Monday, 24 July 2017

Boyle Abbey (Walsh)

From Thomas Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy chapter lix, p. 624 ff:

Boyle, anciently called Athdalarg. See Easraacneirc. A market-
town on the river Boyle.

A.D. 1148, the Cistercians procured a settlement at Grelacdinach. They afterwards removed to Athdalarg or Boyle. Peter O'Morra, a man of great learning, became their first abbot; afterwards promoted to the see of Clonfert, and was unfortunately drowned at Port de Caneog, on the river Shannon, 27th of December, 1171.

Boyle abbey was one of the most celebrated monasteries of Europe. Boyle was filial to Mellifont, and was dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Aodh O'Maccain succeeded the learned O'Morra. He moved his monks to Drumconaid. His successor, Maurice O'Dubhay, having continued there near three years, removed to Bunfinne; remained in this latter place near two years and six months, when they finally settled at Boyle in the year 1161.

MacDerraot, prince of Moylnrg, erected this noble monastery. The estates of the Macdermots have been seized by the King family, and lord Lorton is the present occupant.

A.D. 1174, the abbot Maurice O'Dubhay died the 27th of December, and was interred here.

A.D. 1218, the abbey church of Boyle was consecrated.

A.D. 1235, the English forces, under the command of lord justice Maurice Fitzgerald and MacWilliam Bourke, encamped within the abbey walls, sacrilegiously seized all the goods, holy vestments, chalices, &c., belonging to this abbey, and very irreverently stripped the monks of their habits in the midst of their cloister.

A.D. 1250, the abbot Dunchad O'Daly, the "Ovid of Ireland," died.  He was superior to all the poets of his time in hymnal compositions.

A.D, 1315, Kory O'Connor pillaged this abbey.

A.D, 1331, MacDermot, lord of Moylurg, resigned his lordship and assumed in this abbey the habit of the order.

A.D. 1342, Dermot Roe MacDermot died here in the Cistercian habit.

A.D. 1383, died the abbot MacDairt, a charitable and humane gentleman.

A.D. 1444, the abbot Thady died at Rome.

At the suppression, Tumaltach MacDermot was the abbot. Patrick Cusacke, of Gerrardstown, in the county of Meath, obtained a grant of the possessions of this abbey, then consisting of 2350 acres in various counties.

A.D. 1603, a second grant of this abbey and its possessions was made to Sir John King.

In the reign of Elizabeth, the abbey of Boyle was converted into a place of defence. Within a few miles of the abbey, on the north side of the Curlew mountains, O'Donnel, on the morning of the 15th of August, 1598, defeated the English troops under the command of Clifford, governor of Connauglit. Every Irish soldier, imitating the good example of their commander, prepared himself for the approaching combat by confession and communion. Scarcely had the divine sacrifice been concluded on the morning of this festival dedicated to the holy and immaculate mother of God, the queen of heaven, and the mother of the afflicted, when the English army appeared slowly advancing with
great order and regularity.

A notion then prevailed among the native Irish, that one of the objects of the reformation was to impugn the virginity of blessed Mary, mother of God. And this notion, which the language of the reformers then as well as the present day too fully justified, impressed such a horror against the English in the minds of the Irish clergy and laity, that it rendered their detestation more intense, and the English, objects of greater abhorrence. O'Donnel, impatient for the combat, which he deemed decisive of his country's fate, harangued his troops in the language of old Ireland, pointing out the advantages which their situation gave them over their opponents. "Moreover," continued O'Donnel
"were we even deprived of those advantages, we sliould trust to the great dispenser of eternal justice, to the dreadful avenger of iniquity and oppression, the success of our just and righteous cause. He has already doomed to destruction those assassins, who have butchered our wives and our children, lundered us of our properties, set fire to our habitations, demolished our churches and monasteries, and who have changed the face of Ireland into a wild and uncultivated desert. On this day more particularly, I trust to heaven for protection, a day dedicated to the greatest of all saints, whom those enemies to all religion endeavor to vilify; a day on which we have purified our consciences, to defend
honestly the cause of justice against men whose hands are reeking with blood, and who, not content with driving us from our native plams, come to hunt us like wild beasts, into the mountains of Dunaveragh. But what ! I see you have not patience to hear a word more. Brave Irishmen, you burn for revenge. Scorning the advantage of this impregnable situation, let us rusli down and shew the world that, guided by the Lord of life and death, we exterminated those oppressors of the human race. He who falls, will fall gloriously, fighting in defence of justice, liberty, his native country ; his name will be remembered while there is an Irishman left, and he who survives, will be pointed out as the companion of O'Donnel and the defender of his country. The congregation shall make way for him at the altar, saying, 'That hero fought at the battle of Dunaveeragh.'"

In this engagement the English lost fourteen hundred men. Clifford's head was struck off, and the cause of the British thrown into confusion by this victory, which the brave and the pious O'Donnel gained. The natives of Dunaveragh still point out the spot where Clifford fell.

Boyle abbey was once one of me finest buildings in Ireland, and even still in its fallen yet picturesque condition, is signally creditable to the architectural taste and skill of the native princes as well as that
of the clergy, previously to the English invasion.

Its ruins consist of the nave, choir and transepts, with a lofty square steeple in the centic of the cross; the south side of the nave is formed by a range of four lofty circular arches, supported by round piers or columns of considerable solidity. These columns support a lofty wall, on the side which the ivy now mantles, and are still ornamented with some beautifully carved corbels, which once supported the vaulted roofs. The great arches supporting the tower were forty-eight feet high, three of them circular, while the fourth singularly formed a pointed arch; the bases of these columns are traced with various ornamental devices, each studiously difliering from the other, and all equally beautiful.

The eastern window was particularly attractive. It consisted of three jiointed arches, divided by mullions with decorated heads, all tolerably perfect. Some of the capitals are plain, othei-s adorned with carving. The walls round the nave were perforated with a triforium, which opens into the body of the building, through various small circular arches, still traceable behind the ivy. The entrance was at the western end by a small arch pointed door. The stone used in the building is of the most solid description.

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