Saturday, 30 January 2010

Notes on Kilmanaghan Cemetary

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The following passage is from a small book celebrating the 50th anniversary of St Manchan's School at Tubber, which is my mother-in-law Kitty Dwyers local parish. These notes credited to a Rev, Dr Hugh Dunne P.P in 1972 give us an insight into the local history of the area of the Irish Midlands in which the Stone family have resided for possibly two centuries. These notes are about Kilmanaghan Cemetary which is in the general area of both Tubber and Lurgan:

Kilmanaghan, (as far as we know) derives its name from St. Manchan, a seventh century Irish Saint, who is said to have founded the Church of Lemanaghan in 645A.D. St, Manchan was one of the Saints of whom we call the Second Order of Irish Saints - a group of brilliant men mainly belonging to the period 500 to 700 A.D. Chief among those was St. Finian of Clonard, who founded the great school at Clonard, Co. Meath; St Kieran of Clonmacnoise, St Brendan of Clonfert, and St Kevin of Glealough, to mention a few.

Whether St Manchan ever founded a church at our Kilmanaghan is hard to say, but legend associates him with the district. this is not surprising as his chief centre of cult was at Boher - Ballycumber, where the shrine containing his relics is kept and honoured. It would not be surprising if he did , as we are not far from either Boher or Lemanaghan, but we have no proof that he did as little written evidence survives. Contemporaneous with Lemanaghan, Kilmanaghan suffered many vicissitudes through Norman times and through the Protestant establishment period up to 1809 when it was closed. All that's left today is a plain building in ruin, 60 x 30. The Celtic influence is to be seen in the stone designs on the wall.

The historical name for the Parish of Tubber is Cill Manachain - The Church of Managhan and generally called the Parish of Cill. There is a beautiful chalice in the Parochial House at Tubber, presented to "The Parish of Cill" in 1770. As an established Church and Parish, it was united to Kilbride and Dangan, to form the benefice of Clara, where a new established church is still in the Church of Clara - so my friend, the late Canon Lamb told me.

The Church became a ruin over a century ago and the Cemetary, though still used as a burial ground, was allowed to become a wilderness of nettles, briars and scrub. It was what we know as a "mixed" cemetery where people of various religious denominations were buried. One of the most interesting - and touching - stones is a memorial to two United Irishmen, Feeny and Daly, who were hanged in Ballycumber and buried in Kilmanaghan in 1798.

As a people, we rank low in looking after what should be sacred shrines - where our nearest and dearest sleep their last sleep. A number of our parishioners, who were determined that this should not be our reproach, got together and, voluntarily, cleaned up the ruins and no praise is too great for those people who have been faithful and helpful and I may say, so generous in their help in carrying out this work. I must say we are indebted to freinds and helpers from Clara, Moate and Ballycumber. We hope to keep an eye in future on Kilmanaghan and make sure it will be allowed to become the wilderness it had become when we started - in June 1971.

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