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Carlingford - Description and Annals
engraving above and following article are from 'The
Dublin Penny Journal' 21 July 1832
think our wood-cut well calculated to catch the eye of a Dublinian. For lives
there man, woman, or child, in our good city, that has not heard of
Carlingford, though but few have seen it. Carlingford - so renowned for its
delicious oysters - oysters known as well to the poor mendicant who is tasked
to crush their shells, as to the rich merchant who gobbles down their
delicious insides - oysters as far superior to every other testaceous creature
that opens its bivalve to the tide, as to an Englishman is plum-pudding when
compared with flummery-oysters, that give luxurious suppers to man, and open
his heart as the knife opens the shell! In vain may the Parisian boast of his
Carcale, the Londoner of his Colchester, or even our western shores of their
green-finned Burrin, exquisite Pooldoody, or delicious Lisadill - who dare
compare them to a rale Carlingford? Ye Aldermen of Dublin, and all who
have experienced night after night the indescribable delights of a feast of
oysters, and a flow of punch, come and give us all due credit for presenting
you with a picture of that dear spot from whence your delights do come, and
for I giving "a local habitation and a name" to the birth-place of what your
Carlingford is not only worthy of regard as contributing to our
creature-comforts, and causing us to rejoice both at snack and supper, but it
is also noted for its scenic beauties and recollections. In all Ireland there
is not (oh! we beg pardon, there is at Glengariff) a bay so beautiful as
Carlingford. Reader if you were sitting on a fine soft sunny evening on one of
the towers of that ancient castle built by King John, and looking westward and
northward, you would enjoy a prospect which, if you pretended to taste, would
cause you to cry out, "Magnificent," but if you really possessed it, would
make you hold your tongue, and be all eyes. Under you, the noble land-locked
bay - before you and a few miles across the water, a distance which owing to
the translucency of the atmosphere peculiar to the western wind, is only
calculated to make objects more softly picturesque - yes - before you is the
loveliest village in Ireland - Rostrevor. Its cottages embosomed in trees, its
sun-lit villas, its pretty church, its obelisk, the honoured cenotaph of a
brave soldier, who fell in his country's cause, leading Irishmen to victory.
Then above the village, the wood-covered hills, swelling upwards until the
green slopes mingle in the dark gorges of the Mourne mountains, over which
Slieve Donald rises as lord of the range in pyramidal majesty. The western sun
is gilding its crest; a feathery cloud all on fire with the sun's rays has
rested on its topmost peak, and turbaned it with glory. Eastward, the mountain
masses of shade flung upon the sleeping sea! Oh! for such a splendid scene,
happy season, and felicitous atmosphere, - it would almost be well to be a
Carlingford fisherman or even a Carlingford oyster, provided that as an oyster
one could see through the sea and be susceptible of the picturesque, without
the consciousness of being liable to be dredged for and gobbled up by
Carlingford is not alone remarkable for its oysters and its scenery, it is
also worthy of an Irishman's regard, as the retreat, and its mountain country
the fastness of the notorious Redmond O'Hanlon, the far-famed Rapparee,
who about 120 years ago, played the part of Rob Roy in Ireland. The Irish
gatherer of black-rent was quite a match for the Scotch rogue; as
valiant in fight, as expert in flight, as terrible to the oppressor, as
generous to the oppressed, as the Caledonian Kiltander. But poor
Ireland has not got a Sir Waller Scott to cast a halo of renown about
his name - "vate caret." She wants a Poet to immortalize a cow-stealer; and
poor Redmond sleeps without his glory! Alas, that notable record of his
exploits is out of print - the History of the Irish Rogues and Rapparees.
Worthy Mr. Cross of Cook-street is now no more, a coffin maker occupies the
shop where, in days gone by, we used to purchase these admirable effusions of
the Irish press - "The Life of Captain James Freney, the Robber," "Laugh and
be Fat," "The History of Moll Flanders," but above all, the most
spirit-stirring, the one best calculated to teach the young Hibernian idea how
to shoot in rale earnest, the "Irish Rogues and Rapparees," a book
which has had as great an effect in Ireland as Schiller's play of the Robbers
in Germany, namely, leading many a bold youth to take freedoms with others too
often tending to the abridgment of his own - but we are rambling; we beg leave
to drop our sportive strain, and introduce the "Annals of Carlingford,"
furnished by a gentleman to whom not only we, but Ireland, lies
under many obligations. - EDITOR.
little town is situated in the barony of Dundalk and county of Louth, near the
foot of an extensive range of mountains, and on the S.E. side of a spacious
bay. It was a station of considerable importance during the early ages of the
English ascendancy in Ireland, and its first formation was consequent to the
erection of a castle, which tradition attributes to the policy of king John.
The town was never regularly walled or fortified, but as it was exposed to
continual dangers by being situated on the frontiers of the Pale, every
principal domestic building was designed on the model of a fortress or castle.
The remains of such structures were very numerous there not more than "sixty
years since," and even at the present day three very interesting remains of
that character invite the attention of the antiquarian. That pre-eminently
termed king John's castle is an extensive and imposing ruin, "moored on a
rifted rock," the sides of which are laved at the east by the sea, while to
the inland is a narrow pass overhung by wild and lofty mountains. To command
this pass the building appears to have been erected, and its form was
necessarily adapted to the natural circumstances of its site, enclosing
various baronial halls and apartments, a court-yard surrounded with traces of
galleries and recesses, &c. The walls are in some places eleven feet in
thickness, while the prospect from its summit over the bay, the Cooley, the
mountains of Mourne, &c. is grand beyond description.
the southern side of the town are the ruins of the Dominican Monastery. This
still extensive and picturesque ruin exhibits in the long aisle and central
belfry, traces of the pointed architecture of the fourteenth century. About
mid-way between it and king John's castle are the ruins of a square building,
with windows of an ecclesiastical character, curiously ornamented with
carvings of animals, human heads, - and sundry fancy wreathings. Near this on
an adjoining eminence is a church of ancient foundation, with a large burial
ground, in which may be seen a curiously carved stone and several monuments to
the families of Moore and Millar. There is a glebe of about three acres lying
about a mile from this church. The benefice is a vicarage in the archdiocese
of Armagh, and patronage of the Primate. A small portion of the eastern part
of the parish is all that has been preserved in the Down survey.
Carlingford formerly gave the title of Earl to the family of Taaffe, but the
honour becoming, as it is supposed, extinct in the person of Theobald, the
fourth earl of that name without issue, in 1738, his late majesty George III
conferred the title of Viscount Carlingford on the family of Carpenter,
together with the Earldom of Tyrconnel. The population of this ancient town is
estimated at upwards of 1300. The bay is spacious, and the water deep; but
unfortunately the navigation is rendered dangerous by hidden rocks. The
scenery that surrounds it is of the most enchanting description, its shores
being decorated with the most attractive villages, numerous bathing lodges and
agreeable cottages, behind which some mountains rise infinitely varied through
all their elevation, here waving with ornamental woods, there glowing with
heath or verdure, on the one side battlemented with a grey expanse of rocks on
the other exhibiting the industrious extensions of cultivation.
mountain already alluded to as overhanging king John's castle, rises in height
about 1850 feet, and is for more than two-thirds of its elevation composed of
a succession of stairs formed of trap, passing towards the summit from a
homogeneous to a porphorytic texture. From the position and height of this
eminence the inhabitants of Carlingford, during a great part of the summer
season, lose sight of the sun several hours before he sets in the horizon.
following are a few of the more interesting annals connected with this town.
432. St. Patrick's second landing in Ireland was according to some
authorities effected here.
1184. John de Courcy granted the ferry of Carlingford to the Abbey of
1210. The castle called King John's was erected.
1301. Matilda de Lacy widow of David, baron of Naas, granted the advowson
of the church of Carlingford to the priory of Kilmainham.
1305. Richard de Burgh Earl of Ulster founded a monastery for Dominicans
here, under the invocation of St. Malachy.
1326. The king committed the custody of the castle of Carlingford to
Geoffry le Blound, to hold during the royal pleasure. And in the same year the
bailiffs, &c. of this town had letters patent, conferring certain privileges
and allowances for six years as an aid towards walling and otherwise
strengthening their town.
1332. William de Burgh was found seised, amongst other possessions of the
castle of Drogheda, the town of Cooley appertaining thereto, the manor of
1346. The prior of Kilmainham was found seised, and his successors so
continued, of the tithes of Carlingford.
1357. The king granted to his son Lionel, Earl of Ulster, licence to hold
a weekly market, and one yearly fair in his town of Carlingford. From this
Lionel the property descended to Edward de Mortimer.
1388. Edmund Loundres was appointed constable of the castle of
Carlingford, with certain allowances for its repairs, as it was stated to be
then much out of order and unsafe.
1400. The king granted to Stephen Gernon, constable of the castles of
Green Castle and Carlingford, licence to take the corn and tithes within the
lordship of Cooley for the victualling of said castles.
1404. The manor of Carlingford and town of Irish Grange, which had
previously belonged to the abbey and convent of Newry, vested by forfeiture in
the king, who thereupon granted it in fee to Richard Sedgrave.
1408. Lord Thomas of Lancaster, the king's son, landed here as Lord
Lieutenant of Ireland.
1425. By a record of this date it appears that certain rights in the
fishery of the bay appertained to the castle of Carlingford.
1467. A mint was established here by act of Parliament.
1495. It was enacted that only able and sufficient persons of the realm of
England should be henceforward constables of the castle of Carlingford.
1501. In consequence of this town having been repeatedly burned by the
Scots and Irish the king granted to its provost, bailiffs, and commonalty;
certain tolls and customs towards enclosing it with a stone wall.
1538. The inhabitants of Clontarf, near Dublin, had licence to fish,
without charge or toll, within the bay of Carlingford.
1539. This vicarage was valued to the First Fruits at £3. 13s. 8d.
1548. The king granted to Sir Nicholas Bagnal, Knight, the manors of Omee
and Carlingford, with the Lordship of Cooley, &c.
1560. Sir Henry Radcliffe and John Neill were members for the borough of
Carlingford in this year.
1596. Henry Oge, the son-in-law of Tyrone, made incursions into the
English pale, and endeavoured to surprise the castle of Carlingford.
1642. Sir Henry Fishburn took possession of the town, not however till it
had suffered considerable injury by fire from the adherents of Sir Phelim
1646. Perfect freedom of trade conferred on Carlingford.
1649. The castle surrendered to Lord Inchiquin.
1650. The castle was delivered to Sir Charles Coote and Colonel Venables.
1669. The tithes of this parish, which had been vested in the crown, were
granted to the incumbent and his successors forever.
1689. Some of the Duke of Berwick's party set fire to this town, soon
after which the sick soldiers of Schomberg's army were removed thither. In
king James's parliament of this year, Christopher Peppard and Bryan Dermod,
Esq. were the sitting members for Carlingford.
1750. The celebrated Thurot passed this year here and during that interval
acquired his knowledge of the English language. - D.
Wooden House in
The article and engravings are from 'The Dublin Penny Journal' 15 September
building was erected A. D. 1570, by Nicholas Bathe, a member of a family which
appears to have had considerable possessions in the county of Meath, Athcarne,
Castle, a few miles beyond Duleek, being erected by William Bathe, in the year
1590; and it appears, by the inscriptions, that the carpentry of both
buildings was executed by the same person, viz. Hiv Mor, or Hugh Moore.
occupied the angle formed by the junction of Laurence-street and Shop-street,
the principal front being in the latter, and composed chiefly of oak, said to
have been obtained from Melifont Park; it consisted of three stories, the
upper projecting beyond that immediately beneath. The upper, or attic story
was composed of strong square oak framing, with spandril pieces; each piece
forming a quadrant, or segment of a circle, the interstices filled with
plaister, the principal, or, as we would now say, the drawing-room story, was
of a more finished character, consisting of pannelling or wainscot, each
pannel being about a foot square, and fancifully carved in quaterfoils and
foliage, executed in good style; the rails and styles were also ornamented
with projecting pins or trennails. It is difficult to say how the lower story
was arranged, it having undergone many alterations; it was; however, extremely
low, and latterly divided into several small shops.
the angle on the drawing room floor was a handsome semicircular bay window,
consisting of four divisions, a pannel in the pedestal of which contained the
arms of Bath, viz. a cross between four lions rampant, with the initials N.B.;
this pannel was preserved by Peter Van Homreigh; Esq. the late Recorder. There
was another projecting window in Shop-street, but it did not appear to be of
such antiquity as the rest of the building.
the bressimer, in Laurence-street, was the following inscription, in the
antique raised letters used in the time of Queen Elizabeth, each about six
inches long, and each word divided by a star:
There is no doubt but at the time of erection this house was considered a
"Chef-de-ouvre," and even in later times it was considered a curiosity,
and commanded the admiration of many. Taaffe, among others, remarks, "I
have seen wooden houses in Pilnitz, Reichenanu and other towns of Bohemia and
Germany, but none of such curious and elegant, as well as durable
workmanship." He has, indeed, made a trifling mistake, with respect
to its antiquity, as he continues, "The date was carved in the oak, in
figures about two feet long!! and I think it was 1O74!!!" –thus adding
only eighteen inches to the length of the figures, and 500 years to
the age of the house.
The "Wooden House," after having, like Napoleon, "fulfilled its destiny," and
being extremely rickety through "old age and infirmity," besides suffering
under the obloquy of a very indifferent character, having been for many years
suspected of harbouring rats, reprobates, and typhus fever, was at length
condemned to annihilation by the corporation, and disappeared for ever in the
year 1824; and the present handsome modern brick buildings were erected on its
The engraving of the Magdalene Tower Drogheda, and the article below, are from 'The
Dublin Penny Journal' 17 November 1832
TO THE EDITOR OF THE DUBLIN
SIR - Encouraged by the very flattering notice you were pleased to take of
my former communication, respecting Drogheda, I take the liberty of offering
the following remarks to your consideration.
have long been anxious to see an attempt made at illustrating the history and
antiquities of my native Town, Drogheda, but have hitherto been disappointed;
and, while other places, (Particularly in the sister kingdom), even the most
insignificant and obscure, are daily brought before the pubic, recommended by
the united talents of the artists and historiographer, this town, which
possesses a degree of historical interest, equalled by few in this kingdom,
and which yields to none, in either respectability or antiquity, has been
hitherto passed over in total silence or but slightly touched upon by the
have for many years found pleasure in visiting the numerous monuments of
antiquity so profusely scattered over the face of this country, and, after an
attentive examination, I can safely affirm, there are none more worthy of
notice by the antiquary or historian, or more intimately blended with the
ancient, ecclesiastical, and military history of Ireland, than those in
Drogheda and its immediate vicinity: they are rapidly falling into decay; some
through the ravages of time, but by far the greater number, it is much to be
lamented, from carelessness and neglect; nor have there been wanting
instances, where the proudest of our castles and monastic ruins have been
despoiled, that the materials might be employed in the construction of works,
for which stones might be obtained at less expense from a neighbouring quarry.
zeal of the first reformers (which in many instances was not tempered with
much discretion) has also done much towards their destruction. Some of the
ruins in this town bear evident marks of fire, nor do we want reformers at
present who are equally willing to remove what they are pleased to consider
nuisances, witness the late demolition of the ancient palace of the
archbishops of Armagh, at Termonfeckin, (because, forsooth, part of it fell
and killed a cow!) a spot hallowed by the residence of some of the wisest and
holiest men of their day, and which should be particularly consecrated as that
in which the great Usher compiled his celebrated Chronology; an event which
should have caused the most trifling circumstance or place connected with him
to be held sacred.
the causes above-mentioned, it is not unusual to perceive in this town, the
remains of abbeys and monasteries once dedicated to the service of the Deity,
and palaces heretofore the residences of the most powerful men of past ages,
now converted into stables, warehouses, &c., and next, to meet with the
armorial bearings of the proudest families, and the sculptured ornaments, and
stone utensils of what were once the sanctuaries of religion, now appropriated
to the most servile and ignoble purposes.
Patriae," or Love of Country, is a principle inherent in the breast of every
man, in a greater or lesser degree; a spark of this has prompted a desire to
endeavour to rescue from total oblivion the few remaining monuments of
the ancient grandeur and importance of my native town, by attempting a few
sketches and descriptions of some of the most remarkable, which if you deem of
sufficient merit to occasionally occupy a column of your truly national
journal, are at your service. Perhaps the attempt may stir up the dormant
faculties of others, and create a spirit of emulation in other quarters, which
may bring to light many interesting facts and documents connected with, and
illustrative of our national history and antiquities.
may perhaps be objected that these "Sketches," &c. possess but a local
importance, but by a reference to the History of "Our Father-land," it will
appear that at or near Drogheda, Milesius and his followers first landed in
Ireland after a hard contested struggle, in which his son, Coalpha, was either
killed or drowned. Coalpha was buried near the spot where he fell, and his
memory is still preserved, by his having given name to the parish of Coelp. We
also find, that Drogheda was in the year 911 fortified by, and became the
strong hold off Turgesius; the Dane, from which he frequently sallied, and
laid waste the surrounding country. At Duleek, in the vicinity, was erected
the first stone church in Ireland. Here St. Patrick it is said founded a
monastery, since called the Abbey of St. Mary de Urse.
we also find the sovereignty of Ireland surrendered to King Richard II by four
Irish kings doing homage and fealty in the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene, in
the year 1395: we find also the residence of all the archbishops of Armagh,
from the days of St. Patrick until those of primate Robinson, in the close of
the 18th century. Here many of the English viceroys kept their courts and held
parliament; and here was passed the famous law called "Poyning's Law," which
made the Irish parliament entirely dependent on that of England, and its
edicts of no effect until ratified by the English monarch. In 1641, the
progress of the northern Irish, under Owen Roe O'Neill, was stopped by the
resolute defence of the garrison of Drogheda; and in 1649, Cromwell here
consummated an act of the most inhuman barbarity, by the slaughter of the
garrison and inhabitants for their adherence to King Charles I.
Last, not least, in 1690, Drogheda resisted the attack of a division of king
William's army; and within two miles of its walls was fought the famous
"Battle of the Boyne," which decided the fate of the British empire.
After this recapitulation, I think it will be admitted that Drogheda possesses
something more than a local importance; and that, as I before remarked, its
history is intimately blended with the ancient ecclesiastic and military
history of Ireland.
now furnish a view and description of "Magdalene's Steeple," a building, which
has braved the storms of above six centuries, hoping it may prove acceptable.
OR REMAINS OF THE DOMINICAN CONVENT
the north part o£ Drogheda, near Sunday Gate, and immediately adjoining the
site of the ancient Town-wall, stand the remains of the Dominican Convent,
under the invocation of St. Mary Magdalene, called also, the Abbey of
Preaching Friars. It was founded A.D. 1224, by Lucas de Netterville,
Archbishop of Armagh - was suppressed at the general dissolution in 1541, and
is now the property of a branch of the Leigh family.
original building, (if we may form an opinion by what remains,) appears to
have been of considerable extent and magnificence; the tower, which is the
only part remaining, is a lofty square structure, of light and elegant
proportions, built upon, and entirely supported by a noble pointed gothic
arch, the buttresses of which, from their apparent slightness, appear scarcely
sufficient to support the superincumbent weight: this circumstance, with its
present isolated state, give the tower a most singular and commanding
appearance: it contains two apartments above the arch, the intervening floor
being arched and groined from the angles - the groins supported by cherubs'
heads, well carved in stone; - the walls are perforated by eight windows, two
on each side, with cut stone casings, mullions and transoms, neatly finished
and ornamented; a spiral stone staircase is connected with the outside of the
building, the entrance to which is at a considerable distance from the ground;
the masonry is remarkably firm, and in fine preservation, scarcely a stone
being removed by the effects of time, although braving the storms of above six
hundred years; there is, indeed, a breach in the upper part of the east side,
and the mullions of one window are removed, but this is supposed to have been
effected by Cromwell's cannon, in 1649, to compel the surrender of a
part of the garrison who had taken refuge in it.
church appears to have been cruciform, the tower arising from the centre; but
the body of the building, and every other appendage, has been long destroyed,
and that so effectually that not even the foundations can be traced: it is
probable this took place immediately after the dissolution, as we find that in
1570, the ancient monument of Richard Strongbow, earl of Chepstow, being
broken to pieces by the fall of the roof of Christ Church, Dublin, Sir Henry
Sidney, lord deputy, directed a monument of Thomas, earl of Desmond, then in
this church, should be removed and placed instead of it, which was accordingly
done: it is not probable this would have occurred if the place had not been
previously desecrated; and in the most ancient paintings of Drogheda extant,
particularly one in the hall of Beaulieu House, representing the siege in
1641, the tower is represented in its present isolated state, with the
exception of some turrets or towers on the Town-wall, which formed the
northern boundary of the church-yard, but of these turrets or wall there are
not at present any remains.
area which the church and its dependencies formerly occupied, has been
parcelled into a number of small tenements, consisting of cottages with
gardens attached; over these the lofty tower rears its venerable head, and
from its magnitude, and air of solemn grandeur, forms a striking contrast with
the hovels which at present surround it. "MAGDALENE'S STEEPLE," as it is now
called, and the tower and spire of St. Peter's, of modern architecture, in the
immediate vicinity, both being situated on the highest part of the ground on
which Drogheda is built, form a very conspicuous and imposing object in the
approach to the town in any direction.
There are some remarkable circumstances connected with this convent related in
history, a few of which are transcribed in the order of time in which they
the 10th of March, 1395, four Irish kings, viz. O'Neill, O'Hanlon, O'Donnell,
and Mac Mahon, with several other petty chieftains of Ulster, made their
personal submission to King Richard II, in this church, the manner of which is
thus related by Sir James Ware, in his Antiquities of Ireland. "Everyone of
them, before the words of submission, laid aside his cap, belt, and skeyne,
and kneeling down before the king, put both his hands joined between the
king's hands, and repeated the words of fealty and submission in the Latin
language. These kings, after this ceremony, were committed to the care of
Henry Carlile, an Englishman, who understanding the Irish language, was
commanded to instruct them in the English customs, particularly in that of
receiving the order of knighthood, who so wrought on them that he prevailed on
them to accept it, although they alleged they had received it from their
fathers at the age of seven years. These kings being more fully instructed by
the earl of Ormonde, by the king's command, were habited according to their
dignity, and having performed their vigils, and heard a mass, were solemnly
made knights by the king's own hand, in the Cathedral Church of Dublin."
MS annals of Ireland, in St. Sepulchre's Library, Dublin, relate that in 1412,
great dissensions subsisted between the two sides of Drogheda, divided by the
River Boyne, which were often attended with bloodshed, mutilation, and loss of
life on both sides. Father Philip Bennett, master of divinity, and a friar of
St. Mary Magdalene's Convent, invited the people of both parties to hear his
sermon in the Collegiate Church of St. Peter, on the festival of "Corpus
Christi;" that he assumed for his theme these words of cxxxiii. Psalm,
"Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity;
that in the sermon having thrice asked the congregation with energy, "will ye
be united together in the body of Christ?" Alderman William Symcock answered,
in the name of all, "we will;" that when the sermon was ended, they were
profusely entertained in the refectory of this convent; and, having there and
then consulted with Father Bennett upon their disputes, by his advice a joint
petition was made to King Henry VI, signed by Nicholas Flemmyng, Archhishop of
Armagh, which they sent to London by one Robert Ball, who returned to Drogheda
on the 15th of December in the same year, with a charter from the king,
uniting the two sides into one Town of Drogheda, and under one mayor, and
forming it into a special county; that the following day the archbishop gave
his blessing to the people of the county and town thus coalesced; and that the
first mayor of the town so incorporated was the said William Symcock. It
appears from a charter given in the fifth year of Edward IV (1365) for
founding an university in Drogheda, that there was a corporation established
here prior to the one just mentioned, and, it is probable, that the
inhabitants of each side of the town, claiming the right of electing the mayor
and other officers, the confusion and bloodshed referred to above, occurred at
memorial of this feud and reconciliation is preserved here, by an annual
burlesque or mummery, still exhibited on Shrove Tuesday, by the lower order of
the inhabitants. "The mayor of Flea-lane," (an obscure lane in the
suburbs behind Millmount) crossing the bridge, enters the northern part of the
town, mounted on an ass, in mock procession, attended by his sheriff's,
bailiffs, and other officers, all fantastically dressed with straw, and each
bearing the insignia of his dignity, together with several ragamuffins
disguised in petticoats and masks, and armed with blown bladders tied on
poles, who clear the way, and enforce the passengers and lookers-on to treat
"his worship" with proper respect; the cavalcade is preceded by a "bough," or
garland, and music; in this way they parade the principal .streets of the town
levying contributions: at the same time another party enters the town by
Lawrence's-gate, consisting of "the mayor of the chord" and his followers, who
are generally dressed in cast-soldier's clothes, perambulate the town in
another direction until evening, or they conceive they have enough collected,
when they meet, and after a mock encounter between the "bladder men," to the
great amusement of children and idlers, they all adjourn to the "chord field"
outside Laurence's-gate, and spend the evening in mirth and jollity.
the 15th of February, 1467, Thomas, Earl of Desmond, was beheaded on the North
Commons (Hardman's garden), Drogheda, by command of John Tiptoft, earl of
Worcester, lord deputy of Ireland, for exacting coyne and livery; his head was
sent to Dublin and spiked on the castle, and his body interred in this church,
and a stately monument erected to him, ornamented with his effigies in stone.
This statue is now in Christ's Church Dublin, in place of Strong-bow's, being
removed as before mentioned in 1570. R. A.
correspondent is in error in this and in his former statement relative to
Stronghow's tomb, as we shall shew in a future number. It is but fair however
to acknowledge that he has the authority of Archdall to support him. - Editor]
The engravings and article below are taken from 'The Dublin Penny Journal' 03
November 1832 and 24 November 1832
Gateway of Mellifont Abbey
The Abbey of
Mellifont, in the County of Louth, situate about five miles from Drogheda,
in the Barony of Ferrard, was originally one of the most important and
magnificent monastic edifices ever erected in Ireland. It was founded, or
endowed, by Donough M'Corvoill, or O'Carroll, prince of Oirgiallach, the
present Oriel, A.D. 1142, at the solicitation of St. Malachy, the pious and
learned archbishop of Armagh, and was the first Cistercian Abbey erected in
Ireland. The monks by whom it was first inhabited, were sent over from the
parent Monastery of Clairvaux in Normandy, by St. Bernard, and four of them
were Irishmen who had been educated there for the purpose. On the occasion
of the consecration of the Church of Mellifont in 1157, a remarkable Synod
was held here, which was attended by the primate Gelasius, Christian bishop
of Lismore and apostolic legate, seventeen other Bishops, and innumerable
clergymen of inferior ranks. There were present also Murchertach, or Murtogh
O'Loghlin, King of Ireland, O'Eochadha, prince of Ulidia, Tiernan O'Ruairc,
prince of Breiffny, and O'Kerbhaill, or O'Carroll, prince of Ergall, or
Oriel. On this occasion the King (Murtagh O'Loghlin) gave as an offering for
his soul to God, and the monks of Mellifont, 140 oxen or cows, 60 ounces of
gold, and a townland, called Finnavair-na-ningen, near Drogheda. O'Kerbhaill
gave also 60 ounces of gold, and as many more were presented by the wife of
Tiernan O'Ruaric, who was a daughter of the prince of Meath, that is, a
former prince Murchad. She likewise gave a golden chalice for the high
altar, and, sacred vestments &c., for each of the nine other altars that
were in the church. This was the unfortunate Dearbhfhorguill, or Dervorgal,
whose abduction by the profligate Dermod Mac Murrogh, King of Leinster, was
the first link in the chain of events which led to the introduction into
Ireland of the British arms, under the celebrated Strongbow. Her pious
donations to the abbey of Mellifont appear to have been in some measure
intended as an expiation of her crime; and hither she retired towards the
end of her life, which she closed in religious exercises about the year
It was supposed
by some, but erroneously, as Dr. Lanigan satisfactorily shows, that here was
held the Synod of 1152, at which Cardinal Paparo, as the legate of Pope
Eugene III, distributed four Palliums for the sees of Dublin, Tuam, Armagh,
and Cashel; it, however, was really held at Kells, in Meath.
establishment of the English power in the district called the Pale, in which
Mellifont is situated, it was taken under the especial protection of the
settlers. In 1177 a confirmation of their house and possessions, was granted
by King Henry II, as appears by the Charter of his son John, who renewed and
confirmed the same; and in 1203 a new charter was granted to the abbey by
King John, confirming to it several additional possessions which it had
acquired after the arrival of the English. Many other grants and
confirmations were made by succeeding Princes.
considerable period the abbey of Mellifont, as well as the other Cistercian
monasteries in Ireland, continued to be connected with the parent
establishment at Clairvaux, to which monastery, considerable sums of money
were continually remitted. To correct this abuse, an act was passed in the
reign of Edward III enjoining all ecclesiastics not to depart the kingdom on
any account whatsoever, nor to raise or transmit any sums of money privately
or openly from hence, contrary to the form of the statute. In consequence of
this enactment, Reginald, the abbot of Mellifont, was by a jury in 1351,
found guilty of raising from the abbots of Boyle, Knockmoy, Bective and
Cashel, the sum of 664 florins, one half of which he had remitted to the
abbot and convent of Clairvaux and again, in the year 1370, the abbot, John
Terrour, was similarly indicted for remitting to the same abbey the sum of
forty marcs. This abbot was, in the year 1378, indicted for killing one of
his monks, named John White, in the year 1367; but the jury acquitted him.
In 1380, it was enacted by parliament that no mere Irishman could be
permitted to make his profession in this abbey.
In 1488 the abbot
received the king's pardon for being concerned in support of Lambert Simnell.
In 1540, Richard
Conter, the last abbot, surrendered his abbacy, and had an annual pension of
£40 granted to him for life. He had 16 fishing corraghs or skin-boats at
Oldbridge, on the Boyne, which produced him annually £13. 13s. 4d. which,
with various other possessions, amounting in the whole to £315 were granted
to Sir Edward Moore, (ancestor to the present noble family of that name,)
who made it his principal seat, converting the abbey into a magnificent
residence, and, at the same time, a place of defence. In the memorable
rebellion of 1641, a considerable body of the Irish sat down before it, and
the garrison, which consisted of only 15 horse and 22 foot, made a vigorous
defence; but, on the failure of their ammunition, the foot surrendered, and
the horse, charging vigorously through the enemy, arrived safe at Drogheda.
Such are the
chief incidents in the history of this important monastic foundation, of
which but trifling remains are now to be found, but these are sufficient
evidence of its ancient beauty, and splendour. They consist of the ruins of
a beautiful little chapel, dedicated to St. Bernard, which, in its perfect
state, was an exquisite specimen of the Gothic, or pointed architecture of
the thirteenth century.
This chapel had
a noble eastern window, and three smaller ones on each side, nearly all of
which are now destroyed, together with the entrance doorway, of which we
have given a view in our nineteenth number, page 148 [see opp]. This doorway
was ornamented with a profusion of gilding and painting, in variegated
colours; and was justly considered as one of the most beautiful specimens of
the kind to be found in Ireland. It is said to have been sold to make a
Not inferior in
architectural elegance to this chapel, are the ruins of an octagonal
building, supposed a baptistery, on the top of which was a large cistern,
from which water was conveyed, by means of pipes, to the different offices
of the abbey. The style of this building, which is Roman, indicates an
earlier age, and it is probably coeval with the foundation of the monastery.
To these is to be
added, the lofty abbey gateway, a view of which we have prefixed to this
account; it is now appropriated to the humble purpose of a mill-dam.
Chapel of St.
The situation of
these interesting remains, in a secluded little valley is extremely
picturesque and pleasing; and there are many curious local traditions
connected with them; but which we must reserve to a future number, along
with a view of the baptistery.
For a Panoramic
engraving of Mellifont in 1832 from The Dublin Penny Journal 02
February 1832 click
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¦ Carlingford ¦ Drogheda ¦
25 January 2010