This week, children from the local primary school in Oldtown – the nearest village to Clonmethan – got a tour of the church and graveyard as one of their school tours. In normal times, a school tour might be to a museum in Dublin or further afield. With the global pandemic, things are of course a little different, but Clonmethan is ideal as it is not only outdoors, but has some interesting local history.
Some Friends of Clonmethan volunteers were on hand to give the children some insights on local history. The pictures below show, in order, the school children being informed about locals who fought and died during World War 1, and about Tom Dreaper and the great horse Arkle.
It is wonderful to see the fruits of the efforts and labour of the Friends of Clonmethan being put to use, and to the benefit of the local school too. Let’s hope this is the first of many such local history trips. And a word of thanks to local firm Keogh’a crisps for some lunch time goodies.
Or so said the Freeman’s Journal of 26th July 1872 of a story of some local heroism in the Clonmethan parish. Appearing after two articles about the national income and Belgian agriculture, the article is reproduced below:
At the cleaning up of a well in Clonmethan on Wednesday, there was a miraculous escape. After taking up the tubes of a pump a workman was belowcleaning up the well, when the walls closed in and buried him under thirty seven feet of stones and earth. This occurred at 4 pm. The people immediately collected, and under the able superintendance of Rev J Burnett, Doctor Adrian and P Reynolds Esq, worked gallantly all night, when they liberated the poor man – strange to say – little worse for an imprisonment of tewleve hours.
Lucky man. We are not sure where the well was exactly, but the names of the people mentioned collate with the parish.
Some searching of the newspaper archives throws up interesting events for any period of time. A search of 1821 revealed an interesting article in the Belfast Newsletter of 25th May 1821 mentioning Clonmethan. Around this time, the issue of payment of Church tithes was a hot topic of the day. The article summarised below should be read in this context.
The Belfast Newsletter of 25th May 1821 reported on the revoking of an earlier Proclamation made by the Lord Lieutenant in March 1818. The Proclamation referred to the parishes of Naul, Wespalstown, Ballymadun, Garristown, Hollywood, Palmerstown and Clonmethan as being “in a state of disturbance and […] require an extraordinary establishment of Police”. The notice of May 1821 referred to “said parishes are restored to Peace and good order” and thus the Proclamation was revoked. It was actually revoked in May 1820, but only reported on in the newspaper around one year later.
Newspaper archives are a treasure trove of information. The Freeman’s Journal was published in Dublin from 1763 to 1924. It was viewed as the leading nationalist newspaper of its day.
A search of all Irish newspaper archives which have been digitised reveals the oldest dated mention of Clonmethan was in the Freeman’s Journal, of June 30, 1789. The mention is within a piece which covers events of the day in Dublin. It reads as follows:
The Rev Mr Fowler. son of the Archbishop of Dublin, has been presented by his grace, to the Chancellorship of St Patrick Cathedral, in room of the Rev Dr Dealtry, removed to the Prebend of Clonmethan.
Note: a prebend is a stipend furnished by a cathedral or church to a clergyman. Thus, the Rev Dr Dealtry was funded by the Clonmethan parish. His activities seemed to centre around central Dublin.
The Irish Times of Nov 14th 1874 notes a church collection for the Dublin Sunday Hospital Fund. This fund was (as far as we can determine) a charitable fund set up to raise money through church collections for Dublin hospitals. The fund had some notable people at its helm as you can see below – including the Lord Lieutenant, the Earl of Meath and Arthur E Guinness (the great-grandson of Arthur Guinness)
Clonmethan was included in the church collections, as can be seen from this snip from the Irish Times.
The Fund seems to have been quite ahead its time. Charities at this time had no obligation whatsoever to publish any income or expenditure details. An article in the Britsh Medical Journal of May 31 1879 includes a letter from the Fund Secretary, noting how a similar London based fund did not do so (see below).
The Fund did indeed publish some information, as the snip below shows (Irish Times of January 21 1891). The church at Clonmethan contributed £2 14s. In 2021 values, this equates to about €71.
While 2020 has been a strange year, as what the Friends of Clonmethan do is mainly outdoors, a fair bit has been achieved in the first year. The group set up on foot of a meeting in St David’s Church, Killsallaghan on 3rd January 2020. Since then, volunteers have cleared most of the graveyard, the old church is ivy free, and the gates were shot blasted and painted.
Reverend Aldhouse finaly got his tombstone (71 years later), we set up this website and work started on our application for funding to save the tower. A flood light has been installed and the straightening of headstones has begun. Finally a memorial to those who fought and fell in the First World War was erected.
Tanks so much to all involved in making this happen. A special thanks to Fingal Farm Home and Garden for donating flower bulbs and to Colm Flynn for helping with the gates.
Looking back a century, to 1921, our country was coming to the end of the Anglo Irish war and heading into Civil War. To get a feel for the comings and goings of the time around Clonmethan and Fingal, the testimony of John Gaynor from the military archives is a nice read. Gaynor was a Captain in the Balbriggan Company of the Irish Volunteers.
The map below highlights the locations described. More can be found here.
Tithe Applotment Books are were compiled between 1823 and 1837 in order to determine the amount occupiers of agricultural holdings over one acre. The occupiers were due to pay tithes (taxes) to the Church of Ireland.
The National Archives has made these books available to the public. There is a manuscript book for almost every civil (Church of Ireland) parish in Ireland. The books have the names of occupiers of each townland, the amount of land held and the sums to be paid in tithes.
A search by location shows the following for the parish of Clonmethan:
If you click on the word “search” above, you can get more detail, but below shows an example of what can be found under “Clonmethan”.
As the sun set on the evening of October 9th 2020, a plaque was erected in Clonmethan to remember those men who left the area over a hundred years ago as volunteers. With a vision of a better world in their hearts and minds, they left family thinking that they may well be home for Christmas. History has shown how wrong they were. A century has passed, the world has changed dramatically and they have been forgotten. Their remains lie all over the world, but their roots are still here in north county Dublin. So here in our little village with no loved ones left to mourn them, at the going down of the sun, we remember them.