Heritage Sites of Co. Carlow

Adelaide Memorial Church of Christ the Redeemer (Church of Ireland), Myshall

This beautiful church, located in the small Carlow village of Myshall, was built as a memorial to the patron’s wife and daughter who were regular visitors from Dover.  John Duguid’s daughter Constance died nearby in a riding accident in 1888 and the sculptor Thomas Farrell was commissioned to carve a memorial in Carrara marble.  This statue of Innocence originally stood in the graveyard but following the death of John’s wife Adelaide in 1903 the architect George Coppinger Ashlin drew up plans for a church to accommodate the statue, which had begun to show signs of deterioration. The church also serves as a parish church and a resting place for the Duguid family. John died on 3rd May 1913 just before the church’s consecration.

The building was modeled on Salisbury Cathedral but is obviously much smaller. Construction started in 1907 and completed in 1913 at a cost of £50,000 and was carried out by James Kiernan of Talbot Street, Dublin. The exterior walls are in a pale grey Stradbally limestone, skillfully dressed by stonemasons and stonecutters into flat ashlar.  It was quarried from Aughamaddock Quarry, Co. Laois that was owned at the time by Kiernan. The supporting ground level plinth is of polished local granite from Raheenliegh, Coolasneaghta, which was carted to the building site where it was then dressed and polished.  The roof is slated with green slates.

The church interior is reminiscent of another memorial church, that at Kylemore Abbey.  Much of the design was by Ashlin and his partner Coleman.  The yellow stone for the walls is Bath Stone, an easily carved stone that provides the rich decorative elements such as the arches, colonettes, and bosses and corbels. These carvings were executed by the Dublin craftsman Charles W. Harrison; he was probably also responsible for the external carvings seen around the entrance doorway. Additional colour is added through the use of colonnettes of a pale red granite from Peterhead, Aberdeen. The altar steps are polished jet black Galway limestone and lead to the chancel, which is floored with small triangular and rhombic tiles of Carrara, green, and purple Italian marbles that replicated a pattern taken from St Mark’s Basilica, Venice. The chancel walls are paneled with stone and minerals giving a highly polychromatic effect. The font is particularly splendid and is carved in a veined white alabaster with lapis lazuli decoration.  The bowl sits on an octagonal column of dark Connemara marble that had been quarried at Streamstown, near Clifden in Co. Galway.

Between 2000 and 2003 the church was restored and remains a fine example of Victorian craftsmanship that drew on both native and imported stone types.

Geology of Co. Carlow

The oldest rocks in Carlow are from the Ordovician period (490-450 million years ago [Ma]) in the east of the county. They are sea floor sediments, which were caught up in the closure of an ocean that once separated two continents. The mountain range that was pushed up at the end of the Silurian period was then deformed with the intrusion of large granite masses (plutons) about 400 Ma. The Leinster granite underlies most of the county, both the Blackstairs Mountains and the Tullow lowlands. It was formed beneath the earth’s crust and the molten igneous rock cooled and crystallised slowly. The rocks that covered it have since been eroded away. The Ordovician rocks were metamorphosed by the heat of the

In the early part of the Carboniferous period the sea covered the lower ground, depositing limestone. During this time the tropical sea contained many animals and fossils of these are plentiful in the important limestone quarries of the county. Some beds, which were rich in shells, make popular stones for cladding buildings and are easily recognised with their white fossils in the blue limestone.

Upper Carboniferous rocks occur in west Carlow and form part of the Castlecomer Coalfield, spanning Counties Carlow, Kilkenny and Laois. The rocks were formed in a delta environment with occasional swamps forming coal in the sequence. For much of the following 300 million years Ireland was mostly a land area dominated by erosion rather than sedimentation. There are also some features of deep weathering of the landscape in the Neogene period.

The last development occurred during the last 1.6 million years when ice ages came and went. The last one ended about 10,000 years ago, giving Carlow some glacial deposits of till (boulder clay) or sand and gravel across the lowlands. An esker (the international name for these features comes from the Irish name: eiscir) formed at Ballymoon, near Bagenalstown, from a river flowing beneath the ice, leaving a long narrow ridge of sand and gravel.

Geological map of Co. Carlow

Map legend: Geological Map of Limerick (based on GSI 1:1,000,000 map 2003). Light pink: Ordovician; Turquoise: Ordovician volcanic rocks ; Light blue: Lower Carboniferous limestone; Dark green: Upper Carboniferous shales and coals; Dark pink: Granite.