Church Ruins of Mullach Eadrad

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Whilst out searching for a holy well I happened to come across the ruins of an old Church. Set just outside the old village of Mullach Eadrad (the hill of the milking place), now modern day Mullhuddart The church rests on a raised mound towards the rear of a rather modern graveyard which over time obviously expanded out from the original ecclesiastic site.  With a noticeable curve in the surrounding cemetery wall of the old ruins, I believe that this might indicate that a church was built here during the early Christian period before the arrival of the Normans. The existing church ruins, however, postdate the Anglo-Norman settlement of the area. Known as the Church of Mary, it is shown on old OS maps as being part of the old town land of Buzzardstown. And before you say it, NO, it did not get its name as a result of it being home to a bunch of scavenger birds. Interestingly it takes its name from the family of a William Bossard whom held lands here after the Normans took control of Dublin. Following the spread of Christianity in Ireland circa 500AD there were a number of early churches built around the country. Many of these would have initially been constructed from timber before being upgraded to a stone structure over the following centuries. These early stone structures would have been simple single rooms built with large limestone blocks. It was quite common for them to have been lit by a round headed window in the east, with a square headed door to the west.

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The ruin itself is fragmented, and consists of a nave and chancel probably dating to the fourteenth century and a tower possibly a bell-tower built onto the western end of the church at some stage in the fifteenth century. It was built using coursed limestone blocks with dressed quoins. The addition of the tower resulted in the original doorway being closed off and a new doorway being inserted into the northern wall of the Nave.  The tower, which is vaulted on the first floor, indicates that it may well have served as a residence for the local clergy, as was a popular practise at the time. There is a splayed window in the west wall. The walls of the east end of the church survive at foundation level. There are a considerable number of burials within the church and a mural tablet on the exterior of the west wall of the tower. The church was first referred to in the early 15th century was being dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1532 Henry VIII granted license to found a guild at the site which was known as ‘the guild and fraternity of our Lady of St. Mary of the Church of Mullhuddart’.

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Mass was believed to have been said at the church here until the arrival of the reformation in Ireland during the 1540’s. It would seem that a vast majority of the local population remained loyal to the Catholic church and rejected the ‘reformed church’, which resulted in the Guild of St Mary operating up until 1572. Even though they no longer had the use of the church at Buzzardstown mass would be celebrated secretly in private homes around the area. In 1547 Edward VI granted lands in Mullhuddart to a James Walshe for twenty one years under the provision that he installed a suitable cleric for the church. In 1615 the church was said to have been in good condition, but it seems that there were not enough members attending to warrant regular maintenance. The church was said to have been in poor condition by the mid-17th century with only the bare church walls surviving. Sadly there are many signs of vandalism and anti social behaviour around the site including graffiti, damage to headstones and lighting of fires within the structure along with empty beer cans strewn about the place. Despite the church being in ruin, its walls appear to be structurally sound, but the boundary wall is badly in need of some conservation. On a clear day their are some fine views to be had of the Wicklow Mountains in the distance.

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
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37 Responses to Church Ruins of Mullach Eadrad

  1. I’m just curious as to what might be growing on it. Do you know?

  2. Ali Isaac says:

    Interesting old place, Ed. And you came across it by accident? Lucky find, I’d say. Shame about the graffiti and damage. Did you ever find the holy well? And the circular raised area… could it have been a mound or other earlier not so Christian holy place possibly?

    • I sure did Ali, just a few meters down the road. Most of these wells are normally withing throwing distance of a church or visa versa.
      I would have to agree with you about the mound. The early church as you know were quite fond of taking over sites belonging to the old ways and building their imposing structures on top of them.
      If it was not a mound or similar sacred place, it may very well have been the site of a fort or homestead. It was quite common for people to build their homes at such spots and surround them with a wooden palasade, which would afford them an extra layer of protection from the wild beasts that roamed the country?

  3. jfwknifton says:

    Excellent atmospheric photographs, as always!

  4. Fabulous photographs, Ed.

  5. John says:

    Man that grinds my gears that anyone would splatter graffiti on the walls or leave beer cans about. Grrr. Morons, sorry Ed. love the visual effect you add to your work.

    • I must agree John, unfortunatley there are quite a number of these morons still roaming around freely. If it was up to me, I would round them up and have them cleaning the streets and parks in chain gangs. That might teach them a lesson or two?

  6. Darlene says:

    Love the old gravestones!

  7. I think the first two photos (and the third from last) are the best photographs I have ever seen. If I imagined what the perfect photographs would be (for my taste) they are totally “it.” My God, Ed! How do you take such powerful photographs?!!!

    64,855,748,939,472 stars out of 5!!!

    • Wow, I’m glad you liked them, but to be honest Daniel, I struggled with these ones. I had to shoot without my trusty polarizing filter so the skies were not so good for me this time around.

      • Are you kidding? These are your best yet!! Whatever you did, please please please keep on doing it! The skies are great. If this is what you call not good then you must be waaayyyy too hard on yourself!

        • Perhaps Daniel, I am always chasing after that perfect shot. You know, the one you see in your minds eye, sometimes I get close and sometimes not. Thats what keeps me going and sure if I cant give myself a good kicking once in a while no one else will 🙂
          Seriously though, glad you liked them, they were shot without my trusty polarizing filter which is a must for getting great skies. The lighting in these shots were difficult for me. But hey, a valuable lesson was learned, Dont leave home without your filter, lol 🙂

  8. noelleg44 says:

    Another great post!

  9. I can’t say enough about these black and white photos. They are so vivid.

  10. beetleypete says:

    It looks like it was actually a nice day. (Not many clouds) Did you have to post-process to get those dark, moody skies, Ed? As always, interesting history to balance the visuals.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • It sure was Pete, I did rather little to these shots as I forgot my polarizing filter so the skies were not what I wanted and the lighting was tricky. all my shots are PP in Photoshop to some degree although over the years I have learned that the more time you spend on the camera the less you have to do on the laptop 🙂

  11. mdmusingsie says:

    Great photos and thanks for the history. I live not too far from there and have visited the church, graveyard and holy well. The holy well suffers from a similar lack of reverence and is often full of beer cans and other trash. Sadly, I wouldn’t consider the state of the water very holy at the moment.

  12. colonialist says:

    I have caught up with a feast of images and history. One thing I regret about where I live – such discoveries don’t happen.
    If they did, I imagine that they would be subject to vandalism and littering even worse than the disgusting examples you encounter.

  13. Pingback: Thobar Muire | Ed Mooney Photography

  14. Great shots, Ed! And, as always, so interesting to read.

  15. Thank you for liking “Everlasting.” Another great post! 🙂 I like seeing the view through the archway in the sixth photo, and the tree growing on the corner of the church ruin caught my attention too. Sometimes trees will take root in the strangest of places. 😀

    I am also sad to hear about the vandalism and littering occurring in these ruins. Is this a widespread problem at the ruins you have visited?

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