on route to Kilfane Church (see post here) It is located on a side road leading out of Gowran in Co Kilkenny.

Following the Invasion of Ireland by the Normans the lands surrounding Gowran were granted to Theobald Fitzwalter the Chief Butler of Ireland. The family name Butler derived from this and from 1385 onward James Butler built some castles starting with Gowran and then subsequently others on his estate one of which was Ballyshanemore. The castle was in their possession until the Cromwellian invasion in 1650 in which nearby Gowran castle (the main residence) was very badly damaged. Ballyshanemore appears to have fared better and the ruins have survived well enough to this day. A particularly interesting feature is the double lit ogee headed window positioned in the North facing wall. Although there are several other windows present this one is the most decorative. Unfortunately it is not possible to view the interior with its reported large fireplaces as the entrance is completely blocked up. A shame really as it would be interesting to see what else has survived within. The castle has now been incorporated into some farm outbuildings and there was an open field gate when I visited so I could have a look at the out of view East wall. Sadly the field here just beyond the gate seems to have been misused and was strewn with litter some of it not very pleasant.
A nice example of a fourteenth century tower house then and well worth a visit if in the area.

 To find the ruin take the M9 heading South and exit at Junction 7 and at the top of the exit ramp take the left hand exit for the R448 (signposted for Thomastown). Continue straight through the next roundabout and on the subsequent roundabout turn right on to the continuance of the R448. This will lead you to the village of Gowran and once past the huge Gowran Collegiate Church (see earlier post here) take the first left onto Mill Road and you will find the castle 500m along on your left.