Thursday, 20 April 2017

Latin Mass in Ballyhea for Easter Monday

Ballyhea lies just south of Charleville, Co. Cork, in the lea of the Ballyhoura Mountains and along the waters of the Awbeg River, the tributary of the Blackwater once immortalised by Edmund Spenser as "gentle Mullagh".  On Easter Monday morning, some members and friends made their way to the Parish Church of St. Mary for the offering of the almost monthly Traditional Latin Mass there.










Tuesday, 11 April 2017

And Symbols Glorious Swinging Uproarious...

"...On this I ponder where'er I wander and thus grow fonder, sweet Cork, of thee; with thy bells of Shandon that sound so grand on the pleasant waters of the River Lee..."

So runs one of the most famous hymns of the Corkonian faith and the Easter Vacation brought me back within the sound of Shandon bells. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the Lenten preparations in some of the Churches in the centre of Cork City. As you would expect, most of them have retained the loss of the striking symbolism of veiling statues from after the second last Sunday of Lent (Passion Sunday). However, there are signs of a change in the air.

Cork, of course, led the way in the restoration of the Latin Mass with a daily Mass, albeit very discreetly, long before the election of Pope Benedict XVI. Today, the City boasts not only the Sunday Mass in Ss. Peter and Paul's but even a daily Mass during Lent supplemented by Tenebrae each of the three days of the Triduum and the full Holy Week Ceremonies.

However, it is more interesting to see the veils assumed in two other Churches in the City. The Dominicans of Pope's Quay also had the Office of Tenebrae, partly in Latin, with the hearse of fifteen candles left in the centre of the Sanctuary. They also veiled the Altar Cross. This beautiful Church is one of the first that I meet as I come into the City. It contains the tablet: "The Dominican community of Cork inscribe this stone in testimony of their gratitude to Kearns Deane Esq., architect, who with unexampled generosity and public spirit designed this building and directed the progress of its erection, 1832.” The consecration in October 1839 was attended by Daniel O'Connell, barrister and statesman, who had spearheaded the campaign for Catholic Emancipation only ten days before. The crisp ionic portico stands in contrast to the high gothic flourish of the Capuchin Holy Trinity Church on the South Channel of the Lee.



The Franciscans on Liberty Street may have built in the Byzantine style but they veiled the crosses of both the high altar and side altars very much in the Roman manner this year. The Church has the greatest area of mosaics of any church in Europe outside of Rome. The central dome has the feel of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. The Church is famous for the gifts of wedding rings by the women of Cork for the tabernacle.






Finally, I took some shots of Ss. Peter and Paul's. The gorgeous Gothic Church hidden away behind Patrick's Street is the first collaboration of George Ashlin and Edward Pugin.


Sunday, 19 March 2017

St. Lachteen and the Boggera Mountains

In a previous post I wrote about the sights and sites of the valley between the Boggera Mountains and the Nagles Mountains through which the Martin River flows south to Blarney and the Clyda River flows north through Mourne Abbey towards Mallow.

In this post I'd like to take you on a visit to one of the valleys of the Boggera Mountains to the north and west of Blarney. The Martin River meets the River Shournagh at St. Ann's just west of Blarney and shortly thereafter their mingled waters join the River Lee near Ballincollig. One branch of the old Muskerry Railway (1893-1934) used to follow the line of the River Souragh to Donoughmore and it is effectively in the traces of that line, going upstream from Blarney, that I am going to take you today.

Just north of where the Shournagh flows through St. Ann's, it passes through the townland of Loughane West, the site of the old Parish Church of Matehy. I don't mean the present St. Joseph's. One story of this site relates to the long era of the Penal Laws, when Catholicism was illegal and persecuted. As the Priest was celebrating Mass, a soldier entered and, before any of the congregation could react, drew his sword and cut off the Priest's arms. He rushed out of the Church and rode away down the hill. The horse stumbled beneath him, threw him to the ground and he was killed. A companion buried him in the grave yard of Loughane. The following morning, the people found that the dead soldier had left the grave yard, crossed the River, mounted the hill and lay buried instead in the grave yard of the Church at Matehy.

Farther up the river about half a mile north of the village of Donoughmore is the site of St. Lachteen's Well. The Holy Well is said to have dried up and appeared instead at Ballyglass near Lyradane because a woman once washed her clothes in it. The original well was the site where St. Lachteen preached to the people of the area, using the dripping waters of the well to illustrate the dropping down of God's mercy. The Corkman Lachteen had been directed by his guardian angel, Uriel, to the monastic school of St. Comgall at Bangor, where he studied for the Priesthood. The Saint lived near Donoughmore at the beginning of the 7th century. His pattern day is 19 March, on account of which the present well is known interchangably as St. Joseph's Well or Tobar Laichtin. The unfortunate modern Parish Church at Stuake is named for St. Lachteen. Built in the 1990s, it replaced a beautiful Church from the 1830s. It is certainly my least favourite Church in the County.

St. Lachteen also founded another monastery at Kilnamartyra about 8 miles to the west, set between the Sullane and Toone Rivers. Cill na Martra is actually the Church of the Relic, referring to St. Lachteen's hand was venerated. The 12th century 'shrine' or reliquary of his hand, Lámh Lachtaín, was kept locally by the Healy family until the 19th century, when it was sold and came to the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin and I think it's now in the National Museum of Ireland. As you can see, it is in the form of an arm with a fist, which is very worn on account of the custom of taking oaths on it. The beautiful old Church of Kilnamartyra (1839) is also dedicated to St. Lachteen.


Passing on through Gowlane Cross, you pass Uctough Mountain, which is the source of the River Shournagh. Next it passes through a very wide moorland, which is probably about 1,000 feet above sea level and as the road turns west to Nad, on the north face of the Boggeras, it passes the great Bweeng Mountain. The River Nad becomes the River Glen and, at Fr. Murphy's Bridge, you suddenly leave the mountains and enter the broad valley of the River Blackwater that sweeps eastward towards Mallow and Fermoy, then on to Lismore and Cappoquin, before turning sharply south and into the ocean at Youghal.

[First Published on the St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Blog in March, 2010]

Saturday, 11 February 2017

St. Gobnait of Ballyvourney

Twin towns fascinate me. I don't mean towns twined with foreign towns but two towns that are so close to each other that as they grow, they grow until they are almost one town. In Cork we have two good examples, Enniskean and Ballinkeen on the road to Bandon (where even the pigs were Protestant, it used to be said) and Ballyvourney and Ballymakeery that lie along the Sullane River and on the road thatt takes you from Macroom by way of Coolea over the top of Coom towards Kilgarvan in Kerry.

Bandon was a plantation town. That is, in the 17th century the native Catholic Irish were dispossessed of their lands and Protestants were planted in the locality instead. Over the gate of Bandon the following words were placed by the Planter inhabitants that "Turk, Jew or Atheist may enter here, but not a Papist". It wasn't long before native wit wrote the reply. "Whoe'er wrote this/ hath written well/ for the same is writ/ o'er the gates of hell".

St. Gobnait, another 6th century Saint, lived just to the south of Ballyvourney. Every year on this day and also at Pentecost there are large pilgrimages to do the "turas" or rounds of the beds of her church and to drink the water and a medieval wooden statue of her is displayed for veneration in the Parish Church.

Go mbeannaighe Dia dhuit,
a Ghobnait Naomhtha,
Go mbeannuighe Muire dhuit
is bheannuighim féin dhuit.
Is chughat-sa a thánag ag
gearán mo scéil leat,
Is a d'iarraidh mo leighis
ar son Dé ort.

That means in English:

May God bless you,
Holy Saint Gobnait,
And may Mary bless you,
And I bless you myself.
For it is to you that I come,
To plead my case with you,
To request my healing,
From you on God's part.

She made her foundation in fulfilment of a prophesy. She had fled from home to the Aran Islands to escape persecution but she was told that "her resurrection" was not to take place there but only in the place where she found nine white deer grazing. She returned to the mainland and began her pilgrimage. It is said that at various places she saw white deer grazing along her path but never nine together until she crossed the Sullane River at Ballyvourney and so she settled there and was buried there to await "her resurrection".

It is told of her that when a plague threatened, she marked the boundary of the Parish with her stick and the people of Ballyvourney were spared.

The beehive is the symbol of St. Gobnait because, when a pagan chief was attempting a cattle raid, she took up one of the beehives of the convent and directed it at the raiders. The thieves fled and the cattle were saved.

In the ruins of her church there is a smooth round iron ball set into the wall, known as St. Gobnait's Bowl. It is said to have been used to destroy a fort built by a pagan chief on the hills north of Ballyvourney and was said to have returned to the Saint each time she threw it. Those who have grasped the bowl in the wall will know the miraculous nature of this feat. The grave of Séan O'Riada, the famous musician of Coolea, is here.

A few miles north of Ballyvourney, close to the Foherish River that feeds into the Sullane near Macroom, is Liscarrigane where 'An tAthair Peadar' or Canon Peter O'Leary was born in 1839. His great purpose was to revive the Irish language that he knew as a living language (and which remains a living language in that part of Cork to this day). He wrote "Séadna" and the autobiography "Mo Scéal Féin" which give a vivid impression of the countryside around Liscarrigane and Muskerry.

The Glendav of "Séadna" is to be found at the head of the Foherish valley where Mullaghanish Mountain rises to a height of over 2,000 feet, towering over the Derrynasaggart Mountains that shelter Cork from Kerry but are now punctuated by wind turbines just as a broadcasting mast stands atop Mullaghanish.

He was an outstanding member of the Gaelic League and received the Freedom of buth Cork City and Dublin as well as an honorary Doctorate from the National University of Ireland. He died away to the north east of the County as Parish Priest of Castlelyons just a few months before the achievement of Independence at the height of the Black and Tan persecution.


Devotion to St. Gobnait was given international standing in 1601 when Pope Clement VIII granted an indulgence for pilgrims to her shrine and in 1602 he published a proper office for her feast.

These dates are not coincidental for they mark the last stands of the Irish princes against the English with the help of the Kings of Spain. In 1602 the Irish princes were defeated at the Battle of Kinsale. It spelled the end of the Catholic cause in Ireland for more than three centuries and the end of the the power of the native Irish princes forever. Donal O'Sullivan Beare held out in his castle at Dunboy on the Beara Penninsula for another year but was finally starved into retreat. His famous winter march brought him to the territory of the princes of Ulster, O'Neill and O'Donnell, who were themselves forced into complete exile on the continent in 1607.

O'Sullivan Beara continued to uphold the honour of Ireland while in exile in Spain, where he was assassinated in 1618 by an Englishman. He founded the Irish College at Santiago. His nephew Philip O'Sullivan Beare was both soldier and scholar, publishing Historiae Catholicae Iberniae Compendium, a Catholic History of Ireland in 1621 among other works in an attempt to reply to the English writers who attacked the Irish, just as their compatriots attempted to destroy our native culture and its texts.

[First Published on the St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Blog in February, 2010

Another splendid account of St. Gobnait can be found on the blog Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae here.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

St. Senan and Inniscarra

In Cork, talk around the cottage fireside during the Christmas vacation inevitably turned to Inniscarra, as the waters released from the hydroelectric project there washed down into Cork City.


As you drive from Coachford to Cork City the road makes the acquaintance of the River Lee in a way that it hasn't in the upper reaches of the River. Just to the west of where the River Dripsey meets the Lee is the hill of Cronodymore, once known as Cronody of the sweet apples on account of the orchards that once were to be found there. Cronody is now better known as the origin of many classic greyhounds. Upon the hill are the remains of a large circular tower that appears to have been a dovecote built by Elizabeth Cross or Crosse (née Baldwin of Mount Pleasant) in the 18th cent.

Close by, now covered by the waters created by the Inniscarra dam was the reputed site of a monastery known as Innisleena founded by St. Senan in the 6th cent. as he returned from a trip to Continental Europe on his way back to Scattery Island in Clare. The site had been considerably altered by later building, when it was the subject of an archaeological survey that preceded the hydro-electric project. It would appear that all traces of St. Senan's monastery had disappeared except fragments of a later building and the graves of the Fitzgibbon family. Some notable carved stones were noted and perhaps the remains of a window and what was reputed to be a stone baptismal font. The rainwater which gathered in it was said by the people of thereabouts to have curative powers for warts on fingers if you used it for three mornings before you broke the midnight fast. When Inniscarra dam flooded the area, all trace of the Fitzgibbon family, including 'Fitzgibbon Bridge' were obliterated by the waters just as all trace of St. Senan had disappeared centuries before. His feast day is 8 March.

Also covered by the waters of Inniscarra were the remains of Castle Inch about a mile further east. What remained to be covered was merely the stump of the castle, stronghold of the Barretts, who were vassels of the MacCarthaigh family of whom I spoke before. Five progenitors of the Barretts of Cork came to Ireland with Strongbow in 1169. In the 13th cent. they are recorded to have held a castle at Glandore. In 1436 they bought a stronghold at Ballincollig. Ballyburden, Carrigrohane, and Kilfinnane were also in their possession at various points. The townland of Coomavarodig or 'Glen of the Barretts' near Baltimore is also a trace of their presence. However, the family's power came to an end when Colonel John Barrett was dispossessed of his lands in 1691 for having dared to raise a regiment in the cause of the Catholic King James II. From that time, Castle Inch was allowed to fall into ruin but even in the 1950s the footprint was sizable. Near the castle was a double holy well known as Sunday's Well and St. Mary's Well but their waters now mingle with those of the Inniscarra Reservoir.

From Inniscarra Reservoir the Lee passes through what is known as Inniscarra Gap between two hills, Scornagh to the west and Garravagh to the east, a spot favoured by fishermen for salmon and trout, and moved into its final stage before reaching the City along a syncline of limestone that reaches over the Youghal and is met by the River Bride. Here is the site of Inniscarra Anglican Church built in 1819 that reputedly marks the site of another monastery of St. Senan.

[First Published on the St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Blog in March, 2010]

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Scandalous Bishop of Cork

The Convenor has been showing off his knowledge of the Bishops of Cork but the most interesting of all is the scandalous Bishop John Butler, who was Bishop of Cork from 1763 to 1787.

The Butlers of Ormonde
John Butler came of the great Butlers of Ormonde, one of the greatest families in the kingdom of Ireland whose titles included a Dukedom, a Marquisate, four Earldoms and a Barony - the Barony was the problem. Under the pressure of the penal laws, members of each branch of the family were forced to 'conform' to the Protestant religion in order to save the family's property. For example, the famous Catholic family, the Butlers of Kilcash, Thomas Butler, who fought for the Jacobite cause, died in 1738. Whatever difficulties oppressed Catholics during life, special penalties were reserved for them at the passage of their estate to their heirs. Thus, Thomas' son, John, 'conformed' in 1739.
Father Butler
It was into this atmosphere of spiritual genocide that our John Butler was born in 1731. He was the third son of Edmond Butler, 8th Baron Dunboyne. While his two brothers, James and Pierce, joined the Wild Geese fighting with the Armies of the King of France, John pursued a vocation to the priesthood by studying at the Irish College in Rome from 1749. While there, he was not entirely passive - or well-behaved - and lost an eye in a duel. By reason of this defect, it required a special dispensation for him to be ordained, which he was on 20 December 1755 at the Lateran Basilica, which had newly acquired its Baroque façade and interior. He then studied at the College of Propaganda Fide, the great missionary college in Rome, and obtained his Doctorate in Divinity.

Father Butler returned to Ireland in 1758 where, under the penal laws, he was required to register as a Popish minister. He was examined before a Justice of the Peace in Whitehaven when he landed. If the Murphys ruled large parts of the Irish Church in the 19th cent., the Butlers held sway in the 18th. Father Murphy returned to his native Archdiocese of Cashel to serve as Parish Priest of Ardmayle, just north of Cashel, under his cousin, Archbishop James Butler. Christopher Butler had been Archbishop from 1712 to 1757, James succeeded him in 1757 and was succeeded by another James Butler in 1774. At his death in 1791, there had been an unbroken succession of Butler Archbishops for 71 years. During four years as a Parish Priest, Father Butler was also the Archbishop's Secretary and Archdeacon of the Archdiocese.

Bishop of Cork
When the Bishop of Cork died, Father Butler was placed dignissimus among the list of candidates submitted by Cardinal Spinelli, in one of his last acts as Prefect of the Propaganda Fide. The Congregation of Propaganda Fide was the Vatican Department of mission territories. Ireland (as well as Scotland, Canada and the United States) came under this Department of the Vatican until the Constitution of 29 June 1909. He was duly appointed Bishop of Cork on 16 April 1763 by Pope Clement XIII (the man who put the fig leaves on the statues of Rome) and he was consecrated the following June.

It is not hard to imagine that his time as Bishop was characterised by adherence to the status quo of the English Protestant ascendency. His Statuta synodalia pro dioecesi Corcagiensi in 1768 made membership of the Whiteboys, the geurilla fighters against the Protestant penal régime, a reserved sin. In 1771, he managed to prevent the introduction of the Ursuline Nuns to Cork by Nano Nagle - a felix culpa that was to see his successor, Bishop Moylan, preside over the foundation of the Presentation Sisters. The Ursulines don't seem to have been the only Order that didn't find Bishop Butler too helpful. The Carmelites of Kinsale had to endure repeated attempts by him to take over their Chapel as a Parish Church. When he couldn't succeed by other means, he withdrew their faculties to hear confessions and administer the Sacraments. Their appeal to Rome was supported by Fr. O'Mahony, the Parish Priest, who declared that the Chapel and Friary were built and owned by the Carmelite Order. Such incidents didn't bode well for the scandalous Bishop of Cork.

The Barons Dunboyne
Bishop Butler's father had died in 1732 and his brother James became the 9th Baron Dunboyne. James died in 1768 and their brother Pierce became 10th Baron. Pierce died in 1773 and his son, also Pierce, became 11th Baron, until his death in 1785. On the death of his nephew Pierce, Bishop Butler became 12th Baron Dunboyne.

This is where the scandal begins and it is the point at which I stop understanding the train of events - or the train of logic of the Bishop. Lord Dunboyne fears for the extinction of his family - he has, after all, outlived his father, brothers, and nephews. In order to preserve his line, he is anxious to have heirs, legitimate heirs, in which the small matter of a vow of celibacy is an obstacle. Thus, he resigns as Bishop of Cork and seeks a dispensation from his vow of celibacy from Pope Pius VI in order to marry and beget heirs to the title. "It is no pleasure for me after a life of celibacy, to share my bed and board," wrote the Reverend Lord Dunboyne. However, when he died in 1800, he was succeeded by a cousin, a nephew of Archbishop James Butler. It may have struck Pope Pius (and it strikes me) was it really necessary for him to marry? Couldn't the cousin have inherited just as well from a Bishop as from a Lord?

The Catholic Dunboynes had been, until that time, merely de facto Barons, since their Letters Patent couldn't be issued until they 'conformed.' It was not until the cousin inherited as 13th Baron that there was the "reversal of outlawries which affected the title, in the Court of King's Bench in Dublin in Michaelmas term 1827, by virtue of His Majesty's warrant dated at Windsor 26 October 1827."

The Scandal Begins
the 12th Lord Dunboyne seemed to think it was necessary that he should marry and after resigning as Bishop of Cork but without the dispensation from his vows from the Pope, he visited Brookley House in Tipperary, the home of some Protestant cousins, where (the worse for drink it is said) he met Miss Maria Butler. At the time, she was 23 and he was 57. By Christmas 1786, Maria's father had informed her that 'the Bishop' had asked for her hand in marriage. The courting began in earnest and they were married by the following April 1787 - need I say - in the Anglican Church. 'The Dunboynes' took up residence at Dunboyne Castle, Co. Meath.

On the 11 August 1787 Archbishop Butler met Lord Dunboyne to give him the Pope's reply (dated 9 June 1787). When he had finished reading the letter Lord Dunboyne is reported to have said “I fear my case has not been fully understood. I am not a young man, nor am I seeking release from my vows for selfish reasons. The Holy Father must be told again that I am solely concerned with the continuation of our family.” Mind you, the small matter of a wife might have made the explanation that much more difficult.

Eight days later, on 19 August 1787 Lord Dunboyne 'conformed' to Anglicanism at St. Mary’s Church, Clonmel before Rev. M.R. Dunlevy. The Catholic people of Clonmel protested outside. Fr. Arthur O’Leary, OFMCap., of Cork published a pamphlet against the apostate Bishop. An anonymous satire was published in Irish.

Nuair a bheas tú in Ifrionn go fóill,
Agus do deora ag silleadh leat,
Sin an áit a bhfuagh tú na scéala,
Cé is fearr sagairt no ministéar.

Later when you’ll be in hell,
And your tears flow,
That's the place that you’ll discover,
Which is better, a priest or minister.

The Dunboyne Marriage
The marriage was not a happy one. Their only child, a daughter, was born deformed and lived only a few minutes. It is said that the child was buried in ruins of the Augustinian Friary in Fethard, Co. Tipperary. A cloud of depression enveloped the couple which they attempted to lift by taking up residence at 18, Leeson Street, Dublin, now the home of the Standards in Public Office Commission. It didn't help their relationship and they soon divorced. Maria married John Moore from Portumna. They had one son, Hubert Butler Moore, and a grandson called Butler Dunboyne Moore, one of whose descendants was the British World War II commander Field Marshal Claude Auchinlech. Lady Dunboyne died in 1860.

Repentence
Lord Dunboyne showed many signs of remorse for his actions. When the Catholic Chapel at Dunboyne was destroyed in 1798, Lord Dunboyne offered to pay for the rebuilding himself. On another occasion he offered his own chalice, dated 1621, to the Parish Priest of Kilusty near Fethard saying "Here is a chalice for you with which I often celebrated Mass in happier days. Take it from my polluted hands." The chalice is still in the possession of the Parish.

From his residence in Leeson Street, Lord Dunboyne sought reconciliation with the Church through Archbishop Troy of Dublin. A letter begging for absolution was sent to Rome. Dunboyne's friend of 20 years, Fr. Gahan, O.S.A., an Augustinian and Prior of their house in John's Lane, was the man chosen by the Archbishop to attend him as he crept towards his judgement. Dr. Gahan was to fall under the shadow of the curse of the apostate Bishop.

Persecution Post Mortem
Dunboyne died on 5 May 1800 and was buried in the ruins of the Augustinian Friary in Fethard, near his infant daughter. He was reconciled to the Church on his deathbed, which made him, in the eyes of English Law "a relapsed Papist," in which condition, legacies of land in his will were automatically voided. Once again, the penal laws acted to persecute Catholics even after death. Dunboyne's will left a large endowment based on land to the recently founded Maynooth College. That endowment was later to form the basis of the Post-graduate Faculty, 'The Dunboyne Establishment.' However, before the endowment passed to the College, the will was challenged by Mrs. Catherine O’ Brien Butler, a cousin.

Dr. Gahan was compelled to appear as a witness in the case and he was required by the Court to reveal the secrets of his conversations with Dunboyne. The most famous of the series of cases, Butler v. Moore, MacNally [1802], 253, decided that Priest-Penitent privilege was not recognised in law, per Sir Michael Smith, MR. Dr. Gahan refused to breach the seal of confession. At the Trim assizes on 24 August 1802 his persistent refusal to testify as to the religion in which Dunboyne had died was ruled by the Chief Justice, Lord Kilwarden (who was caught up in the Robert Emmet rising) as contempt of court. Dr. Gahan was imprisoned but only for a short time.

Remnants
Sir Jonah Barrington in his 'Personal Sketches' says that Kilwarden "had no natural genius, and but scanty general information; his talents were originally too feeble to raise him by their unassisted efforts into any political importance. Though patronised by the Earl of Tyrone, and supported by the Beresford aristocracy, his rise was slow and gradual, and his promotion to the office of solicitor-general had been long predicted, not from his ability, but in consequence of his reputation as a good-hearted man and a sound lawyer."

The famous case of Cook v. Carroll [1945] IR 515, a judgement of Mr. Justice Gavan Duffy, firmly established Priest-Parishioner Privilege in Ireland.

In the end, faced with the prospect of endless litigation, the parties agreed to a division of the property, including the endowment at Maynooth.

Robert Butler, 16th Baron and direct descendant of the brother of Archbishop Butler, was a barrister and Master of the High Court in Ireland. His grandson, Patrick Butler, 18th Baron, was also a barrister (Middle Temple 1947, King's Inns 1966) and an English Circuit Court Judge. His son is the present Baron Dunboyne.

First published on the St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association blog in July, 2010.