Downings Church & Graveyard

Downings Church & Graveyard (1)

Saturday morning was promised to be a nice day so I headed out to explore the hill of Allen. As it turned out the weather was terrible, with strong winds and dark skies. To make matters worse, when I got to the hill, I could not find a way up. I drove around the hill four or five times before finally giving up. I guess I was just not meant to visit on that day, but I shall return. So I moved on towards Prosperous, a small village in Kildare. Just outside the village in the middle of a large field lies the walled ruins of an old church and graveyard known as Downing’s. It has been sitting on my list for some time know so it was the perfect opportunity.

Downings Church & Graveyard (2)

Surprisingly it looked like a rather interesting place to visit when I observed it on satellite imagery, but sadly once you get there I found it to be rather unimpressive. The site is not signposted but easy enough to find. Once through the gate in the hedgerow there is a little walk before reaching the site. The only redeeming factor to this ruin was that it is the site of one of the earliest religious settlements in Ireland. Dating back to the sixth century, Downing’s was the site of St. Farnans Cell. There is supposed to be a nearby well also associated with St. Farnan.  Apparently drinking from this well was said to quench the thirst for alcohol. I was unable to find the said well so I could not confirm the claim.

Downings Church & Graveyard (3)

The circular stone wall enclosure was typical of early Christian burial sites in Ireland. On approach I noticed a pair of billy goats grazing within the confines of the graveyard so after inspecting the site I decided not to disturb their early morning feed. Very little remains of the small church building which was built by the knights Hospitaller. The church itself only measures about 13m by 5m and was constructed with coursed limestone blocks. The east gable is still standing   and parts of the exterior walls remain which can be used to make out the original size of the structure. A cross slab which once rested here has been moved to the nearby church in Prosperous. Little else is known regarding this site except for mention of a clergy in 1538, Nicholas O’Hanlon being the Vicar of Downings. By 1837 the church was said to be in ruins according to the Topographical dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis.

Downings Church & Graveyard (4)

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Diary of a Ruinhunter, Historical, Landscape, Medieval, Photography, Places of Interest, Religious Sites, Ruins and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Downings Church & Graveyard

  1. Great photos and information.


  2. kiwiskan says:

    fascinated by the humps and bumps within that old graveyard…


  3. Good to have a post from you Ed. Too bad your expectations for the site were not realized – some days just go like that. What you did find was interesting enough. Thanks!


  4. heyneems says:

    The black and white photography here really lends a more haunting feel to these pics – really enjoyed looking at these! Thanks for sharing them 🙂


  5. Nelson says:

    I am glad to know that I am not the only who thinks that graveyard offer beautiful photos …. I always feel a little awkward when I speak to someone about beautiful pictures I’ve taken in a cemetery


  6. bamauthor says:

    Reminds me of a graveyard near my home. Nice shots!


  7. Nia Simone says:

    I like how you let the billy goats eat. 🙂 Your posts are always so fascinating.


  8. Pingback: Sunshine award | Nia Simone, Author

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