ST KEVIN’S PARK DUBLIN

Saint Kevin's Park, Dublin. Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Saint Kevin’s Park, Dublin. Photo: © Michael Fisher

SAINT KEVIN’S PARK
The first reference in historical annals to Saint Kevin’s Church is in 1226. The Church was situated in the Irish section of the city and the parish extended from the mouth of the Dodder to Milltown. In 1584 Archbishop Dermot Hurley was laid to rest in a secret grave within the church, having been executed for alleged treason. Bishop Rothe wrote in ‘Analecta Hibernia’ in 1609 that in view of the throngs of pilgrims to the grave and the remarkable occurrences there that the church was rebuilt and a special entrance made. A memorial to the Archbishop is situated at the south-eastern corner of the church.

In 1698 the parish was offered to the French Huguenots as a place of worship and a burial ground. Although the use of the church as a Catholic place of worship ceased under the penal legislation of Elizabeth and James I, the graveyard continued to be used by Catholics until the end of the 19th century. Over the years various reconstructions and additions to the church took place and the vestry was floored, while burials continued in the remaining sections. An archaeological excavation in 1967 uncovered some medieval family graves, coins and tiles from that period.

The church was restored in 1872 and was used as a place of worship until 1912. The church bell was sold for scrap in 1919 and the 18th century font in which the Duke of Wellington had been baptised was given to Taney church in Dundrum. In 1962 after long negotiations, the ruins of the church and the graveyard were transferred to Dublin Corporation and were developed as a park. Some of the headstones remain undisturbed and all others have been placed along the outer walls of the church and perimeter walls of the park.

The Keogh Grave, St Kevin's Park Photo:  © Michael Fisher

The Keogh Grave, St Kevin’s Park Photo: © Michael Fisher

THE KEOGH GRAVE
John Keogh, Mount Jerome, one of the founders of the Catholic Convention of 1792, died Nov. 13th 1817, aged 77.
Also his wife Mary, died Dec. 1st 1823, aged 66.
Also his father Cornelius Keogh, died August 19th 1774, aged 66.
Also his mother Abigail Keogh, died Sept. 20th 1779, aged 66.
Also his daughter Mary Keogh, died April 20th 1804, aged 18.
John Keogh was a successful businessman, and became a member of the Catholic committee seeking alleviation of Penal Laws in 1790. He was a close friend of Theobald Wolfe Tone and following his imprisonment in 1798 the cause was taken up by Daniel O’Connell.

The Moore Grave, St Kevin's Park Photo:  © Michael Fisher

The Moore Grave, St Kevin’s Park Photo: © Michael Fisher

THE MOORE GRAVE
John Moore Esq. Formerly Barrack Master at Islandbridge, (in the County of) Dublin, died Dec. 17th 1825, aged 84 (years).
Also Anastasia Moore, alias Coda, his wife, died May 8th 1832, aged 68.
Also six of their children who died young and their daughter Ellen, died Feb. 4th 1846.
Deeply mourned by her brother, Thomas Moore, the bard of his much beloved country, Ireland.
The Moores lived at 12 Aungier Street, where they ran a grocery business. Thomas, the eldest of the Moore children, attended Trinity College with Robert Emmett. He was renowned for his poetry and music and was lauded by Byron, Scott and Wordsworth. Thomas Moore had the headstone here erected for his parents and sisters.

The Darcy Grave, St Kevin's Park Photo:  © Michael Fisher

The Darcy Grave, St Kevin’s Park Photo: © Michael Fisher

THE DARCY GRAVE
Belongs to John Darcy, Brewer, Usher’s St.
His father, Mathew Darcy, died August 6th 1824.
Also his mother, Mrs Mary Darcy, died March 30th 1814.
Also his eldest brother, Arthur Darcy, died Sept. 7th 1823.
John Darcy was a popular Catholic businessman who died in 1825. Such was the scandal when the rector at St Kevin’s refused to allow Catholic prayers be said at the graveside that Daniel O’Connell used it to effect legislation establishing cemeteries at Goldenbridge and Glasnevin.

The Joly Grave, St Kevin's Park Photo:  © Michael Fisher

The Joly Grave, St Kevin’s Park Photo: © Michael Fisher

THE JOLY GRAVE
Jasper Joly, died Nov. 9th 1823, aged 84.
Also his wife Mary, died Dec. 13th 1825, qged 84.
Also Catherine, wife of Charles Joly of Harcourt Tce. Died Feb. 27th 1858, aged 43. Also Charles Joly.
Jasper Joly was a Captain in the Irish Volunteers in 1779 and is said to have hidden Lord Edward Fitzgerald in a well in his garden while he was on the run from English forces.

Memorial to Archbishop of Cashel Dr Dermot O'Hurley in St Kevin's Park, Dublin Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Memorial to Archbishop of Cashel Dr Dermot O’Hurley in St Kevin’s Park, Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

BLESSED DERMOT O’HURLEY ARCHBISHOP OF CASHEL 1531-1584 (see article yesterday)

The Fr John Austin Grave, St Kevin's Park Photo:  © Michael Fisher

The Fr John Austin Grave, St Kevin’s Park Photo: © Michael Fisher

FR JOHN AUSTIN SJ GRAVE  (as transcribed by Bowden)
“To the memory of
Rev John Austin
Of the City of Dublin, a Priest,
And until the suppression of the Society of Jesus,
A professed Jesuit;
During six and thirty years
A pious learned and indefatigable labourer
In the vineyard (sic.) of the Lord.
Who after deserving well
Of the rich, whom he admonished,
Of the poor, whom he relieved,
Of youth, whom he instructed,
Of the orphan, to whom he was a father,
Of all ranks of men whom he,
By making himself all in all,
Was active in opening to Jesus Christ.
On the 29th September, 1784
Closed, in the 66 year of his age,
A life, worn out in the sight of the Lord.
Religion
Weeping for her faithful Minister,
On the 8th December 1786,
With grateful hand
Erected this monument”

The Fr John Austin Grave, St Kevin's Park Photo:  © Michael Fisher

The Fr John Austin Grave, St Kevin’s Park Photo: © Michael Fisher

John Austin was born in New Street in 1717. He was professed (as a priest) in 1750 and went on to establish a seminary in Saul’s Court, off Fishamble Street. He continued his preaching throughout the city for over thirty-five years and died aged 66 in 1784.

The Fr John Austin SJ Grave, St Kevin's Park Photo:  © Michael Fisher

The Fr John Austin SJ Grave, St Kevin’s Park Photo: © Michael Fisher

Perhaps the Parks Department along with the Jesuits might consider a tidy-up of the grave sign and surrounding this summer, in time for Fr Austin’s anniversary in September. It seems a while since any maintenance was undertaken.

Headstone with 'IHS' sign for grave of nJohn Feagan, Gentleman of Arron (Arran) Quay, Dublin, in St Kevin's Park.  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Headstone with ‘IHS’ sign for grave of nJohn Feagan, Gentleman of Arron (Arran) Quay, Dublin, in St Kevin’s Park. Photo: © Michael Fisher

MARTYRDOM IN DUBLIN: 431 YEARS AGO

Entrance to St Kevin's Park, Dublin Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Entrance to St Kevin’s Park, Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

Visiting a hidden-away part of Dublin city centre earlier this month near Aungier Street, I came across a little-known story about a significant event in the history of the Irish Catholic church 431 years ago on this day. By coincidence, June 20th 1584 was also a Saturday. Walking along Camden Row off Wexford Street, I came across a small green area behind a wall, with an interesting arch and gate at the entrance: Saint Kevin’s Park. I decided to take a look. There is a very helpful information board at the entrance, provided by the Parks Division of Dublin Corporation (now Dublin City Council).

Entrance to St Kevin's Park, Dublin Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Entrance to St Kevin’s Park, Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

This is the story of one of the Irish Catholic Martyrs during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. On 27th September 1992, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II, alongside sixteen other Irish martyrs, who share this feastday. Another martyr, Saint Oliver Plunkett, was beatified in 1920 and canonised in 1975.

Ruins of St Kevin's Church in St Kevin's Park, Dublin Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Ruins of St Kevin’s Church in St Kevin’s Park, Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

Inside the park you can see the ruins of Saint Kevin’s church. Beside the wall at the south-eastern corner, there is a stone memorial resembling a pulpit, with the bishop’s coat of arms on the front and on top, a bronze plaque with a dedication to Archbishop O’Hurley.

Memorial to Archbishop of Cashel Dr Dermot O'Hurley in St Kevin's Park, Dublin Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Memorial to Archbishop of Cashel Dr Dermot O’Hurley in St Kevin’s Park, Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

BLESSED DERMOT O’HURLEY ARCHBISHOP OF CASHEL 1531-1584

Memorial plaque with story of Archbishop Dermot O'Hurley in St Kevin's Park, Dublin Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Memorial plaque with story of Archbishop Dermot O’Hurley in St Kevin’s Park, Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

Dr Dermot O’Hurley was born at, or near, Emly, Co. Tipperary, about 1530. His family were well off by the standards of the time and as a young man Dermot was sent abroad to study law at the University of Louvain, where he graduated with an M.A. in 1551. In 1581 Pope Gregory XIII asked Dermot O’Hurley, still a layman, to become the new Archbishop of Cashel and he accepted. He was ordained on 13th August 1581 and on 11th September that year was appointed Archbishop of Cashel. O’Hurley was aware that his appointment would mean life as a fugitive, ministering where possible, in dangerous conditions. In the summer of 1583 he arrived in Ireland. He never reached Cashel. While sheltering at Slane Castle he was recognised. By October he had been arrested and imprisoned in Dublin Castle. Believing that he was actively participating in a plot to overthrow the English rule in Ireland, Dermot O’Hurley was repeatedly interrogated and tortured. This included roasting the Archbishop’s legs in two boots filled with boiling pitch and oil. Throughout the torture he persistently

Memorial plaque with story of Archbishop Dermot O'Hurley in St Kevin's Park, Dublin Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Memorial plaque with story of Archbishop Dermot O’Hurley in St Kevin’s Park, Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

protested that his mission was one of peace and that he had no information to give to his captors. The authorities also resorted to bribery. This proved to be equally fruitless and an order for his execution was received from England on Saturday 20th June, 1584. Dermot O’Hurley was taken, very early on a midsummer morning from his cell in Ship Street, to Hoggin Green, near St Stephen’s Green, (then a swampy area with wildfowl) to be hanged. He got an opportunity to speak a few words to people who were in the Green that morning.  

‘I am a priest anointed and also a Bishop, although unworthy of so sacred dignities, and no cause could they find against me that might in the least degree deserve the pains of death, but merely my function of priesthood wherein they have proceeded against me in all points cruelly contrary to their own laws’. 

The Very Rev. Dean (Thomas H.) Kinane P.P., V.G. in his book “The Life of Dr O’Hurley Archbishop of Cashel” published in 1893 states ‘Mr William Fitzsimmons a citizen of Dublin (let his name be emblazoned in gold and held up to

Memorial plaque with story of Archbishop Dermot O'Hurley in St Kevin's Park, Dublin Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Memorial plaque with story of Archbishop Dermot O’Hurley in St Kevin’s Park, Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

the admiration of posterity) got private possession of the holy relic of the body of the martyr, lovingly and reverentially encased in a wooden urn, the best that could be procured under the circumstances and consigned it to it’s (sic.) mother earth in the ruinous church of St Kevin’. The Catholic Bishop of Ossory, David Rothe, in ‘Analecta Hibernia’ written about 1609 and published in Cologne in 1717, relates that the church was rebuilt ‘in view of the throng of pilgrims to the grave “in vicino oratorio” (in the vicinity of the oratory) of Saint Kevin and the remarkable occurrances (sic.) there’.  Rev. S. O Muirthuile  S.J. in ‘A Martyred Archbishop of Cashel’ (1935) writes ‘we may be sure that this holy place played its part in strengthening the faith of the Catholic people of Anglo-Irish Dublin during the glorious history of persecution. It was a strange disposition of God’s providence that he who had been consecrated to spend his life in the apostolate of Cashel became in death a most eloquent apostle of Dublin’. 

Memorial plaque with story of Archbishop Dermot O'Hurley in St Kevin's Park, Dublin Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Memorial plaque with story of Archbishop Dermot O’Hurley in St Kevin’s Park, Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

The above reference to Slane Castle caught my attention and I decided to investigate it further. The Castle referred to is not the present building, the home of the Conyngham family since 1703. The Castle was for many years the seat of the Flemings, an Anglo-Catholic family. The tenth Baron Slane Thomas Fleming (died 1601) was a member of the Parliament of Ireland of 1585. He was the son of James Fleming, a grandson of James Fleming, 7th Baron Slane.

An entrance to the current Slane Castle, Co. Meath Photo:  © Michael Fisher

An entrance to the current Slane Castle, Co. Meath Photo: © Michael Fisher

His mother was Ismay Dillon, daughter of Sir Bartholomew Dillon, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. He succeeded to the barony after the death of his cousin James Fleming, 9th Baron Slane. He was the only noble to serve with Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex against Turlough Luineach O’Neill, the ruler of Ulster, in March 1574. He was one of the leaders of the opposition to the policies of Sir John Perrot, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in the 1580s. His relative the thirteenth Baron Slane was (Catholic) Archbishop of Dublin, a Franciscan priest who, like O’Hurley, had studied at Louvain.

Coat of arms of Archbishop Dermot O'Hurley of Cashel on memorial in St Kevin's Park, Dublin Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Coat of arms of Archbishop Dermot O’Hurley of Cashel on memorial in St Kevin’s Park, Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

The episcopal motto for Archbishop O’Hurley was “Ardente Fide” (burning, or ardent faith) and the coat of arms forms part of the memorial in the park. So on this anniversary let us remember him and the other Irish martyrs who died for their faith. Semper et ubique fidelis, in the words of our school motto in Dublin.