“Grounding and settling down in Ireland was a much quicker process than last time we were there; tuning into the energies, we quickly found our feet and indeed became energised by it all. With lovely realxing views from our accomadation, we swiftly settled in, full of anticipation into quest mode…”

Thursday 1st July: St Coleman’s Church: Newcastle: St Colemans Church is situated in a quiet area of Newcastle, in lovely spacious grounds with views all around. Newcastle is a small yet beautifully vibrant coastal resort in County Down, with a population of 7,672 at the 2011 Census. It lies within the Mourne Mountains district and is extremely popular. The name of the town is thought to derive from the castle built by Felix Magennis of the Magennis clan in 1588, which stood at the mouth of the Shimna River. This castle was demolished in 1830. The Mourne Mountains are the setting for many local myths and legends. There are stories of ‘The Blue Lady’, a woman abandoned by her husband whose ghost still haunts the mountains, and more recently the idea of a wild cat living in the Mournes. Many of the stories although having true origins are only folklore and give many of the towns attractions their names, such as Maggie’s Leap being named after a local girl called Maggie, who leapt over the impressive chasm to her death while fleeing soldiers with a basket of eggs. You can read much more via the link below:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newcastle,_County_Down

A peaceful site but little known about the church….

Sadly though, this little church was closed to us on this day: it was erected and opened in 1927, but the site would have been established long before that. There are some interesting artworks and pulpit to see inside, if we had been able to actually get inside. The parish graveyard adjoins St Colman’s. The churchyard is about 1 mile from the Church of Ireland Church, to which it belongs. It is therefore, technically a church cemetery as it is detached from the church. There are two Commonwealth burials of the 1914-1918 war here. One of which, in the South-West part, is the grave of an unidentified Naval rating whose body was sadly washed ashore in May,1918.

Such a peaceful gravyard with some splendid memorials within <click to enlarge>

It is written that St. Colman’s mother Queen Rhinagh, when in an advanced state of pregnancy in late 559 A.D., became the object of jealous hatred of her husband the King. The King had heard that according to a prophecy of authority his future son (St. Colman) was destined to surpass in greatness all the others of his illustrious lineage. Fearing the worst for her child still in her womb and for herself, Rhinagh was obliged to flee her husband’s company. She was nevertheless caught by the King’s men and cast with a heavy stone tied around her neck into the deepest portion of the Kiltartin river. Miraculously, Our Blessed Lord intervened, and in an instant, the heavy stone floated like a cork to the surface, bringing Rhinagh and her future offspring (St. Colman) safely to the river’s bank.

You can read more about St Coleman and his miraculour birth and life here:

http://www.stcolman.com/life_baptism.html

Grail Bloodline Connections:

  • John Fordham 1883 Collooney, Sligo (1858 – 1932)  Karl’s 3 x GGF

Inch Abbey: Downpatrick: (from Irish Dún Pádraig,) meaning ‘Patrick’s stronghold’ is a small town about 21 miles south of Belfast in County Down, Northern Ireland. It has been an important site since ancient times and it’s cathedral is said to be the burial place of Saint Patrick. Downpatrick had a population of 10,822 according to the 2011 Census. It is known for it’s historical connection to St. Patrick; the town being named after him. It is believed during the 5th century he had lived in Downpatrick and is currently buried in Down Catherdral. An early Bronze Age site was excavated in Downpatrick, revealing two round houses and some archaeological evidence indicates a Neolithic settlement at the Cathedral Hill site.

Lots more to read here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downpatrick

Inch Abbey, located on the north bank of the Quoile River, was founded by John de Courcy in atonement for his destruction of Erenagah Abbey. The buildings are mainly from the 12th and 13th centuries. The first monastery established on the northern banks of the river Quoile in 800 AD was known as Inis Cumhscraigh, but clearly the area was in use way before that, in order (from a Craft connection) for King Niall (see below) to have an interest in the area. Nothing remains of the early monastery, but traces of the Early Christian earthworks enclosure can be seen on aerial photographs. The setting is really beautiful, and you can see why the Anglo-Norman knight John de Courcy established the Cistercian abbey here in c.1180. It is believed the Abbey was founded as an act of repentance for his destruction of the Abbey at Erinagh three years earlier.

Layout of how Inch Abbey would have looked <click to enlarge>

The abbey was colonised with monks from Furness Abbey in England. It was built to a typical Cistercian layout, a large cruciform church with a low tower at the crossing of the north and south transept. The cloister garth is situated to the south of the church. Along the east of the cloister are the ruins of a vestry, chapter house, parlour and day room. To the south is the refectory and kitchen. There was a well and a bakehouse situated to the southwest of the cloister. The abbey, which retained a strong English influence refusing to accept Irish monks into the community, was remodelled in the 15th century, before being suppressed in 1541. It’s name is derived from the Irish word inis, meaning ‘island’, referring to the fact that the monastery was originally surrounded by the River Quoile. Interstingly another ‘Game of Thrones’ location.

Beautiful Inch Abbey <click to enlarge>

At the time of King Niall (Karl’s 46th GGF) there was also a lot of Danish influence in the area, which will be a story for another day, but the Vikings did plunder the settlement in 1149 AD and carried out a great deal of destruction, that later had to be rebuilt, so the abbey has always been under attack over the years. What is interesting is that it was almost ‘lost in time’, because of how the valley is situated and how the land lies, a lot of the valley area was covered up totally, and it was only through exavations, that what was hidden was revealed again and the abbey discovered underground. This does prove that there is so much history hidden underground, and still to this very day much lies hidden, Sometimes the history is only revealed when new bulidings or carparks etc are excavated, so much still hidden within the earth. But in a way this is similar to history and knowledge being buried within the minds of folks, especially Craft or spiritual folks; the knowledge is buried deep within but unlike the buildings, time will forever hide it, and the passing of a person, unlike the simple passing of time will never reveal the knowledge gained – unless of couse we of Craft, of these modern times can pass it on to true and willing students – the ball is in your court guys – do you or do you not wish to learn the ways and knowledge of Craft or shall it be forever hidden within time itself?

More words and pictures here: http://www.megalithicireland.com/Inch%20Abbey,%20Downpatrick.html

 Grail Bloodline Connections

  • King Niall 342 AD.  Karl’s 46 x GGF but with a big connection here to the Neville surname.

Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church. Downpatrick: This T-shaped meetinghouse has been at Ballee since 1721, originally a thatched building but at some point, later in the eighteenth century, a new roof was built from Memel pine. Later still the old box pews were removed and used to fit out new rooms in the church. But the walls are the same walls that have stood as silent witness for three hundred years. There’s no minister here and the church is amalgameted with a nearby church. We were very lucky to meet and chat to Lorna, who was very kind and made a special effort to get the key to let us in. So very lucky to get inside to take some good photos but sadly no video for we were escorted around on this occasion, not underestimating the kindness shown though.

Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church. Downpatrick <please click on the image to view>

There are some lovely artworks and plaques on the walls, a wonderful collection of vintage religious books and elaborate timbers/roof beams, imported from the far eastern end of the Baltic Sea, from trees 100’s of years old, from the lands that were once East Prussia. Trade links with the Baltic were already established at the time by the Presbyterian merchants in Belfast. The church inside is very well looked after, with lots of natural wood used and the flaming emblem of the non-subscribing church on the pulpit cloth and plaques are indeed very striking. I noticed the interesting barrel-shaped mausolea, mostly dating from the late eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries in the graveyard here and other graveyards in the area too. Downpatrick has a large number of what have been describes as being of ‘the barrel-vaulted variety, rather like a Nissen-hut ’.

Karl discovered some of his own family line here in the cemetry; the ‘Hill’ surname <click to enlarge>

Again a connection here to King Niall 342 AD; the name of which would later become the Neville surname, in time becoming the House of Neville, traced into Scotland, County Durham, Raby and Raby Castle itself (see previous quests), showing how fascinating it is, the migration and movement of names.

https://velvethummingbee.com/category/ballee-non-subscribing-presbyterian-church/

Grail Bloodline Connections:

  • King Niall 342 AD.  Karl’s 46 x GGF but with a big connection here to the Neville surname.

Castle Ward National Trust: Strangford Downpatrick: ‘The very popular ‘Game of Thrones’ is based in this area, where lots of filming has taken place, and this is certainly what many folks tune into, but these two questers here have never seen it. It certainly is a stunning area, all the countryside around is magnificant. The unique 18th-century mansion, famed for its mixture of architectural styles with its gothic and classical style collide at Castle Ward, rests on rolling hillsides, looking out over the tranquil waters of Strangford Lough. One can walk or cycle along the Lough trail or through the sheltered woodlands and spot butterflies, rabbits, ducks, and swans. One can step into a fantasy world of castles and dragons, when exploring the Georgian farmyard, the lough shore, and film locations for Game of Thrones. The restored Victorian  sunken gardens are a gardeners delight. There is a lot of walking, but even though very beautiful, not really suitable unless one is very fit.

The whole area is connected to the High King of Ireland, King Conaill, 409 AD, in the Ulster area, which folks may know from the ‘red hand’ of the flag, seen in many places and buildings in Ireland.  The Neville house or line has always had a big connection/obsession with the colours of Red, White and Black which featured very prominently in the early degrees of Craft, so there still may be some connections there, yet to be discovered.

The sunken gardens at Castle Ward and the view looking over towards ‘Winterfell’

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Ward

Grail Bloodline Connections:

  • High King of Ireland, King Conaill (409 AD, Ulster) The Neville surname lineage. Karl’s 45 x GGF

Temple Water: Downpatrick: This very picturesque beauty spot is part of the Castle Ward estate and of course a part of our quest too. On foot a lot of walking needed to be carried out to get there but we did get some wonderful views overlooking this artificial, yet stunning lake. There are various trails and walks that take one around the lake, upon the shores. The whole arera is rather focussed on family activities these days.

Grail Bloodline Connections:

  • ‘Those that are hidden in time’….. clues hidden under this manmade lake maybe…..

Audley’s Castle: Portloughan Downpatrick: Again another ‘Game of Thrones’ location and one can certainly see why, but long before that of course and much more important is it’s connection to our quests. One can park quite near, just a short walk up a gentle slope with wonderful views or one can, if up to it, drive up the very ‘off the beaten track’ way. It is a spendid building, what remains of it, with wonderful views overlooking the Temple Lake and it has a small courtyard area alonside it, where one can sit on the wall and admire the view. As a castle in it’s heyday it would have commaded an excellent position. It is 15th-century, located 1 mile north-east of Strangford, County Down on a rocky height overlooking Strangford Lough. It is a three-storey tower house, named after its 16th century owner, John Audley, of an Anglo-Norman family who held land in the area in the 13th century. There are thousands of small stone towers similar to Audley’s Castle in the Irish countryside, made for the lesser lords and gentry. Most were built in the late Middle Ages (roughly 1350–1550). Audley’s was built towards the end of this period. It was sold, with the surrounding estate, to the Ward family in 1646 and used in 1738 as an eye-catching focus of the long vista along Castle Ward’s artificial lake, Temple Water. The site has a number of paths to allow you to get to the Castle.

But also a connection here to King King Conaill, 409 AD, Ulster and of the Neville lineage.

Audley Castle and Temple Lake <click to enlarge>

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audley%27s_Castle

Grail Bloodline Connections:

  • High King of Ireland, King Conaill (409 AD, Ulster) The Neville surname lineage. Karl’s 45 x GGF

Friday 2nd July: St Mary’s Church, Lordship: Riverstown: So the first church of the day and to our delight we were able to get inside. However there is not a lot on the internet about the area or the church. The Parish of Riverstown incorporating Sooey and Gleann is located just off the N4, 15 minutes outside Sligo town. Riverstown, historically called Ballyederdaowen (Irish: Baile idir dhá Abhainn, meaning ‘town between two rivers’), is a village in County Sligo, known for its musical traditions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riverstown

St Mary’s Church, Lordship: Riverstown:

St Mary’s Church, Lordship was immaculately kept, both inside and out and there were some beautiful windows and artworks to see inside. Sadly there was not a lot on the interent about it; just a simple word or two such as the fact that the OS 1835 survey shows a cruciform ‘R.C. Chapel’ here and present nameboard states ‘Erected 1834’. Remodelled or rebuilt 1858-74 by architect John Murray. This Catholic parish church in the Cooley Peninsula dates from 1834. It stands alongside the R173.

Some beautiful and symbolic artworks and windows <click to view>

As always on these quests, whether we gain entry or not to a particular church or site we are able to mark off the ‘trail’ of the ‘lines’ as they travelled around, back through time to the days (in this case) of the 1700’s and 1800’s.

Grail Bloodline Connections:

  • John Fordham 1883. Collooney, Sligo (1858-1932) Karl’s 3 X GGF

Church of the Immaculate Conception: Lisaturrin: A stunning looking church, in the parish of Kingscourt, in a very elevated position with amazing views all around and happily again we were able to gain access. This time we managed to squeeze in before the start of a funeral, which at the time we was not aware was imminent. An interesting church with a connection to John Fordham 1883, we do know that the Fordhams were originally out of Colooney, south/east of Sligo and prior to that, they were in France (the Desposyni line) and because of the migrational patterns the Fordhams spent time in this area of Cavan County. The whole area is quite mountainous and one can easily get ‘off the beaten track’ and explore wherever the tracks may lead to, but we do have to stick to the main purpose that is at the heart of our quests.

An impressive Victorian Gothic-Revival church, embellished with fine stonework and stained glass, designed by Cavan architect William Hague (1836-1899), and built to replace an earlier chapel. The plan and elevation are reflective of a literal interpretation of medieval church plan and elevations. The colourful note added by the alternating slate and stone to the exterior are aesthetically pleasing, while the variety of stonework finishes to both interior and exterior exemplify local craftsmanship of the period. The retention of original detailing such as floor tiling and pews is also important. The building is of national artistic significance for its stained glass windows by the Dublin-born painter and stained glass artist Evie Hone (1894-1955), commissioned 1946, as well as windows from the studio of Harry Clarke, added c.1960. There are also some stuning Celtic crosses in the gravyard (see above) and you can read more about the stunning windows and interior from the link below.

A beautiful interior with many symbolic artworks and windows <click on image for close ups>

https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/40310009/church-of-the-immaculate-conception-hall-street-dunaree-kingscourt-cavan

Grail Bloodline Connections:

  • John Fordham 1883. Collooney, Sligo (1858-1932) Karl’s 3 X GGF

Virginia Church: Virginia: Quite a large church in big grounds right in the heart of Virginia on a busy road junction. Again we could not get in but had a good look around before having a lovely lunch (outside because of covid) in a bistro across the road. Virginia (Irish: Achadh an Iúir, meaning ‘field of the yew) is a town in County Cavan, Ireland. Founded in the 17th century at  as a plantation town, it now holds both local industry and commuter housing. Founded at Aghanure it was named Virginia after Queen Elizabeth 1 of England, the “Virgin Queen.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia,_County_Cavan

Virginia Church, some lovely old Celtic crosses <click to enlarge>

The church serves as a symbolic focal point in this former plantation town, the church enjoys a monumental setting which is enhanced by its ample grounds and mature trees. The plan is simple but effective, placing the focus on the church tower and spire which can be seen from a distance. The building is a good example of a Board of First Fruits church with early nineteenth century ‘gothic’ style details such as the cusp mouldings in the windows and crenellated parapet buttresses serving more decorative than structural functions. Major alterations were made to the church following a storm on Christmas night in 1818 when the steeple fell and destroyed the roof, and after a fire which caused major damage in 1830. There are some attractive old Celtic crosses in the graveyard.

St Mary’s Church of Ireland: Dillonsland: It was a very fleeting visit to this church as we could not even get into the grounds for a wander around – so a few quick snaps from the roadside had to suffice! The modern Navan Parish is made up of five mediaeval parishes: Athlumney, Cannistown, Donaghmore, Dunmoe and Navan. Although cemeteries still survive in these locations, the churches were suppressed in the Penal Laws era, with many surviving simply as derelict buildings. St. Mary’s Church is named after the mediaeval Augustinian abbey which was located on the outskirts of the Parish called St. Mary’s. St. Mary’s Abbey and its associated granges were suppressed on the orders of King Henry VIII, the English monarch.

Just a few quick snaps from behind the railings!

Detached church, built c.1815, with three-bay side elevation to nave, having single-bay chancel attached to east. Earlier three-stage pinnacled tower, built 1762, attached to west. Set behind railings in graveyard. Double-pitched and hipped roofs, natural slates, dentil eaves course, cast iron gutters. Uncoursed rubble limestone walls with ashlar trims signal and diagonal pinnacled buttresses at corners and west wall – some pinnacles removed. Perpendicular-style openings with stone frames and timber tracery, dark coloured glass, 1870’s east window. Surrounded by graveyard with graves dating from mid 18th century, ashlar gate piers and cast iron railings and gates c.1870.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Mary%27s_Church%2C_Navan

https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/14009410/st-marys-church-of-ireland-church-church-hill-townparks-navan-county-meath

http://www.navanhistory.ie/index.php?page=st-mary-s-church-of-ireland

Grail Bloodline Connections:

  • John Fordham 1883. Collooney, Sligo (1858-1932) Karl’s 3 X GGF

See our video on the first few days of our adventure!

Karls Comments on the First Few Days

The Purpose of the Quests from Karl: “The purpose of what the quests are really about, and what we do on these quests is to ‘sign off’ or ‘tie off’ some of the churches that we know from the past, which will of course mean different things to different people. What we are trying to do is to establish the past in order to try and understand the future, and of course we have the Grail in that line there, along the way. As i have said so many times before – what is the Grail? It is a mystery and perhaps it will always remain a mystery, perhaps it is meant to, but what’s interesting is, there are different messages that our forefathers, our ancestors left for us in different places, and these churches often have the signs, and symbols and codes that will allow us to see and know which direction the path is following in. Will we ever find the Grail – who knows, perhaps the Grail has been with us all the time, who knows that?  At the end of the day though the Grail means something, and it’s a pathway to follow”

 

Ireland is a beautiful place and we hope it stays that way for many years to come……

‘The Keeper of Scrolls’ August 2021

<moon.willow@ntlworld..com>