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GOLA ABBEY – cracks displaying the old stonework in the house
Image by Irish Dominican Photographers
TALK ABOUT A NIGHTMARE – I misguidedly decided that the best way of finding this abbey would be with a GPS. It left me about ten miles from the site but was adamant that I was in Gola. None of the locals had heard of the place. I drove along every side road of beautiful rural Fermanagh for over an hour hoping to see something akin to an old church but found almost nothing and certainly nothing that could be described as the ruin of an abbey.
The kindly owner of the Garage at the entrance to Tamlacht gave good directions and a local farmer was very hospitable and helpful with the rest of the search. He owns the field where the church was situated and couldn’t plough it because, he thinks, there are so many large stones buried in the field that it would destroy any ploughshare.
The Abbey itself has passed from Ms. Wilson, mentioned in Ambrose Coleman’s account below, and is now the property of a Mr. G. Johnson. The house was built in the 18th century with extensions in the 20th and little remains to indicate that it was an older building. Apparently there is a fine fireplace contained in the almost dilapidated building. Some of the plasterwork on the outer walls has come away and you can see the stones of the original building underneath. Mrs Johnson gave me a most cordial reception considering I had arrived unannounced; “hi, I’m a Dominican and we used to own your house…”
Here follows what history I can muster on the forgotten Dominican foundation of Gola!
FRIARY OF GOLA
Ambrose Coleman, in his appendix to O’Heyne’s Irish Dominicans, writes:
THE account of the foundation of this convent, as given by O’Heyne, may be accepted as perfectly correct. The site, which is seven miles south-east of Enniskillen, near Lough Erne, was obtained shortly before the War of the Confederation, but the erection of the house was not commenced till after 1660. About this time a great controversy arose between the Dominicans and the Franciscans, as to the right of the former to quest for alms in the dioceses of Armagh, Down, Dromore and Clogher. For some years the Dominicans had not been seen in Ulster, but on the Restoration of Charles II., the provincial sent Fr. John O’ Conor, of Sligo, with some other friars, to establish themselves in the places where they formerly had possessed convents.
The Ven. Oliver Plunket, the primate, was commissioned by the Holy See to decide the controversy, and his decision in every case was favourable to the claims of the Dominicans. There was not much difficulty in deciding the claims of the Dominicans to the abbeys of Carlingford and Newtownards, but as regards Gola, the primate says, in a letter dated July 29, 1676 : " But the existence of their convent in Gaula is only attested by an old parchment book, written many years ago, which contains the annals of that diocese ; and some old persons attest that before the war of Cromwell, there were Dominicans in that diocese who went about to quest, in consequence of this convent ; the Franciscans, however, always opposed them." In another letter, dated Sept. 8th, the following year, he says : "I went to the diocese of Clogher, and near Enniskillen, in the convent of the Franciscan Friars, called the contending parties ; the Dominicans adduced the authority of the ancient annals of that town, written in the Irish language, which give the name of the convent of Gaula, the year in which it was founded, the Pope in whose pontificate it was founded for the Dominicans. They also brought forward the testimony of an old priest, who swore that he heard from his father that the convent of Gaula belonged to the Dominicans; they also produced other witnesses who gave like evidence."
The decision of the primate regarding Gola would incline one to believe that it was an ancient foundation like Carlingford and Newtownards, and he seems himself to have been of this opinion. But the negative arguments are irresistible. There is not the slightest reference to the convent of Gola at the time of the Suppression or not even in the inquisition held at Enniskillen, in 1609. There is no Bull of foundation extant such as we find for convents erected in the fifteenth century. The name is not to be found in the list of convents, drawn up by Ross Mageoghegan in 1627, nor in another list made in the sixteenth or seventeenth century, preserved in Trinity College Library. The reference to the ancient manuscript would carry great weight, if it were more defined, but Dr. Fitzsimons, vicar-general of Kilmore, who was one of the commissioners helping the primate, speaks of it as annales patriae pervetustos, quos ipsemet vidi in antiqua membrana exscriptos et apud antiquarium dicti comitatus Fermaniae custoditos. This can be no other than the Annals of Ulster, and it is sufficient to say that there is not the slightest reference in them to a Dominican convent in Gola. The reader .may judge the evidence for himself.
In the very year in which the controversy was decided, the primate reports that in Gola convent there are "eight friars, two of whom are good preachers, Father Thomas Mac Mahon and Father Charles Mac Manus. Here again they have a noviciate."
In the middle of the eighteenth century, there were three fathers in community, of whom one was parish priest. The Dominicans left Gola before 1800, and the convent became a private residence. When the grandfather of the present (1907) occupier, Miss Wilson, came to reside there, the walls only were standing. There is still a very fine old mantelpiece in the kitchen, but the most cursory inspection of the building shows it cannot be placed in the category of the ancient abbeys of the Order in Ireland.
FROM BURKE’S HIBERNIA DOMINICANA (1772)
“Golan” in MS – “Gola,” the “river forks.” “Gaulae adhuc videre est aliqua antique Caenobii Rudera, Modernus Fundi Dominus est Jacobus King, Armiger.”
In 1837, Lewis’ Topological Dictionary of Ireland mentions the abbey : Adjoining Lough Erne, a monastery for Dominican Friars was founded and dedicated to (the Nativity) of the Blessed Virgin, by MacManus, lord of the place, of which there are still some remains, also traces of the village of Gola in which it was situated.
Any remains of the ancient monastery are most probably to be found in the farm-house belonging to the daughters of the late Mr. Robert Wilson, who died in 1890. Wilson was the purchaser from the landlord, Sir Charles S. King, of his farms, under Lord Ashbourne’s Act), this was an act that allowed tenants to purchase lands and was to prohibit forced sales and purchases from both parties. The purchasing tenant could avail of government loans to affect the purchase.
The date of this Abbey’s foundation is not recorded. Aldfred, King of the Northumbrian Saxons, is stated to have learned here to speak and write in the Gaelic tongue; and his poem in praise of Erin is still extant.
Gola Abbey is not returned in the great survey of Fermanagh, made at Devenish, 7 July, 1603; nor in the Inquisition at Enniskillen, 18 September, 1609, to enquire into ecclesiastical lands, the only mention of the place is that it was then part of the herinagh lands of Derrybrusk. I cannot ascertain exactly what a heinagh is but I understand it to be a seventeenth century townland in the Church of Ireland. Heinaghs were listed on maps and required the bishop’s consent to erect indicating that they might well be old ecclesiastical divisons. On the 1609 map of the “Barony of Magherysteffanah,” it appears as an ecclesiastical edifice on the townland “eclamre,” next “tategould” (Gola), and “farranouollan” (Farnamullan). In the Down Survey Map, 1665, the townland is recorded as “Givola.”
Dr. Burke describes the convents as suppressed in 1649, and restored at the Restoration. Subsequently to the latter event, Fathers Cathal MacManus and Thomas MacMahon erected a new house at Gola, near the ancient abbey, under the patronage of MacManus, probably a descendant of the original founder. This accounts for the existence of a monastery here so late as the eighteenth century, while the old abbey was the residence of the King family. According to Archdall in his Monasticum Hibernia; in 1756 John Maguire, O.P., aged 55, was prior and Thomas Nolan, O.P., and Anthony Maguire, O.P., were the priests of the community.
The King family were certainly in possession of Gola Abbey as far back as the late seventeenth century. John King of Gola, Esq., took part in the defence of Enniskillen in 1689, and his name also appears in the list of signatories to the address to King William and Queen Mary written in that town in 1690. He died somewhere between 1720 and 1726 and his son James took possession of the estate. This is the James King who appointed Sherriff of Fermanagh in 1728 and presented the communion plate to Derryvolane Church. He died in 1756 and Gola passed to his eldest son also called James. This James married Elizabeth Coote of Limerick a cousin of his but died childless in London in 1823. His sister Hannah Honora married Edward Sneyd, Esq., M.P., Carrick, 1777-1781, Their son Nathanial Sneyd, married twice but died without children in 1833, having been shot in Westmoreland Street, Dublin, by, Mr. John Mason, a lunatic.
In 1815 Gola was purchased by Abraham Bradley King, another cousin. It passed after his death to his son Charles Simeon King. Although Chales listed Gola as his address he moved into the rebuilt house at Corrad nearby. His new lands included a small island called Inishbeg. One of the promontories of this island was called Friar’s Point and part of the island was referred to as the Friar’s Field. Charles was somewhat a historian and edited the Rev. William Henry’s manuscript, “Upper Lough Erne in 1739” from his home at Corrad. The local rector, Rev. J. W. Kaye, LL.D., penned the following verses which make reference to the friars fishing in the lake at that point:
One summer eve I wander’d on
By lough, and mead, and ferry,
Until I came and stoodalone
Upon the bridge of Carry.
Of waters rolling under:
My thoughts ran fast upon the past,
And fill’d my mind with wonder.
I thought of deeds in years gone by,
When brothers fought with brothers;
When kings waged war with chieftain lords-
O’Neills, Maguires, and others;
And if they fought near here, I thought,
‘Midst all their flight and flurry,
Where would they go? – for then you know
There was no bridge at Carry.
I thought of good St. Patrick too,
Who oft, in Innismore,
Would preach to crowds assembled round
From hill, and dale, and shore;
And there’s the stone, ‘worn to the bone,’
Where oft all night he’d tarry
In earnest prayer, in Arda there,
Whene’er he pass’d through Carry.
I look’d across to Gola then,
Where once the Abbey stood;
I thought of monks who counted beads
In prayerful, solemn mood;
I could not name how oft they came
With net and “cot” or wherry,
As Fridays pass’d and Lenten fast,
To catch their fish at Carry.
But twilight falls, and seems to hide
The visions of the past;
The ancient feudal times are gone-
‘Tis well they could not last;
And chief’s ne’er wield the sword and shield,
Nor desperate spear-thrusts parry;
‘Tis well ‘tis so. Flow, waters, flow
Beneath the bridge of Carry
Somewhere in the nineteenth century Charles sold Gola Abbey to Robert Wilson who died in possession in 1890 and his daughters remained on after that. Ambrose Coleman, O.P., wrote that the priory had only become a residence at the time that Robert Wilson purchased it. The evidence from the King family indicates that they lived in the priory as far back as 1689 and had remained in residence until Charles King moved to Corrad. The Kings were resident in Gola Abbey at the time of the siege of Enniskillen and were still there in the time that Thomas Burke was writing in 1772; the restoration happened in 1660.
It is possible that the house was abandoned for some years as the Kings had renovated Corrad as early as 1825. Archdall’s account indicates that there were three friars living here in 1756 but the records indicate clearly that the Kings were firmly in possession of the old priory at that stage.
Maybe the friars lived elsewhere after the restoration?
There is a very fine house at the fork on the road that could be the site of the friars’ new home – I’ll have to go back and have another look. Thank God I marked the place on the GPS!
View From Sweetmount Park In Dundrum
Image by infomatique
Dundrum is effectively a suburb of Dublin even though it is a town in its own right.
In 1971, Dundrum was one of the earliest locations in Ireland to open a purpose-built shopping centre (the first being in Stillorgan). A much bigger shopping centre opened just south of Dundrum on 3 March 2005. Known as Dundrum Town Centre it contains within the complex one of the largest cinemas in Ireland, opened in early October 2005.
The plans for the old shopping centre includes space for hotels, apartments and more retail outlets. However this has been postponed and the older retail units have been leased to new tenants such as Lidl.
When the Normans arrived in 1169, a series of fortifications were built around Dublin. A castle was built in Dundrum as part of this series of outer fortifications around the 13th century. Later in 1590, a newer castle was built by Richard Fitzwilliam as part of a strategic line of castles within the Pale. The original village clustered around Dundrum Castle and was considered a rural defensive outpost against assaults and raids from Irish tribes and families such as the O’Tooles and the O’Byrnes.
In 1619, a relation by the name of William Fitzwilliam was granted the castle in recognition of his bravery and courage while defending against these assaults and his family held onto the Fitzwilliam seat until 1790. The castle was never reoccupied and exists today as ruins overlooking the Dundrum Bypass and the new shopping centre. Recent excavations in 1989 recovered green glazed pottery known as "Leinster Ware", shells from oysters and cockles, animal bones, and shards of pottery from Saintongue in France probably used for storing wine.
The arrival of Richard Fitzwilliam and the building of the castle established commercial activity in the region. The village was well known for "The Manor Mill" where corn was ground into flour. An overflow waterfall was also used by a paper mill and an iron works.
In 1813, the original Roman Catholic church on Main Street was built. It was replaced by a larger building in 1878 and marked when Dundrum was constituted a separate parish. A large extension was built in 1956. The church is built in a gothic style from Dublin granite with Portland and Bath stone used for the surrounds of windows and doors.
In 1818, Christ Church on Taney Road was opened as a replacement for a smaller church that stood on the same site. Selling pew sites raised funding for the new building, and the sale of 18 pews on the ground and 8 on the gallery raised nearly £400. The architect for the new church was William Farrell. Walter Bourne was born in 1795 in Dublin. He died on 19 Nov 1881 in Taney House. He married Louisa Arabella Minchin in 1821.
The village expanded greatly after the arrival of the Dublin and South Eastern Railway (DSER) in 1854. By 1876, the Manor Mill became a Laundry and was the largest employer of female labour in the region, The Laundry hooter was a regular and well-loved sound in its day, and would sound at 7.50am for thirty seconds, then at 8am to start work, and also at 13.50, 14.00, and finally at 16.50 and 17.00.
In 1893, a Dublin solicitor named Trevor Overend purchased an 18th-century farmhouse. Today, this building is named Airfield House and is open to the public.
The Dun Emer Press was founded at Dundrum by Elizabeth Yeats, assisted by her brother William Butler Yeats, in 1903.
In 1914, a Carnegie Library was opened by the then Lord Chancellor. Originally, the library was used as an entertainment facility for the community and the upper floor was equipped with a stage and even a kitchen. The building was also used as a school until the 1950s.
Looking E through main reception area – 5th floor – Mellon Building – Washington DC – 2013-09-15
Image by Tim Evanson
Looking east through the main foyer on the fifth floor (old Andrew Mellon apartment) floor of the McCormick Apartments at 1785 Massachusetts Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., in the United States. The structure is also known as the Andrew Mellon Building, for one of its most famous tenants. The flooring and moldings are all original to the building. The view is into the old east foyer and the door beyond shows what was the old Butler’s Pantry. In the hall, to the door to the right leads to the dining room. To the left is a door and access to the main stairs and elevator.
The structure was built by Stanley McCormick, heir to the International Harvester fortune. McCormick was mentally ill, however, and the building was largely built to the specifications of his wife, Katherine Dexter McCormick. The apartments were designed by Jules Henri de Sibour in the Beaux-Arts style common to the Dupont Circle neighborhood. Construction began in 1915 and was complete in 1917.
The building was designed to accommodate the very wealthy, as were most of the mansions and apartment buildings in the Dupont Circle neighborhood and north along Massachusetts Avenue NW. The plot of land was trapezoidal, posing some challenges to the typical symmetrical, boxy mansion design. De Sibor designed the entrance (on the northwest corner of 18th Street and Massachusetts Avenue) to pentrate the building in a northeasterly direction. Here, a circular tower formed the corner of the building and created a circular receiving area where visitors could shake off water-logged coats, remove galoshes, and alert the concierge as to whom they were visiting. Three short steps led into a small, square foyer where the concierge had a desk. From here, one could take the elevator up or take the winding staircase to the upper floors.
Because of the reception and foyer areas on the ground floor, the first floor was divided into two smaller apartments. The apartment to the left of the lobby was nearly identical in arrangement to that of the units above, but the one to the right was radically different in order to add baths, kitchen, bedrooms, and servants’ quarters.
Each of the upper floors occupied an entire floor. The core of the building contained the staircase and elevator. Around this was wrapped the servants hall, kitchen, and servants’ quarters. On the exterior of the building was the family living space. The facade facing the alley that ran along the east side and southeast corner of the building was undecorated. A narrow, unfinished rectangular courtyard pierced the building here to provide light to the servants’ quarters and servants’ hall.
The huge living room and somewhat smaller dining room ran the length of the building along Massachusetts Avenue NW. Behind the dining room (along the southeast corner alley) was the kitchen, and further back was the servants’ hall (which served as a servants’ dining room). Three foyers — right, left, and ahead — bracketed the elevator and stairwell, providing plenty of buffer space to keep visitors out of the apartment until they were wanted.
Along quieter 18th Street was a salon, two small bedrooms (with a shared bath), and a large bedroom (which occupied the brightly lit corner). Three small bedrooms ran along P Street NW. There were three bathrooms here, each shared by the bedroom next to it. These essentially created a long corridor on the P Street wall through which family members or guests could visit one another in states of undress without using the hallway. A public corridor ran along the inner wall of these bedrooms.
The inner core of the building consisted of a mezzanine set below the floor. The servants’ hall, kitchen, dining room, living room, salon, bedrooms, foyers, and public corridors all had 14.5 foot high ceilings. The servants quarters were remarkably smaller, each just 10 feet wide and 15 feet long with only enough room for a twin bed and an upright wardrobe. All five servants’ rooms shared a single bath. Ceilings here were just eight feet. Interestingly, the top floor had TWO mezzanines — the normal one below, as well as one above. This gave the top floor apartment space for as many as 10 live-in servants.
The building offered many amenities: A central boiler system that provided both heat in winter and circulated cool water through the radiators in summer (to help cool things off); a central vaccum system (plug the hose into the wall, and use); refrigerated tap water; and laundry chutes. Each apartment had its own washing machines and drying racks in the basement.
The building had numerous famous residents. They included Stanley McCormick and his daughter, Katherine McCormick Judge, who lived here from 1917 to 1930 and from 1930 to 1933. Robert Wood Bliss, a State Department official, lived here from 1920 to 1923. He moved out to become ambassador to Sweden, and upon his return to the U.S. purchased the Dumbarton Oaks estate in Georgetown. (It is now a national historic site and museum housing his extensive collection of pre-Columbian and Byzantine art.) William Butterworth, president of John Deere, lived here from 1930 to 1931 when he was president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Alanson B. Houghton, the former president of the Corning Glass Works, lived here from 1930 to 1934, as did Thomas Fortune Ryan (the onwer of the Belgian Congo diamond fields and an American robber-baron) from 1920 to 1922. Pearl Mesta, "the hostess with the mostest", lived here from 1931 to 1932. Her dinner parties and cocktail receptions were considered the most lavish and delightful of Washington society for half a century. Industrialist and banker Andrew Mellon also lived here from 1921 to 1932 while he served as Secretary of the Treasury to Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. Mellon occupied the top floor. Most tenants paid a whopping ,000 a month to live there. (That’s 5,000 in 2013 dollars!) Mellon paid ,000 a month. For a few months in 1936, Lord Joseph Duveen rented the apartment below Mellon’s and placed 42 valuable oil paintings there for Mellon to look at. Mellon, an avid art collector, was expanding his collection to form the nucleus of what he hoped would be a National Gallery of Art. Duveen hired a caretaker for the temporary gallery, and gave Mellon access (day or night). After some months, Mellon purchased nearly all of the paintings Duveen offered.
The Great Depression led to widespread vacancies in the building during the 1930s. It was largely empty by 1940. In 1941, the building was seized by the federal government and turned into offices. The British Purchasing Commission (which obtained ships, guns, and ammunition from the U.S. during the Lend-Lease period prior to WWII) used it from 1941 to 1942, followed by the British Air Commission in 1948 and the Commonwealth Scientific Office in 1949. It stood empty for two years. Stanley McCormick died in 1950, and under the terms of his will the building was donated to the American Council on Education. The council used it until 1969. It was sold to the Brookings Institution (which is next door) in January 1970. Brookings rented out to a wide range of scientific, educational, and lobbying organizations. It was sold to the National Trust for Historic Preservation on October 28, 1976 — at which point it was declared a National Historic Landmark.
In late June 2013, the National Trust sold the building to the American Enterprise Institute (a right-wing think tank) for .5 million. The Trust moved into leased space on the top two floors of the Watergate Office Building. The National Trust holds a permanent historic preservation easement that protects both the interior and exterior of the Mellon Building.