– AUGUST 10, 2015
Kilmacduagh has one of the finest monastic buildings in Ireland. The churches were plundered in the 13th century but the site remained the seat of a Bishop until the 16th century. The modern diocese still bears the name of the early monastery.
The round tower was a place of refuge for the monks in case of attack. The tower leans two feet out of the perpendicular and probably dates from the 12th century.
The Glebe House was possibly the abbots house. It was built in the 14th century but altered many years later. It was recently reconstructed to appear like it initially stood.
The Church of St John Baptist is the earliest part of the buildings on these grounds (older than the cathedral).
This small 13th century church may have been built with stone from an earlier church.
The O’Heynes Church was built in the first half of the 13th century. This church has a beautifully carved arch over the chancel (the area where the altar once stood) supported by pillars with animal and floral decoration.
The Cathedral has the western end as its earliest part, built in the 11th century when the church was probably built to replace a wooden cathedral. The north transept has some simple folk-art crucifixes.
The Franciscan Friary was founded in 1389. St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order, expected a vow of complete poverty from his followers and objected to them building houses or churches. But in 1389, when the Friary at Askeaton was founded by Gerald the 4th Earl of Desmond, the order had become wealthy and powerful, though they still placed great emphasis on contemplation.
The church and other buildings are arranged around a central cloister where the monks walked, prayed and meditated. In the north-east corner of this intact cloister there is a delicate carving of St Francis with marks (stigmata) corresponding to the wounds left on Christ’s body by the nails and spear at the crucifixion.
The rooms above the cloister include a dormitory where the monks slept and, on a lower level, a small toilet area. The sacristy transept and refectory were later additions. A massive bell tower was once a major feature of the Friary, but there are no traces of it today.
In 1579, during the Desmond rebellion, a government army under Sir Nicholas Malby attacked Askeaton. They destroyed the town and its crops and burned the friary. Most of the monks escaped, but several were caught and massacred by the soldiers. Some friars returned to Askeaton in 1627 and the community remained active until 1740.
Kylemore Abbey, originally built by Mitchell Henry as a gift to his wife, the magnificent Baronial Castle is now home to the Nuns of the Benedictine Order. Kylemore was, and still is, a work of love.
Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine monastery founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle. The abbey was founded for Benedictine Nuns who fled Belgium in WW1. The current Mother Abbess of the Benedictine Community is Mary Margaret Funk.
Kylemore Castle was built as a private home for the family of Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor from London whose family was involved in textile manufacturing in Manchester, England. He moved to Ireland when he and his wife Margaret purchased the land around the Abbey. He became a politician, becoming an MP for County Galway from 1871 to 1885. The castle was designed by James Franklin Fuller, aided by Ussher Roberts. Construction first began in 1867, and took one hundred men four years to complete. The castle covered approximately 40,000 square feet and had over seventy rooms with a principal wall that was two to three feet thick. The facade measures 142 feet in width and is made of granite brought from Dalkey by sea to Letterfrack and from limestone brought from Ballinasloe. There were 33 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 4 sitting rooms, a ballroom, billiard room, library, study, school room, smoking room, gun room and various offices and domestic staff residences for the butler, cook, housekeeper and other servants. Other buildings include a Gothic cathedral and family mausoleum containing the bodies of Margaret Henry, Mitchell Henry and a great grand-nephew.
The Abbey remained in Henry’s estate after he returned to England. The castle was sold to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester in 1909, who resided there for several years before being forced to sell the house and grounds because of gambling debts. In 1920 the Irish Benedictine Nuns purchased the Abbey castle and lands after they were forced to flee Ypres, Belgium during World War I. The nuns, who had been based in Ypres for several hundred years, had been bombed out of their Abbey during World War I. The nuns continued to offer education to Catholic girls, opening an international boarding school and establishing a day school for local girls. They were forced to close the school in June 2010.
The Estate includes large walled Victorian Gardens. Since the 1970s these have been open for public tours and ‘nature’ walks. The Benedictine community has restored the Abbey’s gardens and Cathedral with donations and local artisans in order to be a self-sustaining estate.
Slieve League, sometimes Slieve Leag or Slieve Liag, is a mountain on the Atlantic coast of Country Donegal in Ireland. At 601 meters, it has some of the highest sea cliffs on the island of Ireland. Although less famous than the Cliffs of Moher, Slieve League’s cliffs reach almost three times higher.
The Belfast naturalist Robert Lloyd Praeger wrote in 1939:
A tall mountain of nearly 2000 feet, precipitous on its northern side, has been devoured by the sea till the southern face forms a precipice likewise, descending on this side right into the Atlantic from the long knife-edge which forms the summit. The traverse of this ridge, the “One Man’s Path”, is one of the most remarkable walks to be found in Ireland – not actually dangerous, but needing a good head and careful progress on a stormy day….The northern precipice, which drops 1500 feet into the coomb surrounding the Little Lough Agh, harbours the majority of the alpine plants of Slieve League, the most varied group of alpines to be found anywhere in Donegal.
William Butler (W.B.) Yeats was born in Dublin into an artistic family. He became one of the most famous literary figures in history. W.B. Yeats died in the South of France on January 28, 1939. He was originally buried at Roquebrune Cemetery in France. In 1948 his body was exhumed and brought back to Drumcliff. However, there have been suggestions that the remains brought back from France were not those of Yeats but, instead, those of a French dentist. As Yeats requested in his last poem – he was buried within sight of Ben Bulben. W.B. Yeats is currently buried in the Protestant churchyard in Drumcliff, Sligo County, Ireland.
We are now heading on to Northern Ireland to see some natural and man-made wonders.
For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.