At 2 p.m. on Saturday, 19th March, the feast of St. Joseph, Mass in the Gregorian Rite took place in Duiske Abbey, Graignamanagh. The third volume of Bishop Comerford's Collections Relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin (1886) includes:
"The town and parish of Graig-na-managh derive their name from the celebrated Cistercian Abbey, called De Valle Salvatoris, which formerly flourished here, and of the noble church of which a large portion still remains. The name signifies the "Grange of the Monks," and indicates what constituted the grange of the first foundation. In ancient records it is styled the Abbey of Duiske, and was so called because it was build upon the confluence of the streams Duiske, i.e., the Blackwater, with the Barrow. The original monastery was founded on lands granted for that purpose by Dermod O'Ryan, Prince of Idrone, which grant was confirmed by Dermod MacMurrough, King of Leinster. The foundation charter is still extant among the Ormonde archives. Mr. Gilbert has reproduced it in fac-simile, from whose work the text is here copied... It does not appear as if the pious intentions of the chief of Idrone were immediately carried into effect. The next information we have in connection with the monastery is that William Mariscall, Earl of Pembroke, introduced a colony of Cistercian monks from the Abbey of Stanley, in Wiltshire, about the year 1202. They settled first at Loughmeran, near Kilkenny; then they removed to Athernott (Annamult), and finally they established themselves at Duiske about A.D. 1212. The charter of this new foundation is also preserved amongst the Ormonde archives..."
"Though the Abbey was suppressed, Abbots continued to be appointed. In a Note of the names of preestes, semynaries, fryers, etc., in the Citie of Kilkennie circa 1618, appears the Item: "Melchier Ragged, a franciscan (sic) fryer, keepeth usually with his father, Richard of ye said citie, Alderman, and is reputed as Lo; Abbot of the Monastery of Dawiske, within the county of Kilkennie," And in the Spicilegium Ossoriense, Vol. II., p. 281, there is a letter addressed to Propaganda by the Rev. John Magher, dated Kilkenny, 27th August, 1686, which commences:- "Ego Joannes Macharius Abbas S. Mariae de Valle Salvatoris, vulgo de Duisque, ord. Cisterciensis in Hibernia in Comitatu Kilkeniensi," &tc. In this letter Father Magher refers to his appointment as Abbot of Duiske, by Bull of Pope Innocent XI. He also relates how, on his landing at Cork, he was seized by the enemies of the Catholic faith and detained a prisoner and in chains, for two years."
"The Abbey Church was a building of great extent. It has a fine octagonal tower, which fell in 1744, similar to one that stood at Tristernagh, County Westmeath. this tower, according to the Rev. G. Hansbow, was one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical structures in the kingdom. Three of the four great arches that supported it, fell at the same time, and also the fine groined roof of the chancel.
"'Graig now appeared,' writes Trotter in his Walks through Ireland, 1812, 'and has the air of a Welsh village. An ancient castle stands in mournful solitude at some distance. The whole population here, and in the surrounding country, is Catholic. Graig contains about 2,000 inhabitants... The celebrated Abbey of Graignamanagh now struck our view. I cannot describe how nobly venerable it looked. The aisle and arches afford beautiful specimens of the Gothic. The windows we thought remarkably handsome. They Abbey was well enclosed, and good gates at different entrances. A very ancient tomb is to be seen near the entrance of the Abbey. The figure of a man in armour is seen on it, and is said to be Lord Galway's. He is reputed, I know not why, to have been a son of Queen Elizabeth's. We discovered a very small chapel built and connected with this Venerable Abbey. A holy gloom seemed to pervade it. Crimson curtains nearly shut out the glare of day. We observed a few respectable people crossing the grand and deserted aisles of the great building, and enter this chapel to perform their devotions. Never was a place more suited for the solemnity and tranquillity of religious worship. they stayed a short time and retired. I left my companions, and rested half-an-hour in a seat on the gallery. It is a melancholy, yet sweet moment, when the soul is thus abstracted from the world. And the melancholy is pleasing; for in such solitude we converse with the Deity, and repose all our cares and anxieties in His eternal breast.' The aisles have disappeared, but the portions still remaining are very extensive. The ruin has been roofed in, and now forms the Parish Church of Graig, being, with the Black Abbey, Kilkenny, probably the only ancient Catholic Churches throughout Ireland that have been restored to the worship of the old faith."
"The circumstances under which the restoration took place, as related by the old inhabitants, are curious. It appears that the west end of the nave was roofed and prepared to serve as a Protestant Church (though never used as such), at the commencement of the present century; the windows having been glazed, it was found next morning that they had been broken by the jackdaws, who thus, as tenants in possession, resented the invasion of their prescriptive rights - again the glass was replaced, and again and again the aggrieved birds repeated their work of demolition. This was reported to Lord Clifden, who replied that the birds appeared to be the ministers of divine justice; that the Church had been built by Catholics, and for Catholic purposes; and, consequently, that it should be restored to the rightful owners. Lord Dover, in 1809, granted a lease for ever of the chapel and Abbey ruins to the Parish Priest and people of Graig, at a nominal rent of 10s, which has never been demanded. The present Lord Clifden is about to add to the holding the plot outside the western end of the church, in the Main Street. The walls of the chancel and transepts were pronounced secure, and remain; the walls of the nave were found to be ruinous, some of the arches having fallen. These were taken down and rebuilt, but, unfortunately, not in line with the walls of the west end of the nave; the consequence of which is that this portion of the old building, with its beautifully carved windows, cannot now be incorporated with the Church."
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