« AnteriorContinuar »
NOTES ON THE ROUND TOWER, &c, OF KILMACDUAGH.
'he group of ruins here consists of (1) the Cathedral, or 'Teampuil
Mor,' situate in the graveyard; (2) Teampuil Muire, or 'The Church of Mary,' called also Templemurry, or 'The Lady's Church,' lying east of the puhlic road; (3) Teampuil Eoin Baiste, or 'Church of St. John the Baptist,' north of the graveyard; (4) Seanclogh, or 'Abbot's House,' a little farther north, near the road; (5) Teampuil Beg Mac Duagh, the site of which is south of the graveyard; (6) the Monastery, or'O'Heyne's Church,' which lies 180 yards N.E. of the graveyard enclosure; and the round tower, which is situate about 50 feet S.W. of the cathedral.
The tower measures 94 feet 10 inches from the ground-line to the base of its conical cap; and the latter is 17 feet in vertical height. This makes a total height of 111 feet 10 inches. Its height has been erroneously given elsewhere as from 120 feet to 145 feet; it is the highest of the existing round towers. The height of 111 feet 10 inches is from actual measurement taken while the ruins were repaired under the supervision of the late Sir Thomas Deane, from whose report to the Board of Works, made in the year 1879, the following extract is taken:—
"The condition of this structure was such as to render it a matter of much consideration whether repair was possible.
"Its leaning position, and the dangerous rent running nearly from top to bottom, made it no easy matter to secure its safety. A large portion of the overhanging and crumbling masonry was carefully removed, and re-instated with the original stones; the dilapidated capping has been restored, and it is now perfectly safe. To put a lightning-conductor to this tower involved the excavation of the debris which had accumulated in it for years. This resulted in a very interesting discovery, as follows:—That the tower, of which an illustration is given, was built with very slight foundation, and upon the soil and site of an ancient burying-ground. The walls at the level of the doorway, 26 feet from the ground, were 4 feet 6 inches thick, gradually increasing to 6 feet 5 inches at the bottom; below this two offsets of an aggregate width of 20 inches, extending from the outer line of the circumference of the tower. These offsets were barely 1 foot each in height, and formed the only footings of this great tower of 111 feet high. Beneath the footings was soft earth, the mould of the ancient burying-ground. Commencing the excavation of the interior at the level of the door, it is interesting to follow the nature of the different strata of the removed rubbish.
BY ROBERT COCHRANE, Fellow.
"Two feet of twigs and debris of birds; 4 feet fallen stone and rubbish; 3 feet decomposed twigs and small bones; 3 feet brown earth, ashes, and small bones; 9 feet 10 inches ashes and oyster-shells, in which pieces of copper were found; 6 feet 2 inches small stones.
"Beneath this human bones and skeletons, in situ, lying east and ■west. The illustration gives accurately the position of the latter. This is exactly a similar state of things as found beneath the round tower of St. Canice, at Kilkenny—an incontestable proof that in the seventh century (the supposed date of the erection) a burying-ground existed
where the tower now stands, and, from the position of the skeletons, of the Christian era.
"The masonry of the tower, which is of stones carefully fitted to each other, is evidently of the same date as that of the west end of the cathedral, or 'Tempuil Mor,' at which the repairs chiefly comprise the arrangement of the numerous sepulchral slabs scattered about the interior; the securing of dangerous portions of the walls; and the general protection of the structure from future decay. This building, with the exception of the western end, has nothing of an earlier date than the fifteenth century.
"To the north of Tempuil Mor is the Church of Tempuil Eoin Baiste, or 'St. John's Church.' Of this little remains; but it is of the oldest masonry, and is interesting as being of the same type as the tower. All that is possible has been done to sustain its tottering walls."
The report also mentions that the Seanclogh, or 'Abbot's House,' was repaired and made safe from future ruin. It dates from the fourteenth century, and is entirely of a domestic character. The upper portion appears to have been raised on the basis of a more ancient structure, as shown by the offsets on the head of the first storey. In the monastery, or 'O'Heyne's Church,' the chancel-piers appear to have been rebuilt in a careless manner, omitting the base course on one side, and leaving the northern group of columns 10 inches higher than the southern. Some of the capitals of the columns here are similar in design to those at Clonmacnoise and Corcomroe, and the mouldings are of the same type, "and the general character of the detail evinces either an ignorance of the peculiarities of the style in which the building was designed, or the imitation of an earlier style at a later date." This probably occurred during the re-edification of the structure, which took place in Bishop Hugh de Burgo's time, at the middle of the seventeenth century, when the masons' craft in ecclesiastical architecture had already become a lost art.
The chancel-piers of O'Heyne's Church have well-carved capitals: see the illustrations on pp. 226 and 233. The details of the east window are peculiar; a plan and interior elevation of this window are given on p. 235. The larger members of the jamb-mouldings are terminated by carved capitals.