Clonony Castle, Ireland’s link with the Boleyn family

Clonony

Cluain Damhna
Coordinates: 53°14′N 7°55′WCoordinates: 53°14′N 7°55′W
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County Offaly
Time zone WET (UTC+0)
 • Summer (DST) IST (WEST) (UTC-1)

Clonony (Irish: Cluain Damhna Beag) is a hamlet in County Offaly, Ireland, on the R357 regional road. Located between the River Brosna and the Grand Canal, it is noted for its late medieval tower house of the same name, which was built in 1500. It is situated in the parish of Gallen and Reynegh and lies approximately one mile west of Cloghan and four miles east of Banagher.

Clonony Castle

Clonony Castle

Clonony Castle (Caisleán Chluain Damhna) is a Tudor castle built by the MacCoughlan clan, and ceded to Henry VIII by John Óg MacCoghlan, then to Thomas Boleyn when Henry wanted to marry his daughter Anne.[1] Mary and Elizabeth Boleyn, second cousins to Queen Elizabeth I, lived out their lives in this castle and their tombstone still stands on the castle grounds. The grave was discovered in 1803, approximately 100 yards from the castle. The inscription on the eight feet by four feet, limestone flag reads: “Here under leys Elisabeth and Mary Bullyn, daughters of Thomas Bullyn, son of George Bullyn the son of George Bullyn Viscount Rochford son of Sir Thomas Bullyn Erle of Ormond and Willsheere.”[2]

The castle was occupied from 1612 to about 1620 by Matthew de Renzi (1577–1634), a London cloth merchant originally from Cologne in Germany, who created the first English-Irish dictionary, according to his tombstone in Athlone. He acquired it after it had been forfeited by the MacCoghlans during the Nine Years’ War.[3]

The fifty-foot tower, an Irish National Monument, is surrounded by gardens and a moat. The castle is a few miles from Clonmacnoise, an ancient seat of Irish learning. Shannon Harbour and the towns of Cloghan, Banagher and Shannonbridge are close by. The castle is currently being restored, and is open to the public at no cost, and although there are no specific hours, the owners try to keep the castle open and encourage tours.

The castle has all the basic features of a tower house of this period such as machicolation, murder hole, base batter, mural passages, spiral staircase, gun-loops, garderobe and bawn. The first floor had collapsed but has been replaced in recent restoration works by the owners. The castle also boasts a barrel-vaulted ceiling making up the second floor which has been restored.[4] The Tower House is three storeys high with an entrance in the west wall with a machicolation above it. There is a fire-proof vault over the ground floor in the interior and a spiral stair leads to the upper floors. There are round-headed, ogee-headed and flat headed windows. The bawn wall with its two square corner towers and entrance, which had a coat of arms, was reconstructed in the nineteenth century and gives a good impression of how an original Tower House might have looked, with a set of perimeter and internal defences. The inner bawn building in front of the west entrance appears to be a nineteenth-century construction.[5]

The Annals of the Four Masters record “A great war broke out in Dealbhna between the descendants of Farrell Mac Coghlan and the descendants of Donnell, in the course of which James Mac Coghlan, Prior of Gailinne, and the Roydamna of Dealbhna Eathra, was killed by a shot fired from the castle of Cluain-damhna.”[5][6]

References

  1. Sweetman, David, Medieval Castles of Ireland, Dublin, 2000.
  2. Clonony Castle, Banagher, A Brief History, Banagher Parish Council, June 1951.
  3. Ryan, Brendan, A German Planter in the Midlands, History Ireland. Retrieved on 27 January 2013.
  4. Clonony Castle, The Standing Stone. Retrieved on 27 January 2013.
  5. Clonony Castle, Cultural Heritage Ireland. Retrieved on 27 January 2013.
  6. Annála Ríoghachta Éireann (Annals of the Four Masters), M1519.15: Coccadh mór i n-Dealbhna etir Sliocht Ferghail Még Cochláin & Sliocht Domhnaill dia ro marbhadhSemus Mag Cochláin prióir Gailinne, & ríoghdhamhna Dealbhna Ethra d’urchor do pheilér as caislén Cluana Damhna.

See also

External links

A German Planter in the Midlands

Published in Early Modern History (1500–1700), Issue 1 (Spring 2000), News, Volume 8

Born in Cologne, Germany, in 1577, Mathew de Renzi claimed descent from Albania’s national hero, George Castriott, also known as Scanderberg (d.1468), who defended his homeland against the Turks. De Renzi was a cloth merchant and operated from Antwerp, one of many foreigners who controlled trade in that city. But Antwerp’s trade declined as a result of the long drawn out conflict between the ruling Spanish Hapsburgs and the Dutch United Provinces to the north, and sometime before 1604 de Renzi moved to London. By January 1606 he found himself in financial difficulties, unable to recoup money owed from other merchants: he was declared bankrupt, his creditors were after him, and in August he beat a hasty retreat to Scotland en route to Ireland.
He arrived in Ireland penniless, but soon became friendly with Sir Arthur Chichester, then Lord Deputy. Chichester saw in him an enterprising man of trade, and thus an asset for the ‘benefit of the kingdom’. During his first year in Ireland he curried favour with important establishment figures in Dublin, also visiting the port towns of Waterford, Limerick and Galway. He stayed in Thomond for some time where he became friendly with the old Irish family of Mac Bruaideadh, who were the hereditary historians of the O’Briens, Earls of Thomond. Here he learned spoken or colloquial Irish. His teachers were Conchubhar and Tadhg Mac Daire MacBruaideadh, who were both associated with the cycle of poems known as Iomarbhaidh na bhFilé [The Contention of the Bards]. From Tadhg Ó hUiginn of Sligo he learned classical Irish so that he could read Irish manuscripts and write the language. Although de Renzi was a linguist of note (speaking Latin, Italian, English, German, French and Spanish), his object in learning Irish had nothing to do with missionary zeal or even linguistic curiosity: it was motivated by a practical need to establish himself as a landowner in a Gaelic lordship.
Sometime in 1612 de Renzi arrived in West Offaly, the territory known as Delvin Eathra or Delvin MacCoghlan (the MacCoghlans were the hereditary chieftains of the area), nowadays the barony of Garrycastle, encompassing the towns of Ferbane, Banagher, Cloghan and Shannonbridge. It was bounded on the west by the river Shannon, and bogs made it almost inaccessible on the other three sides. He acquired a hundred acres in the Clononey area, including Clononey Castle, property which had been forfeited by Cuchogrie MacCoghlan, killed in 1601 during the Nine Years War. De Renzi bought it from a middle-ranking administrator, Roger Downton, probably using the dowry from his first wife, whom he had married in 1608.
When he first arrived Delvin Eathra was a vast countryside of woods and bogs, almost totally inhabited by native Irish, who spoke only Irish, and whom de Renzi described as idle, backward in speech, manners, dress and customs. Many of them bore the name MacCoghlan. He moved into the castle which had very small windows and as a result was in a state of almost perpetual darkness. He had no way of knowing for sure the extent of his lands or its boundaries. The MacCoghlans ignored his presence and ploughed his land, a customary method of indicating a land dispute. He hired local labour but there were constant outbreaks of violence between both parties.
The MacCoghlans were under instructions from the head of the clan, Sir John Óg MacCoghlan, to shun this interloper, neither to sell to him nor to buy from him, except at excessive rates. De Renzi wrote many letters to the lords deputy in Dublin and to King James I in England, seeking help and proposing schemes of plantation. His many letters give useful insights into the difficulties experienced by a settler landowner.
In January he wrote from Killenboy, County Roscommon, to Sir Oliver St John. Killenboy, situated between Knockcroghery and Lanesboro, was the home place of Richard Maypowder who had received a grant of land in 1616. De Renzi’s second wife, Anne, was a daughter of Maypowder. The Maypowder family lived in Kilteevan House, in the adjoining townland of Cloontogher, until the early years of this century and the name still persists. De Renzi was afraid to spend the winter in Clononey for fear of the MacCoghlans. His possession of the land was being hotly contested: ‘I have thought good to spend the dark winter nights here in Connacht.’
He argued that plantation would civilise Delvin Eathra. He listed the barbarous customs of the natives, such as attaching ploughs to horses’ tails, the burning of straw, the Brehon Laws, and the custom of migrating each summer with their cattle to the uplands, known as ‘booleying’. Most, he claimed, built their house without chimneys:

They live upon oaten bread and spreckled butter all the year, lie in straw, wear a shirt for four months or till it be rotten afore it be washed, keep beastly houses, endure rain, cold, and snow all day and then roast themselves at night like hogs; go naked and cazer from one smokie cabin to another; eat their meat at unseasonable time, fast sometimes two or three days together, and then eat so much again when they come at it as will keep them three of four days fasting after, like unto hungry wolves.

Next, he wrote of the idleness of the people and the lack of tradesmen. However, most of his venom was reserved for Sir John Óg MacCoghlan (Seán Óg), head of the sept. Even though Sir John had remained loyal to the Crown during the Elizabethan wars, he was portrayed by de Renzi as a traitor and a threat. He saw MacCoghlan as the main force behind the attempts to thwart him in his acquisitions and his letters demonised him. Seán Óg could not be trusted because he was ‘but a bastard, born in double bastardy’, and ruled as a tyrant, suppressing his own people. He related tales of terror perpetrated by MacCoghlan on English settlers and on his own people. Finally, he saw Delvin Eathra as having a strategic location. It was an important access route to Connacht and contained two major crossings of the Shannon, at Banagher and Shannonbridge.
It is difficult to assess the sincerity of these arguments or if they were a cover for his own greed. His grant of a hundred acres soon grew to 1,016 and he acquired properties in Counties Westmeath, Wexford and Dublin. Delvin Eathra was eventually planted in 1619/20, as were parts of Westmeath, Longford and Leitrim. About that time he sold his interest in Clononey; like others before him, he had used it as a stepping stone to greater things. He moved to Dublin and became a government administrator, always with a view to his own aggrandisement. He was knighted in 1627.
His interest in the Irish language was complex. He had mastered both the written and spoken language and was able, through conversing with the natives, to trace the genealogy of the MacCoghlans back four generations. He used this knowledge of the local béaloideas to strengthen his claim to the disputed land at Clononey. Such was his deep knowledge of both colloquial and classical Irish that he was nominated by the poets of the South (Leath Mhogha) as their independent judge against the poets of the North (Leath Chuinn), in what became known as the Contention of the Bards (1616-24).
By June 1608 he had composed an Irish grammar. He also claimed to have composed an Irish dictionary, as well as ‘chronicles in the Irish tongue’. Yet he advocated the destruction of Gaelic culture and manuscripts, seeing in them a form of propaganda which glorified dynasticism and incited the Irish against the English conquest.
He died on 29 August 1634 at the age of fifty-seven. His son, also Mathew, commissioned a memorial in his honour. It was erected in St Mary’s Church, Athlone, in 1635. When the present St Mary’s Church was built in 1820 the memorial was inserted in the rear wall, where it may still be seen. However, there is no evidence that Sir Mathew died in Athlone. The inscription reads:

This monument was erected for the rightful worshipfull Sir Mathew de Renzi Knight: Who departed this life on 29th August 1634: Beinge of the age of 57 years. Born at Cullen [sic] in Germany: and descended from that famous and renowned warrior Cieorge Castriott Als Scanderbege (who in the Christian Warre fought 52 battailes with great conquest and honour against the great Turke). He was a great traveller and general linguist: and kept correspondency with most nations in many weighty affairs: and in three years gave great pfection to his nation by composinge a grammar dictionary and chronicle in the Irish tongue and in accompts most expert and exceedinge all others to his great applause. This work was accomplished by his sonn Mathew de Renzi Esqr. August 29 1635.

Brendan Ryan is a retired school teacher.

Clonony Castle, Co. Offaly.

Location – The castle is on the R357, not far from Clonmacnoise.
OS: N 052 216 (map 47)
Longitude: 7° 55′ 19.55″ W
Latitude: 53° 14′ 41.17″ N
See map at the bottom of the page.
Description and History – This well preserved tower house is a perfect example of this style of castle. Standing at roughly 15m in height the castle has all the basic features of a tower house such as; machicolation, murder hole, base batter, mural passages, spiral staircase, gun-loops and bawn.  The first floor has collapsed but has been replaced in recent restoration works. According to the Archaeological Inventory of County Offaly the spiral staircase has partially collapsed preventing access to the upper floors. However, according to the present owner, these stairs were deliberately destroyed to prevent people accessing the castle when it was derelict. This is certainly a case of ‘state sponsored vandalism’ in Ireland which has happened all too often.  This castle also boasts a wonderful barrel vaulted ceiling making up the second floor which has been very well restored.
The history of this castle is equally as interesting as the building itself.  It was built by the MacCoughlan clan the early 16th century and was the first place in Ireland to practice musketry but was then ceded to Henry VIII in early 17th century.  The castle passed into the hands of the Boleyn family.  It was given as a gift to Thomas Boleyn by Henry as he wanted to marry Anne Boleyn.  In fact, cousins of Anne are buried in the grounds underneath a hawthorn three.  The writing on the stone has eroded away but may still be recovered with a rubbing.  Luckily this castle escaped the campaign of Cromwell and is in relatively good condition. The castle did become ruined but the excellent renovation work of the present owner is slowly restoring this castle to its former glory.
Difficulty – This site is not difficult to find as on the side of the road on the R357, not far from Clonmacnoise. There is no official parking here so you will have to park on the grass verge. The castle is privately owned and is a residence so always knock on the door and don’t barge in.
For more castles, click here.
For more sites in Co. Offaly, click here.
The impressive gateway entrance. You can see above the arch where the coat of arms would have been located. The owner informed me that it was removed by the previous owners and is still in tact somewhere.
Machicolation above the bawn wall entrance.
The bawn entrance from the inside.
The Boelyn gravestone.
Inside the renovated ground floor.
The owner has painstakingly found antiques to give the castle an authentic feel.
The restored first floor level.
One of the mural passages.
Looking out of one of the gun-loops.
Looking down on the second floor. The castle is missing its roof.
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Howard Mausoleum, Kilbride., Arklow, County Wicklow

Figure 1: A view of the pyramid erected in 1785 as a mausoleum for the Howard family of nearby Shelton Abbey.  Described in 2001 as a valuable piece of heritage at risk of being lost through neglect and decay, the pyramid was adopted as a project by the Arklow Marine and Heritage Committee who, in partnership with TÚS, have begun a careful restoration of the mausoleum

Figure 1: A view of the pyramid erected in 1785 as a mausoleum for the Howard family of nearby Shelton Abbey. Described in 2001 as a valuable piece of heritage at risk of being lost through neglect and decay, the pyramid was adopted as a project by the Arklow Marine and Heritage Committee who, in partnership with TÚS, have begun a careful restoration of the mausoleum

Sitting on a small rise a mile north of Arklow, overlooking the river Avoca, is a monument described by Sir John Betjeman (1906-84) as the largest pyramid tomb ‘beyond the banks of the Nile’ (fig. 1).  It stands on the highest position in the ancient cemetery of Kilbride, dwarfing the ruins of the adjacent medieval church, and is easily seen from most points within a two-mile radius.

When Ralph Howard (1726-86) of Shelton Abbey was made first Viscount Wicklow in 1785, he decided that no longer would a departed Howard be buried in cold clay; their bodies would be housed in an edifice more befitting aristocracy.  Philosophical Enlightenment was at its height and to speak of Athenian, Egyptian or Roman architecture was to display not only education but good taste.  The new mausoleum, Howard decided, would be a pyramid.

The design is believed to be the work of an English sculptor and stonecutter, Simon Vierpyl (c.1725–1810).  Vierpyl was well acquainted with Enlightenment taste having spent almost a decade in Rome producing souvenir copies of ancient sculpture for the well-heeled on their Grand Tour.  He was brought to Ireland by James Caulfield (1728-99), fourth Viscount Charlemont, and soon became known for his designs based on ancient civilisations.  He worked closely with Sir William Chambers (1723-96) on the Casino (1758-76) at Marino; Castletown House (c.1760), County Kildare; and Charlemont House (1763-75) in Rutland Square [Parnell Square], Dublin.  According to The Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720-1940 he appears to ‘have done relatively little purely sculptural work’ in Ireland, being employed chiefly as a stone-carver, mason and clerk of works.  The Howard Mausoleum does not appear in the list of works accredited to him.

Figure 2: A view of the sarcophagus inscribed: Within the walls of the adjoining Church lie interr'd the Remains of/M. Dorothea Howard otherwise Hassels Relict of John Howard Esq./Who Departed this Life at Shelton in December 1684 to Whose/Memory and that of their Descendants and as a place/of Burial for his Family Ralph Viscount Wicklow/has caused this Monument to be Erected/in the year of our Lord 1785

Figure 2: A view of the sarcophagus inscribed: Within the walls of the adjoining Church lie interr’d the Remains of/M. Dorothea Howard otherwise Hassels Relict of John Howard Esq./Who Departed this Life at Shelton in December 1684 to Whose/Memory and that of their Descendants and as a place/of Burial for his Family Ralph Viscount Wicklow/has caused this Monument to be Erected/in the year of our Lord 1785

The pyramid’s outer cladding is granite blocks.  The base is approximately twenty-seven feet square, the walls are perpendicular to the height of six feet, at which level the slopes begin, meeting at the pinnacle some thirty feet above ground level.  A sarcophagus on the north side records that the monument was erected in memory of an earlier Howard and as a place of burial for the family (fig. 2).  North of the pyramid is a small Egyptian-style structure with a temple front that is often taken for part of the mausoleum, but this leads to a second chamber that houses a minor branch of the Howard family (fig. 3).

Access to the inside was gained by a small door in the north wall — now sealed — from which a narrow corridor of about eight or nine feet leads to a chamber ten feet square.  This has a curved brick roof, about fifteen feet from the floor at its highest point.  The wall facing the short corridor and the walls to the right and left each contain nine niches for coffins, three rows of three.

The coffins were inserted lengthwise so that each niche opening is only two feet six inches square, receding about seven feet.  A slab, on which the biographical details of the interred was carved as on ordinary headstones, was fitted to seal the niche.  The fourth wall has only six niches, three placed vertically either side of the chamber entrance, making a total of thirty-three coffin spaces in all — Freemasonry symbolism or just a handy number?  The strange thing is, only eighteen are occupied.

Figure 3: Writing in Mausolea Hibernica (1999) Maurice Craig described the Howard Mausoleum as 'one of the most romantic and mysterious of Irish mausolea...  The mystery is that below and in front of [the pyramid] is the curious façade in granite with more than a whiff of the Egyptian taste about it, which must surely be later and is even perhaps of a different family'

Figure 3: Writing in Mausolea Hibernica (1999) Maurice Craig described the Howard Mausoleum as ‘one of the most romantic and mysterious of Irish mausolea… The mystery is that below and in front of [the pyramid] is the curious façade in granite with more than a whiff of the Egyptian taste about it, which must surely be later and is even perhaps of a different family’

The first interment was of Ralph Howard’s daughter Isabella.  She was nineteen when she died in December 1784.  As the pyramid was not built until the following year, it is reasonable to assume that Isabella was buried in the graveyard and re-interred in the mausoleum when it was ready.  The last interment of which we have a record took place in 1823, but folklore states that there was another.  For weeks following the interment of an infant family member, tenants living at Kilbride reported the sound of a child crying at night.  The body was, we are told, removed and interred elsewhere after which the crying is said to have stopped.  The pyramid was sealed and never used again.

Jim Rees teaches history and communications with County Wicklow VEC.  He and fellow local historian, Pat Power, were given access to the interior of the Howard Mausoleum in 1986

‘Giza on the Avoca’

By Jim Rees

Sitting on a small rise a mile north of Arklow, overlooking the river Avoca, is a monument described by John Betjeman as the largest pyramid tomb ‘beyond the banks of the Nile’. It stands on the highest position in the ancient cemetery of Kilbride, dwarfing the ruins of the adjacent medieval church, and is easily seen from most points within a two-mile radius.

When Ralph Howard of Shelton Abbey was made 1st Viscount Wicklow in 1785, he decided that no longer would a departed Howard be buried in cold clay; their bodies would be housed in an edifice more befitting aristocracy. Philosophical Enlightenment was at its height and to speak of Egyptian, Athenian or Roman architecture was to display not only education but good taste. The new mausoleum, Howard decided, would be a pyramid.

The design is believed to be the work of an English sculptor and stonecutter, Simon Vierpyl (c. 1725–1810). Vierpyl was well acquainted with Enlightenment taste having spent almost a decade in Rome producing souvenir copies of ancient sculpture for the well-heeled on their Grand Tour. He was brought to Ireland by James Caulfield, 4th Viscount Charlemont (1728–99), and soon became known for his designs based on ancient civilisations. He worked closely with architect William Chambers on Castletown House, Charlemont House in Rutland (now Parnell) Square in Dublin, and the Casino at Marino. According to The dictionary of Irish architects(http://www.dia.ie/architects/view/5439) he appears to ‘have done relatively little purely sculptural work’ in Ireland, being employed chiefly as a stone-carver, mason and clerk of works. The Howard mausoleum does not appear in the list of works accredited to him.

The pyramid’s outer cladding is granite blocks. The base is approximately twenty-seven feet square, the walls are perpendicular to the height of six feet, at which level the slopes begin, meeting at the pinnacle some thirty feet above ground level. A sarcophagus on the north side records that the monument was erected in memory of an earlier Howard and as a place of burial for the family. North of the pyramid is a small Egyptian-style structure with a temple front that is often taken for part of the mausoleum, but this leads to a second chamber that houses a minor branch of the Howard family.

Access to the inside of the pyramid was gained by a small door in the north wall — now sealed — from which a narrow corridor of about eight or nine feet leads to a chamber ten feet square. This has a curved brick roof, about fifteen feet from the floor at its highest point. The wall facing the short corridor and the walls to the right and left each contain nine niches for coffins, three rows of three.

The coffins were inserted lengthwise so that each niche opening is only two feet six inches square, receding about seven feet. A slab, on which the biographical details of the interred were carved as on ordinary headstones, was fitted to seal the niche. The fourth wall has only six niches, three placed vertically either side of the chamber entrance, making a total of thirty-three coffin spaces in all — masonic symbolism or just a handy number? The strange thing is, only eighteen are occupied.

The first interment was of Ralph Howard’s daughter Isabella. She was nineteen when she died in December 1784. As the pyramid was not built until the following year, it is reasonable to assume that Isabella was buried in the graveyard and re-interred in the mausoleum when it was ready. The last interment of which we have a record took place in 1823, but folklore states that there was another. For weeks following the interment of an infant family member, tenants living at Kilbride reported the sound of a child crying at night. The body was, we are told, removed and interred elsewhere after which the crying is said to have stopped. The pyramid was sealed and never used again.

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

KILBRIDE, a parish, in the barony of ARKLOW, county of WICKLOW, and province of LEINSTER, 2 miles (N. by W.) from Arklow, on the river Ovoca, and the road to Wicklow; containing 1192 inhabitants. It lies on the coast, and is generally under a good state of cultivation. Shelton Abbey, the splendid seat of the Earl of Wicklow, described in the article on Arklow, is partly within its limits; and there are several good residences, of which the principal are Sheepwalk, that of T. Murray, Esq.; Seabank, of R. Hudson, Esq.; Ballymoney, of the Rev. M. J. Mayers; and Killiniskyduff, of M. Hudson, Esq. Near the mouth of the Ovoca is a coastguard station. The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Dublin and Glendalough, previously to 1833 a part of the union of Arklow, and now united with the vicarages of Enorely and Templemichael; together constituting the union of Kilbride, in the patronage of the Archbishop. The tithes of the parish amount to £200. 6. 2. The church, erected in 1834, at the expense of the Earl of Wicklow, is a handsome structure, in the later English style, with a square embattled tower crowned with pinnacles. In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Newbridge and Baranisky; the chapel is a neat and spacious edifice. About 210 children are taught, in the public schools, of which the parochial male and female schools are supported by the Earl and Countess of Wicklow; and there are two infants’ schools, one supported by the Countess, and the other by the Rev. M. J. Mayers, the present incumbent; also a Sunday school. The ruins of the old church are on an eminence commanding a fine view of the town and bridge of Arklow, a great expanse of sea, the demesne of Shelton Abbey, and the woods of Glenart, In the churchyard is a mausoleum of the Howard family; there is also an ancient burial-place at Templereeny.

Our hidden pyramid is revealed by DEBORAH COLEMAN

A CLEAN-UP operation is revealing a long-hidden face in the countryside around Arklow as a pyramid literally emerges from the undergrowth following years of neglect.

Few people in Arklow and the wider county are even aware of the existence of the pyramid at the old Kilbride Cemetery on the outskirts of the town.

The monolith was commissioned by Ralph Howard, 1st Viscount Wicklow in the 1780s, as a burial site for him and his family is situated in and dominates the old cemetery.

It is the final resting place of 18 of his family members

More than 500 people are believed to be buried in the cemetery which had become overgrown and neglected in recent years with the pyramid itself covered in ivy and tree growth.

The Arklow Marine and Heritage Committee, chaired by Cllr. Sylvester Bourke was formed with a view to getting some preservation work carried out at the site and following a successful application to County Wicklow Partnership (CWP) participants on the TÚS Project were assigned to commence the work.

Prior to this, the committee commissioned a conservation report to ensure that works would be carried out appropriately and in keeping with the requirements for any such historical site.

The two-year project makes manpower available to the committee and has already made vast improvements inside the site with much of the overgrowth cut back and removed.

‘It is a countywide programme which assigns participants to various schemes for 19.5 hours per week,’ explained Dermot Byrne of CWP.

‘ TÚS covers three areas: caretaking/maintenance, administration and social care.

‘Funding, however is limited to the public are asked to donate tools or equipment where possible by contacting the partnership offices in Arklow,’ he added.

Visitors to Arklow are to this day taken aback at the sight of a perfectly formed and quite large pyramid in the distance along the local landscape and are astounded by its existence.

‘In those days it was very important for the gentry of the 18th century to put down their markers and those who had a heavy enough purse to allow them to take a couple of years off would take what was known as ‘ The Grand Tour’,’ explained local Historian Pat Power.

‘ Those such as Ralph Howard, a few years before he became Viscount Wicklow, would travel to Italy, France and Greece if they could get there.

‘ The Grecian and Roman architecture was heavily influenced by the mysticism of the pyramids which was adapted into funereal art.

‘Howard was very much into freemasonry and in part adapted this type of building into the pyramid and mausoleum at Kilbride, on quite a large scale,’ he added.

History buffs will be intrigued to learn that the Howard pyramid isn’t the only one in Co. Wicklow as the Stratford family built a similar structure in Baltinglass which is still there today.

As the work continues at the old Kilbride Cemetery it is envisaged that a new boundary fence will be installed and that a gate and floodlighting, funding permitted, will complete the project.

According to the Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720-1940, the pyramid and mausoleum were built by Simon Vierpyl who has spent nine years in Rome in the mid-1740s making copies of antique sculpture for grand tourists.

FURTHER READING

Craig, Maurice and Craig, Michael, Mausolea Hibernica (Dublin: The Lilliput Press, 1999)

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WWI trench system unearthed in Cork

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Archaeologists at a military camp in Kilworth, North Cork, have discovered one of the largest and best preserved First World War underground bunker and trench systems ever built in Britain and Ireland. Picture: Fototeca Gilardi/Getty

Archaeologists at a military camp in Kilworth, North Cork, have discovered one of the largest and best preserved First World War underground bunker and trench systems ever built in Britain and Ireland. Picture: Fototeca Gilardi/Getty Sean O’Riordan

Archaeologists at a military camp in North Cork have discovered one of the largest and best preserved First World War underground bunker and trench systems ever built in Britain and Ireland.

Details of the find by a team from Queen’s University Belfast, revealed exclusively to the Irish Examiner, show the underground bunkers, built around 1915, could have accommodated sleeping quarters for up to 300 troops.

Academics specialising in archaeology and geology started out on their mission after acquiring historical maps which showed huge fortifications were built at Lynch Camp, Kilworth, shortly after the outbreak of the war.

After acquiring permission from the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces to visit the camp, located halfway between Fermoy and Mitchelstown, they carried out their first reconnaissance of the land in October 2013 and followed it up with a week-long detailed examination last July.

“We were just blown away with what we found. It is certainly the best preserved in Ireland and is so significant that it could be bigger than anything found in Salisbury Plain (a huge British Army training centre in Wiltshire, close to Stonehenge). It’s a really significant find,” said Dr Alistair Ruffell, a geology expert who was co-supervisor on the project.

He and his colleagues used ‘Time Team-type’ technology to work out what the underground fortifications consisted of.

Among the technology employed was aerial mapping, GPS, and geophysics, which is ground-penetrating radar.

It enabled the team to see the extent of the massive underground bunker and the trenches, which today are almost totally obscured by heather and gorse.

He estimates the fortifications ran for a couple of kilometres and that British Army engineers also constructed ‘enemy trenches’ on an elevated slope opposing them, which troops were then ordered to capture.

Dr Ruffell believes lookout towers, still present at the camp, were used by officers to direct their troops coming out of the bunkers onto enemy positions. The Germans were more technically adept at building bunkers and trenches early in the war.

Dr Ruffell said the Kilworth fortifications were built to show troops the reality of life in the trenches, as well as enabling them to carry out pre-battle training in conditions as realistic as they would meet at the front.

He said the ‘friendly trench’ was zig-zag and consisted of three forward machine-gun posts. If these posts were overrun, troops could retreat to the main trench which was linked to the underground chamber.

Troops training at the site “would sleep in the bunker on wooden beds and would cook food on little paraffin burners”.

He said the terrain in Kilworth was also ideal, because it was similar to many battlefield areas troops would later encounter on the Western Front.

The archaeologists have not conducted any excavations due to a risk of any unexploded shells buried there from that era, or from later on as Kilworth had been a military training camp from the late 1890s to the present day.

He credited the discovery to PhD student Heather Montgomery, who is enthralled by battlefield archaeology and persuaded her colleagues that an investigation of the Kilworth site might be worthwhile.

“It was quite emotional to be in the trenches, for obvious reasons. These were sometimes the last places the young men from Ireland practised in before they went, often to not return,” Dr Ruffell said.

A large British garrison barracks was built in the nearby town of Fermoy in 1806 and some of the soldiers trained there fought in the Battle of Waterloo, nine years later. Towards the end of that century, the British military identified Kilworth as an ideal training camp and purchased 14,000 acres of land there.

Firing ranges opened there in 1886, traces of which Dr Ruffell said still exist.

It became a significant training camp a few years later and a large number of soldiers who undertook manoeuvres had fought in the Second Boer War (1899-1902).

Some local families still possess remarkable pictures of huge columns of soldiers, numbering several thousand, marching along the former main Cork-Dublin road, close to the Moorepark agricultural research station, on their way to Fermoy following First World War training exercises in Kilworth.

The Department of Defence and the Defence Forces said they were happy to facilitate the archaeologists in their work. It is unclear, at present, what further research, if any, the archaeologists will undertake.

In recent years, the camp again become a significant training centre for the Defence Forces and a €1m state-of-the-art automated firing range, installed by Swedish company Saab, opened last year.

The camp has also been refurbished to accommodate 320 troops for exercises, at any one time, and possesses state-of-the-art catering and fitness facilities.

Around 4,500 members of the Defence Forces are assigned to Kilworth for training every year, including the Naval Service and the Ranger Wing.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Ireland Women’s Squad Named For RBS 6 Nations

Extended Ireland Squad Announced

Cork GAA star Mulcahy comes out ‘to help others’

Cork's Valerie Mulcahy, centre,  at the TG4 Ladies Football All-Star Awards in Citywest Hotel, Saggart, Co Dublin, in 2013, where she won a fifth TG4 Ladies Football All-Star Award. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Cork’s Valerie Mulcahy, centre, at the TG4 Ladies Football All-Star Awards in Citywest Hotel, Saggart, Co Dublin, in 2013, where she won a fifth TG4 Ladies Football All-Star Award. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Cork football star Valerie Mulcahy will reveal how she came to terms with her sexuality in a television documentary next week.

The nine-time All-Ireland winner has decided to go public on her sexuality in a broadcast with Cork hurling legend Donal Óg Cusack.

Cusack addresses the issue of being gay in 21st century Ireland and says Mulcahy is the real star of the documentary, which airs on Monday.

“When I was younger, I didn’t want to be gay,” she says in the programme.

The RTE Guide yesterday said of the broadcast: “Some of the most affecting images in the documentary are of Valerie and her partner kissing and holding hands.

“Similarly uplifting is the story of young Cork hurler Chris McCarthy, who got in touch with the production during the making of the documentary.”

Mulcahy is the first high-profile female GAA player to come out publicly, and says she has done so to help other gay people feel comfortable.

A secondary school teacher in Cork City, Mulcahy is hugely admired by her peers and has long been out to her team-mates. She joins one of Ireland’s most capped hockey players, Nikki Symmons, in becoming an openly gay female athlete in Ireland.

In October, Symmons spoke about her sexuality on RTE’s Second Captains sports show, alongside Cusack and former Irish rugby legend Shane Horgan.

Last February, former England women’s soccer captain Casey Stoney of Arsenal became one of the first high-profile female athletes to come out in England.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

The Night Zinedine Zidane Played In Dalymount Park

Legendary broadcaster Jimmy Magee pronounced his name Zidan-ay throughout the 2nd leg…

20 years ago Bordeaux came to Dalymount Park to play Bohemians in the UEFA Cup with a languid, promising midfielder in tow.

Zidane took on Pat ‘Nutsy’ Fenlon, Robbie Best and co. on a cold night in September. The Bohs boys acquitted themselves well on the night and were unlucky to lose 1-0.

The fabled Jimmy Magee curse (the 80s and early 90s forerunner of the notorious TV3 curse) struck again in the 2nd leg as Bordeaux and Zidane routed the Bohs 5-0. See both videos below.