Church, Srahan crosses, Cross slabs, Graveslabs, Bullauns, Holed stone and Font

The subcircular graveyard at Moybologue is situated in the southern part of an enormous ecclesiastic enclosure. The fields on the east, west and north are all within this enclosure. The Church is associated with St Fintan of Moy bolc, but is dedicated to St Patrick who it is believed to have founded the first church here. Local foklore tells us Patrick was unhappy with a churchyard sited within a fort in the townland of Mullinstogan near Ballymakane in County Meath, so he changed it to Moybologue. This is a stunning location, beautiful creaky old trees are growing out from the boundary walls surrounding the graveyard. I could spend hours here listening to birdsong.

All that remains of the late medieval church are, a portion of the north wall of the nave, seen in the left of the top image, and the roofless south transept, pictured above right. The two storey transept acted as a priest's residence. The only features to be found are, the hood moulding above a window, at the top of the south gable. There is also an opening for a window below it, and another window in the east wall. To the north west of the nave are the low walls of another structure that may have acted as a hospital or hospice, see the medieval graveslab below. Davies, 1948, recorded that a Baronial map showed a round tower standing beside a roofless church. Please take the time to wander around the graveyard, you will be well rewarded, this site has much more to offer than a ruined church.

Possible hospital

From the south east

These small wayside crosses, from Srahan townland, have been embedded in concrete next to the north wall of the nave. It's a pity really, as they are hard to inspect, but I guess it was done for security reasons. The cross in the centre of the image above, bears a clear inscription on the south face, It reads: IN THE YEARE OF OVR LGOD 1685 AGE 78 YE. The west face reads: OF BR. IAN. FERE. LLY. The head bears a cross inside a circle. On the northside is a crucifixion. The cross on the left, south face pictured below, also bears a crucifixion on the northside with a latin cross below it. IHS is carved on the ends of both arms. The reddish cross head to the right, has a crucifixion on one side and a cross on the other. The fragment extreme right bears an illegible inscription. Behind the central cross is a fragment of a shaft with a bishop carved on the northside. Another shaft fragment behind the red cross bears damaged figures and a partial inscription that reads: A. ARG?. THIS. CROSS. ANNO. 1686.

Crucifixion with Holy Spirit/Angel above

Bishop in the foreground.

Cross slabs

Also present in the graveyard are two early medieval cross slabs. The one pictured above bears a partially buried cross with an inscription above it. Prof. David Stifter, from a 3D image by Gary Dempsey, read the inscription as: ÓR Du Ulbran-A prayer for Ulbran. Prof Stifter suggests it may refer to Ulbran (Beard-Ravan) or Albran (Wall-Ravan) or Ailbran. According to the annals of Ulster an Ailbran Ua Lugadon, was the abbot of Cluain -Dolcain, Clondalkin in c.780CE. The annals also record the death of Albran, abbot of Treoid Mor in 773CE, now known as Trevet in the Barony of Skreen, County Meath. A second cross slab can be found up against the south wall in the south-west quarter of the graveyard. It bears an inscribed linear cross within a circle.


The second slab

Medieval Graveslabs

This amazing graveslab was discovered when a top layer of earth was removed from a Garrigan family burial plot. It depicts a cleric in medieval dress. It has been suggested it may represent a Knight of Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem. He is wearing a Maltese pectoral cross and by his side is a representation of St Michael the Archangel. This may be the burial place of Reverend Maurice Gargan of the Diocese of Kilmore. Portions of the worn inscription were deciphered by Philip O'Connell. 1942. It reads:

This Chapple and Monument was Erected by Fr. John Garrigan of the Tribe of Bryan More … Pastor of this Parish of Kilmainhamwood…work in Honour of St. Michael the Archangel…45 years past who likewise…the said family and Begs the Good Prayers of all True Christians…Dated the 2nd Day of Nov ANNO DM 1721.

Garrigan slab

Memento Mori

The sandstone graveslab, pictured below, bears a raised coat-of-arms crest with memento mori symbols beneath it. Thanks to 3d imagery, created by Brian Callaghan of the Moybologue Historical Society, the insciption could be read as: THIS MONUMENT ERECTED BY THORLADH SMITH NAS OWANAVALLY AND MARGARET SMITH ALES GE BROAD HIS WIFE FOR THER FAMILIE ANNO D 1680 (1650?). The inscription continues in a different script: This stone was erected by Philip Smith of Leitrim in memory of his father ... Smith Who deprd. … Posterity Requiscant in pace. The memento mori symbols featured are, an hour glass, a bell, a coffin and a skull and cross bones.

Bullaun Stones

Standing upright to the north side of the church is a rather neat rectangular stone with a single bullaun in the south face, see image above. It would be hard to find a similar site with such a wide variety of antiquities. In the field to the west of the gaveyard is a superb example of a Norman motte and bailey. José also led me to another bullaun stone embedded in the exterior of the south wall, to the east of the graveyard entrance. It too has a single bullaun in the south face. The sides of the bullaun are quite straight. It is believed there was a holy water stone here, constantly filled with water, the water cured warts, even cancer warts, it may have been one of these bullaun stones or the stone fone pictured below.

Bullaun in the wall

Embedded font

Holed Stone and Font

Standing close to the medieval graveslab is an impressive holed stone. Traditionally in Ireland holed stones are associated with some form of contract or agreement, including marriage. A couple would link hands through the hole and commit themselves to each other. Some stones with larger holes were used to cure sick children. The child would be passed through the hole. see also Cloch an Phoill.

A large stone font can be found embedded in the ground, inside the nave, to the southeast of the wayside crosses. The site is a joy to walk around, big thanks to José and Lidia for showing me some of their local heritage sites.

Situated: From Baileborough head south on the R191 for about 5.5 kilometres, then turn left, the graveyard is one kilometre down here on your left.

Discovery Map 35: N 6903 9190. Last visit Mar 2019.

Longitude: 6° 57' 1" W Church.

Latitude: 53° 52' 19" N

Google Map.

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

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