Page images

One of my correspondents gave such a very different interpretation to the inscription, that I think it only right here to refer to it. He divides the word at the first angle into two, thus—Jo for John, and se for sire de — eteller, but as it is certain that no dots existed at this angle of the stone, so as to divide the word Jose into two, and as Jo [Johannes] would be Latin, whereas all the rest of the inscription is in French, these reasons are, I think, sufficient to put this reading “out of court.” The same gentleman transposes some of the words, placing “e dist tu ki ce vas” at the end of the inscription, and after the date, a reading I cannot think correct. He mentions the nearest approach to the wording of this inscription that he had been able to discover was that on the tomb of Adam de Frankton, date 1325, and given in Weever's “ Sepulchral Monuments."

In conclusion, I may add that, having shown this rubbing to Mr. Langrishe, who kindly compared it, letter by letter, with the original with me, he fully bears me out in the above details in every particular. The stone is still in a very unsafe position, and liable to further injury. It appears to be deserving of our attention, and it would be desirable to have it removed to a place of safety with as little delay as possible. It will need considerable care to do this without injury.

JOUR. H.S.A.I., VOL. V., PT. 1., 6TH SER.


On an Ancient Ecclesiastical Brass Seal of the Diocese of Leighlin. (Now in the possession of the Right Rev. W. Pakenham Walsh, Lord Bishop of Ossory, Leighlin, and Ferns.)—This seal was for some time used at Leighlin for sealing marriage licenses. The figure on page 83 represents it. Its length is 24th inches, width, 18th inches, and thickness, 4th of an inch. Like many of its class, it may be described as a pointed oval in outline. The legend runs round the edge, commencing at the proper upper left-hand side, and terminates at the top of the right side. A small five-pointed star fills the space between the first and last letters of the inscription. The letters are very rudely cut; they are gth of an inch in length, and “Gothic” in character. A raised edge forms a sort of garter, on which the letters are cut. I read the lettering thus :

and runs round the code described as a

right side oper upper left-hand

sigillium . fraternitatis . beati . maria . nirgiuis . de . kyllesse *

“ The Seal of the Fraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Kylles” (Kells).

It is to be observed that the first word, sigillum,' is spelt with one letter too much—sigillium”; and that beati maria' occurs instead of 'beate marie.'

I would direct attention to the letters. The m's, n's, l's, and i's are all made so much alike, that it is not easy to distinguish them; the r's are formed in a peculiar manner also.

If I am right in venturing to connect this very early seal with our neighbouring town of Kells, it may be worth adding a few particulars as to its Priory, but before proceeding to do so, it is better to complete the description of the matrix. In the centre, the Virgin is seated under a richly ornamented triple canopy. On her head she wears a five-pointed crown; the Infant Jesus sits on her right hip or arm, not on her “ lap" or knee. His face is to the front, as is also that of the Virgin ; and here I may remark that, under a strong magnifying glass, they are both devoid of beauty, the nose being very wide and ill-shaped. The Virgin's feet rest on a high footstool, ornamented with a diagonal cross-barred pattern.

Her hair appears to fall in long masses on both sides of her face, combed to either side from her forehead. The Child has a “tuft" of short hair on the top of His head and at either side.

The figures are within a rectangular frame, having on each side ornamental arms to the throne, and outside this frame, and between

it and the lettering on each side, there is a zigzag budding plant or branch.

Five heavy lines, like steps, are beneath the footstool. What looks like a crown, on a cushion (?), fills in the top triangular space.

This seal has, I believe, been submitted to the observation of several learned in such matters, with the view of determining the last word in the legend. I understand it has been read by one as Kyllesse,' by another as Kyllene,' as Kynlos' by a third, and until I saw the matrix itself I took it to be · Renesse. The third letter of the last word is the most uncertain ; it appears to be either an n, or else two l's, and I believe it to be the latter, making the word either ‘Kyllesse' or Kynesse.' I have searched, as far as the very limited time at my disposal since I received the seal would permit, for the different houses? dedicated to the B.V.M. in Ireland. I have found fifteen, but Kells is the only one which appears to bear any approach to the word we seek.

From the Chancery, Patent, and Close Rolls, and other documents there appear, inter alia, to have been houses dedicated to the Virgin Mary at Cashel, Cahir, Connell (Co. Kildare), Dublin, Enyslanagh (Co. Tipperary), Grace Dieu (Co. Dublin), Kilcoole (Co. Tipperary), Louth, Kenlys in

Ancient Brass Seal Matrix, formerly in Meath, Kenlis (Co. Kilkenny),

use at Leighlin. Mellifont (Co. Louth), Molingare, (From a Photograph of an impression in wax.) Navan, Tristernagh (Co. Meath); and Jerpoint. Nearly all of these appear to have been surrendered about the year 1540.

The foundation of the Kells Priory dates from A.D. 1193. Archdall says: “Geoffrey, the son of Robert, on his coming into Ireland, obtained in possession the Barony of Kells, where, by advice of Richard Earl of Strigul, his patron, he founded a Priory in the year 1193, which he dedicated to the Blessed Virgin,” &c.; and adds that the first priors were supplied from Bodmin, in Cornwall.


?[The use of the term fraternitas' makes it very improbable that the seal is thit of a Religious House of Regulars. It probably belonged to a guild or secular college attached to some parish church.]

Geoffrey, in his Charter, says he “founded this Priory for the health of the soul of the said Earl Richard, then chief lord of the country, and to which he was still more excited by the advice and consent of Eva his wife” [Eva de Bermingham].

Geoffrey died in 1211; and it appears from an entry in the Close Rolls in Dublin that the Priory of the B. V. Mary of Kenlys, in the county Kilkenny, was surrendered by Nicholas Toben, Prior, with the consent of the convent, 18th April, 1540. [30th King Henry VIII.]

Several grants made to this Priory were confirmed, in 1391, by King Richard II., and again, in 1411, by King Henry IV.

Again, in July, 1578, I find the site of the Monastery of Kells, with orchards, demesne, and glebe lands, granted to the Earl of Ormond.— P. D. Vigors, Vice-President.

the perlowing rar 15

lands, Galway Brals which I met wice, remind me of

Witchcraft in the Aran Islands.—Some curious references made by Miss Stokes, in her Paper in the last volume of this Journal (p. 380), to the persistence of primitive beliefs in disease-transference, remind me of the following instance of such survivals which I met with while botanizing in the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, in May, 1892 :- I was on hands and knees one morning, poring over a promising stretch of sandy pasture near the sea at Killeany, Aranmore, in search of the rare Milk Vetch (Astragalus hypoglottis), a species peculiar in Ireland to these Islands, when I was startled by this remark, which came from one of the knot of puzzled Killeany-men who had gathered round me to watch my doings with embarrassing patience: “That's a very dangerous thing you're about; I've known a man killed that way.” At first I thought the speaker, a grave, middle-aged man, meant to warn me against injury from some poisonous plant, but on close cross-questioning, it became evident that he was a firm believer in disease-transference by witchcraft.

His story was shortly this. Some years ago a friend of his, a man named Flanagan, living in the neighbourhood of Oghil, in Aranmore, lay sick of an incurable disease. He had been "given over” by the doctors, and, face to face with death, his fears, after a long struggle, got the better of his religion, and he made up his mind to call in the services of a cailleach, who lived away in Onaght, at the other end of the island. This hag was well known to have the power of transferring mortal sickness from the patient, wicked enough to employ her, to some healthy subject, who would sicken and die, as an unconscious substitute. This was her method, evidently a combination of a plant-spell with the gettatura, or evil eye. When fully empowered by her patient, whose honest intention to profit by the unholy remedy was indispensable to its successful working, the cailleach would go out into some field close by a public road, and setting herself on her knees, just as I was kneeling then, she would pluck an herb from the ground, looking out on the road as she did so. The first passer-by she might happen to cast her eye on, while in the act of plucking the herb, no matter who it was, even her own father or mother, would take the sick man's disease, and die of it in twentyfour hours, the patient mending as the victim sickened and died. My informant had known the cailleach well, but had only heard for certain of one case, the case of his friend Flanagan, where she had worked a cure in this way. The name of the man she had killed to save Flanagan's life was O'Flaherty, and he had known him, too.

This, in substance, is the story drawn from the Killeany-man by a laborious cross-examination, under which he remained perfectly serious, and perfectly consistent in his answers. Three or four younger men who were in the group, Killeany-men, too, openly scuffed at his credulity, yet he clung tenaciously to every point in his story, and gave all the signs of an honest belief in it. Unfortunately he could not tell me what the mystic plant was, though he was sure it was not the Milk Vetch, which I had the good fortune to find before we parted. More unfortunate still, the cailleach and Flanagan, as he told me, were both dead.

It would be of interest to know whether any similar case of a belief in disease-transference has been met with in Ireland.—NATHANIEL COLGAN.

The Church of St. John Baptist, at Kilmacduagh. It is, I think, desirable, to invite the attention of our Society to the present state of one of the venerable group of churches at Kilmacduagh. I refer to the Church of St. John. It stands outside of the present cemetery enclosure, and between the old cathedral and the “ Bishop's House." Its chancel arch has long since been destroyed; but a large portion of the masonry, which was once supported by the chancel arch, and has hitherto remained, owing to the inherent excellence of its cement, is now in immediate danger of falling. The masonry is already much out of line, and there can be no doubt that this portion of the ruin requires immediate care.

The chancel gable, the western gable, and northern side-wall have already disappeared, but their foundations can easily be traced. The southern side-wall is perfect, and also the northern wall of the chancel; and few of our medieval churches show more clearly than this interesting ruin, that the chancel was no part of the original church as first erected. It is clearly an addition, and its masonry of a different character from that of the church.

The masonry of the southern side-wall, to which I have referred, is cyclopean, and indicates the great antiquity of the structure. It has two primitive windows-one about four feet from the chancel arch, and the other seven feet from the western gable.

That on the western side is round-headed, and measures about 2 feet in height, by 1 foot in width. It splays to a width of about 2 feet on the inside.

The second is smaller, and more archaic in form. Its head is pointed, and the lancet-shape is effected by the simple meeting of two stones

« PreviousContinue »