Abbeys and Churches

Mount Melleray

Today I want to share photographs taken over the years in some of Co Waterford and Co Kilkenny Abbeys and Churches that you might put on your itinerary.

Mount Melleray Abbey near Cappoquin Co Waterford was established in 1829-1832. Sir Richard Keane of Cappoquin offered some land at the foot of the Knockmealdowns to Cistercian monk Dom Vincent, and the Abbey was built on this site. The foundation stone was laid in 1833 by Sir Richard, but only one hundred years later, in 1933, the present Abbey church was built using the limestone blocks of the burnt and demolished Mitchelstown Castle. The church was completed in 1940.

The Abbey is open for photographers, worshipers, and people who are looking for peace.

Mount Melleray

Mount Melleray

Mount Melleray

I cannot be sure, but I think the name tag on the Confessional is of Father Francis Carton who entered the Cistercian Order at Mount Melleray Abbey in 1951 and died in 2014.

Mount Melleray

Stained glass window reflecting cheerful Christmasy light.

Mount Melleray

This window has unusual look.

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The sacramental wine in the wonderfully elaborated chalices is ready for the mass.

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Mount Melleray

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If you want to learn more about the monks of Mount Melleray Abbey, please read this blog post . It belongs to Gerry Andrews, famous Irish photographer from Limerick.

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This beautiful path takes you to the graveyard.

Mount Melleray

This road takes you nowhere – it ends just behind the trees. You can travel to the Abbey from Newcastle or Clogheen crossing the Knockmealdown mountains (both very spectacular routes), or from N 72 and R 669 if driving from Waterford or Cork. There are two places you can stop by, just two kilometers from the Abbey – Melleray Grotto and The Cats Bar where you can have a meal.

Mount Melleray

Another famous Cistercian abbey lies  in ruins at the side of the Old Waterford road near Thomastown, Co Kilkenny.  It is Jerpoint Abbey, originally founded in 1180 on a nearly three acre old monastic site, and closed in 1540, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII.  Beautiful and majestic, it has been in protection of the Office of Public Works since 1880 when it was declared a National Monument. There is a new Visitor center and a paid parking lot – the only available parking lot. Outside the opening hours, you might have a problem to stop your car even for a simple snap through your car window.

Jerpoint Abbey is famous for its ancient stone carvings that deserve a separate blog post.

Jerpoint Abbey

Jerpoint Abbey

This building is also a National Monument, but it is not completely in ruins, and it is not an abbey. It was built on the site of the early Christian monastery in 1269 AD, just a century after Jerpoint Abbey, and functioned as a Collegiate Church, which meant that it was administered by a college of priests. In the 14th century a tower and expansion were added, but the church was left to decay after the Dissolution. Only in the 19th century, the part on the left from the tower was rebuilt, and since then half of the building is in use as a Church of Ireland parish church of St Mary’s. This absolutely beautiful and well preserved ruin stands surrounded by the manicured landscape in the Main Street of Gowran, Co Kilkenny.

Mary's Church

Gigantic walls, arches and naves, fine stonework and many interesting tombstones are truly fascinating and will keep you busy taking photographs for a good while.

Mary's Church

Clonegam church stands away from the busy roads and villages and has one of the most beautiful vistas in front of it – I will return there for more photographs some day. The church was built in 1741 and renovated every 50 years until 1893. Inside it resembles a family mausoleum rather than a regular church, and I was very hesitant to share the pictures of the church interior I have got.

church

I will only share two of my photographs, because I have seen similar photographs on the internet before, so I won’t be the first person to expose them to the public.

In this photograph, the first monument, the one in granite, as the epitaph says, is to the memory of ‘The Most Noble Henry de la Poer Beresford third Marquis of Waterford, who died in 1859 aged 47’.  The marble tomb is a monument to ‘The Rev. John de la Poer Beresford fourth Marquis of Waterford, who died in 1866’.

churc

The monument in this photograph is very special. It provides most of the light in the church as it is lit by a skylight in the roof. The monument is dedicated to the wife of the fifth Marquis of Waterford, Florence. She died in childbirth, and her grief stricken husband commissioned this monument made from Kilkenny marble.

church

Thank you for taking this historical walk with me. After admiring majestic architecture, fine masonry and sculptures, I think I will share photographs of some cute creatures in my next blog post 🙂

inesemjphotography  Have a wonderful weekend!

136 comments

  1. Very wonderful, Inese!
    I can’t think of anything like these images in Canada. We have some beautiful churches, and a few splendid cathedrals, but I haven’t seen anything like your pictures.
    However, we do have other beauty of our own.
    I’m very glad you posted the shot of Frances. That is a stunning work of art, and she and her baby look in peace & their beauty is preserved forever.
    It is incredible to think of the throngs of women who died at childbirth….. all because of not washing hands, and that Pasteur was declared a heretic when he suggested that hand washing would save lives.
    On a cheerier note…. I am really looking forward to your street art post!!!!

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  2. I love churches and abbeys when they’re empty, the older the building, the better. It’s then that you have a sense of their walls whispering to you from down the ages. That commissioned marble monument for the Fifth marquis of Waterford, Florence, is very beautiful and yet deeply sad. Quite a paradox really. Thank you for the tour, Inese.

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  3. Oh….oh, this was just the thing I had hoped to capture when I visited Holy Hill not long ago, but the weather was about as lousy as could be. I can sense the wonders of creation and the divine in your captures. Precious fragments of Ireland’s soul. xxxx

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  4. Churches; especially ancient ones, bring my voice down to a hush — they do feel like the Lord’s home. Your photographs are always so breathtaking. Such a loving and beautiful tribute to the mother and her baby! I learn so much from your posts, Inese. 🌺 🌻 🌹

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        1. Oh these are not masterpieces 🙂 I do post pictures I truly work on, but usually it is just a glorified point-and-shoot sort of images. Just to let people know about interesting places 🙂 xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Julian! The last church I wrote about isn’t open for public, but one can get the keys in the local parish. They don’t want the photographs being published online – it is the ‘privilege’ of some certain local photographers 😉 I am not privileged, it is why I only posted photographs of three monuments that can be found in Google search. It is very annoying, of course. In my understanding, only Lord of Waterford has rights to issue restrictions on photography since it is his family ancestral mausoleum. Anyway, just to be on the safe side I won’t publish any other images of the church’s interior. Yet 🙂

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    1. The images of these three monuments can be found in the internet, which means it is OK to post them. I had permission to take photographs in the church, but only for making prints.

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  5. My darling, my apologies for being late for this walk. My big girl was married at the weekend. However I got here soon as and I am here now. Lovely lovely photographs. You could photograph the phone book and it would still be gorgeous because your heart is always there xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

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    1. Thank you so much, Derrick. In a couple of weeks I will post a blog about Kennedy arboretum – nothing of professional interest, I am afraid, just some autumn scenes, but I did think of your blog when walking around the arboretum, and I am going to link the post to your blog. Sort of dedication 🙂

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        1. What a tragic tale! Thank you so much for digging this up! I thought that the story was unusual – in that era, marriages were usually arranged to benefit both families. The grief of her husband seemed genuine and profound. Such a short time was given to them.

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  6. Thanks for posting these, Inese….I keep saying I must come back over to Ireland, because there’s so much to see. You only showed one photo of Jerpoint, so I’m hoping you will post some more later

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    1. Thank you Sue! Yes, I am planning to stop in Jerpoint after a planned trip to Co Carlow. The days are getting shorter, though. Rock of Cashel is another place I am going to write about this winter.

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  7. That was a very interesting. I enjoyed all of the post, but I was particularly taken by the final photograph. The Marquis’s memorial to his wife is very dramatic and the use of light is striking.

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    1. Thank you Bun! Early morning hours – it is when the light makes the marble so alive. The sculpture needs a lot of restoration work though because of the tiny patches of mold (or algae?) on its surface.

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  8. It’s hard to go wrong with stained glass windows, pathways of green, and stone walled structures. Your pictures take me there and tingle my imagination. I’ve found empty churches to be peaceful and on some occasions — spooky. The cemetery was a place where we’d cook up stories of unhappy souls, who would rise up in the dead of the night and wander as soon as the clock struck 12. I wonder how would these visuals transform in the night? 🙂

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    1. In 2005, my daughter and son-in-law came over for Christmas, and on our way home from Dublin we stopped at Jerpoint Abbey and went there at about midnight. We had flashlights, but the night was bright anyway. It was very quiet, and not scary at all.

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  9. Thanks so much, Inese, for this wonderful tour. Your photos are artful and lovely, and reflect the reverence of these religious sanctuaries. The photo of the colorful stained glass knocked my socks off. Great post.

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  10. Beautiful, Inese. The monument to Florence was like a spear through the heart. How beautiful and sad. My eye instantly flooded with tears. Wow, that is so moving. I can feel the grief a hundred years later.

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    1. Thank you so much, Diana! I am the same like you, and I wasn’t even sure that I should share this image, but when I found these sculptures in Google, I knew it was OK to share. There are other personal family sculptures. The place is stunning.

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  11. Lovely pictures of the churches and abbeys. It is good that the abbey welcome photography. I am wondering the reason to publish the inside pictures of Clonegam church. By the way, the picture of the road that goes nowhere is wonderful.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by! No particular reason, just wanted to share these beautiful sculptures. It is like a family mausoleum, so I was trying to be discreet and publish only the images that have already been published by other photographers.

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