Thursday, September 11, 2014

Travel Thursday: At Maynooth, the National Seminary for Ireland

St. Mary's Church, across from the archway as I prepare to enter the grounds.
Located about twenty-five kilometres (15 miles) south of Dublin City, in the village of Maynooth, County Kildare, is the National Seminary for Ireland. Called Maynooth College and/or St. Patrick's College, the school was officially established as the Royal College of St. Patrick in 1795. It was here that my paternal grandfather's brother Michael was educated, taking the vows of the priesthood in 1918.

At the age of eighteen, Michael Joseph Geraghty began his religious education 29 September 1911, in the First University class of the seminary at Holy Cross College, Clonliffe. Leaving Holy Cross College, he was sent to complete his degree at the prestigious seminary of St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth.

Here, on 28 April 1918, at the age of 25 years, he was ordained Father Michael Joseph Geraghty by Bishop Patrick Morrisroe.

Through the archway on to the grounds.
Father Geraghty served in eight separate appointments for the Catholic church in the diocese of Dublin. In 1969 he was, in the words of the church, 'created a canon'. The last parish church at which Father Michael served is Our Lady of Dolours in Glasnevin. Very Reverend Michael Canon Geraghty died at Glasnevin on his 81st birthday, 3 May 1974 and is interred in the Prospect Cemetery at Glasnevin, Dublin.

Through the little door in the door,
my curiosity led me to follow someone inside.
At the age of thirteen, I first set eyes on St. Patrick's College at Maynooth, and it was mightily intimidating. Perhaps my discomfort was sparked by memories of family stories which characterize the Very Reverend Michael Canon Geraghty as disapproving, even spiteful (see A Saint and A Sinner: The lives of two brothers). My imagination created a picture of him raining down fire and brimstone upon his congregation, flailing arms, booming voice and all.

Perhaps it was my own childhood experiences of raging priests, but whatever the reason, fear of Father Michael created trepidation about visiting the place at which he was educated. Thankfully, the passage of time now makes St. Patrick's College at Maynooth appear only tranquil and beautiful rather than frightening. The buildings and grounds are deeply quiet and inspire contemplation, and it is tempting to imagine what life might have been like here for my granduncle.

Truth be told, I still feel slightly uneasy at the place. It didn't help that on the Sunday of this visit there was a deep grumbling within the clouds of the chalky grey sky; and, when I explained to the woman in the office that my granduncle had attended seminary school at Maynooth she was less than welcoming.

The halls which overlook the inner green space are lined with portraits of priests and bishops down through the ages.
I searched through them for an image of my grandfather's brother, Michael Canon Geraghty.
Another hall of portraits, and no sign of the Very Reverend Geraghty.
At the back of the college, the entrance to the church.
Another rear view.
At the back of the college, a path through this enormous green leads to a gate which leads into a special space (see below).
This beautiful 'cathedral' of trees leads to the small cemetery used for the burial of clergy.
To view photographs I shot in 2012 which show the small cemetery at the end of this walk,
visit my cemetery blog, 'Over thy dead body'.
(*Click on images to view larger versions.)


  1. Especially from that last photograph, I can see where this would be a peaceful, contemplative setting. Overshadowed by your very understandable childhood memories, though, it's easy to see how you could react to this setting differently.

    I am so excited to tell you, Jennifer, that our family will be headed to Dublin ourselves in less than three weeks. Our daughter is already there at college, and it will be nice to visit with her. On this first visit to Ireland, though, we will be spending quite some time walking the same paths as our Irish ancestors--a contemplative journey of its own.

    1. Thanks for your comments Jacqi; as always they are much appreciated. I wish you all good things on your trip to Ireland and many wonderful discoveries! I have been following along with your daughter's adventures in Cork at UCC, and hope your time with her is wonderful, as well. We have a family connection at UCC; my grandfather's brother Patrick was a professor there.

      Cheers to you and to your family,

  2. Beautiful photos and interesting that you have a connection to the seminary. Thank you for helping my friend Catherine. Also, I noticed you added quite a long books list.. Have you really read all of those books?

    1. Thanks for your comments Charlotte; as always much appreciated. I wish I had had the fortune to meet the Very Reverend. My guess is he would have been a difficult but very interesting man. Thanks for your thanks; I am happy to do whatever I can for Catherine. Yes, the books list is quite long, not as long as my bibliographies for my history work, but I hope people find titles that interest them. (and yes I have read all of them).

      Cheers to you,


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Cheers, Jennifer

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