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1700.—Pat Stool appeareth confessing fornication with Joan Agnew, who is now his wife, before marriage and saith y' he hath offended God and his people, lie is appointed to appear and make public confession next Lord's day.
Xber 29.—Patrick Stoole appeareth and is appointed to appear the next Lord's day in order to absolution.
Jan. 5. Pat Stoole made public confession, and was absolved of scandal.
His wife was, however, somewhat dilatory in appearing. At last, on the 26th of February, she came before the Session, and confessed her sin, when she was condemned " to appear in publig the next Lord's day."
As time wore on, it seemed as if the power of the Session inspired less fear, and offenders grew more reluctant to submit to discipline. We meet the following in 1712 :—
Samuel Telford confessed the sin of fornication with Elizabeth Dalrymple, but denies he is the futher of the child, will not publicly acknowledge his sin as he once took an oath that he would never nppear before any congregation to confess any sin. Session showed him the sinfullness of the oath. He continued obstinate and was dismissed with a severe rebuke.
But even then there were only a few offenders who dared to defy the Session, although some like Telford might try to evade its power. Public opinion demanded submission, and for many years afterwards the church courts exercised a strict supervision over the morals of the people, and the people submitted to the punishments inflicted.
While most of the entries refer to cases of discipline, there are some exceedingly interesting, from their relation to the general history of the country :—
.—This blank was the time of our minister's trouble, being pursued by orders from Cromwell's army, which continued [so] that they were debarred of public preaching from the 1st of August, 1650, until May, 1652.
,—No minutes were taken from Dec., 1660, until June, 1670, on account of the persecution of the prelates.
Both these entries are valuable, more especially the second, which seems to prove that after the restoration of Charles II., active measures were taken against the Irish Presbyterians sooner than is generally supposed.
ENNIS ABBEY AND THE O'BRIEN TOMBS.
By THOMAS JOHNSON WESTKOPP, M.A., M.R.I.A., Fellow.
T^onchad Cairbrech O'brien, King of Thomond, fearing the approach of death, after a reign commenced in civil war against a brother and stained by endless feuds, strove to ease his conscience by munificent gifts to the Church. He restored his father's abbey of Inislaunaght for the Cistercians; he built a house for the Dominicans at Limerick, and finally founded another convent for the followers of the '' Angelic Father" of Assisi, "in the midst of his subjects," near his "princely circular palace, on the bank of the river Fergus, opposite Inis an laoigh, in a place of swamps and streams called Clonroad."1 There, where the narrow streets of Ennis stand and the clear brown Fergus runs over pebbly shallows, overhung with trees, he commenced his monastery at the cost of three years taxes of his realm, which then claimed to include not only Co. Clare, "from Loop Head to Bealboru," but much of Tipperary, "from Birr to Einockaney, and south to Eoghanacht Cashel." "He exchanged this mortal life for the felicity of angels," on March 8th, 1242,* leaving his work in progress, and being buried in his Dominican convent, where the ivied north wall of the church, and heaps of carved finiuls and capitals and pillars, in the pretty convent gardens, mark where his monument and effigy were long extant, under the towers of the Plantagenet fortress of Limerick, and where the only legible inscription fitly reads, "omnia sunt vana."
After Sir Thomas de Clare and Prince Donchad O'Brien had perished more than 40 years later, Torlough, their successful opponent, in the beginning of his undisputed reign, proceeded to enlarge the work of his predecessor (1287, 1306). The Book of his wars states that Turlough dwelt in three houses: first, the palace of Clonroad, to which he had added a stone tower; secondly, "in the fish streamed and beautified fabric of the convent of Inis an laoigh, which he filled with monks, and supplied with sweet bells, crucifixes, and a good library, embroidery, veils, and cowls; that blessed habitation which he built for his own interment will last for ever after him in splendour"; his third home was in Heaven.
Despite the fierce wars with the English (1310, 1318) Maccon caech Macnamara found opportunity to rebuild the sacristy and refectory
1 " The Wars of Torlough," written by John Mac Grath in King Dermot's reign (1343—60), though wrongly dated a century later in a copy, temp. George I., m T.C.D.
2 Calendar of Dominican Priory, Limerick.
before 1314. A beautiful cloister, similar to that of Quin, and probably dating from about 1400, was added, and, as I hope to show by this Paper, a further restoration, resulting in a group of elaborate tombs and carvings, took place about 1470. The other facts of the convent history1 bear little on its architecture; we need only note from the Patent Rolls, 1621, that the "possessions of the Friars Minor, called Grey Friars of Innish," consisted of "one church, belfry, graveyard, mill, salm on and eel weir, two messuages with stone walls, and two cottages in the village with lands at Clonroad."
The ruins long remained an eyesore and a disgrace, cast adrift to the bats and owls, overgrown with ivy and elder, breast-high with nettles and foul weeds, a source of danger to the surrounding houses. Now, thanks to the enlightened action of the Church Representative Body, the convent is vested as a "national monument." Works were commenced in the opening days of 1893, and ere a week had passed, the lost arches, sedilia, altars, and statues of the nave, and many curious fragments of the cloisters and canopied tombs were unearthed.2 Now the graveyard is levelled, ivy reduced to moderation, weeds and bushes swept into deserved oblivion, and the hideous and decaying church dismantled, making a fine vista of arches to the graceful east window visible from the street. We hope to see the removal of the tasteless stone spikes from the haunches of the tower, and the ugly modern window from the belfry arch; also the rebuilding of at least half a dozen arches of the cloister arcade, the arrangement of the fragments with some intelligence, and the wall, once so necessary to conceal a ghastly waste, replaced by a railing to show the grassy graveyard with its beautiful ruins and fine sycamore.
As this Paper is devoted to the carvings and canopied tombs, I need deal with no more of the history or topography than is necessary to their elucidation, and for this purpose will condense, as far as possible, the descriptions of the convent no less than the accounts of those who described it while its monks clung to it, and before its traditions had hopelessly perished in the agonies of three great civil wars.
First in their ranks, Father Donat Mooney3 described, in 1617, the
1 For a fuller history of the convent, see our Journal, 1889, p. 44. The engraver, however, has introduced gross inaccuracies into the drawings, and there is a mistake in the plan. The priory was re-established in 1628, and destroyed in 1651; re-established by 1663, and established a cell near Dysert. For a document relating to its monks in 1670, see our Journal, 1894, p. 82. The colony was driven out before 1693.
* Business took me from Ennis before a week was over, though nearly all the principal features had been disclosed. Mr. H. B. Harris (Member) very kindly wrote me full reports every subsequent fortnight. I must also thank Miss Diana Parkinson for her kind permission to engrave her very accurate painting of the rains, as an illustration.
3 MSS. Bibliothcque Royale, Brussels, No. 3195, pp. 41, 43. Colonel W. Keily AVestropp (Member), with most thoughtful kindness, procured me a copy while in Belgium.