Monday, 8 April 2013


Heading back up the bustling Church Street from the church of Mary in Mulhuddart, there is an interesting holy well. Firstly it is situated right on the side of the busy road and has a stone roof built over it which dates back to the eighteenth century. There is both a front and rear entrance. Like most holy wells, this was once probably a sacred spring for our ancient ancestors. With the coming of the new religion to our shores many of the sacred sites were Christianised, usually by associating them with a saint and changing festival/feast days to Christian ones, Christmas is probably the best known example of this. 

The well at Mulhuddart became popular during Norman times and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. During the eighteenth Century huge crowds are said to have gathered here on the 8th of September (Lady’s Day), the feast of the birth of the Virgin Mary, seeking a cure for whatever ailment they suffered from. It would seem that King Henry VI set up an order initially called the Order of the Guild of the Blessed Virgin Mary and provided them with a sum of money for the upkeep of Marian shrines in the area, but in particular for the upkeep of Our Lady’s Well. It was this order that erected a small ‘u’-shaped wall as an enclosure around the well and planted a number of trees to create the impression of a grove. After Henrys death the order seemed to disappear. 

After this the well and presumably the church came under the care of the nuns of Grace Dieu. The Grace Dieu nuns were an order of Augustinian canonesses dedicated to God, the Holy Trinity and Saint Mary founded by Rohese de Verdon in 1241. Whilst this order did not last long in England, they managed to survive a little longer in Ireland. They capped stone roof with a chimney like stone front & rear is inscribed with various prayers to the Virgin and a small niche and an incised cross above. 

The well is kept in quite good condition, considering its close proximity to the adjacent busy road; unfortunately upon examining the interior of the well it would seem that the water source has become stagnant. Considering the many housing estates and industrial complexes in the surrounding area it is quite possible that over recent years the source has been damaged.

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Friday, 5 April 2013

Church of Mary

Above the village of Mulhuddart in the old townland of Buzzardstown, stands the ruins of the Church of Mary. The church which stands on a curved mound affords some nice views of the surrounding area. The curve in the surrounding cemetery wall indicates that a circular enclosure once surrounded the site and suggests that a church be built here in the early Christian period before the coming of the Normans.

The ruin itself is fragmented, and  consists mainly  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. The building of the tower would have necessitated the  closing of the western door of the church with the opening of a new door in the north wall of the nave.

The tower, which is vaulted on the first floor, would have been easy to defended in times of danger would have been a place of refuge for the local people. 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 dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1532 Henry VIII granted license to found a fraternity or guild at the site .The church was in poor condition by the mid-17th century and the Civil Survey (1654) records only ‘the walls of a church’ here. Back up Church road between these ruins and Mullhudddart lies an interesting Holy Well on the side of the road.

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Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Saggart Graveyard

Recently passing through the small village of Saggart I decided to stop at the graveyard as it is supposed to contain a number of interesting monuments and has a nice history to it. Found down the laneway adjacent the current Catholic Church and is believed to be the site of a previous church now long lost in time. It is also quite likely this was the site of the monastery of St Mosacra. A monk called Mosacra founded a settlement on the site of the village in the 7th century. The name Saggart derives from Teach Sacra which means 'house of Sacra' in Irish By 1207, Saggart, or Tasagart, as it was then called by the Normans, had been associated with the Cathedral of St. Patrick. In 1615, the church was reported as being in good repair but fifteen years later the church is stated to have fallen down, and the Protestant parishioners attended Rathcoole church. The current church was built in 1847. A monastery is believed to have existed in the village in the 7th century.

My main reason for stopping of here was to check out a couple of surviving monuments which were said to lie within its grounds, these being two high crosses a cross slab and a cross base. However I was initially disappointed when I could find none of these. In the burial ground I did find a large granite stone which I believe to be the Pilgrims Stone, said to date from the 10th century. I also found part of what appears to be the foundations of a previous church surrounded by various graves. Also of note is the memorial to Dublin merchant Edward Byrne, who was a member of the Catholic Committee, which included Wolfe Tone, both of which petitioned King George II in 1793 on behalf of the Irish people. Within this memorial I eventually found the cross slab along with what may have been part of a high cross. And to the rear of this there is another stone propping up a headstone which also may have been part of one of the high crosses mentioned. Whilst not one of the best places I have visited it is still worth a look around.

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