CLADY GRAVEYARD, CO. MEATH
HEADSTONES AND INSCRIPTIONS
Dr. Beryl F.E. Moore and Mrs. Josephine Maguire
Clady graveyard is on the West bank of the River Boyne not far from the Bective Abbey Ruins which are situated on the same side of the river nearby. Clady Medieval Church and graveyard are within the Bective House estate and take their name from the turbulent and often muddy little river called the Clady which enters the Boyne immediately north of the ruined church. The historians of former days were quite wrong in equating Cletty and Clady for we now know they are different places and in no way connected with each other. To get to the little graveyard one has to pass through a wood and about 100 years ago 2 Souterrains were discovered in this wood opposite the churchyard gate. It was excavated and found to have two passages each with a corballed round room at the end of its passage. I think there is another Souterrain nearby with a collapsed round room awaiting excavation.
Clady church and graveyard are very old and the footbridge on its North side is thought by many historians to be the oldest footbridge surviving in Ireland. Bective Abbey was a monk’s church and Clady a people’s church. The measurements of the little church are……
East and West walls 23 ft; North and South walls 46 ft internal measurements. The East window is 3 1/2 ft. wide by 7 ft high.
Sir William Wilde describes the site as follows… “THE OLD CHURCH OF CLADY IS NOW A COMPLETE RUIN, BUT IT WAS ORIGINALLY A PARALLELOGRAM WITH A SACRISTY ON THE SOUTH-EAST SIDE OF THE CHANCEL. THERE WAS A FINE BELL-TURRET UPON THE WESTERN GABLE. LITTLE OF THE NORTH AND SOUTH WALLS SURVIVE THE HAND OF TIME: BUT IT HAS SPARED THE VERY BEAUTIFUL EAST WINDOW, THE STONE FRAMEWORK OF WHICH IS STILL VERY PERFECT. IT CONSISTS OF TWO CINQUEFOILED ARCHES IN THE EARLY ENGLISH STYLE SEPERATED BY A LIGHT SHAFT. THE CARVINGS OF THE ROUND CAPITALS ARE VERY RICH AND TASTEFUL. AN AGED ELDERBUSH OVERSHADOWS AND PARTLY PROTRUDES THROUGH THSE LIGHTS, WHILE A PATRIARCHAL ASH OF GIGANTIC DIMENSIONS SPREADS ITS RUGGED LIMBS OVER THE ADJOINING GRAVEYARD. THAT MANY SUCH WINDOWS AS THIS ONE MUST HAVE EXISTED IN THIS CHURCH ORIGINALLY MAY BE LEARNED FROM THE QUALITY OF THE FRAGMENTS EXHIBITING THE SAME FORM OF MOULDINGS AND CARVINGS WHICH ARE SCATTERED AROUND OR SUNK IN THE GROUND AS HEADSTONES”.
Neither the East window nor the Western belltower nor any other windows that may have been in the church are now to be seen. One supposes that ‘THE GIGANTIC ASH TREE AND THE ELDERBUSHES’ brought about this state of affairs.
The church doors would have been on the North and South sides of the nave. The little church seems to have been a single-chambered one. When Bective Abbey was repaired in 1622 some cloister stones not needed were brought from it to Bective House garden. In 1852 Chancellor Bolton the then owner of Bective House and estate did Clady up. Butler tells us that no Church or glebe was in this parish for a great many years. The font that Canon Athey brought from Bective House garden (where it was used as a bird bath) to Bective Church of Ireland Church in 1953 is fully described in Miss Helen Roe’s book ‘Medieval fonts of Meath’. She says “CANON ATHEY BELIEVED THE FONT HE REMOVED FROM BECTIVE HOUSE GARDEN TO THE BECTIVE CHURCH TO BE THE CLADY FONT. THE HISTORY OF THIS MEDIEVAL CHURCH IS QUITE OBSCURE. SIR WILLIAM WILDE IN 1849 VISITED IT AND WAS VERY IMPRESSED BY THE RICHNESS AND PROFUSION OF THE DECORATIVE WORK LYING SCATTERED ABOUT CLADY RUINS AND ABOUT THE LITTLE GRAVE-YARD. HE REFERS TO ‘A HOLLOW STONE’ WHICH HE VARIOUSLY CALLS A PISCINA, A LAVABO, AND AS THE ORIGINAL FONT OF CLADY CHURCH. NOT LONG AFTERWARDS MR. BOLTON THE THEN OWNER OF BECTIVE HOUSE TOOK THE VESSEL UP TO HIS GARDEN AS A BIRD BATH. BRASH IN 1875 RECORDED THE PRESENCE THERE OF ‘THE OLD FONT OF CLADY’. BUT THE FONT BROUGHT BY CANON ATHEY FROM BECTIVE HOUSE GARDEN TO BECTIVE PROTESTANT CHURCH DOES NOT AGREE WITH THE MEASUREMENTS GIVEN BY WILDE NOR DOES IT AGREE WITH HIS MINUTE DESCRIPTION”.
The following is Miss Roe’s description of the font in the church…….. There are four plain panels and four decorated panels, namely a heraldic shield with the arms and two ornamental panels one with the face of a man and the other likely a woman but both have the appearance of being death masks.
There is still in Bective House garden a very finely carved font but it is of a very small size and has no hollowed out bowl. In fact it appears to be only an ornament and not a real font.
There is also a beautifully carved sun-dial in the grounds with its pedestal richly carved to represent the twelve signs of the zodiac. This was an imaginary belt in the heavens containing the twelve constellations called the signs of the zodiac. They are as follows… Aries the ram; Taurus the Bull; Gemini the twins; Cancer the Crab; Leo the Lion; Virgo the Virgin; Libra the Balance; Scorpio the Scorpion; Sagittarius the Archer; Capricorius the Goat; Aquarius the Water-bearer; and Pices the Fishes.
Bective House estate also has a stone house in the woods and acting as the keystone of the font arch is a weeping child cut out of stone.
The old Tara road to Teltown crossed the river Boyne opposite Bective House estate by a well-known historic ford on the river Boyne, passes through the estate, crosses the main road and goes straight across country to the ford on the river Blackwater which leads to Teltown.
The census of 1836…. 3152 Roman Catholics and 68 Protestants in the parish of Bective. The census of 1936…. 950 Roman Catholics and 50 Protestants.
Headstones in the Clady Church Ruins.
1) FYANS – Domed stone with Lamb on a cross. “ERECTED BY ROSE FYANS OF TRIM IN MEMORY OF HER HUSBAND MATw FYANS WHO DIED JUNE 16th 1850 AGED 32 YEARS”.
2) FULHAM – A rusted iron railing around this grave. A massive headstone standing 10 ft. high with a fancy cross at the top and 3 cherub’s heads in the centre. Ivy is growing over this fine headstone. “AD 1870. “SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF MATTHEW FULHAM OF TRUBLEY. ALSO HIS BELOVED WIFE ELIZABETH”. At bottom ‘REQUIESCANT IN PACE’.
3) CASEY – Notched stone with cross and IHS. “HERE LYETH THE BODY OF
CHRISTOPHER CASEY WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE FEBry (small F) the 25th 1736 AGED 54 YEARS. THIS STONE WAS ERECTED BY WALTER CASEY BY HIM AND HIS POSTERITY”.
4) CASEY – Domed stone about 8 ft. high with a full sunburst enclosing a cross IHS
and heart with a flower growing out of it. Memento Mori (remember that you must die) around the sunburst. “THIS STONE WAS ERECTED BY WALTER CHRISTOPHER & EDWARD CASEY IN MEMORY OF THEIR FATHER CHRISr CASEY WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE FEBRUARY THE 25th 1814 AGED 56 YEARS. ALSO THEIR BELOVED MOTHER CATHERINE CASEY ALIAS RIELY WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE NOVEMBER THE 14th 1822 AGED 78 YEARS”. At bottom Resquiescant in Pace.
5) CASEY – Domed stone with full sunburst around a lamb on a cross. “ERECTED TO THE MEMORY OF WALTER AND MARY CASEY BY THEIR AFFECTIONATE CHILDREN AD 1868”.
6) SHERIDAN – Ringed cross unfortunately ruined by ivy. “ERECTED BY THEIR
AFFECTIONATE FAMILY IN MEMORY OF THEIR BELOVED PARENTS THOMAS AND BRIDGET SHERIDAN OF CANNISTOWN. THOMAS SHERIDAN DIED NOV. 22nd 1849. BRIDGET SHERIDAN DIED DECr 2nd 1872. ROSE SHERIDAN DAUGHTER DIED JUNE 14th 1858”.
7) RUSSELL – Very large slab with top one-third broken off but still almost in its proper place. Measurements of slab are 76 ins high and 46 ins wide. Full sunburst around cross IHS
and Cherub with wings. ‘GLORIA IN EXCELSIS DEO’ around this motif. On each side we get a cherub in a sunken circle. ‘REMEMEBER’ on one side and ‘DEATH’ on the other. “THIS MONUMENT WAS ERECTED BY JOSEPH AND NICHOLAS RUSSELL IN PIOUS MEMORY OF THEIR BELOVED FATHER NICHOLAS RUSSELL WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE ON THE 1st DAY OF MAY 1797 AGED 79 YEARS. ALSO THEIR MOTHER MARGARET RUSSELL DEPARTED THIS LIFE JANUARY THE 30th 1836 AGED 97 YEARS”.
8) LIGHTHOLDER – This monument is broken in two pieces, the top piece having fallen behind the other piece. A peaked stone with cross and IHS. “ERECTED BY MICHAEL LIGHTHOLDER IN MEMORY OF HIS MOTHER ELIZABETH LIGHTHOLDER WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE ON THE 25th NOVr 1880 AGED 60 YEARS. ALSO HER MOTHER BRIDGET FULLAM WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE 16th APRIL 1876 AGED 94 YEARS. ALSO PETER…… Rest is underground.
9) This stone has fallen on its face and so can’t be read.
10) SHERLOCK – A large plain Celtic Cross with a very big boss in the centre. The inscription is on the base of the cross. On the east side… “ERECTED IN THE FAMILY BURIAL GROUND TO THE MEMORY OF WILLIAM SHERLOCK OF CARROLSTOWN WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE ON THE 6th DAY OF MARCH 1872 AGED 76 YEARS BY HIS NEPHEW P.J. DUNNE R I P”. On the north side… “ IN LOVING MEMORY OF MARY J. DUNNE CULLINAN DIED 18th JAN. 1918 AGED 56 YEARS. PATRICK CULLINAN DIED 13th DEC. 1922 AGED 66 YEARS. HARRY KIRWAN DIED 5th OCT. 1967 AGED 90 YEARS”. At bottom R I P.
11) SHERLOCK – Only part of this stone is to be seen above ground. “OR OUR….WI…. THE BODY OF…. SHERLOCK ALIAS MAGRANE WHO…THIS LIFE JUNE (small J) THE 28th (28 is between the T and the H) 1736 AGED 5-. ALSO THE BODY OF MATTHEW SHERLOCK WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE MARCH THE 4 (Th over the 4) 1749 AGED 62 YEARS”.
12) SHERLOCK – Broken stone. We only found the piece still inserted in the ground. “THIS LIFE…. Y AGED 66 YEARS. ALLSO (2 LL’s) THE BODY OF JEAN SHERLOCK….
13) DUFFY – A slab with cross and IHS at top. “ERECTED BY JOHN FAY NAVAN IN MEMORY OF HIS FATHER MATw FAY. ALSO HIS UNCLE JAs DUFFY DIED MARCH 1856. PKT DUFFY DIED FEBy 1858. HIS MOTHER ELIZABETH FAY DIED OCT. 1881. HIS NEICES (Spelt EI and not IE) MARY ANNE CALLERY DIED 10th APRIL 1885. LIZZIE CALLERY DIED 25th MAR. 1887. HIS BROTHER IN LAW CHRISr DIED 18th 1887. THE ABOVE JOHN FAY DIED 12th JANy 1897”.
14) SMITH – Ringed cross with flaming heart in centre and a crown of thorns around the shaft. “ERECTED BY PHILIP SMITH BECTIVE IN MEMORY OF HIS MOTHER MARY A. SMITH DIED 9th DEC. 1880. SISTER MARY DIED 13th MAY 1895. FATHER JAMES 26th JAN. 1912. BROTHER WILLIAM DIED 28th FEB. 1928. SISTER ANNE DIED 10th MAR. 1928. SISTER LIZZIE DIED 20th DEC. 1928. BROTHER PETER DIED 14th JAN. 1929. THE ABOVE PHILIP DIED 14th MAY 1943. HIS BROTHER JAMES DIED 19th FEB. 1946. HIS SISTER ROSE DIED 13th SEPT. 1948. ALSO HIS BROTHER PATRICK DIED 4th APRIL 1947 AND HIS SISTER BRIDGET DIED 11th OCT. 1957”.
Headstones on South Side of Church Ruins
15) KING – This small narrow stone (15 ins wide) with a peaked top leaning against the outside wall of the chancel. IHS at top. “HERE LYTH (E Left out) THE BODY OF PATRI
(on one line and the next line) CK WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE IN THE YE (on one line and on next line) AR OF OUR LORD 1722 AGED 89. ERECTED BY HIS SON RICH (on one line and on next line) ARD KING”.
16) WHYTE – A large heavy domed stone tilting forward and nearly altogether under a large tree so it is very hard to read. A much worn sunburst at top with IHS and a small cherub with its wings not outstretched but drooping downwards. A frame around the inscription and two cherubs one on each side with outstretched wings. “ERECTED BY JAMES WHYTE IN MEMORY OF HIS FATHER PATRICK WHYTE WHO DIED 28th JUNE 1764 AGED 60 YEARS. ALSO HIS MOTHER ELIZABETH WHYTE ALIAS FULLAN WHO DIED MARCH THE 12th 1790 AGED 38 YEARS. ALSO HIS WIFE MADGE ALIAS McDERMOTT WHO DIED JANUARY THE 17. 1811 AGED 82 YEARS”.
17) This is only the lower half of a stone and the surname doesn’t occur on this bit of the headstone. “…STONE…. DEPARTED THIS LIFE DECr 2nd 1733 AGED…. THIS STONE WAS ERECTED BY HIS SON THOMAS”.
18) CALLAGHAN – A peaked stone. “ERECTED BY G.V. BRISCOE TO THE MEMORY OF EDWARD CALLAGHAN (Corney) THE FAITHFUL SERVANT FOR FORTY YEARS YEARS OF JOHN T. PRESTON ESQ. OF BALLINTER DIED 10th OCT. 1892”.
19) Small stone with a domed top surrounding a cross and IHS but nearly impossible to read. “THIS STONE WAS ERECTED BY OWEN….
20) BLAKE… Domed stone with a crucifixion but unfortunately the lower half of our Lord’s body if broken off. A cherub’s head on each side. A frame around the inscription. “ERECTED BY JANE BLAKE IN MEMORY OF HER FATHER JOHN BLAKE WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE MARCH THE 15 1827 AGED 70 YEARS. ALSO HER MOTHER JANE… NO MORE CAN BE READ. One stopper stone nearby.
21) HAGARTY – A domed stone with cross IHS and heart in centre of top and foliage on each side. “HERE LYETH THE BODY OF JOHN HAGARTY WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE MAY THE 20th IN THE YEAR 1743 AGED 30 YEARS. THIS STONE WAS ERECTED BY HIS SON PATRICK HAGARTY…. HERE LYETH THE BODY OF PATRICK HAGARTY WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE FEBRUARY Ye 17th 1775 AGED 44 YEARS”.
22) DOLAN – This stone is leaning forward and can hardly be read at all.
23) DOLAN – A peaked stone. “OF YOUR CHARITY PRAY FOR THE SOULS THAT LIE BENEATH. ERECTED TO THE MEMORY OF BRYAN DOLAN DIED OCTr 18th 1883 AGED 52 YEARS. HIS SON THOMAS DIED MAY 28th 1884 AGED 12 YEARS.
HIS WIFE ANN DIED JULY 20th 1872 AGED 49 YEARS. AND HIS SON JAMES DIED JUNE 13th 1890 AGED 33 YEARS”.
24) DOUGLAS – A domed stone with sunburst enclosing a cross IHS and a flaming heart.
“HAVE MERCY O LORD ON THE SOULS OF TERENCE AND MARY DOUGLAS”.
25) Four bits of a headstone are to be seen here. One has a large chalice in the middle but no inscription on any of them.
26) SHERIDAN – A ringed cross with flaming heart in its centre and crown of thorns around it. “ERECTED IN LOVING MEMORY OF CHRISTOPHER SHERIDAN BALGILL WHO DIED 20th MARCH 1891.. ALSO HIS WIFE BRIDGET SHERIDAN WHO DIED 5th JUNE 1894 AND THEIR SON JAMES WHO DIED 2nd SEPTEMBER 1878 AND CHRISTOPHER SHERIDAN WHO DIED 26th MAY 1936”.
27) FAGAN – This stone is covered in white lichen. It is a peaked stone with a lamb on a cross. “ERECTED BY JAMES FAGAN WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE 24th AUGt 1859 AGED 70 YEARS. ALSO HIS BROTHER JOHN WHO DIED 19th SEPTr 1847 AGED 9 YEARS”.
28) CARTY – A domed stone with full sunburst encircling a Cross IHS and a heart, and winged cherubs one on each side. A frame around inscription. “ERECTED BY NICHOLAS CARTY OF ROBINSTOWN IN MEMORY OF HIS MOTHER CATHERINE CARTY WHO DIED FEB. 1800 AGED 40 YEARS. ALSO HIS FATHER JAMES CARTY WHO DIED 23rd JUNE 1815 AGED 58 YEARS. HIS BROTHER PETER CARTY WHO DIED 10 AUGUST 1819 AGED 22 YEARS. ALSO HIS SON PHILIP CARTY WHO DIED 25th JANUARY 1909 AGED 87 YEARS. MARIA WIFE OF PHILIP CARTY DIED 29th MARCH 1882 AGED 37 YEARS. ALSO JOHN CARTY WHO DIED APRIL 30th 1938 AGED 70 YEARS”. At bottom ‘Requiescant in Pace’.
29) BOYLE – A large celtic cross with flaming heart in centre encircled by a crown of thorns. 4 bosses. On base….”ERECTED BY MARY CAMPBELL GAINSTOWN NAVAN IN LOVING MEMORY OF HER FATHER WILLIAM BOYLE WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE 11th OCT. 1896. HER MOTHER MARY DIED 5th MAY 1897. HER BROTHER JAMES DIED 28th FEB. 1906. HER SISTER BRIDGET DIED 5th DEC. 1916. HER BROTHER WILLIAM DIED 19th JULY 1923. ON THESE SOULS SWEET JESUS HAVE MERCY
R I P”.
30) COMMONS – This piece of a stone leans backwards and is broken off. It has a dome and is very worn. “HERE LIETH ….. OF CHRISTOPHER COMMONS WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE THE 20th DECEMBER 1798. THIS ….. WAS ERECTED BY HIS SON JOHN COMMONS IN MEMORY OF HIS FATHER …… POSTERITY. Requiescant in Pace”.
31) This must have been a large granite headstone but it is lying in several pieces and we could not see any inscription on any of the exposed parts.
32) BRIODY – Ringed cross with IHS in centre. “SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF CHRISTOPHER BRIODY OF MACETOWN WHO DIED NOVr 27th 1885. ALSO HIS WIFE MARY WHO DIED DECr 18th 1893. ALSO OF THE SOUL OF MARY BRIODY WHO DIED 11th MAY 1926. CHRISTOPHER BRIODY DIED 26th JUNE 1928. CHRISTOPHER BRIODY 25th JUNE 1928”. At bottom R I P.
33) SHERLOCK – A small stone with a straight top. Faint IHS. This stone was erected …… PATRICK SHERLOCK OF…… IN MEMORY OF HIS MOTHER …… WHO DIED …… HERE LIETH THE BODY OF ……. 1760 AGED 80 YEARS …. DIED 1760 AGED 30 YEARS ……”.