Sitting on the church lawn now a wildflower meadow in Strokestown Park there is a ruin, the remains of a seventeenth-century church, very little is known about this church.
In Isaac Welds description of the site in 1832, the building is described as follows:
“Within a grove, at a short distance from the house, the remains of an old church, roofless and in part dilapidated dimly seen through the trees, some of the windows retain the ancient mullions, whilst others in modern workmanship have been supplied, but unhappily not strictly in accordance with the original style. The area of these ruins has been selected for the site of the Family Mausoleum, consisting of a circular edifice, whose newness forms a contrast to the grey walls and thickly tufted ivy in the midst of which it stands”
Today the ruin sits quietly amidst the trees on the meadow almost unnoticed as visitors from all over the world walk by visiting Strokestown House, the National Famine Museum and the Walled Gardens. A few will wander over and always come back enthralled wanting to know more. Some feel as if they are great explorers, the first to stumble across these ruins, as I am sure Henry Pakenham Mahon of Strokestown Park House may have felt as he travelled through the Orient in the 19th century.
Indeed the mausoleum is the final resting place of Henry and his wife May, as it is for Major Denis Mahon who was assassinated on the 11th November 1847 in the midst of the Great Irish Famine; the first landlord assassinated in Ireland during this time.
According to Weld, the church was an ivy-clad ruin as far back as 1832. In more recent times the structure was at risk of totally collapsing due to vegetation. Sycamore had taken root on the roof of the mausoleum and the roots of these trees were causing substantial damage. The church walls had collapsed in three areas and a very substantial crack had formed near the western gable.
Over the last few years, small conservation projects have been carried out to protect this structure. Another phase of these works has just been completed, now the outer wall of the mausoleum which was in danger of collapse has been numbered, painstakingly taken down and rebuilt using traditional methods. Only lime mortar has been used throughout this conservation project. A large crack on the western gable has been pinned and rebuilt also.
All of this recent work has been overseen by Kevin Blackwood Conservation Architect and works have been carried out by Mid-West Lime. The project has been supported by funding from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and the Built Heritage Investment Scheme administered by Roscommon County Council. We will hopefully continue this project over the next year, please check out our website and Facebook for updates.