Feighcullen Chapel

Feighcullen (1)

I stumbled upon this little chapel on my recent trip out to the hill of Allen. As I was driving up a small country road I managed to catch a glimpse of one of the steeples, and as is always the case, my curiosity got the better of me and I had to pull over and take a closer look. The church rests at the end of a long narrow laneway in the middle of some fields. There was no lock on the gate, just a little piece of string to keep it closed, presumably to keep any animals out. Whilst making my way up the lane, I began to compare the chapel to the old ruins I had visited last summer out in Ballynafagh. Although the ruins at Ballynafagh are not in as good condition, they do have some similarities. Both churches share a similar Gothic design, the steeples where the first thing I noticed. Whilst Ballynafagh was built in 1831, the chapel in Feighcullen was not built until 1829.

Feighcullen was designed by the famous architect John Semple, whom would be better known for his work at The Black Church (St. Marys Chapel of Ease) and Monkstown, both in Dublin. Which makes me wonder, was Semple involved in the design of Ballynafagh? Well Semple worked for the Board of First Fruits, a Church of Ireland group whom were also involved in Ballynafagh. The chapel was erected with a gift of £830 and a loan from the Board of First Fruits of £277, not a small sum of money for its time. On top of that it is said to have also received the sum of £248 from another group known as Ecclesiastical Commissioners. And so what we end up with is a stunning five steeple chapel of Gothic design.

The chapel’s most notable features are the five steeples, one at each corner with a larger one resting atop the belfry tower. Surrounded by an overgrown graveyard and a number of ivy clad trees. Sadly the north section has been badly neglected and is completely overgrown, whilst the other three sides are not perfect, you can still manage to wander around quite comfortably. Most of the visible gravestones date from 18th-20th century and are covered in Lichen. I could not find the original Gaelic name, but Feighcullen would seem to mean Cullen’s Wood! Apparently the chapel was built on the site of an early Christian church which no longer exists. It is rumoured that a rather crude baptismal trough which dates from this older church is now housed in the main church in nearby Allen. There is also a story that tells of a saint whom hailed from Feighcullen. Beoan is listed as one of the Irish saints, being a son of Nessan of Feighcullen. It is believed that he came from the Cathaoir Mor clan of Leinster.

The main door with its arced stonework is accessed from the east and was open when I arrived. But I decided to take a walk around the exterior to get a feel for the place before I went inside. The exterior stone work is in great condition for its age when compared to its peer in Ballynafagh, but on closer inspection you can notice where resent masonry repairs have taken place. Both the North and South sides of the building contain five lovely lancel arch windows and there is a large traceried, three light, window to the east gable end.

Once inside if you look up you can see right up the bell tower. Inside the entrance you can turn either to the left or right, both bring you through similar archways into the main area of the chapel. It was in this part of the chapel where I came across one of the most disgusting sites I have seen in a long while. Some dirty B£$t^rds have been using the place as a dumping ground. There were suitcases full of old clothes, bags and bags of old photos and albums, boxed of video tapes and tonnes of old papers and letters all strewn about the place. If I didn’t know better I would have thought that a bin lorry had reversed into the hall and dumped the bloody lot there. That said the main part of the chapel is quite bare, with parts of the floor in a bad state, although there are clear signs of some serious restoration work being carried out in recent years. Most if not all of the wooden frame of the roof has been replaced along with the decorative windows and arches, which is nice to see. On a final note, if anyone is interested, with my birthday coming up soon in a few months, Feighcullen is actually on the market for the bargain price of just €189’000. If anyone is feeling generous enough. Wouldn’t it make a gorgeous base of operations for everyone’s favourite Ruin Hunter?

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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, Photography, Religious Sites and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Feighcullen Chapel

  1. newsferret says:

    You folks have an historical culture we in South Africa lack. A culture rich in all aspects spanning over centuries and centuries. Please protect it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John says:

    Beautiful photos as always, Ed. Such wonderful history.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Indeed…fantastic!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful, hope someone will look at the property with the aim to keep it in tact in one way or the other.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great pictures Ed, very moody and dark looking but wonderful subject matter. You do have to question the sanity of some folks though, I mean who in their right mind would think it is okay to dump rubbish in such a wonderful building like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. belshade says:

    Great pictures. Some of those 19th. century reproduction Gothic churches were very well designed and worth preservation. I am not so happy with the modern trend to turn them into dwellings. That is probably what will happen. Always enjoy your B&W. I have had to give up developing my own B&W film. Have been given a Nikon 3100 D so will have to learn to go all digital now! Des.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Des, I would love to turn it into a Gallery/Heritage centre, unfortunatley I dont have the cash for it, three kids and a wife see to that 🙂

      So your going digital and Im wanting to learn developing, funny old world isn’t 🙂
      Just think of your memory card as film and photoshop as your dark room!


      • belshade says:

        It would be beyond my means too even though the kids are independent – NZ pensions don’t stretch to purchasing architectural gems! Looked at it on the web – you have hit on an interesting piece of real estate. Which is how it will be regarded – what’s the bet it will appear in a year or two on a UK real estate t v programme – another conversion job. Better than demolition or decay – even though some of us photographers appreciate decay! I notice the price of the Chapel has fallen by 50% in the last few years – hang in there! By the way, have you read Rose Macaulay’s little book, ” The Pleasure of Ruins”?
        Interesting you are starting to look at film processing. A rewarding area, but the mastery of it is time-consuming and expensive – particularly nowadays. Its addictive, because you feel more involved. My deteriorated eyesight made me make the change to digital. All the best. Des.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Sam McLean says:

    Haha if I win lotto it’s yours mate! Great blog and photography Ruin Hunter!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kestrel says:

    Lovely photos and I appreciate the stories to go with them 🙂 Nicely done. I love cathedrals – in ruins or still being used. They’re definitely a type of architecture you don’t find here in the U.S. – no surprise since we just don’t have the same length of history. Perhaps a few thousands of years from now we’ll have something similar to look at 🙂


    • Thank you, glad you liked them, although I would not completely agree. I have heard of some fantastic pre Columbian sites in North America which I would love to visit 🙂


      • Kestrel says:

        Oh, yes definitely Native American ruins (and those still being used like in Taos, NM) certainly qualify on the age question – not so much on the cathedral side. 🙂 Crumbling (or whole) cathedrals and castles just give me goosebumps though. I love the generally soaring nature of them.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. So beautiful. Following ones curiosity can have wonderful results. Cheers


  10. beetleypete says:

    If I remember our recent ‘conversation’ Ed, it’s not your turn yet, until the next big rollover. Never mind though, if I get a touch on Euromillions tonight, I will go halves with Sam, and set you up. Mind you, you will need that much again, to make it habitable!
    Shame about the rubbish, a modern disease it seems.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. bamauthor says:

    Love the doorways and windows!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. socialbridge says:

    Such a beautiful chapel to ‘stumble’ upon!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Beautiful! I hope it finds a worthy owner and that you can work with them to preserve it … 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great pix as ever – and for the birthday gift…. crowdfunding….. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. colonialist says:

    Wouldn’t it be delicious irony if somewhere in that discarded rubbish was some relic that would enable the finder to buy and maintain the place?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sean Hovenden says:

    I purchased the church in 2005 with the intention of restoring the building back to its former glory and using it as a art gallery and meeting place for local people. The building was sealed with a new roof and all the windows were replaced, we also installed a strong main entrance door. We cleared and graveled the driveway and main entrance plus cleaned vegetation off the building and the graveyard was cleared. You would think that the county council or government would be all about assisting in the preservation of these lovely buildings, but apparently this is not the case. Living abroad and not being able to keep an eye on the restoration or the building I sadly decided a couple of years later to sell the property to a lovely couple from England who sincerely appeared to have the same vision I had for the restoration of the building and the grounds. Two other interesting offers we had were from two hotels who wanted to dismantle and move the church to their properties to use as a wedding chapel, however this opportunity was turned down by the county.
    It it horrible what has happened to the church, I understand that most if not all the custom windows have been stolen or broken, the locks on the custom made front door are smashed, the very nice flag stones that went down the center of the church are gone or broken and as already noted someone has been using it as a dumping ground for their garbage. It’s very sad to see it like this especially as it was obvious that great care and attention were put into the design and construction of this church. Also missing are the famous Harry Clarke windows that had been stolen prior to our acquiring the property. I hope someone once again has the vision to step up soon because when this building is gone, it’s gone forever.

    Florida boy…

    Liked by 1 person

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