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inicared-for graves of the MacCarthys, Avhose final spoils
encumber and disfigure the church, and are out of keeping
with the ivy-draped Avails and the velvet sward of the
surrounding grounds.

The establishment consists of a church and the couA^en-
tual buildings, built against its northern side, and forming
with it a tolerably regular block of thirty yards square,
from Avhich the transept and choir of the church j^roject
towards the south and east.

The church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, is composed

' Ijuugh Lean Liufhiaclaigh, " Lean name, is derived from Lean, a v/orker in
of the white teeth," its ancient Irish metal, whose forge was near the lake.


of a nave, south transept, central tower, a,nd choir. The
cloister is phiced against the north wall of the nave, and
the conventual buildings stand outside of and upon the
cloisters on the three disengaged sides. The church has
three doors — one at the west end, one from the tower into
the cloister, and one from the choir into the sacristy.
The convent has outer doors to the west and north, and the
upper floor was reached by three staircases in different
parts of the building.

The nave is 52 feet by 24 feet, interior dimensions. It
is entered hy a west doorway, with an equilateral ai'ch,
exterior dri^:), and mouldings of great delicacy. Above is
a rather small window of two lights, ogee headed, with a
flat top and drip, with plain returns. Above is a sort of
hollow projection, or concave table, l^y means of Avhicli the
parapet is brought forward about two feet, to give room
for a rampart walk in front of the gable, as in Scottish
peel towers. The north wall is blank, save that in its
upper part is a sort of hagiosco^^e opening from the library.
In the east end a lofty lancet arch, 7 feet wide, opens into
the tower, and through the tower into the clioir. Above
the arch is a square chamfei'ed loop, and above that a rude
square aperture. Both were within the roof, the jiitch of
which is marked by a stone weather-moulding, above
Avliich is a small window with one light, trefoiled, beneath
a square drip, marking the second floor of the tower.
Above the north wall of the nave, in a projection from
the tower, is a small square headed door, opening upon
the gutter, here a rampart walk. In the east wall are
three corbels, probably for images.

The south wall is pierced by a large pointed arch of 13
feet span, which opens into the transept. The wall piers
are plain, with slightly chamfered angles. The arch is
more boldly chamfered, and has besides a central rib or
member, which springs from two polygonal corbels. East
of the arch is a small, plain, full-centred doorway, of four
feet opening, the use of which is not clear. East again
of this is a very long, narrow, lancet loop, boldly sj^layed,
Avhich opens between the transept wall and the tower.

The transept is spacious, 3G feet by 28 feet ; its west
Avail is blank. In its east end is a window of three equal
lights, each tall, narroAN, and round headed ; and above,

MucKROss Abbey.





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Scale of Feet.


MUCKr.ORS. 153

the miillions are interlaced, so as to foim six lights in the
head. The lights are quite plain, without cusps. In the
south wall are two tall pointed windows of two lights
each, ogee headed. Between these are two full centred
niches, of 2 feet 4 inches opening and 1 foot 4 inches
deep, rather liigh for seats, and too low for images ; and
in the wall between there is a deep chase or recess 3 inches
broad and 2 feet G inches deep, as though to allow a
screen to be pushed back.

The tower is placed over the junction of the choir and
nave, which is carried through it. It is 32 feet wide by
1 G feet deep, or east and west, and its lofty base is pierced
east and west by an arch 7 feet wide, and north and south
by another of 6 feet 1 inches, each l)eing divided into
two parts by its intersection by the other. The nave and
'choir arches are lancet, and strengthened by a chamfered
rib, springing from plain corbels. The north and south
arches are in fact plain pointed barrel vaidts. At the
south end this vault is lighted l^y a tall, narrow- loop,
having a curious crenellated head, very peculiar. At tlie
north end a door leads into the cloister, Tlie central
opening of the tower, a space 7 feet Ijy G feet 10 inches
at the intersection of the arches, is vaulted and ribljed.
There is a central boss with two ridge ribs, whicli are
abutted upon by twenty springers, five from a corbel at
each angle. The vault is pierced for a bell-rope. Above
the vault are two floors, and above the level of the second
a string com\se and parapet. This, however, has been
repau'ed and partially pidled down, so that it is luicertain
^v'hether there may not have been a third floor.

The choir, 42 feet by 24 feet, is entered at the west
end through the tower. In its east end is a large window
of five narrow lancet liglits, and in the head ten lights,
the whole very plain and meagre, without mouldings or
cusps, but a very common Irish window of the 15th
century. In the north, an equilaterally arched doorway
opens into the sacristy, and east of this are two full
centred recesses, G feet broad hj 2 feet deep, containing
altar tombs. One has been adapted to a modern intruder.
It is probable that these tombs are those of the founder
and his son, this being the usual place of sepulture of
such. High up near the west end a small door opened


upon a sliort wooden balcony, entered from the dormitory
and over tlie sacristy door is another small opening, for
the convenience of the sick, who conld thus take part in
the service. The south wall is pierced by three windows,
two of two lights, and one, more westward, of three. All
are lancet of equal height, quite plain, and placed in splayed
and low pointed recesses, slightly foiu* centred. Below the
window cills, next the east wall, is first a double piscina,
with a central and two Hanking octagonal shafts and ogee
arches; next is a single recess, with a trefoil liead and
flanking octagonal shafts, proliably a sedile. West of
this is a sepulchral recess 4 feet broad by 2 feet deep,
full centred, an insertion. The choir roof, like those of
nave and transept, was of timber, with a high pitch.

The sacrist 1/ is a small chamber, 23 feet by 10 feet,
attached to the choir. It has a small two-light window
to the east, and to the west a door, leading by a dark
passage, 17 feet long and vaulted, to the cloisters. From
this passage a well stair ascends to the dormitory.

The cloister is contained within four walls, and com-
posed of four alleys, 7 feet broad and 44 feet and 4G feet
long. In the north and east alleys are five arches, in the
south and west, six arches, all opening into the cloister
court, which is about 28 feet square. Tlie western alley
has an acute barrel vault, quite plain. The south and
east alleys also have pointed vaults, l)ut groined, as has
the north alley, though Init slightly pointed. There are
no ribs, and the vaulting shows fragments of reeds im-
bedded in the mortar with which the centring was thickly
spread. The arch piers are double octagons, connected by
a sunk panel, and each stands upon a low parapet, and is
supported from the court by a buttress 10 inches wide
and of 22 inclies projection at the base. Each buttress
has parallel sides, but tapers on tlie front, and finally dies
into a string course above the top of the arches. The
arches of the north and east alleys are slightly pointed ;
those of the south and west full centred.

The cloister lavatory is a mere triangular bin formed by
a wall six feet long, which cuts off* the south-west angle
of the cloister. It is said to have been only a support for
an image, but for this it is unnecessarily large, nor need
it have been hollow. Probably above the Ijasin was an

MUC'KTIOS^^; 155

image. From the conrt are seen the walls and windows
of an upper floor resting on the arcades, and it thence
appears that the range on the north and east are of one
date and slightly pointed, and those of the south and
W'est full-centred. Along the top of each arcade runs a
projecting sti-iug, which carries the upjier wall, and into
which the buttresses die, so that each arch is enclosed in
a sort of panel. The string along the south and west
sides is about six inches lower than that on the other two,
showing a diflerence in date, though not a considerable
one, answering probably to the founder and his son.
The yew tree already mentioned stands in the centre of
the court, and is remarkable for its clean unbroken stem,
rising about twenty feet before its branches are given off.

In the cloisters are seven doorways ; one from the tower
of the church at the east end of the south wall, and two
in the east ^Mill, one from the sacristy, and one from the
eastern vault. In the north wall one doorway leads into
the northern \'ault, which is also lighted by a narrow
loop placed horizontally. In the west wall is a pointed
doorway, opening by a passage Tipon the west front, and
there are doorways in the passage, right and left, the
former through a vaulted lobby to a stair leading to the
kitchen, and to a door in the north front ; the latter into
a room under the library, which appears to have been
vaulted, or to have been intended to have been vaulted,
and which has three loops into the cloister and two upon
the west front. A second doorway in the west wall of
the cloister opens into a straight stair leading 1)y eighteen
steps to the library. The two great vaults were probably
cellars and store rooms. One of them, 45 feet by 9 i'eet,
is lighted by four loops to the northward, the other,
4G feet by 11, has a fire place, a sort of squint or
oblique loop, and three loops to the eastward. In the
east wall is a loop, and by its side a small mural gardrobe.
The loop has probably been blocked, for it now opens into
a sort of cess -pit which has been added.

The upper floor is necessarily of the same general plan
with the gound floor, resting upon it, and the room
having the additional breadth aftbrded by the cloister.
Over the sacristy is what appears to have heeu the
infrrmarij. It has a small door which opened ujion the



choir, and in the wall is a fire place and a small window
In the east end is a window of two lights, and in the west
end a door leading into the dormitory. The fl.oor was of

The dormitory, 57 feet by 20 feet, stands over the
eastern vault. It has four loops and an oblique loop
in the east wall and four others opening upon the
cloister court. Doors in this wall lead into the refectory,
and what is called the lavatory. In the south end a door
opened upon the balcony in the choir. Above, to be
reached by a ladder, is a small door opening into the belfry.
In the north end is a narrow tall pointed window, and a
mural passage opening into a gardrobe. In the passage is a
window of two lights. The gardrobe is an addition, and
is a room, nine feet by eleven feet, with walls only two
feet thick, and a loop to the north. The floor was of wood
and the basement seems to have been a cess pit. In it is
a large drain to the east, and above the ground level.
In the centre of the dormitory, near its south end, is the
entra^nce of tlie staircase from below, which seems to
have had a sort of hood, like the companion, or head
of the cabin stair in a ship. Between this hood and the
wall a narrow passage, walled off, led into the lavatory.
The dormitory walls are thick, and the roof sprung from
corbels along its inner face. The object of this was to
admit of a broad gutter, for a rampart walk, between the
roof and the parapet, and in the tower are two small
doors which opened upon this walk, and upon that of the
nave. This was, of course, for defence. The dormitory
must have been very cheerless and cold, receiving but
little light, and having an east aspect. It has no fire place.

The lavatory, entered from the dormitory near its
south end, is a narrow room 25 feet by 8 feet, placed
over the south cloister. It has two small windows
to the north looking into the cloister court, and had a
lean-to roof against the nave wall. In its west end is
imbedded a large stone trough which conveyed the water
from the church roof to a spout in the inner court.
Possibly this was intercepted for the use of the lavatory.

The refectory stands upon the northern cloister and
its adjacent vault. It was a cheerful room, 31 feet
by 20 feet, with two windows of two lights to the



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court, and two, one of one light only, to the north or
exterior face. Between these latter, and in the north
wall, is a recess of 5 feet 5 inches opening and
1 foot 6 inches in depth, containing an arcade of two
pointed arches, divided and flanked by three octagonal
shafts with bell caps. The recess is six feet high and its
cill four feet from the ground. This seems to have been
intended as a station for a reader, whose position must
have been equally inconvenient whether he sat or stood.
From this room an east dooi' opened into the dormitory.
In the west end is a large tire place 7 feet long and
3 feet deep, with a flat top and a broad mantel piece.
On each side of it is a door opening into the kitchen.

The kitchen is 18 feet by 22 feet, resting on the
vaulted passage and staircase below. Its north and
south walls are blank. In its east end are two clumsy
walls of 7 feet projection, 2 feet thick, and 8 feet
apart, which contained the fire place. This has been
reduced in breadth to 4 feet 6 inches, by thickening
the walls. The west wall is G feet thick, and contains a
loop and a two light window, and in the block between
them ascends a mural staircase of twenty-one steps from
the ground floor. This stair opens into the recess which
contains the two-light window, and in the opposite side of
the same recess is a door which opens upon the head of
the cloister staircase, and, with a western loop, leads on
to the pulpit door and to the door of the library. The
pulpit doorway is flat -topped and only 1 foot 9 inches
wide. It opens in the west wall, at the first floor level,
and led into a small wooden balcony, the holes for the
beams of which remain. This was evidently to enable the
Abbot (whose personal dimensions must have been
moderate), to bestow his benediction ujDon the people,
assembled in the churchyard below, or possil^ly for
occasional preaching.

The library, 31 feet by 23, must have been a pleasant
room though, like the rest, rather badly lighted. It was
directly accessible from the cloisters. It had three single-
light window^s to the west and two to the cloister court,
and near the south- east corner a fire place. In the south
wall a hagioscope looked into the nave. This completed


the suite of the conventual accommodation, Avhich, it will
be seen, was of a very simple description.

The Abbot seems to liave lived with his monks, at
least there is no trace of any private sitting or sleep-
ing room. The revenues of the monastery were very
small, and the brethren certainly had no inducement
to indulge in idleness or luxury. It is to be hoped
that when the Dissolution came it found them faith-
ful servants, free from the laxity which certainly
prevailed at that period in too many of the English
establishments. Muckross has many points in common
with other Irish Franciscan Abbeys. The single south
transept is found also at Adare, Buttevant, Dromahaire,
Kilconnell, Kilcrea, Hoserick, and Sligo. Irregularities
in the cloister arches are found at Adare, Askeaton, and
Quin, and in the centre of the cloister court of the two
latter is a ye^v tree, making it probable that these trees
Avere planted before the Dissolution. At Adare every
fourth cloister pier is buttressed ; but the buttresses are
not taper as here, but have setts oft', and are stopped at
the spring of the arch. The central tower is also a common
feature, and the door from it into the cloisters.

The building throughout is of mountain limestone, cut
as ashlar for the windows and a few of the doorcases, most
of the latter being mere rude apertures. The walls are
of rul^ble, only occasionally coursed. The west door of the
church is the only one with any pretensions to ornament.
It has rather a deep splay, occupied by two bands of ogee
moulding, separated by a square nook. The doors from
the choir into the sacristy, and those from the cloister to
the west and north fronts are also arched and shghtly
moulded. Others, also pointed, have plain, chamfered
edges. The windows generally are either square-topped
loops, or long, slender lights of 8 to 11 inches broad,
lancet or ogee headed, and, if more than one, of ecj^ual
height. Probably the small apertures suited the wet
climate. The whole building seems very nearly of one
date, but few years intervening between the commence-
ment and coin])letion of the cloisters. In England, the
style, so far as it is tliei'c foinid, would be called the very
Late Decorated, but the larger window of the transept and
choir, and the full-centred recesses would be later. The


absence of cusps and quatretbils in the heads gives to the
two large windows a poverty-stricken aspect. The l^iit-
tresses applied to the cloister and piers are luiiisnal, at
any rate, in the taper form. Upon the inner face of the
north wall of the choir two plates of limestone are thus
inscribed in relief : —






It may l)e tliat brother Thady i-epaired the roofs and
church httings. There is no trace of any decay in or
reparation of the actual walls.

This is an excellent example of a small and compact
Franciscan Abbey, fairly perfect, and in its position and
siuToundings very favoin-able to the practice of virtue, if
only " fugitive and cloistered." The silence of the woods,
the deep shade of the mountains, and the lone bosom of
the lake exjDanded to the sky, are all favourable to a life
of contemplation, though there is ample evidence that the
inhabitants of such places, in Ireland, gave up a portion
of their time to the pursuits of the arts of jewellery and
of illumination, as well as to the more strictly religious
duties of their profession.

Muckross is fortunate in its owner. Mr. Herbert does
all that, and no more than, is necessary to keep the ruins
in their present condition. The only drawback to their
appearance is the utter want of taste and e\'en of decency
in the graves and monuments by which the area of the
church is crowded, a nuisance Avhicli is supported by the
continued practice of the country, and which probably
nothing but a general consent could remedy. The area
should be cleared, the remains deposited, with all due
•reverence, beneath the surface, the gravestones laid flat
above tliem, and no more burials allowed, save in the
exterior churchyard, and there only under restrictions of
position and dimensions in the monuments.



This is an island near the centre of Lough Lean, and
distant about a third of a mile from the point of the
peninsula named from Ross Castle. It is in area about
twenty acres, thickly wooded with ash, oak, beech, lime,
and holly, mostly of large size, and the surface is ex-
ceedingly irregular, and the shore composed of bays and
low cliffs, the latter thickly draped with ivy. This broken
surface or outline, which acids much to the beauty of
the spot, is produced by the disposition of the mountain
limestone of which the island is Cr)mposed, and which is
here interstratified with a number of thin shaly beds, the
whole arranged vertically.

Upon the island are two buildings ; one, a chapel upon
a small promontory at the north-east corner, about 30 feet
above the Avater; the other a group of walls, a short
distance inland. They are the remains of Inisfallen Abbey,
a religious house of great renown in its day.

The chapel stands east and west, and is rectangular,
19 feet by 11 feet inside, with walls 3 feet thick. The
gables remain, and appear to have supported a timber
roof. In the east wall is a narrow but rather tall loop-
like window, splayed internally, and with a round head
cut out of a sinofle stone. The recess is also round-
headed, and the vaulting is supported by a plain cham-
fered rib. Near the centre of the north wall is a breach,
where, probably, was a small window. The south wall is
much broken down, bat in it also is somethmg like a trace
of a window.

The doorway is in the western wall, and though its
ornaments are weatherworn, it is in substance quite per-
fect. The opening is 2 feet 9 inches broad, with a very
slight but perceptible taper of the jambs. The arch is
full- centred. By way of exterior moulding are two nooks,
the outer of which is occupied l)y an engaged shaft, cylin-
drical, with bases and capitals carved in a light and now
all but effaced pattern. The ring stones are worked in a
chevron pattern, never deeply cut, and now scarcely visible.
The head is included in a bold member, of a character
rarely, if ever, found in English Norman, and not easily


described. The stones are cut in ridge and furrow, radia-
ting from the centre, and returned inwardly below, so
that the pattern is continued in the soffite. It is bold,
simple, and eftective, and at a little distance resembles the
chevron moulding, of which it is, in fact, a variety. Above
is a bold drip or head-moulding, the under or chamfered
face of which is set with what appear to be small
leopards' heads, full faced, or, as the heralds describe it,
" cabossed." It may be that the heads alternate, tln-ee
and three, with heads of a different animal,

A fireplace has been inserted in quite modern times in
the north-east corner of the building, the flue of which is
worked into the wall. It is an insertion of the last
century or later.

The chapel appears to be all of one date, and that, pro-
bably, towards the middle of the 12th century. The
masonry is imperfectly coursed rubble, rude but substan-
tial ; the door and window of excellent ashlar. The peca-
liar Irish features of the l)uildingare its small dimensions,
the taper of the doorway, and the variety of the chevron
moulding round the head. Possibly some of the Irish
readers of these pages, conversant with the ecclesiastical
antiquities of their country, can give the saint to whom
this chapel is dedicated, and some particulars of its
history, which, from its proximity to so celebrated an
abbey, is probably on record.


The island of Inisfallen has for many centuries main-
tained a great reputation for sanctity, and seems from an
early period to have been in request as a place of burial.
Hence there is nothing improbable in the general belief
that its abbey was founded in the seventh century, or in
the statement that the name of one of its abbots occurs as
early as a.d. G40. The Irish annals also make mention
of " Maelsuthian Ua Cearbhaill, one of the family of
Inis-Faithleann, chief Doctor of tlie Western World in
his time, and Lord of JEoghanacht of Loch Lein [the later
Barony of Magunichy], who died in 1008, after a good
life," and record that "in 1144 died Flannagan of Innis-
Faithleann, a distinguished ' Anmchara,'" or counsellor.
The founder of the monastery is generally considered to


have been St. Finaii Loblior, founder also of Arcl-Finan
in Tipperary, a saint wlio died late in the 6th century,
and whose day in tlie Irish Calendar was the 16th of

But Inisfallen is known to fame not so much for the
Saints or Chieftains, with whom it has been connected, as
for the celebrated annals, ecclesiastical and historic, com-
posed within its walls, and which are regarded by Irish
critics as dating from the 11th century, and second in
antiquity only to the history of Tighernach. They \vA\e

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