Here is a link to an article in Journal.ie from a few years ago showing some old churches around Ireland. Our church has been in a worse state than some of those shown, br great work has been done and fingers crossed, one day it may be restored to its former self.
Postponed until a later date due to Covid 19 restrictions.
War-time France 1917 and bucolic North County Dublin – it is difficult to imagine two completely different places to work as a clergyman. However, that is what happened when Reverend Frederick Aldhouse swapped his parish in Oldtown for the battlefields of France.
A local community group The Friends of Clonmethan have been working for some time to improve the churchyard and grounds of Saint Mary’s Church in Oldtown, the parish of Reverend Aldhouse. The church had become overgrown since its closure in 1960 but an active group of people have been working away – mowing the grass, removing ivy and restoring the entrance gates. All the work has been done against the background of Covid-19, while adhering to HSE protocols on Social Distancing.
On Friday 28th August at 7pm, Archbishop Michael Jackson will bless a new headstone to Reverend FH Aldhouse, the last resident Rector of the parish. Also in attendance will be Rector Neal Phair from Swords Group of Parishes and Father John Keegan from Rolestown parish.
A noted writer and poet, Reverend Aldhouse initially came to St Mary’s in 1914. He saw service as a Chaplain in The First World War, returning to Clonmethan in 1919 where he remained as Rector until his death in August 1949. Frederick Aldhouse provided comfort to soldiers as their Padre during the Great War, to the Church of Ireland members of the village and to his neighbours and friends of all faiths. Thanks to the efforts of the Friends of Clonmethan, his final resting place is marked with a beautiful headstone inscribed with some of his poetry.
Clonmethan Church is located 750 metres from the village of Oldtown on the R122 in the direction of Naul.
Views from above
Some great work has gone on this week. Some of the Friends of Clonmethan were cleared for take-off – well, put into a boom lift – to clean off plaster and ivy from the upper reaches of the church. Some great views from on high.
Today marks the anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele which began on the 31st July 1917. We pay tribute to all who were involved. Here is a picture of wild poppies growing in a field in St. Margaret’s which feels very fitting for the day that’s in it.
A few weeks ago we marked the final resting place of Rev Aldhouse. Below is a short history of his life.
Frederick Henry Aldhouse was born on 1st November 1873 in Dublin, to Frederick Stephen Aldhouse and Francis Harriette Aldhouse (nee Hime). He attended Trinity College receiving his BA in 1898 and his MA in 1901. At this time he was preaching in Castlebar from 1899 to 1902. In 1902, he moved to St Doloughs in Malahide Co Dublin as Curate. After his spell in Malahide he went on to Clonmethan church near Oldtown in 1914.
Around November 1916, Frederick volunteered his service during the first world war. He served in France with YMCA as a chaplain in May 1917. He later traveled to India in November 1918 and then returned to London in February 1919. After arriving home from volunteering his services he was awarded the British War Medal.
He then returned to Clonmethan Church in 1919. From this time onward he was a comfort to his parishioners, a good friend to his neighbours. Heremained in Clonmethan and wrote prolifically until the end of life on 30th August 1949. May he rest in peace.
That big tree…..
Any of you who have ever visited the church and graveyard at Clonmethan would certainly have seen the large beech tree (below). It was measured recently and has a circumference of 232 inches. Based on a calculator at tree-guide.com this puts it at 346 years old. This calculator has a tolerance of about 10% either way, giving a range of 312- 380 years old.
Assuming an age of 346, this tree was a seedling in 1674. Have a look here for some key facts of that year.
Restoration – the beginnings
Last week, the Friends of Clonmethan started to work on the outside of the church. The task at hand was to remove the old plaster ( a dashed finish which covered the original stone work ). Some of it could be “talked down” but some was quite stubborn. Teamwork prevailed, and as you can see from the photos below, the outside is quite clean and looking more like it’s original self. In time, we would hope to re-point the original stone work.
As you may notice in the photos, there is a ring of concrete around the top of the stone work of the nave of the church. This was poured when the roof was taken off in the 1950s. It has done its job and preserved the stone work very well.
Rev F. H. Aldhouse remembered
Today just before noon, our community paid tribute to Rev F H Aldhouse. He provided comfort to his comrades as their padre during the Great War (1914-18), to the Church of Ireland members of our village and to his neighbours and friends of all faiths. Thanks to the efforts of the Friends of Clonmethan. His final resting place is marked with a most magnificent stone in the graveyard, with some of his own poetry inscribed thereon. Do call in and pay your respects in not too distant future.
Captured in a painting…
My 16yo daughter painted the picture below recently, at my request of course. I think she worked from a photo here on the blog. If anyone knows of other paintings, let us know as it would be great to capture them here.
We are starting a historical blog on the parish of Clonmethan on the website. If you have any stories or photographs of funerals, weddings, christenings or any other events which took place in the church or grounds, we would like to hear them. If anyone has any family ties with Clonmethan Church (St Mary’s) or the surrounding area. please let us know, and we will include them.
We have recently made connections with relatives of Fredrick Henry Aldhouse the last Rev of Clonmethan (St Mary’s) who died on the 30 August 1949 and is buried in the church. I will be writing a longer article on Fredrick Henry Aldhouse and his connection with the Church of Clonmethan (St Mary’s).