Ok so after living in the town for six years I finally bit the bullet and explored a rather interesting graveyard just on the outskirts of the town. I don’t normally cover cemeteries unless they also contain the ruins of an old church or some high crosses or a round tower, and as luck would have it, this was no exception to the rule. Yes believe it or not back in the 1700’s there was a parish church here. All that remains now is one of the gable walls. Entrance to graveyard over a foot stile or swing gate and along a short path into the graveyard. It was a very bright sunny evening when I visited the site and whilst having a look around the site before I begun taking some shots, I got that all too familiar, uncanny feeling that I was being watched. I looked around but there was no one to be seen. No one except for three big black crows that seemed very interested in what I was doing. Every time I moved to a different part of the cemetery they would follow, but any time I tried to capture a shot of them sitting on a Cross or something they would fly off. A certain thought entered my head, and I began to wonder! Only last week I was discussing the ancient Irish Goddess Mórrígan with a fellow blogger. She was known to appear in the form of a hooded crow and aside from being the Celtic goddess of war she also represented a triple aspect, Maiden, Mother & Crone. It certainly would be a fitting place to come across her, although I wasn’t planning on getting involved in a battle that evening.
The site itself is steeping in local history and is fascinating to explore. Some of you may have seen my image for this week’s Monochrome Madness Challenge which I posted earlier this week. A stunning Gothic Mausoleum which I believe was built by the local Cassidy family. Back in the 1800’s the Cassidy’s were one of the wealthiest families in the area and they where well known across the country for their Whiskey Distillery and brewery which once stood on both sides of the Dublin road. The graveyard appears to have been separated in two, with the wealthy burials on the higher ground to the right of where the chapel once stood and the poorer burials to the left on much lower ground. The earliest mention of a burial taking place here dates back to 1799. Before this local burials would have taken place in either the Yew tree cemetery, St. Johns or even on the grounds of what was once Moore Abbey. The Christian brothers whom also had a monastery in the town have a number of graves for their members interred here which are enclosed with cast iron railings which are topped with crossed. In another part of the graveyard there are two interesting headstones which rest side by side, both belonging to the same family. (to aid the King) whilst the other seems to be that of an Irish volunteer.
In 1793 the Militia bill was enacted which forced the local priests to turn over parish records which would then be used to identify which members of the community could be forced into serving in the local militia. To prevent this from happening the locals bricked up the doors of the church, thus preventing the priest a Fr. Doran from having to hand over any records. It is said that he began to receive funds from the secret service fund at Dublin Castle as there was now no income from the local parish. When the rebellion begun in 1798, one of the first battles took place in Monasterevin. The local curate Fr’ Prendergast was actually hanged because he was caught ministering to the rebels at their camp. But I shall keep that story for another time. It is said that there was an assassination attempt on Fr. Doran’s life as he made his way to Monasterevin House to hear his curate’s final confession before his execution.
One local tradition during its use was for the funeral cortege to pass three times around the chapel before the burial would take place. Back in those days grave robbing was a lucrative trade and someone would stand guard over thee fresh grave for a number of nights to prevent the removal of the corpse. The chapel continued to be used until the current church of St. Peter & Paul was opened on Drogheda Street in 1847. Sometime later it was demolished by the bishop of Kildare. As you can see funeral plaques were put up on the gable walls. Burials continued for a time, with most of the dates of the headstones being from the 19th century onwards. The graveyard contains an intriguing collection of various tombs, Celtic crosses and headstones and is well worth a visit.