Monday, November 14, 2011

In the shadow of Croagh Patrick: Seeking 'Geraghty'

Both shadow and light change as you climb inside and around the ruins of the Murrisk Abbey, change which you can feel within, as you seek the signs of a long ago past.  It was here that I came to find some of my Geraghtys, not to mention O'Malleys and Tooles. The locals say, "everyone knows" all the Geraghtys of Lecanvey are buried in the Abbey cemetery, and as I walk through the grounds their claim bears out.  The evolution of the surname is right there before me, Geraty, Garaghty, Geraghty.

All that remains, other than the cemetery, are parts of the small chapter house and the church of the Augustinian Friars, buildings which have stood on this site in Murrisk since the 15th century.  Founded by Hugh O'Malley in 1457, the Abbey was dedicated to St. Patrick.

The quiet of this place is unyielding.  The tread of footsteps sounds intrusively loud as you walk down the dusty old road which leads to the site on the very edge of Clew Bay.  The dewy grass in the old cemetery sighs, and individual bits of gravel shift and settle as you walk among the stones of those interred inside the church.  The mist comes in off Clew Bay, and the dampness seeps into your bones.

The shadows of the past are all here.  Some are under stones which no longer bear even the slightest mark of the stonecutter's blade, and others lie in places well tended and long remembered.  The surface of the ground undulates, rising and falling, imprinting the spaces where some lie with barely a mark at all.

My great-grandfather Patrick Geraghty and his wife Margaret Toole left behind life in Lecanvey (Le-CAN-vee), County Mayo, sometime after the birth of their eldest son Thomas, on 20 April 1886, and sometime before the Dublin City birth of their daughter Mary in 1888.  They made their way to the heart of Dublin City, leaving behind family and friends, heading to a completely different life from the one they had known as the children of farmers.

Steep narrow stairs lead to the upper floor
The upper floor
The altar room of the Chapter House
The old cemetery and the 'new' divided by a stone wall.
Click on photographs to view larger version.
All Photographs Copyright©J.Geraghty-Gorman 2011. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Great photos! Thanks for sharing them.

  2. Speechless and almost comment-less.


    So totally beautiful and haunting.

  3. Hi Charlene and Hi Carol,

    Thanks for your comments; I really appreciate receiving them.

    Cheers to you,

  4. The view inside the building is almost unnerving. I especially was captivated by the shot of the steep staircase from above. I'm not sure I'd be able to handle standing in the altar room. Thank you for taking me there with this wonderful post.

  5. Hi Jacqi,

    Thank you for your lovely comments. They are much appreciated. I'm glad you enjoyed this post.

    Cheers to you,


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