Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mary Magdalene buildings and places in Ireland: First report

Mary Magdalene buildings and places in Ireland:
First report

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

St. Mary of Magdala, otherwise known as St. Mary Magdalene, is a saint more sinned against than sinning. In countries like France, St. Mary Magdalene is at the heart of the community with many churches dedicated to her name. In medieval Ireland and Britain St. Mary Magdalene was most often associated with leper hospitals – places outside of the community and at the edge of society. These places later became known as the Maudlin hospital as a corruption of her name. The district where the hospital was located sometimes took on the name of Maudlin as the name of that district. Some other hospitals were known as “spittal hospitals”. From this you get places called Spittal Field (Kilmallock) or Spittal Hill (Kinsale) or Spiddal, Co. Galway which is a corruption of Spittal.[1]

Image of St. Mary Magdalene with the ointment jar 

Ireland

Clare

Ennis

Within the Franciscan friary at Ennis is a medieval tomb, erected c.1470, by More ni Brien for her husband Terence MacMahon. This tomb was moved in 1843 to make room for the Creagh family tomb. The panels around the medieval tomb show scenes from the life and death of Christ. One of these panels shows the entombment of Christ. This scene shows a number of figures like Joseph of Arimathea placing Christ in the tomb. One of the background figures is St. Mary Magdalene with the ointment jar.[2]

Cork

Cork city

The leper hospital of St. Mary Magdalene at Shandon is first mentioned in 1306. In that year John de Wynchedon left 40 shillings in his will to the hospital. Its later history is unknown but by 1615 its buildings were in ruins.[3]

Down

Bright

A leper hospital, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, was located at Bright in County Down.[4]

Kingreagh

In the townland of Kingreagh in County Down there once stood the chapel of St. Mary Magdalene. In the papal taxation of c.1302 the chapel was valued at 20 shillings and thus paid 2 shillings in tax.[5]

Galway

Athenry

The early history of this lazar house of St. Mary Magdalene is unknown. In 1400 Pope Boniface granted an indulgence for those who supported the hospital of Athnaracgh, diocese of Tuam. By that time repairs were needed and the attached chapel needed conservation work.[6]

Laois

In May 1491 Thateus Odecrayan, professor of the Order of Franciscans Minor secured a papal letter appointing him next abbot of the Cistercian abbey at Abbeyleix. In June 1491 Thateus petitioned Rome concerning a number of parish churches and chapels in the dioceses of Ossory and Leighlin. Thateus claimed that these churches and chapels were vacant (without recognised incumbents) but occupied by people claiming to be priests. One of these chapels was the chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, Stradbally in County Laois. This chapel was occupied by James Ternes who also held the church of Nuoachmayl (Oughaval, Co. Laois) and the chapel of Corrchroyn (Curraclone, Co. Laois). The total value of the six churches and two chapels was 50 marks.[7]

Kildare

Castledermot

The Magdalene leper hospital at Castledermot has an unknown early history, like many such institutions. Poverty seems to have taken over the hospital before 1540 as it appears in the possessions of the priory of St. John the Baptist.[8]

Clane

There was a leper hospital at Clane, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene.[9]

Kildare

There is a reference to the hospital of St. Mary Magdalene at Kildare in 1307 but few other details are available.[10]

Naas

In 1606 there was recorded twenty acres of lands in ‘the Maudelins’, parish of Naas (value 5 shillings) which belonged to the chantry priests of St. David’s church in Naas. The name of Maudelins indicates a medieval hospital dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene.[11]

Kilkenny

Gowran

This Magdalene hospital at Gowran stood some three hundred yards east of the church. It contrast too many such hospitals, the Gowran house appears to have had a long existence and was still operating in 1578.[12]

Kilkenny

The St. Mary Magdalene (Maudlin) Leper Hospital at Kilkenny was one of the principal leper-houses in Ireland. There appears to be no record of when it was built but it was in existence by 1327. In 1349 Stephen Dunhod was a tenant of St. Mary Magdalene and he paid 12 pence to the Kilkenny Assembly to have respite from work. Another tenant of St. Mary Magdalene, Nicholas Deer, paid 2 shillings for the same respite.[13]

The affairs of the Magdalene leper hospital were in a poor state by 1352. The overwhelming work load of the Black Death must have strained its resources and affected its management. A visitation in 1352 found the possessions of the hospital were held by people who kept the revenues of the hospital for their own ends. The visitors were concerned about the souls of the people who bequeathed these goods to the hospital. The patients received no comment. Instead the visitors directed that the master of the hospital and a serjeant of the town distrain rents and rights of the hospital that were found by an inquisition.[14]

By the time of the Dissolution the hospital was in a ruinous state. The jurors in January 1541 reported that the old ruined chapel had no roof and that there was a worthless orchard. A number of dwellings in the suburbs, owned by the hospital were empty. The disturbed countryside was reflected in a small roofed castle built for the protection of the lepers. The hospital’s possessions included 25 acres along with several messuages and gardens. The total value of the hospital was £9 12 shillings 4 pence.
    Two years later (1543) the sovereign and commonalty of Kilkenny held the hospital which was known as The House of Lepers.[15]  

In St. Canice’s Cathedral there is a tomb of an unknown woman. Among the saintly figures surrounding the tomb is the representation of a woman. This figure could be St. Barbara with an object that looks like a tower. Yet the figure could also be a representation of St. Mary Magdalene and the object she holds is the box of ointment she had to anoint the feet of Christ.[16] The west end panel of the same tomb does show the Magdalene with her box of ointment.[17]

Thomastown

William Carrigan said that there was a leper hospital called ‘Modaleen’ about a quarter mile from Thomastown on the road to Bennettsbridge. From other evidence this would suggest a hospital dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene.[18]

Church of St. Mary Magdalene at Trim - viewed from the east  
Potterton, Medieval Trim, p. 346

Limerick

The well of St. Mary Magdalene lies in the parish of Kilmurry to the east of Limerick city. An Annual pilgrimage is still held there on 22 July, her feast day. The water is said to cure sore eyes and other complaints.[19]

Louth

Drogheda: Dominican friary

The priory of St. Mary Magdalene was founded by Luke Netterville, archbishop of Armagh, in 1224. Archaeological excavations in 1994 established that the priory was location outside the northern boundary of Drogheda. A defensive ditch marking the town boundary was filled in just before the Dominican priory was built.[20]

The friars received royal alms in 1253 and 1285. Wrongdoers took sanctuary in the church in 1300 and 1330. In 1337 three of the friars were found guilty of beating up two of their brethren. In 1394 four Irish kings came to the friary to make their submission to King Richard II. The Portiuncula indulgence was granted 1399 for the repair of the church and chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This was renewed in 1401.

In 1412 a riot broke out between the townsmen of Drogheda on each side of the river. A complaint was sent to the king. One of the Dominicans, Philip Bennett, a master of theology, invited both sides to the collegiate church of St. Peter. Here he gave such a moving sermon that both sides made peace.

At the parliament of 1468, held in Drogheda, an act was passed which granted an annual sum to the friary as it had fallen into decay and poverty through incessant depredations of English and Irish rebels. The Regular Observance was introduced in 1484. Another indulgence was granted in 1496 for further repairs under prior Cornelius Gerald. Prior Peter Lewis surrendered the friary in March 1540.

In survey of the jurors in October 1540 showed that the various grants and indulgences of past times did little long term good to the fabric of the friary. The church and the dormitory had fallen into ruins before the dissolution and were of no value. Other superfluous buildings on the 1½ acre site could be sold. The friary also held 10 acres of land, five messuages and other plots valued at 47 shillings. In addition there were two vacant messuages of no value.[21]

Drogheda: leper hospital

The leper hospital of St. Mary Magdalene on the Louth side of Drogheda had a short early history. Some authorise say that it was first located at Palmerstown, north of Termonfeckin and later moved to Drogheda. It was there, sometime before 1202 that it was acquired by the prior of Duleek. The lepers and the hospital chaplains were then moved to the house of St. Laurence where they became part of the Fratres Cruciferi order.[22]

A charter of about 1206 described the leper hospital of St. Mary Magdalene as beside the bridge of St. Mary before it was moved to a new site outside the St. Laurence Gate. The canons of Llanthony Prima, as the priors of Duleek, allowed parishioners of St. Peter’s at Drogheda to attend the leper chapel at any time except on prescribed feast days. These days were Easter, Ascension of our Lord, Pentecost, Nativity of St. John the Baptist, feast of St. Peter, all feasts of St. Mary, All Saints, Christmas, Circumcision of our Lord, Epiphany and on the day of preparation before Sunday.

The 1206 deal also contained the proviso that if Drogheda grew in size and the leper hospital had to move further out into the country that Llanthony would take care of the chapel and cemetery. If the leper hospital of St. Mary Magdalene should close the lepers could dispose of the buildings and lands as if it were their own property.[23]

Dundalk

The early history of this leper hospital at Dundalk, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, is unknown. It became part of the hospital of St. Leonard before 1540 as it is listed among the possessions of that house at the dissolution. Located near the rectory, it was granted with rectories and churches around Dundalk to Henry Draycott in 1559.[24]

Parsonstown

Sometime between 1194 and 1210 Osbert Butterley granted the chapel of St. Mary Magdalene in the parish of Parsonstown in the Barony of Ferrard, County Louth to the canons of Llanthony Prima. Osbert Butterley also attached to the grant nine acres of arable land, which was formerly held by William Andreas and Richard Refus. Osbert Butterley further granted to the said chapel the house which William Andreas once held along with the churchyard and one acre of arable land adjacent to the house.[25]

When the property in Llanthony Prima was divided c.1211 between Llanthony Prima in Wales and Llanthony Secunda in Gloucester, the chapel at Parsonstown went to Llanthony Prima. The Parsonstown chapel remained the property of Llanthony Prima until the dissolution of the monasteries. When the Archbishop of Armagh visited the chapel in 1544 it still had a serving chaplain.[26]

Meath

Duleek

There was a leper hospital at Duleek around 1202. Like many other such hospitals it was dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene.[27] The hospital was located near the bridge over the River Nanny.[28] This hospital gave its name to the bridge which was called Magdalen Bridge.

Affairs did not go well for the hospital in the fifteenth century. By 1403 it was in the king’s hand and custody. In that year it was granted along with some gardens formerly owned by St. Mary of Odder to Thomas Scargyll. In 1419 Henry V granted the hospital buildings to John Tonour.[29]

In 1459 fourteen acres of land at Duleek was transferred from the king to Llanthony Secunda to provide finance to maintain the bridge.[30]

Kells

A leper hospital was founded at Kells around 1100 or earlier. It was dedicated to the great Irish female saint, St. Brigid. Oegus mac Gillabain was erenagh of the hospital in about 1117-1122 and was mentioned in a charter of that time. It was possibly after the Norman invasion of 1169 that it took on the dedication to St. Mary Magdalene.[31]

Ratoath

Near this town in 1456 was said to be an abbey dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene which had in around 1385 was seized of 40 acres of land valued at 6 shillings 8 pence. The Pipe Roll of Richard II gives it as a house of Augustinians. Yet as others have said, because the dedication is to Mary Magdalene the house was possibly a hospital maintained by the regular canons. The nearby parish church was dedicated to St. Thomas and was attached to the abbey of St. Thomas in Dublin since before 1186. The latter abbey still owned the church in 1540.[32]

Trim

The hospital of St. Mary Magdalene at Trim is mentioned in 1335 when a payment of 4 shillings was made by the Hospital. It is said that the Hospital was founded by King John. In June 1375 Thomas Ripperis was appointed warden of the house of St. Mary Magdalene. In 1386 Richard Molys acquired thirty acres of land in ‘the Maudelyins’. In September 1431 Henry VI granted custody of the hospital to Thomas Clement, chaplain along with the chantry of the chapel in Trim Castle.[33]

In the fifteenth century it ceased to function and the property was taken over by the Franciscans. At the suppression of the monasteries, the Franciscans held an orchard, chapel (in ruins) and a close in a place called ‘the Maudlins’. Nearby was a field of 22 acres called the ‘Mawdelynsfield’. This was owned by the Franciscans at a value of 18 shillings.[34]

The ground plan of the church of St. Mary Magdalene consists of a nave and chancel with a chancel arch between them. In the chancel area there is a sculpture of a female figure that may well represent St. Mary Magdalene.[35]

Image from Potterton, Medieval Trim, p. 344

Waterford

Waterford city

Outside the walls of Waterford city was a chapel or hospital dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene which was owned by St. Stephen’s Hospital within the city. It is suggested that the chapel had accommodation for lepers. By 1661 the chapel/hospital of St. Mary Magdalene was converted into a house occupied by Alderman John Heavens. Canon Patrick Power believed that the site was later occupied by the Leper Hospital which became the County and City Infirmary.[36]

Wexford

New Ross

In 1587 a hospital in New Ross was recorded as been ‘recently re-incorporated’. This house was dedicated to the Holy Trinity and was founded by an ancestor of Sir Patrick Walsh. The original staff arrangements were for a master with some brethren and sisters. It is possible that this hospital took over from a medieval hospital in the town that was dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene. A townland in the town called ‘The Maudlin’ would suggest such a medieval hospital.[37]

Wexford

The leper hospital at Maudlinton was dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene and was said to be that same hospital founded by Richard de Clare (Strongbow) before 1175. Another source says it was founded around 1170 and endowed by the Ferrand family. In 1212 the hospital was confirmed to the Knights Hospitallers.[38]

In 1408 King Henry IV granted custody of the hospital to John Rochford.[39]

An inquisition in 1610 found that the hospital acquired 120 acres of land, tithes, messuages and other property to the value of 22 shillings in 1389. The hospital was controlled by a master, keeper or prior and had both brethren and sisters within its walls.[40]

Wicklow

Wicklow

A leper hospital known as the ‘spittal house’ or ‘the Maudlins’ was located at Wicklow in 1578. As in other examples this house was most probably dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene.[41]

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[1] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland (Dublin, 1988), pp. 352-5
[2] John Hunt, Irish Medieval Figure Sculpture 1200-1600 (Irish University Press, Dublin, 1974), vol. 1, p. 124
[3] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland (Dublin, 1988), p. 348
[4] Michael Potterton, Medieval Trim: History and Archaeology (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2005), p. 343
[5] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland (Kraus reprint, 1974), Vol. 5 (1302-1307), p. 206
[6] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland (Dublin, 1988), p. 346
[7] Michael J. Haren (ed.), Calendar of entries in the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1978), volume xv, no. 672
[8] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 347
[9] Michael Potterton, Medieval Trim: History and Archaeology, p. 343
[10] Michael Potterton, Medieval Trim: History and Archaeology, p. 343
[11] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 354
[12] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 351
[13] Charles McNeill (ed.), Liber Primus Kilkenniensis (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1931), p. 14; A.J. Otway-Ruthven, Liber Primus Kilkenniensis (Kilkenny, 1961), p. 29
[14] Charles McNeill (ed.), Liber Primus Kilkenniensis, p. 18; A.J. Otway-Ruthven, Liber Primus Kilkenniensis, p. 35
[15] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 352
[16] John Hunt, Irish Medieval Figure Sculpture 1200-1600, vol. 1, p. 109
[17] John Hunt, Irish Medieval Figure Sculpture 1200-1600, vol. 1, p. 191
[18] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 356
[19] Sean Spellissy, Limerick the rich land (Ennis, Spellissy/O’Brien publishers, 1989), p. 101
[20] Arlene Hogan, The Priory of Llanthony Prima and Secunda in Ireland, 1172-1541: Lands, patronage and politics (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2008), p. 118
[21] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 224
[22] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 349
[23] Arlene Hogan, The Priory of Llanthony Prima and Secunda in Ireland, 1172-1541, pp. 118, 260
[24] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 350
[25] Arlene Hogan, The Priory of Llanthony Prima and Secunda in Ireland, 1172-1541, p. 246
[26] Arlene Hogan, The Priory of Llanthony Prima and Secunda in Ireland, 1172-1541, pp. 96, 211
[27] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 350
[28] Anngret Simms, ‘The Geography of Irish Manors: the example of the Llanthony Cells of Duleek and Colp in County Meath’, in Settlement and Society in Medieval Ireland: Studies presented to F.X. Martin, edited by John Bradley (Boethius Press, Kilkenny, 1988), p. 303
[29] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 350
[30] Arlene Hogan, The Priory of Llanthony Prima and Secunda in Ireland, 1172-1541, p. 102, note 44; P. O’Keeffe and T. Simington, Irish Stone Bridges (Dublin, 1991), p. 111
[31] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 351
[32] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 191
[33] Michael Potterton, Medieval Trim: History and Archaeology, pp. 332, 342, 343
[34] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 356
[35] Michael Potterton, Medieval Trim: History and Archaeology, pp. 344, 346
[36] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 357; John Bradley & Andrew Halpin, 'The topographical development of Scandinavian and Anglo-Norman Waterford', in Waterford History and Society, edited by William Nolan & Thomas P. Power (Geography Publications, Dublin, 1992), p. 122
[37] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 355
[38] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 357
[40] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 357
[41] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval religious houses Ireland, p. 357

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