Timolin & Moone (Co. Kildare / East)
Timolin (Tigh Mo Linne), nowadays a tiny one-shop village with two pubs, dates from the C7th AD, when Saint Moling founded a religious establishment here shortly before his death. (Photo by Sarah777)
Robert FitzRichard St. Michael, Lord of Narragh, built a strong castle during the reign of King John; he also founded a convent here for the nuns of the Arrosian order, and placed his granddaughter Lecelina in charge. At some date between 1200 and 1222 the lands of Rosrehil were granted by St. Mary’s Abbey of Dublin to Lucia, Prioress of the Convent of Timolin. In 1328, the church here was burned by Edmund de Butler. During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, the castle was attacked by his descendant the Marquess of Ormonde’s troops, and the garrison slaughtered. Nowadays, very little evidence remains of the old buildings.
St Mullin’s church (CoI), thought to date from 1738, with a tower added in 1823, is believed to stand on much older foundations. The church contains some attractive stained glass windows, and a fine Victorian organ, originally from Portreath Methodist church in Cornwall, was installed here in 2002. A C13th effigy of a knight recalls the area’s past.
Moone (Maen Colmcille) is one of the oldest inhabited districts in County Kildare, with evidence of settlement going back 6000 years.
The area was first Christianised by the Roman missionary bishop, Palladius. When Saint Patrick planned to visit from Glenealy the residents of Moone laid traps for him, as they considered him a heretic. Warned by Saint Briga / Brigitta, he took evasive action and cursed Moone, averring that no man born there would ever become a king or a bishop – and none has, yet!
Belan House & Moone High Cross
Belan House was the seat of the Stratford family, built partially from the ruins of a Fitzgerald castle destroyed during the 1641 Rebellion.
John Stratford, Baron of Baltinglass in the County of Wicklow (1763). was created Viscount of Aldborough in the Palatinate of Upper Ormonde in 1776, and celebrated his promotion by commissioning architects Castle and Bindon to enlarge Belan House into the biggest gabled houses in the country. He was created Viscount Amiens and Earl of Aldborough in January of 1777, but died in May of the same year. He was succeeded by his three eldest sons in turn; his eccentric eldest son Edward founded Stratford-on-Slaney in County Wicklow and was responsible for the construction of the magnificent Aldborough House at the top of Dublin‘s Amiens St. in 1995).
Detail from A Prospect of Belan House, painted in 1783 by William Ashford (c.1746 – 1824), a Birmingham-born artist who became one of Ireland’s most popular landscape painters of his day, frequently commissioned by landowners to produce idyllic topographical depictions of the parklands and hunting grounds of their well-ordered country estates, and was elected first President of the RHA in 1823.
Benjamin O’Neale Stratford, 4th Earl of Aldborough (d.1833), a notorious gambler who hated his family, mortgaged the estate and let it fall into disrepair; he even sold the garden ornaments, while the gates were given to Carton Demesne. All that remains are impressive entrance pillars in the centre of the village, a classical temple and obelisks, and the almost unrecognizable ruins of the house. (The 6th and last Earl of Aldborough died in 1875).
Moone High Cross, an exceptional C8th monument, stands amidst the ruins of a C13th church in the estate grounds.
This, the South cross, is one of four crosses that once defined the Abbey sanctuary. Found buried about 1835, it measures 17ft 6″ from platform to summit, making it the second highest in Ireland. Decoration consists of panels with scriptural scenes (Daniel in the Lions’ Den, the miracle of Loaves and Fishes etc.) carved in false relief and filled with interlace, animals and abstract motifs.
Fragments remain of the West, East and North crosses, but not in their original positions.
Saint Colmcille founded a monastery here in the C6th; in the Martyrology of Donegal and the Book of Kismore the location is called Maen Colum Cille (”property of Colmcille”), from which the name Moone is officially thought to derive.
Moone Abbey House, an C18th mansion, has an interesting C15th tower in the grounds. The property is privately owned by Count Clemens Matuschka and his family, but is open to the public in May and September.
The Moone High Cross Inn is a charming hostelry full of interesting artefacts. It has well-maintained gardens with lawns cropped by a small flock of moronic Jacob sheep. The Inn also provides B&B accomodation facilities.(Photo by Alan L)
Timolin and Moone are within easy reach of Stratford (Co. Wicklow) on ByRoute 5 and Burton Crossroads on ByRoute 7.