Community notes July 2nd
June 29, 2022
Ecclesiastical Tour of Timoleague
Some fifty history enthusiasts were present at a historical walk and talk of the ecclesiastical sites of Timoleague recently. The event was part of a fundraiser for the restoration project currently being undertaken at The Church of The Ascension. Finola Finlay, well known for her scholarly work with the Roaringwater Journal, organised the tour in association with The Glass Society of Ireland. Fr. Patrick Hickey PP and Donal Whooley, who are well known experts on local history also contributed. Donal outlined the famed history of the Abbey while Fr. Hickey told the story of the cockerel, which may not be as well known as other aspects of the abbey’s history.
He directed his audience to a large headstone located in the nave, which features the carving of a cockerel. He outlined the symbolism of this, stating that at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, a number of his disciples were gathered together. Nearby there was a pot in which a rooster was being boiled. Judas is supposed to have remarked if there was any chance that Jesus would rise again. Another replied that there was as much chance of that happening as there was of the rooster jumping out of the pot and crowing. Sure enough with that the rooster jumped out and began crowing.
Finola spoke of stained glass in medieval times and told of the glass that would have been on the great windows of the abbey looking out on to the estuary.Moving on to the next site, The Church of the Ascension, she spoke of the beautiful stained glass in this unique church, famed for its mosaics. The mosaics which were erected between 1894 and 1925 were funded by The Maharajah of Gwalior and the Travers family. Aylmer Martin Crofts, a native of Concamore was Surgeon General in The Indian Medical Serviceand was based in the State of Gwalior in Central India and is said to have saved the life of the Maharajah’s son.
It was then on to The Church of The Nativity of The Blessed Virgin Mary where Finola outlined the story of the stained glass on site and especially of the Harry Clarke windows. Fr. Hickey directed the gathering to a replica of the Timoleague Chalice and spoke of its journey from Timoleague Abbey to Cape Clear and back to Timoleague parish. In 1856, Fr. Henry Leader PP of Rath and The Islands was saying a station mass on Cape Clear. After mass the priest who was chatting with the people noticed a box on a shelf over the fireplace. The woman of the house told him the story of the box which was passed down through several generations. The story goes that some fishermen from the island came upon a boat that was drifting aimlessly nearby. They drew near and found three friars, two of whom were dead and the third in a state of utter exhaustion. He had a box clutched in his possession. They came ashore and buried the friars on the island and the survivor was nursed back to health. On leaving the island when he had made a full recovery, he gave “muintir and ti” the box and asked them to care for it until his return. Fr. Leader ordered the box to be opened. It contained a set of vestments which crumbled to dust on being touched. Underneath was a chalice, black with age bearing the inscription: ffr’ Min Conv de Thimolaggi ( Friars Minor convent Timoleague). It was probably rescued by the friars during the burning of the abbey in 1642. It is now once more back where it originated. It was been verified that it was made in London in 1633.
A lovely few hours was had by all with special thanks to Finola, Donal and Fr. Hickey for their considerable input.