Friday, 1 July 2022

Gortnaglogh Standing Stone

Just a quick post here today to post a few photographs of Gortnaglogh Standing Stone in Laois.

Gortnaglogh Standing Stone in County Laois.

It's believed this stone was also known as the Mass Stone.

Gortnaglogh Standing Stone in County Laois.

It's further presumed that Mass was held here during the times of the repressive Penal Laws when open Catholic worship was banned and priests were often hunted down and murdered for ministering to their flocks.

Gortnaglogh Standing Stone in County Laois.

The photographs were taken on a misty rainy day and it was hard to get a decent shot.

Keep the wheels turning.........








Sunday, 19 June 2022

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove at Rath, Ballybrittas (or The House that Jack Didn't build)

 Black Jack (John George) Adair born 1823 was a Land speculator and Ranching magnate born into a  family descended from Landed Gentry. 

Landed Gentry as the name suggests are those of the Gentry who owned land.

 Gentry means basically anyone who had means enough that money alone could sustain a relatively indulgent lifestyle without the need for working. 

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

That's not to say the Gentry didn't work. Some did and some didn't hence the term "the idle rich". Many of the Gentry were far from Gents or Gentlemen as "Black Jack's" legacy aptly indicates.

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

This post concerns the Adair family home of Rathdaire House, also known as Belle Grove and Bellgrove at County Laois in the Irish midlands.

Rathdaire

Black Jack accumulated a Ranch of well over 1 million acres in Texas in the U.S.A. on the J.A. Ranch. He also built and owned Glenveagh Castle in Donegal.

Rathdaire 

He held substantial lands in his native Laois among his many other assets. John George Adair was obviously quite a shrewd investor and the family held at one time in excess of 10,000 acres in the County.

Rathdaire House

He had a reputation for ill manners, rudeness and ruthlessness in his business dealings. All in all he seems to have been quite an unlikeable character.

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

He died in 1885 and is buried in a nondescript grave at Lea Church at Rathmiles near Portarlington.

Grave of Black Jack Adair at Lea Church, Portarlington

The family seat at Rathdaire House is described as a two story over basement Italianate Mansion of c. 1835. It was burned to the ground in 1887 purportedly accidentally. 

Whether it was an accident or a deliberate act we will never know for sure and the house was left standing as the ruins that are to be seen today.

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

The house was constructed over a previously existing building at the site and it was considerably altered during the following decades until it became an ornate Italianate style building complete with a considerable and well designed Winter Garden and a Stables with underground passages to the House.

The lands were originally purchased by Black Jack's Grandfather John. Construction of Rathdaire House was begun under his father George's auspices in the 1830's.

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

 George had apparently inherited estates in the West Indies and prospered from his Sugar Plantations there.

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

Black Jack's wife, American heiress Cornelia Wadsworth Adair had the Church of the Ascension built near Ballyadding in County Laois in her late husbands memory. 

Church of the Ascension, Ballyadding. Hiberno Romanesque style

It is described as built in a Hiberno Romanesque style and indeed the doorway is an example of rich and intricate detail and a delight to see first hand.

Below are some of the Cobble stones still lining a tunnel which ran from the Stables under and into the house. There is also what I have been told is a large water trough for the Horses.

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

Many thanks are due to the present owners family for permission to photograph  in the building.

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. 1800's Italinate Mansion

Historic mapping from the OSI showing the property at different times called both Belle Grove and latterly Rathdaire House.

Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion


Rathdaire House/Bellgrove in Laois. Ruined 1800's Italinate Mansion








 


Saturday, 18 June 2022

Beautiful Kells in County Meath

 I've passed through Kells in County Meath several times but only had the opportunity to wander around the town once.

Historic Kells, County Meath

 Little did I realise just how much I had been missing.

Historic Kells, County Meath

I got to spend half a day in Kells but a full day would barely cover the hidden gems that abound in Kells.

Kells High Cross, Meath

A little known fact concerning the town is that every year a delegation is sent from here to the Provost of Trinity College in Dublin to ask for the return of the illuminated manuscript that is its namesake, The Book of Kells.

Kells Heritage, Meath 

Needless to say so far it remains unreturned although Saint Columba's Church of Ireland in the town has a copy on display and turn a new page each day.

In the grounds of Saint Columba's Church among a host of antiquities are 2 High Crosses, the Shaft of another High Cross, the base of a yet another High Cross and a beautiful Round Tower.

Kells Heritage, Meath 

There is also an interesting stone Sun Dial c. 13/15th Century.

Kells Sun Dial 

A 14th Century effigy slab of a male and female figure and the crucifixion scene is located inside the Church itself.

Kells Heritage, Meath

There are also several memorial plaques to some of those from the town who fell in WW1 and a Tower from an earlier Church with several stone heads and memorial plaques on the walls.

Kells Heritage, Meath

There are at least 2 Cross Slabs also to be found in the grounds of the Church.

Kells Heritage, Meath

There are enough points of interest in the Church and grounds alone to keep you occupied for a day.

Kells Heritage, Meath

Nearby but closed when I visited is a small stone Oratory referred to both as Saint Columb(a)'s House or The House of Colmcille. The Saint was known by both names. It is thought to originally be a 9th Cty Church and one of the smallest of its type in Ireland.

Historic Kells, County Meath

There is another beautiful 10th Cty High Cross located just outside the old Courthouse building at the junction of the Navan and Headford roads.

Historic Kells, County Meath 

Historic Kells, County Meath

The Courthouse is now an Interpretive Centre but was closed when I visited.

Historic Kells, County Meath

The Cross depicts both Biblical and Hunting scenes and is covered overhead with a glass roofed structure for protection from the elements.

Historic Kells, County Meath 

It would be nice to see more ancient artifacts afforded this type of protection from the effects of weathering. 

Historic Kells, County Meath

The details on the Cross are well preserved and it's well worth taking the time to see it.

Historic Kells, County Meath

Just across the road from the High Cross is Saint John's Cemetery where there was once an ecclesiastical site of The Hospital of Saint John the Baptist which would have been run by a religious order known as the Fratres Cruciferi

The Fratres Cruciferi are an obscure order who were known as the Crutched Friars and operated several hospitals in Ireland. 

They disappeared sometime after Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530's. I believe they got their nickname from the Staff's they carried as they went about which resembled Crutches.

The Abbess Effigy at Kells, Meath

There is an intriguing effigy slab here known as the Abbess. 

I didn't take much notice at the time but looking at my old photographs I am wondering if the effigy is actually a Friar of the order Fratres Cruciferi. 

I am going chiefly on the type of Staff held by the figure.

The Abbess Effigy at Kells, Meath 

The headgear is described as a Wimple but perhaps this too is mistaken as it does not look like a Wimple in my old photographs. Who Knows, not me anyway.

Just outside Kells on the road to Oldcastle lies what surely must be right up there with the best Follies in Ireland. It is the Spire of Lloyd. 

Spire of Lloyd, Kells

Having first seen the Spire in the distance I thought I was lost or seeing things. It appears like an ethereal Lighthouse towering in the distance except we are miles from the sea here.

Spire of Lloyd, Kells 

There is an 164 step spiral staircase inside however the Tower was closed when I visited. 

It is located on a small plot of grassy Parkland complete with Picnic benches.

Spire of Lloyd, Kells

These are just a few of the things of interest to be found in and around Kells in Meath.

Kells Heritage, Meath

 There's much more to see if you can spare the time for further exploration in the area.

Kells Heritage, Meath

Keep the wheels turning.

Historic Kells, County Meath

Historic Kells, County Meath

Historic Kells, County Meath

Historic Kells, County Meath

Kells High Cross, Meath

Kells Heritage, Meath

Kells Heritage, Meath

Kells Heritage, Meath

Kells Heritage, Meath

Kells Heritage, Meath

Kells Heritage, Meath

Kells Heritage, Meath