Seamus Murphy headstones are beautiful examples of stone carving, to these eyes at least. An encounter with an uncatalogued Seamus Murphy headstone is even more so.
There is the anticipation as you spot the thickness and shape of the stone from a distance. The serrated grooves to the edge face and return raise expectation. Getting nearer, the lettering (particularly if red) will have you nearly convinced.
After standing back to admire, then the search for the letter cutter’s signature is the confirmation that life is good. It is time to stand back, enjoy and appreciate – and then, just like those two early evening pints with a long lost friend who you just bumped into on the way home, leave happier and in a better space.
I have seen a few headstones by Seamus Murphy not in the Crawford Art Gallery book of his work, so they do exist. It was just that last Sunday morning, taking some me time strolling around Douglas Cemetery, I was not expecting to see such a headstone.
Just like pints – the unplanned meetings with headstones can be the best.
The above photographs were taken at the bottom of St Patrick’s Hill on the 24th May. When I saw the eastern side of the hill barricaded off, I did fear for the fate of the benchmark.
Benchmarks as a useful piece of data have long been replaced by GPS. As a mark on the fabric of the city recording how things were done in the past, they are a mark of history. I particularly liked this one as it was in the kerb on St. Patrick’s Hill. I have seen many on stone pillars, less in brickwork – on a kerb is very rare.
The photographs below were taken just 5 days later, on 29th May. The kerbs had all been removed. They have not returned since.
When demolition of the existing warehouse was being carried out in advance of the construction of 1, Albert Quay, I did ask as to whether the old fire cock sign might be available. I was told that it was being retained and was to be re-applied to the new building. It is now on the new building, complete with a new colour scheme.
It is as functional as a benchmark but its heritage value was appreciated by someone with decision making powers - thankfully
Last Sunday, once again, I received the lesson that one is very unlikely to record all of a particular thing – there always is the rick that one exists somewhere I just have not been before. This time is was the E.S.B. Lightning logo.
Castle Avenue in Monkstown was the road not travelled before. And there it was.
It has prompted me to put a webpage together of those that I have encountered and recorded - HERE
Our conversational Irish walk was a bit puzzled yesterday.
Our monthly siúlóid took us through Monkstown Demense. As we we exiting the estate before heading back down Glen Road to the village, we tried, and failed to figure out the meaning of the words carved into the archways on either side of the road.
The archways facing the road read Monkstown Demense so it was not a translation.
Lámh Fois Tenachabú had us stumped – not too difficult for my level of Gaeilge but it had all of us beaten. Jerry did think it may have something to do with the motto for the estate – top marks.
Learning can be difficult enough – even relearning. But it definitely does not helped when the mason or letter carver sets out not to make things easy. The number of stones in the arch mean that these two options would have been equally easy to cut:
The latter option may well have been read as Lámh Foistenach Abú which translates as The Steady Hand To Victory. If there was an O’Sullivan among the group, we may have had greater success in interpreting as it is the motto of the O’Sullivan’s.
Written In Stone ≠ Forever
Last Sunday, a trip to west Clare, brought me face to face with a phenomenon new to me.
In the Church of Ireland cemetery in Kilrush, many of the headstones appear to be of local Liscannor stone, a lovely, dark and grooved stone. I am familiar with its use for hearths and paving. My graveyard rambles have not extended often to County Clare so I cannot recall seeing many headstones using this stone. Its proximity and availability most probably accounts for the number encountered last Sunday.
The main purpose of my visit was to view the Famine Memorial and shortly after, I stopped.
Initially it looked like pieces of stone were dumped on top of a flat headstone. More investigation suggested that a layer of the stone had delaminated. In doing so, the thin layer had broken into many pieces.
I really enjoyed Jean Sprackland’s book a few years ago. My copy has many hand-written notes – marginalia of sorts, being located in the blank end pages. One of these notes refer to the quoted piece which seriously impacted when I read it.
Jigsaws were me growing up. They allowed escape from participation and conversation.
I would so love the time and permission to assemble the stones – to ensure that the headstone is read, even for just one more time.
It is a long time since I even thought of the headwear of the Catholic clergy.
I do recall the Canon in the local parish church regularly wearing a hat that the other priests did not wear – a black Biretta if memory has not faded too much. The Eucharistic Procession would also show that the bishop wore a mitre.
What I did not realise until a couple of weeks ago is that there were/are quite a number of different types – and I did not see real hats, paintings or photographs to realise this, just picture frames.
I was deliberately early for a meeting which allowed me to stop in Maynooth and look for the Seamus Murphy statue of St Patrick. The directions I received were spot on and there he was inside the main door of the enclosed quad – once again a piece calling out to be touched.
It was only when I had touched and photographed St Patrick did I realise the paintings along the corridor. Then I spotted the hats incorporated into the top of the frame. And then, that not all of the hats were the same.
The corridor gallery brought me back to the Capuchin Cemetery in Rochestown, Co. Cork where I went looking for the Celtic Cross headstones made by Seamus Murphy for Fr. Albert and Fr. Dominic whose bodies were repatriated in 1958 – 23 years after the death of Fr Dominic who was chaplain to both Cork Lord Mayors who died in 1920, Tomás MacCurtin and Terence MacSwiney. But there was no sign of a Celtic Cross.
The graves of Fr Dominic and Fr Albert were marked with a cross – a simple cross just like all of the others in the cemetery. A friend did ask a member of the Capuchin community in Rochestown who recalled that some years ago, a Provincial decided that all priests and brothers were equal and should be recognised as equal. The location of the Celtic Crosses removed to make way for the uniform simple cross memorials remains unknown.
The principle of all being equal in death did not extend to the African Missions Cemetery in Wilton in Cork. It appears to have been introduced in Maynooth but not retrospectively – the newer paintings appearing to have no adornment on the picture frame.
I foresee that I will be in a rabbit hole in the future trying to understand the different hat syles and meanings……
One of the side effects of the policy of Ann Doherty and the team at Cork City Council to create near traffic standstill on MacCurtain Street is that one gets plenty of time to look at the buildings and also the cars in adjacent lanes.
In previous years, I probably would not have seen these cats – reminded me of Dingle.
40 Shades of Green
Taking my morning coffee and croissant earlier today, I wondered as to the post box across the road at St Luke’s Cross.
It was definitely not the normal shade of green for postboxes – Emerald Green. This evening, I returned to photograph and suspect that the brighter green is an undercoat as the demarcation between the green and black is far from sharp.
I suspect that same excuse does not apply to the wall box at Mitchel St in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. The box is still open for use but is painted camouflage grey – possibly to fool the tourists…..
This morning, I started filing away some of my photographs, a long overdue task. I got as far back as late July and this roadside Calvary cross on the Buttevant to Kildorrery road (R532). The filing of the photographs stopped as the vague recollections stirred.
I was correct in thinking that I had another in the Grotto folder named Wallstown. Only when comparing the two did other coincidences come forth:
The majority of roadside grottos or religious statues are to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Calvary crosses are not nearly as common. When I eventually get around to populating the full database, I will be able to give the percentage but suspect it will be in low single digits.
1954 was a Marian Year as is regularly noted on the roadside shrines. 1932 is not as common – another for the database recording.
When plotting the crosses on the map, they are not very far apart.
They both mention Julia M. Crowley and 1932. She erected, or caused erected, the Calvary Cross on the N73. She died on 27th September and the Calvary Cross on the R532 was erected in her memory – interestingly, this one has statues of three others praying and remembering, whereas the earlier one does not.
Julia M. Crowley of Wallstown Castle has gone onto the To Find Out More list……
Earlier I was reading a blog post on The River-side about banned books and particularly, The Tailor and Ansty.
In it, the UCC Library included a photograph of what was Seán Ó Ríordáin’s copy of the book, which made me smile. Many years ago, I decided that my books were mine and it was ok to make notes and underline passages.
Not alone did Seán Ó Ríordáín do likewise – but we both made notes as to Ring- A-Dora.
I did stop when I spotted one of the side altar dedicated to Pope John Paul II.
Taking chill out and chill time in the Basilica of San Miguel while the dedicated shoppers did their thing, I was surprised that the first side altar on the right contained a statue to the former pope. I did remember that the canonisation of John Paul II was some years ago, subsequently checked to be 2014.
But my very limited religious participation has contributed to, since then my not hearing the words Pope John Paul II – hence the surprise.
This lifebuoy provided a source of discussion when awaiting our meal when on holidays a few weeks back.
A few weeks back, I learnt from Eoin’s tweet that his uncle’s butchers stall in The English Market was to close. I spotted the closed stall today and it confirmed once again that not all progress is good.
Stealing some me-time on our holidays, which started with lovely steaks from McCarthy’s of Kanturk, I did receive the task to get some chops for the dinner. I walked the main shopping streets in Tralee but could I see a butchers – not one. This is not surprising as in Cork, outside of the English market, there is only one butchers shop trading in the city centre.
Calling to the workplace of a friend, I received directions to a small butchers shop on the North Circular Road – Waddings. The only regret with the chops purchased was that I didn’t buy enough.
That morning, I got chatting with the two butchers on duty and explained that I did not want a prepacked meat. I wanted meat that was recently carved and open to view on all sides. I learned that, similar to Cork, the number of butchers shops had significantly reduced – trade lost to the supermarkets.
A few years back, walking on the slopes of Baurtegaum on the Dingle peninsula and meeting a sheep farmer, he told of times past when his family would have had animals ready for killing, a message was sent to the butcher who would collect the animal, cut and sell in their shop. Regulation has done away with many of the butcher/abattoirs but that morning I learned that Waddings believed that they were the only butchers shop in Tralee still buying full beef carcass and doing the butchery themselves – many others buying the joints and cutting them in the shop.
Local shops and newsagents have significantly reduced from when I was younger. I don’t think there is a tobacconist in Cork and only a couple of cobblers. Post Offices are closing. Recently, a chat with a few friends revealed that the many different insurance and life assurance brokers that we all used had all been taken over and subsumed into larger entities and contact is now with a call-centre-type set-up; personal contact and connection is gone.
Last year, an article in the Irish Times reported that ‘ It is one of Ireland’s great culinary treasures to have such a wealth of independent meat shops. And apparently it is a treasure that a new generation of shoppers is rediscovering.’ I do hope that the article spoke the truth. We do enjoy the fare from O’Mahony’s of the English Market but I do fear the future of mass produced sameness and blandness driven by the supermarkets, the mass producers and the regulators.
I do hope we take a turn on the road to the Brave New World………………
P.S. Bresnan’s is likely to be the end of reference in Cork to Victualler???
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