HEADSTONES AND INSCRIPTIONS
Recorded by Dr. Beryl F E Moore & Michael Kenny 1975
THE TRIM MAUDLIN GRAVEYARD was visited at the end of the last century by Lord Walter Fitzgerald and members of the Society for the study of the memorials of the dead and in Vol. V1 page 595 of their journal for the year 1892 Lord Walter gives us an account of their findings. The following is an extract……
“This burial ground contains the old church of St. Mary Magdalen of which the chancel arch still survives. It is situated close to the town of Trim on its south side and seems now to be only used as a burial place for paupers who die in the trim workhouse nearby. Only two tombstones seem to have survived and they are situated to the east of the church ruins”. The account goes on to give a reading of the inscriptions on these two tombstones which Mr Kenny and I found most helpful as now both inscriptions are almost illegible through neglect.
The word ‘MAUDLIN’ comes from the old French, Latin and Greek words for Magdalen, but Chamber’s and other accepted dictionaries state that St. Mary Magdalen has been erroneously identified with ‘The Penitent Woman’ of St. Luke’s Gospel Chapter 7 verse 38. ‘MAUDLIN’ means ‘sickly with eyes swollen with tears ‘, and the painters of bygone days portrayed a woman said to be St. Mary Magdalen with large tearfilled bloodshot eyes meant to show how sorry she was for her past sinful life. At a later date we get the expression ‘Maudlin with drink’.
The old Trim workhouse is now replaced by St. Joseph’s Home on the other side of the road, but there is no sign of burials within recent years. Some graves have rough ‘marker stones’. St. Mary Magdalen’s Church was apparently one of the small parish Churches in & around the town. Dr.Leask told me some twenty years ago that he thought it might have been for the local people who lived on the south side of the river Boyne. The Weir and site of the once busy Maudlin Mill is marked on the 6 inch Ordnance Survey Map where a stone about a foot square is set in an old wall with the inscription…..’JA. GAFFNEY MOUDLIN MILLS 1815’. The Cemetery is situated on the top of a hill and has a good view of some of the local ruins and the river Boyne as it proceeds towards Newtown. A stile near the south/west corner gives entrance to the Cemetery and a good iron gate at the east end. The Graveyard measures east / west 70 yds by north / south 45 yds. The Church ruins are near the stile and are aligned east / west and measure west wall… some 6 ft high but cannot be studied or even seen because completely covered with ivy. North and south walls….represented by mounds in the grass. There was an entrance doorway in each of these walls. East wall….. under grass and at south / east corner ivy. No sacristy.
Inside measurements of nave…….18 ft by 35 ft. Inside measurements of chancel…….13 ft by 15½ ft. Thus it will be seen that the chancel is not as wide as the nave. Fortunately the chancel arch has survived but is very seriously threatened by ivy. Its measurements are…..6 ft high by 4 ½ ft wide which obviously would not allow a cleric to pass under it, so there must be at least 2 ft of clay and rubbish on top of the original floor. The keystone of the arch is still in place but roots of ivy burrow between almost every stone. This is the only complete surviving chancel arch I know of in a County Meath Parish Church ruin and it is very sad to see it treated so badly.
1) FLINN 1770 – About 15 ft beyond the east wall of the ruined Church. Domed top, tilting very much forward and so very difficult to read. Half sunburst at top with a cross and IHS underneath. Inscription ‘HERE LYETH THE BODY OF JOHN FLINN SON OF SIMON FLINN WHO DIED JANry Ye 17th 1770 AGED 46 YEARS. PRAY FOR HIS SOUL’.
2) KENEDY 1757 – Immediately outside the east wall at its south corner and was found by us completely covered by ivy. At top some carving which unfortunately can’t be seen clearly enough to be described. Notched top. Only an odd word is now decipherable so we give Lord Walter Fitzgerald’s version of the inscription. ‘HERE LYETH THE BODY OF ANN KENEDY DAUGHTER OF MAURICE AND (AMERSAND) ANN KENEDY OF TRIM WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE DECr Ye 10th 1757 AGED 26’.
Both these headstones must refer to Parishioners of St. Mary Magdalen as the Workhouse and its Paupers would hardly date earlier than 1835.
3) SMYTH 1928 – This headstone is completely under laurel trees and surrounded by yew trees. It consists of 4 steps each one smaller than the previous one but whatever stood on top has been shorn off by the trees and we failed to find it. Perhaps it was a pinnacle or cross. The inscription begins on the top step proceeds down on 3 of them. ‘1st step….ERECTED BY JAMES SMYTH IN LOVING MEMORY
2nd step…….OF HIS DEAR WIFE MARGARET WHO DIED 7Th JUNE 1928 AGED 55 YEARS 3rd step….R I P’.
4) Nearby also under trees is the base of a cross but the top is gone.
5) On the east side of the Cemetery are 2 bases of other crosses which are broken off and lying elsewhere. They are of cement.