« PreviousContinue »
towns public fire-houses, whence every household hearth was daily lighted. The congenial attractions of the fire, round which the sympathies of life were exchanged, soon begot so many weird and mysterious associations that the hearth came to be revered as an altar. So with the Danes, the veneration to the traditions of their old faith was, on their conversion, in some manner transferred to the honour of St. Michael. St. Michael's Tower, whether by night or day, was the first object that greeted these mariners when homeward bound, the last speck that faded from their view when their vessels sank beneath the distant horizon.
To most of the old churches of Wexford were attached Holy Wells. The Church of the Blessed Trinity, which no longer exists, has its site very conspicuously marked on the maps of the Ordnance Survey as that of the well of the Blessed Trinity.
These fragments of interest, connected with the ancient shrines of Wexford, can hardly fail to suggest what a remarkable ecclesiastical history the town has. If we sum up the churches, note their sites, and calculate the probable area of the graveyards surrounding each, many of which have been curtailed in their extent or wholly blotted out, we shall find that from Selskar to the Faythe almost every pace of the town is consecrated ground.
This closes our notes of the ancient churches of Wexford. Few visitors lingering in their grass-grown aisles, or viewing their broken arches, can help feeling disappointment and regret that monuments of such remarkable interest should have been almost entirely forgotten and suffered to decay. Happily we live in times when a desire to cherish memorials of the past, and keep before us vestiges of times that are no more, is spreading in a degree hitherto unprecedented. Former generations cared little for these relics of antiquity. Many precious recollections were left unrecorded, and in the county of Wexford the abundance in which they existed seems to have begotten indifference towards them. It is with the hopes of reviving a deeper affection and a warmer interest in the remaining links that attach the present to a noble and heroic past that we submit this Paper on the occasion of the first visit of the Society of Antiquaries to the ancient town of Wexford.
Eeport of Hon. Local Secretary, Limerick City.—Since my last communication I have nothing of importance to notice except the restoration, or rather renewal, of the fine Romanesque west door of St. Mary's Cathedral, which is now completed. The removal of the unsightly porch exposed this ancient doorway, which, unfortunately, had suffered much injury, both from time, and the vandalism of the Williamite soldiery at the siege of 1691. The four orders of recessed concentric arches and decorated pillars have been, I may say, entirely renewed by the insertion
Glenogra Church—East Window.
of new stonework, and, I regret to say, the most remarkable feature of this doorway, one which distinguished it from several of the same order, has been omitted, I mean the keystone which was common to the third and fourth concentric circles. I append a rough sketch of this stone, which is now among the dibris in the churchyard. I am sure antiquaries will regret the loss of this ancient doorway, and the omission of this unique feature in the new door which has sprung from the ruins.
The Board of Works have at length completed the necessary repairs to Manister Abbey (MonasteranenagK). I regret to report that it was found impossible to restore the east window, as few of the stones could be found. I learned that they had been utilised by a local gentleman some years ago for building purposes.
The cutting of the ivy brought to light many interesting architectural features which were before hidden.
I forward some photographs of the east and west windows of an interesting church situated in the adjoining parish to Manister, viz. Glenogra. The west window is evidently of an early date. The peculiarity I wish to draw attention to is the appearance of a very rude arched window over the existing one.
In the east gable there are three round-headed lights with wide splays. Each of these lights is of different length. This feature I find a difficulty in accounting for, as there is no structural reason in connexion with the church, as far as I could observe, to account for the peculiarity. There is not much known of this church. The parish, from an early date, has been annexed to Fedamore, in the same diocese of Limerick. The church is said to have been built by the De Lacy family, whose thirteenth-century castle is situated close by on the banks of the Camogue river. However, it is clear that this church is of more ancient date, to judge from the west gable. The present building is cruciform, the transepts being of later date than the original structure. Lewis asserts that at the Dissolution it was governed by a prior, and had nine endowed chantries, containing 29i acres. According to the Down Survey, it had eight detached pieces of glebe, containing 15$ Irish acres. Lewis's "Topographical Dictionary" states that Glenogra is a vicarage joined to Fedamore, and has five glebes, containing 29 J acres, which were originally endowed for chantries; that four chantries could be traced in the ruins even then (a.d. 1836), and that it contained the tombs of the De Lacys, Roches, Bourkes, Fitzgeralds, and O'Grady families. If, as alleged, it was a religious foundation, suppressed at the Reformation, I should be glad of any further information in connexion with this church.—Jakes G. Babby, Limerick.
Clare Island Fresco.—In the account of the visit to Clare Island, in last number of the Journal (p. 243), the writer says that " nothing can be distinguished of its design." As I recollect it, the design for the most part consists of small grotesque figures of animals, isolated from one another. It is much to be wished that an accurate copy of this fresco should be drawn and published, in the proper colour—fresco painting is so extremely rare in Ireland, that such fragments as we have ought to be put on permanent record.—R. A. S. Macalisteb, F.s.a.
Crosses at Kilbrecan, Aran.—The stone bearing an inscription read (on Petrie's authority) Capiti Brecani, cannot have been carried away by the nameless " antiquary" (p. 251, ante, ad fin.), for it still remains in the cemetery. Perhaps it was the missing corner which was thus removed. It will be found in an enclosure, or leaba, on the western side of the cemetery, a few paces to the south of the Leaba an Spiopab Naoiih, which latter is to the west of the principal church. I made a careful examination of this inscription, and satisfied myself that Sir Samuel Ferguson was right in reading not capiti, but the much more satisfactory pci (Sancti) bpecani. (See Proceedings R.I.A., Ser. 2, vol. i., p. 257.) Even were there no direct evidence of the existence of the p, this reading would, I think, command acceptance: but this evidence is to be found, for though most of the p is gone with the lost fragment, part of the loop remains.
The inscription on the cross, figured on p. 253, I read, Comap ap (apostolus), not Comap ap.—R- A. S. Macalister, P.s.a.
Killeen Cormac Inscribed Stones.—My friend, Mr. Goddard Orpen, has urged me to write about an Ogham stone, of which a friend of mine (Robert Mitchell, Esq., of Ballynure, county Wicklow) and myself found some fragments in the old burying-ground of Killeen Cormac, near Colbinstown, in this neighbourhood. We first found them in January, 1893, Mr. Mitchell discovering the first bit with marks of Ogham on it lying on the top of the low boundary wall of (at that time) loose unmortared stones which surrounded the Killeen. We then searched, and found three fragments, plainly of the same stone, with Ogham on their edges; and a number of other bits, apparently of the same stone, amounting to about a dozen altogether. We spent an hour or two, till darkness set in, in searching and piecing the fragments together: three or four of them I succeeded, on that and a subsequent visit, in getting to fit together so perfectly along the fractures that they plainly had formed one stone at one time; and the fractures did not seem worn or old. I send you a rather rough drawing of the three bits which had Ogham marks perfectly plainly on them, with measurements which I made at the time with a steel tape rule. One or two of the Ogham scores were too indistinct or battered to be absolutely certain of them; but much the most of them were quite plain and unmistakable.
On a visit with another friend to the Killeen, some months after, I found the fragments which I had left carefully pieced together, all scattered about. My friend and I gathered them together again, and left them in a small cavity or hole in the side of the Killeen, where we thought they would be hidden and undisturbed.
But on a visit quite lately, which I made in company with Mr. Arthur Vicars, Ulster King of Arms, we found the fragments had disappeared, and that the low wall round the Killeen had lately been repaired, and mortared, and pointed. We ascertained that this had recently been done by order of the Board of Guardians: and after careful search we found one of the fragments which I recognised (with marks of Ogham on it), firmly embedded in mortar, and built into the wall. It is to be presumed the other bits have been built into the wall too; but we could not find any visible of which we could be quite certain. I have myself no doubt that these fragments are broken bits of a stone which certainly formerly stood in Killeen Cormac. It is described and figured by Father Shearman (in his " Loca Fatriciana" Journal 1873, p. 545), and by Brash,1 in his book on Ogham Monuments. Colonel John Bonham, J.F., of Ballintaggart, Colbinstown, county Kildare, had informed me that he had several times searched for this stone, and that it had certainly disappeared. I have not been able to obtain any information as to how it could have been broken up, or who did it, or when. It must have been done, I think, within the last twelve or fourteen years, at all events. The stone which disappeared was remarkable for the name "Deccedda" being inscribed in the Ogham upon it, the name occurring also in Oghams in the south-west of Ireland, and again in England. Killeen Cormac is the place where the famous bilingual stone (Latin and Ogham) is, about which Father Shearman has a long dissertation of a very learned, but rather nebulous •character, making it out to be a burial spot and monument of Four Great Druids (so reading the inscription :—" Iwe Be Dewides" on it.) The first B is, however, very dubious; it may be Ne colligated, with the upper angle of the s broken so as to look like an E. And Father Shearman, to make out his very ingeniously worked case, reads some small marks, and one or two manifest scratches (which cannot by any possibility have formed part of the original Ogham inscription) as integral and original portions of the Ogham inscription round the edges of the stone. However, this is a digression from the " Deccedda" stone. To return to it. From the rough drawing I send, you will see what the letters on the fragments are (or were). They will, I believe, come into the inscriptions on the "DeccEdda " stone, as given by Shearman and Brash. I don't know whether there exists any cast or rubbing of this stone in the Royal Irish Academy, or elsewhere. It would be very desirable that something should (if possible) be done to protect, or remove to safe keeping, these very interesting memorials at Killeen Cormac, and to preserve those that remain from following the fate of the poor " Deccedda" stone, if I am right in believing the broken fragments to belong to that stone. At all events, they certainly are the broken bits of some pretty large Ogham inscribed stone; and I have no doubt myself that they once formed the stone which has certainly disappeared, the " Deccedda" stone.
The bilingual "Iwene Dewides" stone has been slightly injured, too, of late. Part of one inscribed edge has been freshly scraped with some tool, though not so as to seriously injure the Ogham marks, so far.
1 " Ogham-inscribed Monuments of the Gaedhil," p. 316, fig. No. 2, Killen Cormac, plate zL
JOI>B. U.S.A.I., VOL. V., PT. IV., 5Th 8KR. 2 E