Sruthair – "a river or stream"

Ross Abbey :: Rosserrily Friary


The Ross Errilly Friary (Irish: Mainistir Ros Oirialaigh, often anglicised in 18th & 19th century sources as Rosserelly) is a medieval Franciscan friary located about a mile to the northwest of Headford, County Galway, Ireland. It is a National Monument of Ireland and among the best tpreserved medieval monastic sites in the country.

The church and bell tower are to one side of a small central cloister and domestic buildings are to the other. Among the latter are a kitchen (equipped with an oven and a water tank for live fish), a bake house, and a refectory or dining area. The dormitories are on the upper levels. One unusual feature is a second courtyard or cloister.

Like many other abandoned Christian sites in Ireland, Ross Errilly has since been used as a burial ground by area residents. In addition to tombs that date from the friary’s active period, many graves dating from the 18th through 20th centuries can be found inside the church walls. In some cases, tombstones comprise the floors of walkways and crawlspaces.



Both Luke Wadding and the Four Masters (who refer to Ross Errilly in their Annals as Ros-Oirbhealagh) record that the abbey was founded in 1351. Its chief patrons were the de Burghs, a prominent local Norman family (from which the modern name Burke derives).

It was greatly expanded during the 15th century. Around 1473, a delegation of Franciscans form Ross Errilly went to Donegal at the request of the Tyrconnell clan and founded the Donegal Friary, where the Four Masters would later write their famous Annals.

After the English Reformation

Life at Ross Errilly was disrupted by the English Reformation. The Franciscans had loudly opposed King Henry VIII’s break with Rome, which would prove costly after the schism. In 1538, English authorities imprisoned two hundred of the monks and banished or killed an indeterminate number of others. The rest of the Franciscans’ history at Ross Errilly would be marked by repeated evictions and other persecutions.

Online image: This tank was used to hold live fish caught from the nearby Black River.

At the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the abbey was confiscated and given to Richard Burgh, the 2nd Earl of Clanrickarde. Burgh, a descendant of the de Burghs who had helped found the abbey, quietly gave it back to the Franciscans.

In 1584, the English crown again confiscated the monastery form the Franciscans and gave it to an English noble who evicted the monks and plundered the building’s contents. In 1586, the Earl of Clanrickarde purchased the monastery and again returned it to the Franciscans.

By the end of the century, however, the crown had once again expelled the monks and converted the monastery into an English garrison for use during the Nine Years’ War.

In 1604, Ulick Burke, 3rd Earl of Clanrickarde, continuing to honor the de Burgh tradition of supporting Ross Errilly, financed the rehabilitation and reoccupation of the monastery by the Franciscans. Their stay was short-lived; in 1612 Lord Arthur Chichester, Lord Deputy of Ireland, ordered the Protestant archbishop of Tuam, William Daniel, to expel the monks and to demolish the abbey’s altars.

Daniel apparently complied with the order, but sent advance word to the residents of Ross Errilly and advised them to evacuate the abbey’s most precious items.

Rebellion and the Cromwellian era

The Fish Tank

On February 18, 1642, Ulick Burke and the monks were involved in the rescue of about 40 Protestant refugees of the 1641 uprising, including the family of Dr. John Maxwell, the Protestant bishop of Killala. He refugees were being led from the town of Shrule when the Catholic soldiers comprising their escort massacred them. It’s not reliably known how many were killed, but one estimate placed the number of victims at 65. Burke and the monks brought the survivors back to the Headford area and obtained shelter for them among the townspeople until safe passage to England could be arranged.

The Irish campaigns of Oliver Cromwell brought an end to this era of English tolerance of the Catholic church in Ireland. For a few nervous years, Ross Errilly served as an informal refugee shelter for Catholic clergy who had been flushed out of other parts of Ireland by Cromwell’s forces.

On August 10, 1656, Cromwellian forces finally made their way to Ross Errilly. The 140 Franciscans living there had fled a few hours earlier, but the soldiers ransacked the grounds, destroying crosses and other religious iconography and even defiling tombs in search of loot. Legend maintains that the fleeing monks somehow found the time to remove the bell from the bell tower and sink it in the nearby Black River, where it remains today. The English Restoration in 1660 brought Charles II to the throne. His nominally tolerant policies towards Catholics allowed the reoccupation and repair of the abbey in 1664.

Final years

The Glorious Revolution of 1688, which deposed Charles’ younger brother, the Catholic James II, eventually led to the Popery Act of 1698, which placed a bounty on Catholic clergy. Once again, the Franciscans of Ross Errilly became fugitives and abandoned the premises.


Local records indicate that by 1712, Franciscans had returned to the abbey. Sine sources indicate that the abbey was abandoned again in 1731, for reasons which are unclear. What’s certain is that by 1753, they had returned to the site. The property was now owned by Lord St. George, a local noble, who picked up where the Clanrickardes had left off and secretly patronized the abbey. By this time, the Penal Laws were in effect and St. George risked life imprisonment by supporting the monks. A vengeful family who had lost a lawsuit to St. George reported to the authorities that he was sheltering Catholic religious at the monastery. St. George learned of the accusations and the monks evacuated the monastery for the last time. Before authorities arrived at the abbey, St. George had the abbey’s interior whitewashed and had employed a group of weavers and their looms inside the building. The inquiry was ended without further incident, but the sham factory was soon closed and the monls never returned again.

The monks built cabins of wood and stone on a small island in the Black River, about one mile (1.6km) downstream from the abbey. The island (which no longer exists) was known informally as “Friars Island,” and the community supported the monks with food, fuel and clothing via a wooden drawbridge. For 36 years, the monks continued to celebrate Sunday Mass in the deteriorating abbey building. In 1789, a Henry Lynch of Ballycurrin cheaply leased 16 acres (65,000m²) to the dispossessed monks at the foot of a hill in the townland of Kilroe, near Headford. By 1801, only three monks remained, though mass continued to be said at Kilroe until 1804. There were still three monks in the community when it was closed in 1832.

Abandonment and neglect

The abbey ruins as depicted in William Wilde’s 1867 book, Lough Corrib, Its Shores and Islands.

In the meantime, the long-abandoned friary continued its descent into run. In 1835, English tourist John Barrow described the abbey as “a remarkably fine old ruin…in a disgracefully neglected state.” In particular, Barrow was astonished by the large amount of unburied human remains at the site, which included “moss-grown skulls and human thigh and leg-bones strewed about so plentifully that not a step can be taken without encountering them.” [2] Geographer Samuel Lewis noted the continued decay in 1837, writing that the abbey was “partially covered in ivy” and that the rood had collapsed in 1812. Despite the neglect, Lewis was able to report that “one of the windows is still perfect.” [3]

William Wilde visited the abbey ruins in July, 1866. Like Barrow, he described “heaps of skulls and bones” in the church and claimed that the site had become notorious for its unburied remains. Wilde noted with dismay that further “desecration” was being effected by sheep and cattle, which roamed freely through the ruins. He also credited a nearby resident, Oliver Burke, with some early efforts to preserve the site by “removing obstructions form between the mullions of the beautiful windows” and making “repairs to the tower, thereby rendering it accessible to the top. “[4] In 1868, Burke, a barrister by profession, wrote his own account of the friary’s history.



Today, the ruin of Ross Errilly is maintained by the Office of Public Works and is open to the public free of charge.

GPS:       53.479792         -9.131458

Couvent or Convent

In Bald’s Map from 1809/11 Kellroe has a “couvent” mentioned . By this time the Rosserrilly friars were residing in Kilroe

A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, monks or nuns; or the building used by the community, particularly in the Catholic Church, Lutheran churches, and the Anglican Communion.


Links to other web resources

Wikipedia , Ross Errilly Friary

The Franciscans Website


Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, Vol. 29


Oliver J. Burkes History of the Abbey of Ross (1868)

Oliver Joseph Burke (1825-1889) was an Irish barrister and historian.

Born at Ower, Headford, County Galway, he was educated at Trinity College, Dublin from 1841, graduating with a B.A. in 1854, the same year he was called to the Irish Bar.

The Abbey of Ross, Co. Galway – its history and details, E. Ponsonby, Dublin, 1868.
The History of the Lord Chancellors of Ireland from A.D. 1186 to A.D. 1874, E. Ponsonby, Dublin, 1879.
The History of the Catholic Archbishops of Tuam, from the foundation of the See to the death of the Most Rev. John MacHale, D.D., A.D. 1881, Hodges Figgis, Dublin, 1882.
Anecdotes of the Connaught Circuit from its foundation in 1604 to close upon the present time, Hodges Figges, Dublin, 1885.
The South Isles of Aran, Co. Galway, Kegan, Paul, Trench & Co., London, 1887.


From “Potcheen on the road” on YouTube 2014


Full text of “The Abbey of Ross  : its history and details”

Download the PDF 


Read the scanned text below










DURING the troubled times that followed the Reformation, your Lordship’s ancestors were for generations the unaltered and  unalterable protectors ‘of the monks of Boss Abbey. Six times, from the year 1538 to the year 1664, were the friars expelled from their beloved retreat ; and six times did they return, under the powerful protection of the Earls of Clanricarde. To your Lordship, therefore, as the descendant of th’ose Earls, -is this, the history of that Abbey, dedicated, with feelings of profound respect, by



HAVING spent the autumnal months of the year
1867 in endeavouring to rescue from further decay
the ruins of the Abbey of Boss* near Headford, in
the County Gralway, I naturally wished to learn
something of its history, and to know who and what
manner Iff men were they that dwelt within its walls
who was its founder, “and how came it to be a ruin.
The place I expected to find information on these
points was in Archdall’s Irish Monasticon. I had
long known that every monastery and abbey in
England has its history, from its foundation to its
fall, digested in the Monasticons of Dugdale and
Steevens ; and yet the Abbey of Boss not inferior
to Melrose, perhaps, in beauty and in extent has
its history of five hundred years told in five and
twenty lines by Archdall. In the following pages
I have given every scrap of information that could
be gathered on the subject ; and I confidently hope-
and trust that my researches, may not be unaccept-
able, either to the visitor to the Abbey, or to those
who value the monastic learning of our country.


l8th June, 1868.


History of the Abbey, from A. D. 1348 to 1656,


‘ “P A f V

History continued, from A. D.I 656 to 1868, ……. 2 6

The Church and its Details,


The Monastery and its Details, ….

Families interred in the Abbey,


….. ………. 77


L. T. C. D. Library, Trinity College, Dublin.

K. I. L. D. King’s Inns Library, Dublin.

L. R. I. A. Library of the Royal Irish Academy.

F. C. L. D. Four Courts Library, Dublin.


Page 46. line 19, for Cistine Cliapel read Sistine Chapel.


&c. &c.




” There is a temple in ruin stands,
Fashioned by long-forgotten hands ;
Two or three columns, and many a stone,
Marble and granite, with grass o’ergrown

Siege of Corinth, Canto xviii.

BEFORE entering into the ” history and details,” it may be
right to explain why this little book is entitled ” The Ab-
bey of Boss,” and not ” The Monastery of Koss.” An ab-
bey was a religious house governed by an abbot a high
dignitary of the Church, and Lord of Parliament, in Ca-
tholic times. His was an office for life : with mitre and
crosier, the lord abbot was surrounded with the pomp and


splendour so well described in Sir Walter Scott’s ” Monas-
tery.” The Benedictines are governed by abbots not so
the Franciscans ; their Superiors, chosen by the Chapter
once every three years, were called Guardians. Eoss
never was an abbey; it was a Franciscan monastery.
It is not for me, however, to attempt to change its well-
known name.

The “abbey, as I shall therefore call it, is delightfully
situated on the south bank’ of the “Black river;” it has
been long in ruins, but its ruins attest its former magni-
ficence. The outer walls which, if not perfect, are yet
nearly so cover a great area; and when, approaching from
the west or from the south-east, the spectator looks upon
the pile, with its towers and its high-pitched gables its
windows all different, but all beautiful its masses of dark
ivy, and the lights and shadows caused by the broken out-
line of its projecting buildings his heart must be very
cold, if it be not touched by the beauty and the grandeur
of the ruins. The interior will not disappoint him. In
the church he will find still perfect the cut pillars and
rounded arches, the side chapels, and the eastern window ;
the guest house, the refectories, scriptorium, and library,
congregated round the cloisters; the kitchen, the cells, /the
dormitories, and the chapter room. He will everywhere’
find the evidence of the wealth and educated taste of its
former owners, and of the vandalism of its destroyers ; and

( 3 )

he will sigh to think that man himself is, more than time,
the enemy of human grandeur.

A. D. 1348. This abbey is called in the Records Eoss-
Errilly, and also Koss-Traily a corruption of the Irish
words Koss-ne-thre-allagh, that is, “the flaxseed of the
three swans.” Amongst the numberless legends of the
abbey the earliest is conversant with its very foundations,
which are said to have been laid during the dreadful plague
that swept across Europe in the year 1.348, carrying: off


five-and-twenty millions of the human race.* This awful
scourge devastated the whole of the province of Connaught.
” It was at that time,” says my informant an old man
rich in legendary lore ” that there was one M’Hugh, an
archbishop, in Tuam, and he was sick at heart to see all
around about him on every side the dead and the dying in
heaps, and not a priest even to attend them in their last


hours ; for the priests too were carried off in hundreds.
Well, this bishop saw a vision in an old chapel in Tuam
that was called the Church of the Shrine ; and the vision
told him, if he was to build a monastery for the poor
friars, that the plague would stop; that he must go at
once to a place called Cordara, near Headford, or, as we
call it in Irish, Ath-kin, and that when he ‘d reach that

.* Haverty’s History of Ireland, p. 297, note; Hume’s England,
ch. 16 ; Sir W. Wilde’s Report” on the Table of Deaths in the Census of

B 2

( 4 ) –

place a visible sign, “would be .given to him that he could
never mistake. Well, the bishop did exactly as he was
told : he and a couple of other friars for he was a friar
himself before he was made a bishop arrived at the lower
Cordara, and up before his face started three swans, and
each of them with a bunch of flaxseed in its bill; and
thence the swans flew in a straight line across to where
the abbey was afterwards built. The bishop and his
priests came up as quick as ever they could go, and sure
enough they were astonished to find that the swans were
gone, and more so when, although it was the beginning of
the month of ^February, they found that there were three
bunches of flax in full blossom; and that is the reason
why Ross was so called Ross, that is, the flaxseed, ne-
thre-Magh, of the three swans.”

“And did the bishop,” I interposed, “at once lay the
foundations of the abbey ?”

“!N”o,” said he; “not for three days after. He then
went over to the church of Killursa ;* and he there made
an order that neither man, woman, nor child, nor” cow,
sheep, nor horse should taste either food or drink for
three days and three nights, and during all that time
neither he nor his priests came down from the altar. So
on the third day all the people gathered together, still
fasting, to dig the place of the foundation; and on the

* Fid. Appendix A.


brink of the night of the third day the foundation was dug,
and there was no more a plague in the country.”

The many Hehrew idioms which this man made use of,
when speaking with difficulty the English language, asto-
nished me beyond measure. “Well,” said he, “perhaps
you don’t know the meaning of the three swans.” I re-
plied that I really did not, ” The three swans,” he re-
sumed, ” had their own meaning they meant that the ab-
bey was to stand for three hundred years ; and although it
stood longer, exactly four hundred and fifty years, still
the blessed .cross was then knocked out of its place ; and
the friars after that time, in place of relieving the poor as
they used to do, became beggars themselves.”

” Your story reminds me,” said I, “of the twelve vul-
tures that appeared on the Capitoline Hill when the foun-
dations of the city of Some were being laid : the twelve
vultures betokened the twelve centuries that Rome was to
rule the world.”

. He said that he was no scholar, and knew nothing about
the vultures. ” But,” said he, ” listen to this : Cromwell’s
soldiers banished the friars ; and the very morning or two
before the _friars left, just as some of them were going out
of the grand gate, it wasn’t then quite day it was very
early, before men could know one another* what did
they see, do you think, but the same three swans, scream-

* This, another Hebrew expression, occurs in the book of Ruth, iii. 14.

( 6 )

ing, and flying away, and looking back at the abbey ? And
on that day the three swans were found lying dead at the
far mearing of Cordara, the estate of the abbey of Eoss,
and on the spot that three hundred years before they had
risen from. Oh, if you could understand Irish as well as
I do, I’d tell you many a thing about Eoss and the monks,
God be with them !” Here the poor old man wept, then
dried his eyes, and said he’d tell me more at another time.
A. D. 1351. The great Franciscan chronicler, Luke
“Wadding, states that it was in this year the monastery of
Eoss was built: he describes it to be a lonely spot, sur-
rounded on all sides with water; and that it was ap-
proachable only by one path, paved with heavy stones.*

This account by “Wadding agrees with that given in

the Annals of the ” Pour Masters,” under the year 1351,
and also with the Louvain Manuscript, of which we shall
presently speak. The time, then, occupied in building the
abbey, was three years.

A. D . 1 470. In this year the monastery of Eoss adopted
the rigid rules of the strict observance, a change which is
thus explained by Stevens :f ” According to the original
order of St. Francis, the Franciscans were bound by vows
of poverty, and were called by their founder ‘ Friars Minor/
that is, lesser and humbler than any other order of the

* “Wadding, vol. xiii., p. 428, R. I. A.

f Vid. Stevens’ Monasticon of England, vol. i., page 93.

( 7 )

Church. By degrees, however, considerable relaxation crept
into their order, and it was thought requisite to reform the
same by reducing it to the first rule of the institution. The
reformation was commenced by St. Bernardin in 1420, and
in the middle of the fifteenth century it was received all
over the kingdom.” The adoption of the strict observance
made it illegal to acquire any property other than that
which they then possessed ; the only land which appears to
have belonged to Ross Abbey were the townlands of
Eoss, Cordara, and Ross-duff, or Black Ross, amounting
to about 1300 statute acres. At Ross-duff the friars had
their farm-yard or grange, a square enclosure which still
remains and is called ” the Bawn.” It is surrounded by
a high wall, flanked at each angle by a tower, and is well
worth seeing.

A. D. 1474. In the Louvain Manuscript, found in the
Louvain Library, Belgium, and translated in Duffy’s Hiber-
nian Magazine for 1 860 and ’61, by the Rev. C. P. Meehan,
the accomplished curate of SS. Michael and John’s, is a
deal of information on the monastery of Ross. This ma-
nuscript, written in 1617, during the penal laws against
the friars, tells the early history of many Irish monasteries.
The monastery of Donegal was colonized from Ross in
1 47 4. It appears that ” when the Franciscans were holding
a provincial chapter in the monastery of Ross-Rial, near
Tuam, that Wuala O’Connor, daughter of O’Connor Faily

( 8 )

(one of the most potent of the Lagenian princes) and wife
of Hugh Roe O’Donnell, came accompanied by a goodly
number of kernes and gallowglasses,* to present an humble
memorial to the assembled fathers. “When the latter had
duly considered the prayer of the Lady Nuala’s memorial,
they deputed the Provincial to inform her that they could
not comply with her request at that moment, but that at
some future time they would send a colony of Franciscans
to the principality of Tirconnell. ‘”What!’ replied the
princess, sorely pained by the refusal, ‘ I have journeyed
fully a hundred miles to accomplish the object that has long
been dearest to my heart, and will you venture to spurn
my prayer? If you do, beware of God’s wrath, for I will
appeal to His throne, and charge you with the loss of all
the souls which your reluctance shall cause to perish in the
territory of Tirconnell.’ Earnest and energetic was the
lady’s pleading, so much so, indeed, that she ultimately
overcame the hesitation of the friars, some of whom pro-
fessed themselves ready to proceed to Tirconnell. Proud of
her success, the Lady Nnala then set out on her journey
homewards, followed by a goodly number of Franciscans,
who, when they arrived at the barony of Tir-Hugh, imme-

* Kerne, a heavy-armed foot soldier; Gallowglass, a light-armed foot
soldier. Vid. Ware, vol. 2, p. 161. They are thus spoken of in Shaks-
peare’s Play of Henry VI., Part 2, Act iv., Scene 9. “The Duke of
York is newly come from Ireland, with a puissant and a mighty power of
gallowglasses and stout Irish kernes.” See also Macbeth, Act i., Sc. 2.

( 9 )

diately commenced building the far-famed monastery at
the head of the lovely bay of Donegal.”* ~We thus see that
from the Abbey of Eoss went forth the friars who founded
that monastery where the Annals of the Eour Masters were
compiled a work replete with every information on Irish
history, and translated by the celebrated Irish scholar,
John O’Donovan. Facts are there chronicled, passing
events noted, eclipses given, the accuracy of which has
been tested by the great Benedictine work, ” L’art de Yeri-
fier les Dates.” f “Whether Eoss ever produced works like
those it is impossible now to tell ; if it did, they were either
destroyed (as we shall presently see many of them were)
or carried away, either to Louvain, Paris, Madrid, or more
likely to St. Isidore’s, in Eome.

A. D. 1498. Several additions were made to the Abbey
by a man named Graynard of Cargins. This gentleman’s
descendants appear to have been living at Cargins in the
year 1586, on the division of Connaught into counties, j
Archdall calls him Lord Gfannard a mistake, no doubt,
arising from the mistranslation of the Latin word Dominus
prefixed to his name, which meant nothing more than Mr.
No such title as Lord Gannard ever existed.

* Hib. Mag., Sep. 1860, p. 136.

f Vol. I. Every eclipse from the birth of Christ to the year zcoo
is given in the Chronologic des Eclipses, in 1’Art de Verifier les
Dates, and these have been verified by D’Alembert, of the Academy of
Sciences in Paris, in 1766.

J O’Flaherty’s lar Connaught.

A. D. 1538. In this year the monasteries were sup-
pressed ; Boss was closed, and the monks turned out of the
Abbey. Against the [Franciscans the fury of Henry YIII.
was more especially directed, in consequence of their
opposition to his divorce from Queen Catherine. Two
hundred Franciscans were thrown into prison ; thirty- two
of them, coupled with chains like dogs, were sent to distant
prisons; others were banished, and others condemned to
death.* The monks, however, returned immediately after
to the Abbey, and remained there undisturbed (under the
protection of the Clanricardes, to whom the monastery
was granted) until 1584.

A. D. 1569. Eleven years after Queen Elizabeth came
to the throne, her Majesty caused inquiries to be made as
to the wealth of the Irish abbeys. It was then found by
Inquisition “Thaty e site of y e monastery of Koss-Errilly, or
Ross-RaiUy, was one acre of land ; that it contained a church,
a cloister, a hall, dormitories, chambers and cellars, a ceme-
tery, three small gardens, and a mill which (for want of
water) could work only in winter.” f The present site of
the Abbey occupies nearly an acre of land.

A. D. 1572. Father Farrell MacEgan built the en-
closure. All that now remains of this work is the gateway
and ditch which surrounds the close on which the monastery

* Hooke’s Church Directory, p. 277, T. C. D.

f Interleaved edition of Archdall’s Monasticon, K. I. A.

is built the wall that stood on the inner edge of this ditch
is long since gone.

A. D. 1578. Queen Elizabeth, by patent of 2oth August,
1578, granted the tithes of Eoss-Errilly and several other
places to the portreve and burgesses of Athenry.*

A, D. ijSo.f On the 8th of July in this year the monas-
tery -was again granted to Eichard Burgh, Earl of Clanri-
carde (as appears by an inquisition taken in the 2 6th of
Elizabeth, A. D. 1 584), who re-granted it to the friars.

A. D. 1584. The Crown, enraged at the re-grant of the
Abbey to the friars, granted it this year to an Englishman
{infra, page 15], who plundered it of its library, muni-
ments, books, &c., and expelled the monks.


A.D. 1586. “Click, third Earl of Clanricarde, taking

pity on the monks, purchased the Englishman’s interest and
restored them to their venerable abode [infra, page 15].

A. D. 1596. The monastery of Eoss was this year gar-
risoned by the English soldiery, when a great army was
encamped near the neighbouring castles of Kinlough and
Moyne. The Annals of the Pour MastersJ describe this to
be an enormous army sent by Queen Elizabeth to crush the
power of the Irish chieftains. O’Donovan, in a note, tells

* Vid. Records of tfie Rolls manuscript, Bermingham Tower, Dublin
Castle, VoL I., page 266.
t Archdall’s Monasticon, interleaved, R. T. A.
J Vol. vi., pp. 2000, 2001, note.

us that “Kinlough” (Ceann-Lacha) was so called from its
situation at the head or spring of Lough Corrib.

A. D. 1 603 . The great Irish hero, Bryan Oge O’Kourke,
was interred in the cloister of the Abbey.* The Annals of
the Eour Masters give at great length the deeds of this
warrior and of his father, Bryan-na-Murtha (in English,
Bryan of the ramparts). He was tried for high treason, and
hanged in London, for entertaining in his castle at Droma-
hair, in the county of Leitrim, the unfortunate Spaniards
of the ill-fated Armada wrecked off the northern coast.
Unable to withstand the vengeance of Queen Elizabeth,
Bryan-na-Murtha’fled to Scotland, but no sooner did he set

his foot on those inhospitable shores than he was impri-

soned by James YL, afterwards James I. of England, and

sent in chains to London. Elizabeth, on beholding this
haughty chief, was struck with admiration of the man.
This, however, availed him but little, for he was put on
his trial soon after, found guilty, and executed. His un-
happy fate has been often the theme of the Irish bards a
poem of remarkable beauty on the death of Bryan-na-
Murtha, translated by the late lamented John D’ Alton, is
to be found in Hardiman’s Irish Minstrelsy, p. 287.

A. D. 16044 On James L’s ascending the throne of

* Annals of the Four Masters.

t For the persecution the Irish endured in this reign vid. Father Mee-
han’s ” Flight of the Earls.”

( ‘3 )

England and Ireland it was believed that a reaction would
set in, and that the persecuting laws of Elizabeth would be
swept from the Statute-book ; accordingly, throughout the
country, the Catholics seized/ on the churches which had
been granted to the Protestants but a few years before ; the
monasteries were repaired, and Ross was put into perfect
order by the munificence of Richard, the fourth Earl of
Clanricarde. People’s minds, however, were soon unde-
ceived, and a persecution against the faith that his ill-fated
mother professed was commenced by that royal monster, un-
blest as he was with a single virtue. Should the reader
wish to know something of James’s vices, he is referred to
Somers’ tracts, vol. i., and also to Dr. Yaughan’s “Revolu-
tions of History,” vol. iii. Suffice it here to say that
Henry YIII. was a mere child to him in vice.

A. D. 1605. Cordara, part of the patrimony of the Abbey
of Ross, was confiscated in this year and granted to
John Kinge, of Dublin, with other enormous territories,
\_Vid. patent of the gth of March, 1605].*

A. D. 161 1. The Abbey was again granted to the Earl
of Clanricarde, who (as every member of that noble house
always did) endeavoured to shelter the monks from the fury
of the Crown of England. Vid. Patent Rolls; 8 James I.,
page 175.

A. D. 1612. This year the friars were again expelled

* Kecords of the Bolls, vol. ii. , p. 2 1 7, manuscript, Bermingham Tower.

( 14 )

from Ross by William Daniel, Protestant Archbishop of
Tuam, though much against the will of that learned Irish
scholar, as we shall see.*

A. D. 1616. In this year the history of the Abbey, as it
is found in the Nodes Lovanienses, was written. It will be
observed, that it harmonizes with the history above given
from the Records. The Provincial, Father Mooney, having
related to Father Purcell the history of the Abbey of
Moyne, thus proceeds :f ” ‘ Another house where I spent
some days during my visit to Connaught, pleased me much.
I now speak of the beautiful and spacious church and mo-
nastery of Ross-Emily, or as it is called by the Irish, Ross
Trial, which is situated in the diocese of Tuam, and within
eight or nine miles of that ancient city. “Who its founder
was I have not been able to ascertain, but there can be no
doubt it was erected for the Franciscans in 1351. Never
was there a more solitary spot chosen for a religious com-
munity, than that on which Ross-Errilly stands, for it is
surrounded by marches and bogs, and the stillness that
reigns there is seldom broken save by the tolling of the
church bell, or the whirr of the countless flocks of plover
and other wild birds that abound in that desolate region.
Another remarkable feature of the locality is that the mo-
nastery can only be approached by a causeway, paved with

* For the history of the life of Archbishop Daniel vid. Ware.

f Vid. ” Duffy’s Hibernian Magazine” for November, 1861, p. 238.

large stones, and terminating at the enclosure which was
built in 1572 by Father Ferrall Mac Egan, a native of
Connaught, and then Provincial of the Irish Franciscans.
He was in sooth a distinguished man in his day, far famed
for eloquence and learning, and singularly fond of Ross-
Errilly, which he used to compare to the Thebaid, whither
the early Christians fled for prayer and contemplation. He
died in our house at Kilconnell, where he made his reli-
gious profession. Peace to his memory 1

” ‘ As for the church of Ross-Emily, it is indeed a beauti^
ful edifice, and the same maybe said of the monastery,
which, although often garrisoned by English troops during
the late war, is still in perfect preservation. Cloister,
refectory, dormitory, chapter-house, library, and lofty bell-
tower have all survived the disasters of that calamitous
period; but in the twenty-sixth year of the reign of Eliza-
beth, A. D. 1584, the friars were forcibly expelled from
their beloved retreat, and monastery and church were by a
royal ordinance granted to an Englishman, who laid sacri-
legious hands on our vestments, altar plate, books, and
muniments, leaving us nothing but bare walls and the
rifled tombs of our benefactors.

” ‘It was not long, however, till the friars returned to
Ross-Emily ; for that great and good man Ulick, third Earl
of Clanricarde, took pity on them, and having purchased
the Englishman’s interest in the monastery, restored them


to their venerable abode. Thenceforth, the community of
Ross-Errilly consisted of six priests and two lay brothers,
who laboured indefatigably for the repairs of the sacred edi-
fice, till Daniel, the Protestant Archbishop of Tuam, at the
instance of Sir Arthur Chichester, then Lord Deputy, drove
them out once more, and caused the altars to be demolished.
In justice, however, to this pseudo-bishop, who was deeply
learned in the Irish language, I must say that although
authorized to arrest the friars, he sent them word privately
that he was coming, in order that they might have time to
save themselves by flight ; in fact, he acted against his
own will, and in obedience to the LordDeputy’s commands.’

” ‘ How strange,’ interrupted Father Purcell, ‘ that the
Earl of Clanricarde should take such interest in the safety
and well-being of our poor friars !’

“‘Indeed,’ replied the Provincial * * *’* ‘it would
be unjust to deny the De Burghos that gratitude which
our order owes them, for they were always amongst the
best and most distinguished of its benefactors. But let me re-
sume and conclude what is to be said of Ross-Emily. In
1 604, the munificence of Richard, fourth Earl of Clanricarde,
enabled the community to repair the monastery and church,
which, as I have told you, was considerably dilapidated
during the late war, and in that same year was buried
within its precincts one of the noblest and bravest of heroes of
whom his country could boast, namely Bryan Oge O’Rourke,

, ( ‘7 )

son of Bryan-na-Murtha, of whose glorious death you doubt-
less have heard.’

” ‘Methinks,’ replied Father Purcell’, ‘that he was exe-
cuted in London, but I confess that I am not acquainted
with the circumstances that brought him to the scaffold.’

” ‘Listen, then,’ continued the Provincial, ‘for it will
not take me long to narrate the facts ; and indeed they de-
serve to be recorded. When some ships of the ill-fated
Armada went to pieces on the coast of Sligo, Bryan-na-
Murtha O’Eourke, pitying the Spaniards who appealed to
him for protection, not only sent them immediate aid, but
invited them and their chief officer, Antonio de Leva, to
his castle of Dromahair, where they were entertained with
unbounded hospitality. O’Kourke’s conduct, however, pro-
voked the vengeance of the Queen, who ordered her Deputy
Pitz William and Sir Kichard Bingham to waste with fire
and sword the principality of Breffny. As for the chief-
tain himself, he was obliged, after some ineffectual resist-


ance, to fly into Scotland, where he was arrested by order
of James VL, now King of England, who perfidiously
sent him in chains to London. Arraigned on a charge of
high treason, the noble-minded chieftain refused to bend
his knee before the insignia of royalty. * * * Sentence of
death being recorded, he was soon after led to the place of
execution, and died a true son of Holy Church. When
the news of his father’s death reached Ireland, Bryan Oge

(; i8 )

O’Eourke was dulyjLji^g^rated in his stead. This worthy
son of a martyred- sb? v distinguished himself in many a
glorious action during the Elizabethan wars, and particu-
larly in thefar-famed fight near Boyle, where he andO’Donel
routed the English under Clifford in 1599 on the memo-
rable feast of the Assumption*’ The manuscript here relates
his deeds of arms, the bitter dissensions in his family, his
ultimate defeat and death in Galway, and proceeds : “His
last wish was that his remains should repose in the cloister
of Eoss-Errilly, and our friars took care to see that wish
was fulfilled ; for in the month of January, when the snow
lay thick on the roads, the funeral cortege, accompanied
by a few faithful friends, entered the enclosure of the
monastery, and as soon as the requiem mass had been
sung, our brotherhood piously hollowed out a grave in the-
cloister, and there interred all that remained of one of the
. bravest and best of those Irishmen, whose names deserve to
be canonized in the pages of history. I know not whether
that grave is marked by any cenotaph, but as long as a
single fragment of Eoss-Errilly stands, the pilgrim and the
wayfarer shall point to it as the last resting-place of Bryan
Oge O’Eourke.’ ”

A. D. 1626. The friars returned to Eoss ; for on the acces-
sion of Charles I. there was a general relaxation of the penal
laws, which, however, did not long continue.

A. B. 163,6., In this year the book of the martyrology

( <9 )

of Donegal was compiled by Clery. Amongst the names of
the ecclessiastics that approved of that work (lately trans-
lated for the Archaeological Society), is that of Boetins
Mac Egan, dated Koss-Eeily, 27th November, 1636.* -In
this year also, by an inquisition ” apud St. Erancis Abb.,
2 znd April,” this monastery is called Koss-Byully, and
placed in Mointer-Moroghow [now Barony of Clare], in the
territory of Clanricarde. Annals of the Four Masters, vol.
vi., p. 2349.

A. D. 1641. -The Irish laws and customs of the de-
scent of property had recently been abolished ‘by the well-
known Tanistry Case.\ The Irish people groaned under
the intolerable weight of English rapacity. They had
seen the monasteries, .which Blackstone J says were the
resources of the poor, closed. The tithes, of which in those
times the poor were entitled to one-third, were taken entirely
from them, and granted to the professors of another faith.
Add to this the confiscation of 385,000 acres of land in
Leinster ; || of 200,000 acres of land in Derry ; the con-
.fiscation of every acre in Tyrone, Donegal, Fermanagh,

* Martyrology of Donegal, p. Eii.
t Vid. Sir John Davis r Keports, p. .79:
J Vol. i., p. 379,

Before the change of religion, the tithes were divisible into three parts
” one for maintaining the fabric of the church ; another for the incum-
bent; and a third for thej>oor.” Vid, Blackstone’s Commentaries, vol. i.,
p. 406. –

|| Haverty’s History of Ireland, p. 500 ; Godkiu’s Ireland.

C 2

Armagh, and Cavan ; the putting at the disposal of the
crown, by the verdicts of terrified juries, every acre inLeitrim,
Sligo, Mayo, and Roscommon ; the mulcting of the Gal-
way jury (who alone of all the juries in the province found
on their oaths against the Crown), in a fine of 72,000;*
the rooting out of the . population, and the planting of
English and Scotch colonists on the lands of the ancient
Catholic proprietors and tenants; the planting of Pro-
testant villages, such as Headford once was, in the middle
of a country then and before that time entirely Catholic ;
the stamping out of the Catholic faith and the ruthless
tyranny practised towards the Catholic clergy, who were
hunted down like partridges from the mountains ; in a
word, the reign of terror that spread everywhere around
maddened to desperation the people, who then as one man
appealed to arms, and on the night of the 23rd of October,
1641, the great rebellion commenced, and it was on the
following 1 3th of February, 1641, that the massacre of
the neighbouring bridge of Shruel took place.

Before entering into the details of this massacre, put a
stop to, as we shall presently see, by the influence of
Father Bryan Kilkenny, the Guardian of the Abbey of Boss,
it becomes necessary to explain how it was that the rebellion
broke out on the 23rd of October, 1641, and how thehisto-
jies of those times state that on the i3th of February, 1641,

* Hardiman’s History of Galway, p. 105.

( 21 )

following, this massacre took place. Until the year 1752
the year commenced on the 2ist of March, and terminated
on the night of the zoth of March following, consequently
from the 2oth of Eebruary to the 2oth of March was the


last month, so to speak, in the year. By the passing of the
act of 24 Geo. II., chapter xxiii., in 1751, the calendar of
Pope Gregory XIII. was adopted in England on the .first
of January, 1752, and in Ireland, by the 2ist and 22nd
Geo. III., in 1782, and thenceforward the year commenced
on the ist of January, and closed on the 3ist of December
following ; Eebruary, consequently, from being the twelfth
month in the year, became the second as we may see in
any old almanac of that date.*

It was early in the month of Eebruary, then towards
the close of 1641, that Doctor Maxwell, the Protestant
Bishop of Killala, afterwards Archbishop of Tuam, with,
several Protestant settlers, fearing the just vengeance of
the people whom they had plundered, applied to Lord
Mayo for a military escort to convoy them to Galway. His
Lordship acceded to the bishop’s request, and the whole
party got under weigh, accompanied by Lord Mayo. It

* Should the reader wish to obtain further popular information on this
most interesting of subjects, the Calendar, he is referred to a note to
St. Teresa’s day in Alban Butler’s Lives of the Saints a work pronounced
by Gibbon, in the 8th last note of the 4fth chapter of the Decline and Fall,
to be ” a work of merit.” Fief, also a chapter on this subject in Wheatly
on the Book of Common Prayer.

was arranged that Captain TJlick Burke, of Castle-Hacket,
(who was married to Lord Kayo’s sister*), the then high
sheriff of the county of Galway, should take the convoy in
charge at the hridge of Shruel, the mearing of the counties.
The journey as far as Shruel was all hut accomplished.
Lord Mayo, . satisfying himself that all was right, on get-
ting within half a mile of the town, wished them safe,
having given them in charge to a relative of his own, a
gentleman named Edmund Bourke, who lived in the castle


of Shruel ; and then, turning his horse, his Lordship rode
away to Cong. This Edmund Bourke, who, it will be
observed, was in no way connected with the Burkes of
Castle-Hacket their very names are differently spelled
having taken the command, hurried on to the bridge before
Captain Ulick Burke, the Galway high sheriff, might come
up. The party had just arrived at the bridge, when Ed-
mund Bourke incited the surrounding people to attack
those whom he was bound to protect : a shot was fired, and
the massacre commenced. In less than an hour thirty
bodies were laid dead on the ground ; many of them were
tumbled into a hole on the road side, and others
flung into the waters of the Black river, that flowed red
with blood into the lake on that fatal day. Meanwhile
Father Bryan Kilkenny, Guardian of the Monastery of
Ross, accompanied by Captain Ulick Burke, came up,

* Vide Lodge’s Peerage, by Arcbdall, vol. ir., p. 238.

( 23 )

rushed to the scene of carnage, and carried away over
forty persons, some of them badly wounded. The guar-
dian brought them to his abbey, and amongst them were
the Bishop of Killala, his wife, children, and servants ;
and there were they entertained and cared for to the best
of the friar’s ability for several nights, until Captain “Click
Burke sent his carriages, and brought them to his castle at
Castle-Hacket. The Bishop thus writes to TJlick, fifth Earl
of Clanricarde, the then governor of the county of Galway,
narrating the kindness of Captain TTlick Burke :*

“zotfA Feb. 1641. May it please your Lordship, . . .
what my misfortunes and sufferings were at Shruel, as
without tears I can not, so without good manners I may
not relate to your Lordship, only lest I should be ungrate-
ful to God. I remember his mercies first, that miracu-
lously, of God’s mercy, I, my wife, three children, two
women servants, and one man servant were preserved;
secondly, though all stripped naked, yet none wounded but
myself and my man servant; thirdly, which is a mercy
above all, that a noble gentleman, Captain Ulick Burke,
and his noble wife, sent a surgeon of his own to me,
and other servants, who with all tender care brought me
on Tuesday last to Castle-Hacket, where I have been and
am so tenderly and heartily attended as it surpasseth all
expression. I pray God that they may find mercy in their
* Clanricarde’s Memoirs, p. 7 j.

day of need, and to enable me to be a servant of this

On the 7th of March following the Bishop left Castle-
Hacket for Gal way, having written to thank the friars for . o
their many kindnesses to him.

[ Vid. Sterne’s Manuscripts, Library of Trinity College,
Dublin; Wills’ Lives of Illustrious and Distinguished
Irishmen, vol. iii., p. 9. The account given in the Dublin
Penny Journal, voL i., p. 258, is by far the most perspi-
cuous. Vid. also Cotton’s Fasti Ecclesise Hiberriicae, vol.
iv., p. 68.]

A. D. 1647. A chapter of the Franciscans was held
this year in the Abbey, under the presidency of the Eev.
Anthony De Burgo.*

A. D. 1656. The horrors of former persecutions were
now renewed under Oliver Cromwell.f Every Catholic
gentleman inLeinster, Ulster, andMunster, lost his estate.
One hundred thousand Catholic children, male and female,
were seized upon, and transported to the swamps of the
. “West Indies. Any Catholic priest found in the land was
liable to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. J To harbour
a Catholic priest was death ; and 5 reward was set on a
priest’s head. In the midst of all this storm, Boss, far

* Sir W. Wilde’s Lough Corrib, p. 120.
f Prendergast’s Cromwellian Settlement.
| Haverty’s Ireland, p. 597^6* seg.

from thoroughfares, escaped the fire and the sword of the
Parliamentary forces. Seven ” score and one friars were
crowded within its walls, having fled thither from the sur-
rounding convents. The monks, however, knowing that
their hour was at hand, stripped the Ahbey of every article
of value. Though poverty was the rule of the house,
wealth untold graced their altars. To give an idea in
one monastery of the order, that of Donegal,* there were
.forty suits of vestments of cloth of gold and silver, sixteen
silver chalices washed with gold, two ciboriums inlaid with
precious stones, silver lamps, and other furniture for the
sanctuary, besides books of priceless value, records of pass-
ing events, &c. No doubt many of those records kept at
Boss will yet turn up either at St. Isidore’s in Rome, at
Louvain, or other Continental libraries. The great bell of
the Abbey, which was heard for miles and miles away, was
taken down from its lofty bell stage, and flung into the
river, within a few yards of the mill ; and there it still re-
mains, and still rings, as they say, in tones of agony, from
its deep bed, when any of the Franciscan friars of the Irish
Province is about to leave the world.

* Duffy’s Hib. Mag. for 1860, p. 138.



” And slow up the dim aisle afar,
With sable cowl and scapular,
And snow-white stoles, in order due,
The holy fathers, two and two,
In long procession came.”

Lay of the Last Minstrel, Canto xxx.

A. D. 1656. It was on the morning of the loth of Au-
gust, 1656, that a horseman who had ridden hard from
Galway arrived at the enclosure, and informed the fathers
that on that day the Cromwellian soldiers would be at their
abbey. Hastily mass was said by the Guardian ; and the
friars went forth, two and two, to the number of seven –
score and one, headed by the cross and steaming censers,
chaunting as they went along the Psalms of David, whilst
around them knelt a sobbing multitude, to whom they were
endeared by long acts of kindness. The Cromwellian
troopers arrived, and forthwith they plunged into every
cell,- and finding nothing but the bare walls, they sus-
pected that vast treasures were hidden in the tombs. The
dead were thrown up in a rotting heap, every coffin emp-

tied, and every grave was raked in search, of gold, silver, .
and precious stones. The enormous mound of unburied
and whitened hones within the inner enclosure is to this
day a witness of the loathsome sacrilege of the loth of Au-
gust, 1656. Hardiman, in his History of Galway, p. 270,
tells us of a like sacrilege in the Dominican friary in that
town. In no other monastery in Ireland is there such a
heap of hones as at Eoss ; here might Ezekiel revel ; thou-
sands and thousands of skulls some white as ivory, others
covered with moss, and others almost rotted to earth are
here collected in one great mound. I never yet saw that
heap of hones that the vision did not occur to me from
Ezekiel “The hand of the Lord set me down in the midst
of a plain that was full of hones, and he led me through
them on every side. Now there were very many bones
upon the face of the plain, and they were exceeding, dry.”*
The Cromwellian soldiers, having overturned the altars,
and smashed the cross and images of the saints, .departed,
leaving the noble abbey a rifled ruin.

A. D. 1664. By patent of the i4th Charles II. the ab-
bey was granted to Richard, sixth Earl of Clanricarde.
The following year, the friars, confiding in the unaltered
generosity of that great family, returned.

A. D. 1687. In this year the friars of Eoss prayed for
James II., f for his wife, and for Tirconnell, the Catholic

* Ezek. xxxvii. 2. f Sir W. Wilde’s Lough Corrib. p. 120.

( 28 )

Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The Catholic faith being
now restored, the majority, and not the minority of the
people became loyal to their sovereign, for whom they
afterwards bled.

A. D. 1 697. Following the battle of Aughrim, “William

III., with his wife Mary, were secured ‘on the throne, .

from which she, like another Tullia with another Tarquin,

had hurled her father. This victory of “William III.

Master Fitzgibbon hopes ” will never be forgotten by the

English people, or by any one who values civil liberty, no

matter what be his party or his creed.”* To understand the

liberty which those of the Catholic creedhad. granted them

by that prince, let us open the Statute-book, and see what

it is that the learned Master calls upon us not to forget :

First, beginning at the beginning with chapter ii., an Act

to encourage Protestant Settlers, who must swear that

the Eoman Church professes doctrines ” damnable and

idolatrous ;” next, 7 ~Wm. III. ch. 5, an Act for disarming

Papists; 7″Wm. III. ch. 14, whereby those that keep the

holydays of the Catholic Church are liable to be publicly

whipped [one thing is certain : if Master Fitzgibbon were

a holyday-keeping Catholic in those times, there is no

doubt that “William III. would not be forgotten by him] ;

9 Wm. III. ch. i, an Act for banishing all Papists exercis-

* Ireland in 1868, by Gerald Fitzgibbon, Esq., Master in Chancery,
p. 174.

ing any ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and all regulars of the
Popish, clergy, out of this kingdom. [Soon after this
enactment, the Abhey of Eoss was again, suppressed ; the
friars fled, some to France ; and others assumed the garh
of domestic servants, and lived in Catholic gentlemen’s
houses as such.] 9 Wm. III. ch.’ 3, an Act against mar-
rying Papists ch. 8, sec. 27, preventing excise commis-
sioners being Catholics; 10 Wm. III. ch. 8, sec. 4, no
Papist to be employed as a fowler to kill game ch. 13,
an Act to prevent Papists being solicitors ; 7. Wm. III.
eh. 5, sec. 8, Popish apprentices not to be taken; sec. 10,
Papists not to keep horses of 5 value. At p. 50, the Master
imagines he hears his old Catholic class-fellows calling on
the Protestant governors to save them from their pastors,
and from Catholic schools (such, perhaps, as Clongowes,
which they support, or the Catholic University). The
government of Win. III. would nobly respond to that
call, as perhaps they did in anticipation when the 7th
Wm. III. ch-4, sec. i. was passed, enacting that any person
sending a child to a ” Popish university college,” to be
instructed, persuaded, or strengthened in the Popish reli-
gion, such person, on conviction, shall be disabled from’
suing in law or equity, or to be a guardian, executor, ad-
ministrator, or take a legacy or deed of gift, or bear office,
and forfeit goods and also lands for life. Could William
III. hear the cry that the Master imagines he hears, he

. ( 3 )

could not more effectually reply to it than by passing the
enactments he did in his tyrannical reign, which it is bet-
ter now to draw a veil over.

A. D. 1715. The Mars again return to Boss, as appears
from an address of the grand jury of the county of Gal way,
at an assizes commenced on the 29th of March, 1715, to
the Lords Justices, complaining that numbers of Popish
priests and friars had come into the kingdom within the
last four years, and settled themselves, amongst other
places, ” at Boss, near Headford,” and calling on the go-
vernment to put the laws against the Catholics in force.*
How changed the times ! No sheriff ever thinks of ask-
ing what the faith of a grand juror now is. The grand
panel of the Co. Galway is at present about seven-twelfths
Catholics ; in Mayo, about two-thirds.

A. D. 1746. Those versed in legendary lore tell us of the
great battle of the flies fought over the Abbey of Boss in
this year. I give the legend as I have heard it myself in
my earlier years a hundred and a hundred times from those
whose fathers had told it to them. It is as follows : Lord
St. George was proprietor in this year of Headford Castle,
and there being no post-office at that time in the province
of Connaught, it became necessary either to depend on
some chance traveller to bring the letters of a whole dis-


trier, or else for some great landed proprietor to send his
* Hardiman’s History of Galway, p. 255, note.

courier to the nearest office, which, was then at Mullingar.
This last was the course Lord St. George adopted. Now it
happened that in the early part of this year the courier met,
on his homeward trip from Mullingar, a gentleman of nohle
aspect, and dressed in the deepest hlack, who addressed,
and asked him to bring to the hill of Knock-ma, in the
neighbourhood of Headford, a letter, which he was to leave
under a certain stone. This hill now called the Hill of
Castlehacket is, or is supposed to be, the chief residence
of Fin- Yarrow, the King of the Fairies* in Ireland. The
courier consented ; whereupon the gentleman in black in-
informed him that the letter was written by the king of
the fairies in Scotland to the king of the Irish fairies ac-
cepting a challenge to fight, sent by the latter ; that the
armies of the two kings would meet over the Abbey of
Koss on a certain day j and that on the result of that
battle would depend the fortunes of Ireland and of the Ca-
tholic faith in Ireland. Needs it be told that the courier
galloped for the ” bare life” to discharge his awful duty.
On his return to Headford ‘Castle, he told the story, which
like wild-fire spread everywhere. It was believed by all
but Lord St. George, who in his scepticism threatened to
lock up his courier as a lunatic ; but the courier begged
hard for liberty, and implored of Lord St. George at least to

* Numbers of books treat on the superstitious belief in fairies ; the Irish
fancy that they are the fallen angels spoken of in St. Jude, i. 6.

wait and see if oil the appointed day the prediction would
be verified by the event. To this his lordship agreed.

The expected day, which was early in April, was come,
and thousands were gathered from all sides to witness so
important an affray. The multitudes waited all day until
evening, and there were no fairies, and there was no fight ;
wearied, they commenced to give up all hopes ; \mi at last,
towards sunset, when the most patient had grown weary,
there were seen two clouds approaching, the one from the
north, and the other from the Hill of Knock-ma ; and they
came on until they met over the Abbey ; and then it was seen
that the clouds were dense masses of buzzing flies (for the
fairies had assumed the form of flies), which attacked each
other with such fury that in a little time the open square
of the cloisters and the church was choked full of dead flies,
many feet in depth. At last the Irish fairies were van-
quished, and fled defeated to their fortress at Knock-ma,
and sure enough (so the wise heads tell us) soon after pe-
rished the cause of the Catholics with the defeat of the
Pretender at the battle of Culloden.

Sir William Wilde, in his most instructive book,* places
this great swarm of flies in 1688. This cannot be what is
called the great battle of the flies, for Lord St. George, who is
connected with the legend, was not created a baron until
the year 1715 (vid. Burke’s Extinct Peerage.)

It is certain that towards the middle of the last century


* Sir William Wilde’s Lough Corrib, p. 172.

( 33 )

as the chronicles of the times* tell us, that Ireland was in-
fested with swarms of locusts, or rather of those beetles
called in Irish Prempelawns, that may he often heard buz-
zing through the air of a summer’s evening. The people
were unacquainted with, and possibly were terrified by
these insects. A swarm of them must have got into the
Abbey, and once within the walls, which, except the clois-
ters, were then roofed, could not have got out, and may
have by their own weight crushed each other. Be that as
it may, one thing is certain, that the writer of this has
conversed with persons, trustworthy, who assured him that
they had spoken with old men who, when they were boys,
helped to carry down .to the river basket loads of flies, which
were dead on ,the floor of the Abbey, and which it was
” feared would infect the whole neighbourhood. The fancy
of the people may have built the legend on such a founda-

Another legend, following the battle of the flies, was
that the Guardian of the Monastery, on the i6th of April,
1746, was spending the evening with a Catholic family
of great antiquity, at a place within sight of Ross. The
weather being remarkably fine, after dinner they strolled
out, Conversing on the coming struggle of the Stuarts in
Scotland. The friar shook his head when he spoke of the

mysterious battle of the flies in his monastery. Sauntering

* Vid. The Remembrancer.

( 34 )

along, they reached the summit of a hill ; the shades of
evening were closing and deepening around them, when
on a sudden a bright meteor, as it were a pillar of fire, was
seen to come from the north towards Knockma on the east,
rest for a moment, and, then moving rapidly in the hea-
vens, descend over the tower of the Abbey, and there re-
main suspended during the whole of that night. “It’s
all over with the Pretender,” said the Guardian ; ” it’s all
over with the Catholic cause.” And so it was : on that
day the battle of Culloden was lost, and Charles Edward
sent a wanderer on the world. The fall of princes and royal
houses is said to be foreshadowed by signs from above.

” When beggars die there are no comets seen,
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.”

Julius Casar, Act 12., S. 2.

It is said that in Scotland signs were seen in the heavens
before the final overthrow of the Stuarts, and that a wizard
had foreseen that ” The clans of Culloden were scattered in
flight.”* The descendants of those clans believe as firmly
to this day that the .wizard had forewarned Lochiel of the
defeat at Culloden, as both we and they believe that Saul
was forewarned of his defeat at Grilboe by means of the
Witch of Endor.f .

* LochiePs Warning. Campbell’s poems. a

f i Kings, xxviii. 31.

( 35 )

A. D. 1753. We have now arrived at the last flight
of the Mars. Up to this year the monks had dwelt in
the monastery, which had passed from the Clanricardes
to Lord St. George. The Statute Book was then loaded
with laws against the Church of Borne. To contribute di-
rectly to the support of a priest was imprisonment for life.*
Lord St. George had then successfully terminated a suit in
which he was involved with one of the O’Maherties of lar
Connaught. Stung to the quick, OTlahertie was determined
to have vengeance on his antagonist, and accordingly he
swore informations that Lord St. George had under his pro-
tection monks to whose support he directly contributed, liv-
ing in an abbey, the tower whereof could be seen from his
lordship’s castle windows. The government of the day, as-
toundedthata nobleman couldlean so lightly on apriest of the
fallen Church, was determined to sift this dreadful crime
to the bottom, and accordingly a commission was forthwith
sped, with full powers to imprison the friars, and to report
upon the alleged misconduct of his lordship. Fortunately
information was conveyed privately to Headford Castle of
the coming storm-; word was sent to the friars that they
must leave the Abbey, and on that night. Looms were got
in, weavers set to work, and the whole place assumed
the appearance of a great factory j the walls and the ceil-
ing that were covered with frescoes were whitewashed, in

* Blackstone’s Commentary, vol. iv., pp. 1 15, 1 18.
D 2

( 36 )

the course of the week the Commissioners arrived at the
Abhey, and in their report they stated that there was not
a solitary friar on the premises, and that the place had
heen converted into a manufactory. The friars then took
the church plate, ornaments, and vestments of which they
were possessed, and retired to a small island formed by the
Black river, where they built themselves a convent, the
foundations of which yet remain, from whence they could
see the lofty towers of that grand old Abbey which had
once been their home. That island is called Ilyawn-
ne-lraugker, ” The Friars’ Island,” to this day.

A. D. 1789. Mr. Lynch, of Ballycurrin Castle, deplor-
ing the wretched state of the friars, made them a lease of six-
teen acres, at a nominal rent, at the foot of the hill of
Kilroe, where they built themselves a convent. A weekly
mass was said in the Abbey until 1804, and the roof kept in

A. D. 1809. The roof of the nave and aisles fell in.

A. D. 1840. The monastery of Kilroe was now aban-
doned by the monks ; the entire roof of the abbey church
had fallen in. When Csesar Otway wrote, A. D. 1839, the
roof was on one of the side chapels ; for years the tim-
bers, heavy oaken beams, lay stretched through the ruins
on all sides. One beam only now remains at the south-east
angle of the east transept.

A. D. 1866. In this year lofts were put up by the writer

( 37 )

of these pages in the tower, and seventy-five windows un-
packed, thereby showing the graceful mouldings, tracery,
and flowing curves, that Were unseen for two generations.
Doors were closed up, and others opened ; and the cattle
entirely excluded from the Abbey. A door has been put on
the west entrance; breaches filled up with solid masonry;
the tower (roofed in to preserve the lofts) made accessible
to its summit; broken altars and arches repaired; the
flooring that was overgrown with thistles and nettles
cleared of the rubbish, in many places five feet in depth ;
the walks of the cloisters made perfectly smooth and pass-
able ; and the appearance of the ruin, which we shall pre-
sently endeavour to describe, vastly improved. It is
gratifying to think that Sir William “Wilde, in his ” Shores
of Lough Corrib,” page 119, approves of my humble en–
deavour at restoration in this the grandest of Irish ruins.
Here, before political economists were dreamt of, did the
friars feed the poor, comfort them in their sorrows, edu-
cate the scions of the princely houses, pray for the souls
of their benefactors, and chaunt the divine offices dav and

* **

night. It need hardly be observed that a moral, reli-
gious people surrounded institutions like the abbeys. The
honest Presbyterian, Mr. Laing, in his ” Notes of a Tra-
veller,”* has everywhere through Europe, from his own
aative country, Scotland, to the North Cape in Norway.

* Chapter xxi., p. 440.

( 38 )

and thence to the south of Europe, weighed the several
systems in the balance, and has given the verdict against
his own. About eighteen years ago the University of
Cambridge sent forth Mr. Kay, a member of the English
bar, as their “travelling Batchelor,” to make inquiries
through Europe on the social conditions of the peoples.
The inquiry was made, and Mr. Kay, in his ” Social Con-
dition of the People,”* has followed in the footsteps of
Mr. Laing. His admiration of the Christian Brothers of
France passes all bounds ; and whilst we should be glad
to see that portion of his work which relates to the Conti-
nental countries of Europe on every drawingroom table,
we should lament to think that the demoralization which
he sets forth as existing in every county in England, and,
worse still, in Wales, could get into the hands of the
young.f It is a pity that neither Laing nor Kay prosecuted
their inquiries in Ireland. The task was not worth under-
taking ; so far, however, as her moral condition goes, the
omission is supplemented by Sir Francis Head in his
“Fortnight in Ireland,” pages 227, 228, 229. Before clos-
ing this chapter, I had almost omitted mentioning a custom
that prevailed in Boss, whilst the monastery was in the
pride of its power. Annually, on St. Clare’s day in August,
a purse of money, called ” St. Clare’s purse,” amounting to

* Vid. Kay’s Social Condition of the People, vol. ii., p. 427.
f Ibid., pp. 479-577-

( 39 )

about 40 sterling, was placed on the saint’s altar ; and
an urn with the names of the orphan girls of the seven
surrounding parishes was placed there too. Intense was
the excitement of the district. After solemn invocation, the
name of the most worthy was drawn forth, and proclaimed
with great triumph ; the purse was set by for her, and, on
her marriage day, the money was paid over to her successful
lover. Those times are past ; the relief at the convent gate
has ceased. “The purse of St. Clare” is forgotten. The one-
third of the tithes is no longer distributed amongst the
poor,* now thrown a burden upon the land. Another
system has grown up, and the relieving officer has taken
the place of the almoner

” Alas ! for earth ; for never shall we see
The brightness in her eye she bore when Rome was free.”

Childe Harold, Canto Ixxxii.

* Vid. Blackstone’s Commentary, vol. L, p. 406.



” Each ivied arch, and pillar lone,
Pleads haughtily for glories gone !”

Thi Giaour.

A CHILLING loneliness steals over the mind as one ap-
proaches for the first time the picturesque ruins of Boss
Abbey. Standing there in its stern solitude, it seems the
very place to be haunted by mysterious terrors. The mid
confusion of the ruins the many ivied gables the de-
serted halls, inhabited by owls, by bats, and by night
birds ; the silence unbroken, save by the moaning of the
wind as it sweeps with a damp chill through those endless
passages, oppress the heart with unspeakable sorrow;
the thousands of whitened bones lying scattered on all sides
the altars, some standing and others fallen, whilst the
cloisters, the columned aisles, the windows and the arches,
still perfect, deepen the grotesque desolation of the sur-
rounding ruins. Tar from thoroughfares now, as in times
past this Abbey is approachable by one path only. The
enclosure ditch still is there, but the wall that stood on its

W ^



. ( 4′ )

inner edge is gone. The gateway, with its pointed door-
way for pedestrians and niche for the night lamp, to bea-
con benighted travellers to the Abbey, still is there, but the
almonry, where relief to the poor was distributed, and
which always stood on the right hand* of the gateway, is
utterly swept away.

At the head of the long straight avenue is a round arched
doorway, with a niche for a cross and a lamp ; passing
into the lesser enclosure we contemplate, with amazement,
such a heap of human bones.

The arrangements of the Franciscan monasteries are
nearly identical: “the church, or, calling it by its more
correct name, ‘the minster,’ or monastery church, the
nave, the chancel^ the central tower, the south transept,
and side chapel,*. |hepconventual buildings to the north,
form invariably the general plan of these buildings, as at
Kilcrea, Adare, Dromahaire, Rosserick, jSligo, and Kil-
connel. At Eosseriek, in Mayo, the south transept is
connected with the nave by a single pointed arch. At
Buttevant, in Cork, and at Dromahaire, in the county of
Leitrim, the transepts are connected by two arches resting
on a central pillar.”f’ T^ 8 church, as it stood in other days,
must have been grand beyond measure. You enter

* Vid. Hooke’s Church Dictionary, word ” monastery,” L. T. C. D.
t Kilkenny Archaeological Society’s Transactions, vol. ii., p. 88.
K. I. L. D.

( 42 )

through, the pointed doorway in the western gable ; the
sharp touches of the chisel are gone from its rich mould-
ings and flowing curves ; the roses on either side, covered
with a white .moss, have lost their leafy beauty. The
carved bolt-hole and holy water stoup still are there.
Before you, far off, under the east window, stood the
grand altar. In the centre, the church is crossed by
the chancel arch, then filled with screen- work of rich
tracery; over this arch was the rood loft, where stood
three figures; in the centre the cross, and, on either
side, the figures of the Blessed Virgin and of St. John, all
of life size. Before them burnt, day and night, two silver
lamps, fed with a perfumed oil, on brackets, still perfect.
Behind those figures, in the east wall of the tower, and
also upon brackets, or corbels, that may yet be seen, for
the framework, was hung the ” Sanctus bell.” In the piers
of the chancel arch are the square bolt-holes for fastening
the rood screen; and in the piers of the rood arch are
the holes for the bars . against which the figures were then
fastened. These arrangements are well explained in the
following extract from the ” English Encyclopaedia “:*
“In Roman Catholic churches of the thirteenth cen-
tury, a large crucifix usually occupied a conspicuous
position at the entrance to the chancel. The crucifix,
here called the ‘rood,’ which is the Saxon for ‘cross,’

* Vol. vii. page 162. K. I . L. D.

( 43 )

/ . .

was placed on a gallery called the ‘rood loft;’ the rood,
or crucifix, was of large size, painted in natural colours,
and had the figures of the Virgin and St. John standing
on each side of the foot of the cross, the figures being all
turned towards the nave. The screen called the rood
screen, which supported the gallery, was of wood, or stone,
often richly -carved or panelled. A flight of stone steps in
the wall usually led to the rood loft. Over the chancel
arch was hung theSanctus bell.””-

How exquisitely beautiful must not those figures
have looked from, the entrance : with a perfect arrange-
ment of lights and shades, the friars permitted but one
light only that streaming through the western window
to fall on the figures, for, it will be observed, that the
north wall, onc^feoyered with the frescoed paintings of
the saints of the Order of St. Francis, is unbroken
by a single window, whilst the low round-headed arch
that divides the nave from the east transept, departing
from the uniformity of the other arches of the nave, does
not allow any cross light to take from the depths of the
shadows. The row of octagonal columns, with bases and
caps, from which spring sharply moulded round arches,
divide the nave from the west transept and aisle. The
transept, too, is divided by two arches, rising from a central
pillar, which produces the effect of clustering columns in
the building. The pulpit stood at the low flat door in the

( 44 )

north wall; and was merely used for preaching, whilst
the Papal hulls, or the announcement of any high eccle-
siastical change, was always read from the rood loft.*
E”ear the pulpit is a recessed altar tomb, with delicate
tracings on one of its edges. The windows and there
are many of them, and nearly all of different patterns
demonstrate that those men who could trace the many,
intricate, and delicate curves, possessed a knowledge of
mathematics and refined taste, which might induce us to
pause “before we pronounce them ” ignorant monks.”
Every ceiling in the church was vaulted and frescoed.
Eecessed in bays in the east wall of the transept were
two altars one of sawn limestone, with an aumbrey, or
place for holding the wine and water,f used at Mass,
still remains. In the Ladie chapel was an altar over
against the east window, with an aumbrey in its south
side, in the wall ; the stoup is ribbed, with a passage to
carry away the water. Almost in the centre of the
church, at the division of the transepts from the nave,
was a deep cistern under the floor, long since converted
into a grave, into which the waters of the roof were deli-
vered, and which was provided with a waste-pipe ; the
head of the water-spout is still perfect, but the down
pipe is gone. Against the west transept is a small

* Walcott’s Sacred Archeology, p. 5 15.

f Blunt’s Annotated Book of Common Prayer, page 173, informs us
that in the first ages of the Church the sacramental wine -was always
mixed with water. K. I. L. D.

( 45 )

chauntry chapel that is, a chapel devoted to the use of
one family built late in the seventeenth century. To
reach the several altars of the nave, transepts, and side
chapel and chauntry, there was only one passage from
the chancel, or from the cloisters, namely, through the
low pointed doorway in the south pier of the tower; for,
it will be borne in mind, that rarely was the rood screen
removed from the chancel arch : on high holydays perhaps
it might, to let the procession pass through.

Passing under the tower, observe the holes for the
bell-ropes in the vaulted ceiling above. The chancel
is lighted by the decorated east window, and by four
double-lighted trefoil windows in the south wall ; here is
a double aumbrey :’ it is divided by a central shaft, with
moulded caps andjbases : double aumbreys are uncommon
in abbey churches. On the north wall is the deeply
recessed founder’s tomb, as also the door from the monas-
tery to the organ loft. There, too, is the small square
window, formerly latticed and glazed, called the ” Hagio-
scope,” or place for beholding the sacred mysteries; so
that those that knelt there might hear Mass without
passing into the church (hagioscopes, frequently called
” squints,” usually, as here, overlooked the altar). What
the high altar was we have no means of knowing : it
stood in a bay under the east window, and was approached
from the sacristy by the door now blocked with a heavy

( 46 )

tomb ; no rails nor seats impeded the view of the altar
from the rood screen ; but on either side, from the tower
piers to the altar dais, were ranged a double row of stalls
for the monks ; a scroll of half-effaced monkish Latin, with
sharply cut letters, may yet be seen on the right hand
of the sanctuary. The brackets on which the organ loft
or, as it was in those days called, “the minstrel’s gallery”
rested, are yet perfect. Everything in this Abbey seemed
to betoken that the services of , the church were carried on
within its walls with great pomp. The paintings, the
statues, and the images of the saints and angels* the
lights and the shadows arranged with artistic taste all
must have produced a powerful effect on the unlearned
worshippers that thronged within its walls. What that
effect on the uneducated mind is can hardly be realized
when we hear how the educated mind of Ireland’s accom-
plished Chief Justice was affected by one of the services of
the Eoman Church, “the Tenebrse,” at which he assisted
in the Cistine Chapel. ” The music,” the learned Chief
Justice Whiteside says, ” a masterpiece of composition,

to which the ‘ Lamentations ‘ are chaunted, is the most

; ‘

thrilling to which mortal ear can listen. The harmonious
cadences are sometimes so mournful as to make the hearers


* In many churches of the middle ages, figures of cherubims on either
side of the altar spread their wings an idea perhaps borrowed from the
images set up by Moses on either side of the ” Propitiatory.” Exodus^ ;
37-8, or, from the Temple of Solomon, II. Chronicles 3-10.

( 47 )

weep ; so forcibly were MY feelings affected that I forgot
fatigue, and I was enabled to stand three hours listening
to sounds which, at times, resembled more the wailing of
spirits than terrestrial music. At certain stages of the
service, a priest, with noiseless step, moved towards the
frame upon which the lights were placed, and slowly ex-
tinguished one. It was strange that an act so simple
should arrest the mind; yet, as the service proceeded, I
watched this process with anxiety intense, and, when the
last taper was extinguished, I comprehended the idea in-
tended to be conveyed that now the light of the world ‘
was extinguished.”* And yet, how differently may not, and
do not thinking men, philosophers, look on this subject.
Gibbonf sneers at the worship of the Church in the year
400 at ” the smoke of incense, the perfume of flowers,
and the glare of lamps and tapers in the noon day, when,”
he continues, ” the Christians frequented the tombs of the
martyrs in the hope of obtaining from their powerful in-
tercession every sort of spiritual, but more especially of
temporal blessings.” Is not this description of the ser-
vices of the Church, A. D. 400, applicable to A. D. 1868 ?

* “Whiteside’s Italy, vol Hi, 249. Vid. also note to page 229, -where the
Chief Justice expresses a hope that Dr. Cullen (now Cardinal), then
President of the Irish College in Eome, will one day ” obtain the pro-
motion his learning entitles him to.”

f Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chapter 28. last

Having now gone through the church, let us retrace our
steps to the tower, which we shall presently ascend. En-
tering by the pointed arch, the gloomy winding stairs leads
to the rood loft, whence an enchanting view of the nave,
aisle, and transept may be had. A step takes you out on
the walls, where the great stone troughs, inclined at a high
angle to carry away the drip of the roof, may be admired.
The ascent to the second and third lofts is by a flight of
stone stairs, through the walls. The fourth loft was the
bell stage, where the great bell of the abbey was hung.
From the roof of the tower, seventy feet in height, the
water is conveyed by elegant stone troughs to the gurgoyles
or water spouts, one of which is still perfect. The battle-
ments of the tower, now capped with heavy flags, are not
what they were. The great expense of erecting exterior
scaffolding prevented the embrasures, such as they are on
the east face, being carried round. On the four corners
were pinnacles, all not alone fallen, but lost, with the ex-
ception of one, which, with other cut stones, are stored on
the bell stage, where they are left for any future restorer,
who, should he wish to carry .out the original design, is
referred to a drawing of the “Adair Franciscan Abbey,”
in a book .entitled ” Adair Manor,” by the Earl of Dun-
raven, in the library of the Royal Irish Academy. The
summit of that tower is perfect, and is, stone for stone,
identical with thep Ian of the tower of the Abbey of Boss,

( 49 )

Prom this dizzy height a charming view is had of the
vast ruins beneath. Facing you, on the north, is the stony
and leafless hill of Kilroe, and the bawn of Ross-duff (the
grange of the Abbey); on the east are the hill of Knockma,
otherwise Castie-Haeket, and the village of Shruel, of
which so much has been said ; on the south is Headford
Castle, the property of Richard James Mansergh St.
George, Esq. The most attractive object on the south side
is the new Catholic church of Headford, with its high-
pitched roof and bell gable. This church, built at a cost
of over 4000, is an everlasting monument of the piety
and generosity of American Catholics, evoked by the un-
wearied energy and self-denying zeal of Father Peter Con-
way, who four times crossed the Atlantic on behalf of that
temple, in which not even a stone is placed to tell other
generations of his wanderings, his toils, and his unex-
ampled success. Looking to the west is the great amphi-
theatre of the Connemara Mountains, the Ballycurrin
wood, and the old timber of Ower.

Having descended from the tower to the ground floor,
we observe a small lancet window, with a trough and a
water spout under it for conveying away the water used
in cleansing the church furniture. On the east side of
the south pier will be observed a small square hole for an
oaken plug, over which was slung the bell-rope of the great

( 50 )

bell of the Abbey : that of the sanctus bell was slung on
the north pier. In the doorway to the cloisters is a holy
water stoup, apparently of great antiquity, for the friars
to dip their fingers in before entering the choir. Holy
water stoups are to be found in very early churches ; and
then, as now, were placed at the entrance door, as the laver
was placed at the door of the tabernacle, for the priests to
wash their hands in before “going into the tabernacle of
the testimony”* from which laver, also, the holy water
used in certain cases by the direction of Moses was taken.
” And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel,
and he shall cast a little earth of the pavement of the ta-
bernacle into it.”f Thus we see that the expression
“holy water” occurs in the Bible 1490 years before Christ.
In the Eussian Greek Church the holy water stoups are
mostly filled by the waters of the Neva, annually conse-
crated with great pomp by the Archbishop of Moscow,
the Eussian people considering that the waters of that
river by the prelate’s benediction become sanctified, as the
waters of the Eiver Jordan by another benediction were
sanctified in the old times before us.

“We have now given the details of the church ; let us
next enter the monastery, or dwelling place of the monks.

* Exodus, xxx. 20. f Numbers, v. 17.

( SO

Here, in other times, did heroes and warriors take shelter
from the turmoils of life; here they found that peace
which the world cannot give. Examples there are, in
history, of monarchs descending from their thrones, to find
happiness in a convent cell at last. Robertson, in his His-
tory of the Emperor Charles V., vol. iii., p. 375, tells us of
the retirement of that mighty ruler to the monastery of St.
Justus a place not unlike Hoss, “seated in a vale of no
great extent, watered by a small brook, and surrounded
by rising grounds. Into this humble retreat did Charles
enter, with twelve domestics only ; and he there buried in
solitude and silence his grandeur, his ambition, together
with all those vast projects which during half a century
had alarmed and agitated Europe, filling every kingdom in
it, by turns, with the terror of his arms, and the dread of
being subjected to his power.”

The friar’s life is thus described by the pen of Byron, in
the Giaour :

” Father! thy days have passed in peace,
‘Mid counted beads and countless prayer,
To bid the sins of others cease,
Thyself without a crime or care,
Save transient ills that all must bear.”

And to lives of solitude like this did men from the very
ascension of our Saviour betake themselves. Pliny, who
died in the year 79, surveyed with astonishment the an-

( 5* )

chorites dwelling in celibacy not far from the shores of the
Dead Sea.* Vid., on this subject, Gibbon’s Decline and
Pall of the Eoman Empire, chapter xv., which it were
well were veiled in the obscurity of a learned language.

* Plin. Hist. Natur., v. 15 ” Gens sola, et in toto orbe prseter cete-
ras mira, sine ulla femina, omni venere abdicata, sine pecunia, socia
palmorum. Ita per sfflculorum millia (incredibile dictu) gens seterha est
in qua nemo nascitur. Tarn fcectmdaiillis aliorum vitse penitentia est.”
Vid. 37th chapter of the Decline and Fall, second paragraph.



” How many a prince has been known

To .barter his robes for our cowl and our gown !

But which of us e’er felfc the idle desire

To change for a crown the grey hood of the friar ?”


THE CLOISTERS. It is false to suppose that the arches were
places where the friars knelt and prayed, and yet it is be-
lieved .by the peasantry that these were for the friars to
kneel in. The central plot of grass was open and unroofed;
and the cloister arches were also open, for the purpose of .
letting the fresh air sweep round the four walks, so that
the brethren might here take exercise on a wet evening
under cover. The south walk, along the wall of the
church, was covered by a shed roof. On either side of the
south-east corner are the arches where the important act of
cl’austral shaving’ was carried on, hot water being at hand
from the adjoining laundry: this process of shaving the

*..The duties of the several officers of the convent are taken from
Burn’s Ecclesiastical Law, vol. ii., p. 530. Vid. “The Monastery,” by
Sir Walter Scott ; and also Hooke’s Ecclesiastical Dictionary, Library
T, C. D. –

( 54 )

tonsure was once every three weeks in winter, and once a
fortnight in summer.* The east walk was covered by the
corridor leading from the dormitory to the organ loft by a
flight of stone steps in the north wall, yet perfect. The
north walk was carried under the treasury, and the west
walk under the library. Every arch of the cloisters is per-
fect, and many of them contain delicate tracery.

THE SACEISTT is at the east end of the passage along the
north wall of the chancel. The several passages being
marked in the map, it would be useless here to explain
what may be seen at a glance. Over the sacristy were the
chambers of the guest house. The sacristy in later times
called the vestry was under the charge of the Bev/the
Sacristan, whose duty it was to take charge of the gold and
silver plate of the church, of the vessels and vestments, \of
the pictures, paintings, and statues, of the altars and altar
cloths, of seeing the church mopped out once a week ; he
had also the charge of the burials, and of all accounts of
moneys received for offerings. He had also to provide the
incense for the censers, tapers, as also flowers for the altars
on high festivals. In the Sacristan’s laundry, close by,
were washed the altar cloths, albs, &c.

THE GUEST HOUSE. Over the sacristy were the sleeping
rooms for the guests. How snug must not the benighted
traveller have felt himself, when seated at the blazing fires

* Vid. Stanley’s Westminster Abbey.

( 55 )

on those great hearths, after the toils of his day ! Here he
slept soundly, and was awoke in the morning by the hosti-
larius, or host, to attend the church service, which he might
do hy stepping from his chamber to the hagioskope, over-
looking the altar. It was the province of the Rev. the
Hostilarius to see all strangers well entertained, and to
provide napkins, towels, and such like necessaries, for
them. Hot water was always at hand, from the Sacris-
tan’s laundry, for the guests.

THE REFECTORIES. On the north end of the east walk
is the refectory, where the friars in silence partook of
their meals, whilst the reader read portions of the Scrip-
tures or other hooks of devotion. The sedile, or reader’s
seat, deeply recessed in a hay at the north-east corner,
with its slender octagonal column and graceful three-
lighted window, is exceedingly beautiful: so also the
north window, with its round arch, bolt hole, and deli-
cately carved rose. At the south-west corner is the hall
through which the dinners were brought up from the
kitchen : this hall served also for a lavatory, where the
monks used to wash their hands before dinner. At the
west end of the lavatory, after crossing a corridor, is the
lesser refectory, where the lay brothers at an early, and
.the guests at a later hour, used to partake of their meals.
The regulations for the refectory in most monasteries were
the same, and were strict and amusing. ” ~No one was to

( 56 )

sit “with his hands under his chin ; or his hands over his
head, as if in pain.”* The refectories were tinder the care
of the Bev. the Refectioner, so far as the supplying the
tables with plates, dishes, knives, forks, spoons, napkins,
and table cloths. The providing the victuals for the house
was the duty of the Rev. the Cellarer, as well as the cook-
ing utensils ; whilst the cooking department was under the
charge of the Rev. the Kitchener. The departments of the
Cellarer and Refectioner were most likely those two cham-
bers south of the kitchen. Over the refectory was a dor-
mitory, and over the kitchen was another dormitory;
over the lesser refectory was the scriptorium all of which
we shall presently explain.

THE KITCHEN, with its great chimney and oven aper-
ture its great street doorway wide enough, to admit a
horse and cart to enter are objects of interest. In the
north-east corner is a circular cut-stone reservoir, with
waste-pipe and drain, five feet and a half deep, by five feet
mean diameter across. In this great tank were the fish
caught in the neighbouring river kept alive until wanted
for immediate use.f A portion of the stone conduit
through which the water was delivered is still in its place.
The reservoir itself was, like the tub, of the Danaides, kept
filled with fresh water coming in at the top as fast as it was

* Stanley’s Westminster Abbey.

t Duffy’s Hib. Mag., Oct. 1861, p. 157.

( 57 )

going out at the bottom. The mill was furnished with an
apparatus for pumping, so that the water could never get
stagnant. In the east window of the Mtchen is a trough
for carrying away water used in cooking.

THE BAKE HOUSE. East of the kitchen was the bake
house ; over it the chapter room, of which we shall come
to speak by and by. In the court yard, or lesser cloister,
was a safe for storing the meat, vegetables, &c., used in the

THE DOOBEBEPEH’S CELL, on the west side of the clois-
ters, was most conveniently situated. The doorkeeper had
the charge of all the gates and outer doors of the Abbey :
his duty was to fasten all the windows, and to see
that the enclosure lamps were lighted at sunset, and to
lock every outer gate and door at the ring of the cur-
few, after which none could be admitted except through
the postern door, in an angle between the west front
of the kitchen and the north wall of the scriptory. A
pull at the bell rope soon woke up the doorkeeper ; and
hastening to discover what manner of person demanded ad-
mission, if he were satisfied as to his general appearance,
he let down a ladder, such as we see in martello
towers, and the guest ascended. In the west front of the
Abbey, and within the lesser enclosure, was the great door
of the monastery. The place for the bell pull is still

THE DOEMITOBIES.* The dormitories, which were under
the charge of the Hev. the Chamberlain, were three in num-
ber one over the great refectory, one over the kitchen,
and an attic for the lay brethren over that again, lighted
with dormer windows in the roof. The corbels over the
great refectory walls show the position of the floors of the
great dormitory, which was lighted by windows looking
east and west into the lesser cloisters. At the north end
of the great dormitory was a lavatory, under which a
stream of running water passed. The monks slept in the
same dormitories, and were not allowed separate cells
not even the Guardian, who was merely during his three
years of oifice primus inter pares. The furniture of their
bed was a mat, a blanket, a rug, and a pillow : beside each
bed was a chest for their scanty wardrobe. No monk was
allowed two coats, nor was he allowed to wear shoes to
his feet, which were shod with sandals. His dress was
the cowled frock and cord of St. Erancis, who (following*
our Saviour’s direction) commanded the minor brethren
” that they should be shod with sandals, and should not
put on two coats.”f

THE CHAPTER EooM. This was what was called in

* Stanley’s Westminster Abbey ; Holsteni Codex.

f St. Mark, vi. 9.

J Steevens’ Monasteries of England.

( 59 ) .

monkish Latin the prolocutorium, or parlour, and answered
also for a chapter room. Here is a grand chimney and
hearth, one side of which was a great press : in the
east end is a door to a closet. In the chapter room the
monks daily assembled round the blazing hearth, and
enjoyed each other’s society during the hours allowed for
that purpose. Once a week a meeting was held in this
room, and here the business of the Abbey was transacted
such as reprimanding the erring, upholding the strong, and
counselling those that might come from other convents for
advice. This chamber was lighted by elegant windows,
looking northwards out on the Black river, which passed
almost beneath, and looking south into the lesser cloisters.
We have already noticed the several chapters held in this
monastery, beginning with A. D. 1474.

THE ScRiPTOBruM the scriptory. Burn’s Ecclesiastical
Law* informs us, that ” in every great abbey there was a
large room called the scriptorium, where several writers
made it their business to transcribe the missals, ledgers, and
other books for the use of the house, and more especially
for the library, to which it was contiguous. There were
always persons appointed to take notice of the principal
occurrences of the kingdom, and at the end of the year to
digest them into annals. In these records they preserved

* Vol. ii., p. 531.

( 60 )

the memoirs of their benefactors and founders the years
and days of their births and deaths, their marriages, chil-
dren, and successors so that recourse was sometimes had
to them for proving persons’ ages and genealogies.” “We
nowadays have no idea of the literary labours of the friars
in the Middle Ages. Their lonely lives were passed in
multiplying copies of the Scriptures in digesting the his-
tories of far-distant countries, as the Benedictines of St.
Maur^ or the annals of their own country, as the Donegal
monks did, and as the monks of Boss most surely did, as
will yet appear, when search is made in the foreign li-
braries. In the 37th chapter of his Decline and Fall of
the Koman Empire, Gibbon admits, after a sneer, ” that
posterity must gratefully acknowledge that the monuments
of Greek and Koman literature have been preserved and
multiplied by their indefatigable pens.” In Longfellow’s
Golden Legend the transcribing and illuminating in the
scriptorium are well described, beginning with the friar’s

” It is growing dark yet one line more,
And then my work for to-day is o’er.
Thus have I laboured on and on
Nearly through the Gospel of John.”

A most interesting volume might, be written on the
transcribers, illuminators, and bookbinders of the monas-
teries of the Middle Ages. The whole world was filled

( 61 )

with their works : many of their illuminated missals even
now fetch hundreds of pounds. Thus at his desk some-
times for pleasure, and sometimes for penance used the
friar get through his day’s toil : the transcribing of a work
might take many years. The colophons, or endings they
put to those books, were quaint and amusing. Oftentimes
the writers implore the prayers of the reader : ” Ye who
read, pray for the writer, the most sinful of all men, for
the Lord’s sake.” Again ” Sweet is it to write the end
of a book.” Vid. Note 10 to Longfellow’s Poems, where
a number of colophons are collected.

THE TVrRRA-RT looked into the cloister square, and was
over the west walk : the windows on the east and west
sides are very beautiful. The bolt holes in the centre
mullion are worthy of observation. Formerly a passage
led from the south-east corner of the library to the
rood loft. This, however, on the building of the winding
stairs inside the tower, was closed. At the south-west
corner is the passage to the pulpit, where the friars
preached those sermons they composed in the adjoining
library. This passage was lighted by a square window,
over the doorway : the massive stone chimneypiece here
is very fine. The passages to the scriptorium, the li-
brary, and postern door, meet at the flight of stairs lead-
ing out on the west walk of the cloisters.

( 62 )

THE TKEASTJKT was a small oblong chamber, over the
north cloister walk : the massive safe where the moneys
were kept is still to be seen. The Treasurer had charge of
all moneys handed to him, and accounted for by the Sacris-
tan, and by an officer appointed for managing the Halidome,
as the patrimony of the Abbey was called : this officer was
known as the Keeper of the Granges.

THE PBECENTOE’S CHAHBEB, was most likely east of the
corridor leading from the dormitory to the organ loft. The
precentor had the charge of the choir, and kept the organ
in repair ; he kept the day book and chapter book. He
provided pens, ink, and parchment for the writers, and
colours for the illuminators.

THE INITRMAJIY. There does not appear to have been
any provision within the walls for an infirmary; it
was, most likely, away a small distance west of the
Abbey. The Infirmarian tended the sick monks, and
distributed medicines to such of the country people as
required them.

THE ALHONBY, where the alms were distributed, was
always at or near the outer enclosure. The alms were
daily distributed by the Almoner to the poor.

“We have now gone through the monastery, which is
almost identical with all Franciscan houses. Before leav-
ing, we cannot help admiring the internal arrangements

the sewering complete, lavatories, &c. The gardens -were
on both sides of the Abhey.

We have thus far given in detail the several parts of
the monastery and church j we shall next ‘speak of the
several families buried within its precincts.



“Adorned with honours, on their native shore
Silent they sleep, and hear of wars no more.”

POPE’S Iliad, Book iii., line 313.

THE number of families interred in the Abbey is not very
large. A few lines on each, in alphabetical order, may not
be uninteresting.

THE BIASES. Two families of this name are interred in
the Abbey, viz., the Blakes of Merlin Park, under where
the high altar once stood, and the Blakes of Tuam (a
younger branch of the Blakes of Garracloone), in the south
transept. Both those families are of a common stock and
of British extraction, and were of the fourteen leading
families who were known as the Fourteen Tribes of Gal-
way namely, Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, D’Arcy,
Deane, Ffont, Ffrench, Joyes, Kirwan, Lynch, Martyn,
Morris, and Skerrett. Hardiman, in his History of Galway,
strange as it may appear, says that the ancient name of the
Blakes was Caddell. How the transformation (if ever it
was transformed from Caddell to Blake) took place cannot
now be told. Beyond a doubt the Galway Blakes .were

( 65 )

called Blakes, otherwise Caddells ; but this does not at all
prove that the old name was Caddell. The Gaddell Blakes
were just as we now-a-days say the O’Connor Blakes.
That a family named Blake accompanied Strongbow and
built a castle at Menlo is certain, long before they were
called Caddell ; and further, that a family named Blake re-
sided in “Wiltshire in the year i too is also pretty certain.*
The families of Blake are wide-spread through the^ounties
of Gal way and Mayo. In the Peerage there is one Baron
of the name, Lord “Walseourt ; in the Baronetage there were
three until lately, viz., Sir Thomas Blake, of Menlough
Castle, Sir Henry Blake, of Langham, and Sir Francis
Blake, of Twissel Castle, in the Co. Durham (deceased).
‘ THE BEOWNES. Two families of Brownes are buried in
the Abbey viz,, the Brownes of daran, whose grave is
in the transept E, and the Brownes of Glen Corrib, in
the transept ~W ; both families are of high antiquity.
The Claran family are 262 years living on their present
estate. The Glen Corribs are extinct, and their estate
has passed into another family, that of Colonel Higgins,
; late iSL P. for the County ^Mayo. The Brownes were of

* Vid. Elates of Langham and of Twissel Castle, Playfair’s Baro-
netage of England, voL .vii. Some time since I met the name ” Blaake”
in the Domesday Book; the index, however, to that survey is not
copious, and I was unable, when compiling this little book, to discover
the name again. In King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table the
name of Ap- Lake occurs.

( 66 )

the fourteen tribes.* In 1170 Philip De Browne, the
ancestor of the Brownes, came to Ireland, and in 1178 was
made Governor of Wexford. There are in the peerage
three ennobled families of that name viz., the Marquis
of Sligo, the Earl of Kenmare, and Lord EHmaine.

THE BURKES. There is but one family of this name in-
terred in the Abbey viz., the Burkes of Ower, formerly
of Castle-Hacket. The mural inscription over the grave,
which is on the right hand of the high altar, is as fol-




The Ower estate is in the possession of the Burkes for
six hundred years viz., from the death of Richard De
Burgho in 1243, who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in
123-2, and was son of “William Eitz Adelm De Burgho, to
whom Henry II. made a grant of the whole of the province
of Connaught. This “William Pitz Adelm was great-grand-
son of the half-brother of William the Conqueror, and was,
therefore, seventh in descent from his ancestor Charle-
magne, Emperor of the Westf

Said Eichard De Burgho, on his death in 1243, left

* Hardiman’s History of Galway, p. 10.

f Vid. Clanricarde’s Memoirs, p. v. ; Lodge’s Peerage (tit. Clanri-
carde), vol. i., p. 117.

( 67 )

two sons namely, Walter (who married Maud* De Lacie,
and thereby became Earl of Ulster), and William-Oge.
Said “Walter left one son, Eichard the Ked Earl of Ulster
and Lord of Connaught ; and said William-Oge left one
son, Sir William the Grey. Richard the Red Earl left one
son him surviving, whose son William, Earl of Ulster and
Lord of Connaught, was murdered in 1333 : on his murder,
the Earldom of Ulster and Lordship of Connaught de-
scended to his only daughter, Elizabeth, who was married
to Lionel, Duke of Clarence, second son of Edward III.,
and thus the Earldom of Ulster merged in the Crown ; not
so the Lordship of Connaught. Sir William the Grey left
at his death Sir Ulick, ancestor of the Clanricardes ; Sir
Edmund, ancestor of the Tiscounts Mayo and Sir Red-
mond, ancestor of the Burkes of Castle-Iacket,f and other
sons. On the murder of the Earl of Ulster, the ancestor
of the Clanricardes, seeing that by the marriage of the
daughter (who was the only child) of the murdered Earl,
not alone the Earldom would (as it did) merge in the
Crown, but that also the Lordship of Connaught would
pass to the Crown likewise, shook off the power of Eng-
land, as also did the ancestors of the Viscounts of Mayo,

* For her enormous possessions, vid. the Domesday Book and Dng-
dale’s Baronage of England, p. 693 ; Hardiman’s History of Gabvay,
p. 1 06, n, finding of the title of the Crown by the Galway jury, A. D.
1637 ; Hume’s History of England, Chapter xvi.

t Lodge’s Peerage (tit. Clanricarde), vol. i, p. 127.

I- 2

( 68 )

and seized on the whole province of Connaught ;* and it
was to establish their rights thereto, as heirs of the Earl
of Ulster, that the Crown obtained the verdict in Galway
above mentioned, preceding the rebellion of 1641. The
quarter of Castlehacket, and two quarters thereto belonging,
were granted to an Englishman, a follower of the De
Burghs, Earls of Ulster, named Hacket,f who built the
Castle, which passed about 1450 to the Burkes, who were
then for zoo years in possession of the whole of the sur-
rounding country, including Ower. In 1584, on the pro-
vince of Connaught being divided into counties, it was
found by an inquisition taken in Galway that in 1571^
TTlick Burke died seised of Castle-Hacket. In 1619, after
the abolition of the Tanistry laws, James I. granted the
Castle-Hacket estate, including Ower, and thirty four quar-
ters in fee to Ulick (grandson of the last-mentioned Ulick),
who was married to Lord Mayo’s daughter,]] and was High
Sheriff in 1641. In 1653, ^he Burkes, being Catholics,

* Vid. Hardiman’s History of Galway, p. 56 ; Tracts relating to Ire-
land, vol. ii. pp. 97, 106 ; II. Annals, 1277, note; Hume’s History of
England, chapter xvi. ; Statute of Kilkenny, 3 Edw. IV., A. D. 1463.

t The Hackets, who came to Ireland with Henry II., were found,
in 1584, ” to be seised of the lands Ilyaun-Hacket and twelve quarters
of land,” then called Magherylarry, but not of Castle-Hacket. .
O’Flaherty’s lar-Connaught, p. 148.

% fid. Hardiman’s Histoiy of Galway, p. 219, note.

Patent Rolls, F. C. L. D., 16 James I., p. 372.

|| Lodge’s Peerage (tit Viscount Mayo), vol. iv., p. 238.

( 69 )

forfeited for their faith their possessions, with the excep-
tion of Ower, of which they obtained a patent from Crom-
well, and where they built the house still standing and
inhabited. In 1680, said last mentioned “Click’s son, John
Burke, who was married to the daughter of the seventeenth
Lord Athenry,* went to reside permanently at Ower ; and
it is to the memory of his son Ulick (who was married to
a grand-daughter of Sir John Browne, of the !N”eale,f an-
cestor to Lord Kilmaine), that the above tablet on the
right hand of the high altar is sacred. The present “Wil-
liam Joseph Burke of Ower is the fourth generation in
descent from the said last mentioned Ulick Burke. J

The titled personages of the name of Burke or De
Burgh (a name, by the way, which Lord Coke derives
from the burghs or cities where they dwelt), are the
Marquis of Clanricarde, the Earl of Mayo, Sir Thomas
Burke, of Marble Hill, Bart.; Sir Eichard De Burgho,
Bart.; and Sir Bernard Burke, TJlster King of Arms.

THE DA.RCYS OF HOTTNSWOOD. The Darcys claim to be
descended from Charlemagne. They accompanied William

* Lodge’s Peerage (tit. Lord Lonth), vol. iii., p. 46.

f Vld. Playfair, vol. v., p. 285.

. J Fid. Liber Munerum Hibernise, vol. i., part iii., pp. 10, n, 16, 21,
where several pedigrees are noticed in the Landsdowne, Harleian, and
Cotton manuscripts Tracts relating to Ireland, by the Archaeological
Society, vol. ii., p. 97.

Go. Lit., 109, a.

( 7 )

the Conqueror to England, and “were afterwards one of the
tribes of Galway.* Sir John Darcy was Chief Justice of
Ireland in 1323 ; he married Lady Jane Burke, daughter
of Kichard, Earl of Ulster, from whom are descended all
the Darcys in thejdngdom. James Eiveagh Darcy, Yice-
President of the province of Connaught in the reign of
Elizabeth, was the ancestor of the Hounswoods, the New
Porrests, and the EUtullas. Hounswood has passed into
other hands. The. Rev. John Darcy of Gal way is the sur-
viving brother of Martin Darcy, last of the Darcys of Houns-
wood. The Earls of Holderness bore the name of Darcy.f
GEEAGHTY. Whatever was the position in times past of
this family,| no such name is now known in the county of
Gralway amongst the landed gentry. The sepulchral in-
scription would betoken that they were (as the annals
inform us they once were) a family of importance. The
following is the Latin inscription : ” OEATE PEO A-NTTVTA







I. H. S.” This inscription is on a flag in the east transept.

* Hardiman’s History of Galway, p. n. f Burke’s Extinct Peerage.
J Vid. Tribes and Customs of Hy-Many, p. 19.

( 7′ )

In a chapel dhauntry (built by the Jennings
of Iron Pool), over the altar, is inscribed on a flag the fol-
lowing inscription : “PEAT FOB SOBAGHA IONIN [id est,


sou” DAYID, THE TEAB 1670.”

THE “KrT.irttT.T.Ts of Mossfort, interred in the W. transept,
are Irish in their origin. In O’Donovan’s Tribes and
Customs of HyxFeaehrach, p. 69, note, a great deal of
their early history may be learned. It is there said that
“The name of Kilkelly or, more correctly, Killikelly
was a mere anglicising the ancient Irish name of Mac
Geolla-Cheallagh. The chief seat of the family was at the
castle of Clogh-Ballymore, still standing in ruins in the
barony of Dunkellin, county Galway.” The present re-
presentative of this family is John Kilkelly, Esq.

THE EJBWANS. There are two families of Kirwans in-
terred in the Abbey the Castle-Hackets and the Dalgans.
Dalgan Park having been sold in the Landed Estates
Court, that family is no longer resident in this neighbour-
hood. The Eorwans are of Irish origin, and of the fourteen
tribes. They settled in Galway about the year 1 450. After
the Burkes had retired from Castle-Hacket, in 1653, the
castle and adjoining townlands were granted to one of

* This family were formerly Burkes, and adopted the name of Mac
Shonin, now Jennings md. O’Donovan’a Irish Topographical Poems,
Introduction, p. 22.


Cromwell’s officers, and by him sold to Sir John Eirwan
” a gentleman who had amassed a large fortune in the
West Indies:” he was Mayor of Galway in 1686 the
first Catholic that filled the office of mayor for two-and-
thirty years.* He was ancestor to the present respected
proprietor, Denis Eirwan, Esq., D. L., whose sister is
married to Lord Cloncurry. Mr. Eirwan, a gentleman of
refined taste, has taken a deep and active interest in the
works Carried on at the Abbey during the autumnal months
of 1866 and,i867. The name of Eirwan is famed in the
walks of science. Eichard Eirwan, the celebrated philo-
sopher was connected with the Eirwans of Castle-Hacket,
and so great was his renown as a chemist, a mineralogist,
and a geologist, that the Empress Catherine II. of Russia
sent him her portrait. In 1812, Lord Castlereagh offered
him a baronetcy, which he declined, f .

LYJTCHMJ: Two families of Lynch are here interred
that of Ballycurrin Castle in the nave, and of Petersburgh
outside the walls. The Lynches are of Austrian descent ;
they came to Ireland in 1 135, and soon^ after became peo-
ple of great influence and wealth in the town of Gal way.
It was Stephen Lynch, a member of one of the Galway
Lynches, who sued out and obtained the Bull of Pope In-
nocent YIII., in 1484, establishing the Wardenship of

* Hardiman’s History of Galway, p. 16, note ; 219, note.
j- Imperial Dictionary of Universal Biography, vol. iv., p. 97.
J Hardiman’s History of Galway, p. 17, note.

( 73.’)

Galway. The name Lynch is derived from the town of
Lintz, in Austria; they also claim descent from Charle-
magne. The present representative of the Ballycufrin
Castle family is Charles Lynch, Esq., D. L., J. P. In
the Baronetage there is one baronet of this name Sir
Eohert Blosse Lynch.

MAC DoionsLi. In a chapel east of the transepts is an
old tombstone let into the wall, of date 1646. The Mac
Donnells are a very ancient family, of Scotch descent. The
representative of this family is Edward Mac Donnell, Esq.,
Barrister-at-Law, now practising at the Melbourne Bar.

NALLY. On a slah over the altar tomb in the nave is
the following inscription : ” PKAY EOE THE sout OF
TTJAM, WHO DYED IN THE TEAK 1687.” This priest,
when it was death to he a priest, and when it was high
treason to shelter one, lived in the garb of a menial ser-
vant at Sylane, the property of Mr. O’Connor, the ancestor
of the present Thomas O’Connor Donelan, Esq., J. P.
In this disguise, he administered the sacraments to his
parishioners, and celebrated the weekly mass on Sundays-
in a sandpit, still called in Irish Closh-an-Afren, which,
being interpreted, means the Mass Sandpit.

O’E,OTJIUEE. The only person of this name interred
within the precincts of the monastery is Bryen Oge
O’Eourke, Prince of Brefiny, buried, as we have already
seen, in the cloisters, in 1603.

( 74 )

O’FLAHEETY. In the bay where the grand altar once
stood is a tomb, lately erected by Martin O’Elaherty, Esq.,
of Lisadonna. This and every other family of 0′ Flaherty
in the province are of Irish descent.* The tribal name of
O’Elaherty was Muinter-Murchadha, id est, ” the race of
Murchadh,” whence the ancient name of the whole barony
of Clare, ” Muinter-Morroghoe.” For 700 years before
1172 the O’Elaherties, or O’Elahertys, owned the entire
of Moy-Seolah the barony of Clare. The present repre-
sentative of this family is Bernard O’Elaherty, Esq.

TASBUGH. Over the Bally currin vault is a slab, with
the following inscription : –

ANNO DNI, 1710.”!

* Vid. O’Donovan’s Irish Topographical Poems, p. xliii. ; 0′ Fla-
herty’s lar-Connaught. Index.

t The Tasburghs are still residents in Suffolk. Vid. Burke’s Encyclo-
pedia of Heraldry.



THE Abbey of Ross is situated in the parish of Killursa, formerly
called Kill Fursa. St. Fursey was born in the year 589, of royal
parents ; he was the son of Fintan (after whom the neighbouring
townland of Ardfin* ~*> is known to this day), who was son of Fin-
loga, King of Munster. Fursey’s mother was Gelgeis, daughter
of Aedsind, a king in Leinster, and brother of Finloga. The life
of St. Fursey is to be found in he Bollandists, Catholic Univer-
sity Library, Dublin ; and also in Colgani Acta Sanctorum Bi-
bernice. A very early history is extant of this saint by the Vene-
rable Bede, who was born A. D. 673 : this life is translated by the
Rev. S. Giles, of the University of Oxford. St. Fursey, having
founded the monastery of Rathmat, in the island of Inchiquin,
next founded that of Killursa, in which the Regular Canons of St.
Augustine afterwards dwelt.* This church is mentioned in the
taxation of Pope Nicholas V., in 1306, which is still kept in the
British Museum, in London, and is partly given in the Church
History of Ireland, by the Rev. Robert King, A. B., of Trinity
College, Dublin. St. Fursseus left Ireland for the court of Sige-
bert, King of the East Anglians, afterwards founder of the Uni-
versity of Oxford. He then passed into France, where he erected
another monastery, and thence made a pilgrimage to Rome,
whose sacred authority over the Church of the world he salutes in
glowing and fervent language, f He soon after returned to

* Archdall’s Monasticon, p. 295 ; Ware, vol. ii., p. 267.
* Colgani Acta Sanctorum Hib., p. 293.

France, where he died, A. D. 650. His festival is kept on the i6th
of January.

St. Fursey’s church or the church of Killursa, now a ruin
is on the townland of Ower, the property of William Joseph Burke,
Esq. A curious, Egyptian-looking doorway, measuring five feet
four inches in height, by two feet five inches in width at bottom,
and sloping to two feet wide at top, is in the west gable. Near the
church is a cromleagh, called ,eabha-Dearmid-agus-Graunye,
which is said to be the resting-place of Dermod and Grace during
their flight from Tara. Some antiquaries as Button suppose
those cromleaghs to be Druid altars ;* whilst the learned Petrie
supposes that they were mere sepulchral monuments, and that we
might expect to find an urn,containing calcined bones under the
flag, which is nine feet in length, f

The following ecclesiastical statistics of this parish, taken from
” Charles’ Irish Church Directory,” p. 119, and from the General
Valuation and late Census, may not be unacceptable : The parish
of Killursa, in the Protestant arrangement, forms a union of seven
parishes : these parishes are valued in the General Valuation at
13,681 a year, of which the Protestant proprietors are valued at
7869, and the Catholics at 5812, omitting fractions; that is, for
every 100 valuation, the Protestant proprietors are valued at
57 ios., and the Catholic proprietors at 42 ros. The tithe
rent-charge paid by the seven parishes to the Established .Church
is 815 a year, of which the Protestant gentry pay 461 a year,
and the Catholic gentry 354 a year.

The entire population amounts to 8122, J of whom the Esta-
blished Church numbers 163 worshippers, and the Catholic Church
7959, the proportions being Established Church, 2 per cent. ;
Catholic Church, 98 per cent, of the whole population.

In the seven parishes there is one Protestant church, with tower
and bell, and five Catholic churches, of which latter the church of
St. Mary’s is, as we have said, a splendid specimen of Gothic, archi-
tecture, and the chapel of Claran is spacious and picturesque.

* Button’s Survey of Galway, p. 470.

f Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, voL 20, p. 102.

% Thorn’s Directory for 1868, p. 990.



THE parish of Shruel, in which the Bawn of Ross-duff is situated,
is valued in the General Valuation at 4534 a year of which the
Protestant proprietors are valued at 1681 a year, and the Catho-
lic at 2853; that is, for every 100 valuation, the Protestant
proprietors are valued at 37 ios., andth’e Catholic proprietors at
62 ios. The tithe rent-charge paid by this parish to the
Established Church is 138 a year, of which the Protestant
gentry pay 51 155. a year, and the Catholic gentry 86 55. a year.

The entire population amounts to 2294, of which the Esta-
blished Church numbers 20 worshippers, and the Catholic Church
2274 ; the proportions being the Established Church, 0.83 per
cent. ; Catholic Church 99.17 per cent.

In this parish there is no Protestant church ; there are two
Catholic churches.

NOTE. There are many interesting ecclesiastical ruins in this neigh-
bourhood. Cargins, a little chapel of great antiquity once attached to the
See of Annaghdoun, is delightfully situated on a hill overlooking the
waters of Lough Corrib ; close by is the wood of Clydagh (the seat of
George Lynch Staunton, Esq., D. L.), one of the few remaining natural
woods now in the country.

* Charles’ Irish Church Directory for 1868, pp. 60, 119,


THE following is the list of the Archbishops and Bishops of Tuam
from the founding of the Abbey to the present time :


Succeeded. . Died.

Malachy M’Hugh, . . 1313 . . . 1349

Thomas O’Carroll, . . 1349 . . . 1365

John O’Grada, . . . 1365 . . ‘. 1371

Owen Gregory, . . . 1372 . . . 1384

Gregory O’Maghan, . 1385 . . . 1386

William O’Cormacan, . 1386 . . . 1394

Maurice O’Kelly, . . 1394 . . . 1407

John Babynge, . . . 1410 . . . 1411

Cornelius, 1411 . . . 1426

John Barley, …. 1427 . . . 1436

Thomas O’Kelly, . . 1438 . . . 1441

John De Burgo, . . . 1441 . . . 1450

Donat O’Murray, . . 1458 . . . 1484

William Shioy, . . . 1485 . . . 1501

Philip Penson, . . . 1503 . . . 1503

Maurice Porter, . . . 1506 … 1513

Thomas O’Mullally, . 1514 . . . 1536

fChristopher Bodkin, . 1536 . . . 1572

Nicholas Skerrett, . . 1580 . . . 1582

James O’Hely, . . . 1585 . . . 1587

* Ware, by Harris, vol. i., p. 610.

f Ware’s Catalogue here ends. The subsequent list to the present
Archbishop is taken from Doctor Eeneban’s Irish Church History, xii.

( 79 )

Succeeded. Died.

Marianus O’Higgins, . 1593 . . . 1597

Florence Conry, . . . 1608 . . . 1629

Malachy Quely, … 1631 . . . 1645

John De Burgo, . . . 1647 . . . 1666

James Lynch, … . . 1669 . . . 1715

Bernard O’Gara, . . . 1724 . . . 1739

Michael O’Gara, . . . 1740 . . . 1748

Mark Skerrett, . . . 1749 . . . 1781

Philip Phillips, …. 1783 . . . 1787

Boetius Egan, …. 1787 . . . 1798

Edward Dillon, …. 1*798 … 1809

Oliver Kelly, …. 1815 . . . 1834

John Mac Hale,* . . . 1834


Succeeded. Died.

William Lally, …. 1573 . . . 1595

Nehemiah Donelan, . . 1595 . . . 1609

William Daniel, . . . 1609 . . . 1628

Randolph Barber, . . . 1629 . . . 1637

Richard Boyle, …. 1638 . . . 1644

John Maxwell, …. 1645 . . . 1646

Samuel Pollen, …. 1660 . . . 1667

John Parker, …. 1667 . . . 1678

JohnVesey, 1678 . . . 1716

{Doctor Synge, …. 1717 … 1741

* Vid. the preface to his lordship’s translation of Homer on the co-
piousness of the Irish language. In the notes to the first six books of
the Iliad is a mine of information. The application at page 145 of the
memorable words of the Iliad, ” oktyovro St \etoi,” to the Irish famine
is worthy of the writer.

f From “Ware’s Catalogue. Vid. King’s Church History of Ireland,
supplementary volume, p. 1384.

{ Here ends Ware’s Catalogue. The succeeding list is taken from
Cotton’s Fasti Ecclesia? Hib., vol. iv., p. 123.


Succeeded. Died. –

Doctor Hort, …. 1741 . . . 1751

Doctor Ryder, …. 1752 . . . 1774

Jemmat Browne, . . . 1775, . . . 1781

Hon. J. Bourke, . . . 1782 . . . 1793

Hon. W. Beresford, . . 1794 . . . 1818

^ *Hon. P. Le Poer Trench, 1819 . . . 1839



Rt. Hon. Lord Plunket, . 1839 . . . 1866
Hon, C. B. Bernard, . . 1866

OMISSION. In Chapter III., when describing the interior of
the church^ we omitted to notice that the floor is not level, as in
most modern churches : it slopes, at a considerable angle, to the
altar. This plan of flooring which has been lately adopted in
the new Presbyterian Church, Rutland-square, Dublin pro-
duces a most pleasing~effect.

Should the reader wish to learn more of the rules and regula-
tions of the Friars Minor, he is referred to Holsterd Codex Regu-
lantm, vol. v., p. 432, and to Steeven’s Monasticon of England,
vol. i., p. 89 ; and should he wish to know soiat-t.iung of their
labours in times of plague, he is referred to a book entitled
Monumenta Franciscana, K. I. L.D., lately publi&hed by order
of the English Master of the Rolls. There the reader will be
appalled to think that mortal man could suffer in the cause of
humanity so much as the Franciscan friars did, in the dreadful
leprosy that broke out in the middle ages.

* Vid. Memoir of the Last Archbishop of Tuam, by the Rev. J. Darcy
Sirr, K. I. L. D. The story of the appearance pf the Archbishop’s ghost
to the Rev. Mr. Meddlicott’, who ” told his wife when she awoke,” of
the phantom he had seen, is rather amusing p. 763.