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St. Brendan's Church of Ireland Cathedral in Clonfert
If you're travelling to Ireland, why not take a peek and see how the weather's behaving here in the West.
The Bishop's Palace is in the grounds of Saint Brendan's Cathedral in Clonfert, County Galway, Ireland. Its surrounds contain a cruciform Yew Walk, reputed to be dated to over one thousand years old. The monks of centuries ago walked here in silent meditation as they read their daily office. What stories these beautiful old trees could tell.
This is the second of 4 pages telling the history of one of Ireland's best kept secrets - a place of significant architectural and early christian church history. The first page looks at the beautiful little Cathedral nestling peacefully in open countryside in South County Galway.
Page three looks at the life of its founder as a monastic settlement in the 6th century - Saint Brendan the Navigator. And our final page covers the momentous day we celebrated this little cathedral's inclusion in the World Monuments Watch 2000 listing.

The Ruins of the Bishop's PalaceThe Ruins of the Bishop's Palace
The Ruins of the Bishop's Palace

The Bishop's Palace

The palace is only a stone's throw from the Cathedral and can be reached by the avenue on the left, which is only a few yards beyond the Cathedral entrance. It was built about the year 1650 and became the home of the Bishops of Clonfert. Bishop Wolley, who restored the Cathedral in 1664 and was probably the first occupant of the palace, is one of the best known holders of this See. His Arms and Motto, salvaged from the ruins of the palace, are to be seen near the West Door of the Cathedral.
Perhaps more interesting to modem visitors than any great ecclestical figure from the past is the last occupant of the Bishop's House, Sir Oswald Mosley, who took up residence here in 1952. As is well known, he was imprisoned at the outbreak of World War II for his fascist loyalties and was the founder member of the British Union of Fascists.
In his autobiography. Sir Oswald, speaks with affection of his old home at Clonfert as: "rambling and romantic rather than beautiful." Just before Christmas 1954 the house was accidentally rendered almost a total ruin by fire. It now sits covered in ivy, with trees growing in and around it, yet its loveliness can still be seen.
Reverend Wayne Carney, current pastor to the parish of Clonfert, has this beautiful building in his distant dreams as a heritage centre, and what a beautiful one it would make, sited in the grounds of one of Irelands most remarkable heritage buildings.

Bishop Wolley's Coat of Arms and Motto

Bishop Wolley's Coat of Arms and Motto

The Yew Walk

Leaving the palace and making our way through the rest of the land attached to the cathedral we come to a cruciform walkway which has become known as The Yew Walk. A new wall has been constructed around the outer perimeter of the property and an opening has been left leading into the woods and the walkway.
The walkway itself is made up of cross shaped paths through yew trees which are said to be a thousand years old. The walkway is almost like the transept of a church with a green ceiling. As I walked it I could almost imagine the monks strolling peacefully beneath the trees, with heads bowed and covered with cowls, saying or chanting their daily office - what stories these trees could tell.
The Thousand Year Old Yew Walk

The Thousand Year Old Yew Walk

The Saint Brendan Restoration and Education Foundation

On Thursday, 22nd April 1999, Rev. Wayne Carney, Clonfert's Rector, was present at the Irish Repertory Theatre in New York City for a performance of Sean O'Casey's play Shadow of a Gunman, followed by the launch of this Foundation. Its goal for the year is to raise funds to assist the Heritage Council in its work to preserve and protect the famous doorway.
The doorway to Saint Brendan's Cathedral in Clonfert is decaying and UK experts on old historical buildings think that the cause is from the restoration work carried out over 100 years ago. The inner walls of the cathedral were sealed to prevent the elements causing dampness but now it is felt that there is need to 'allow the walls around the doorway to breathe'. There is also a need for a good form of heating for the cathedral.
The Heritage Council, co-ordinating the fund raise from this side of the Atlantic, is also interested in restoring the Yew Walk, the ancient grove of yew trees behind the Cathedral. It is great to have the Church, the Heritage Council, the Foundation, the community, and now our own Department of Culture and Heritage all working together to protect our invaluable heritage in Clonfert. But these projects will cost a considerable figure. The Foundation, based in New York, has set $1 million as its target for the work.
I close this page with Cecil J Hodge's Epilogue in his pamphlet on Clonfert cathedral:
"How silent and unpretentious stand the ruins of that once thronged city whose walls and classrooms were crowded with noble youths. The Abbot's House, the Schools, the Libraries and the many other buildings necessary to such a place as Clonfert have fallen into decay. The Cathedral alone remains as a monument to those men whose learning and sanctity spread the name and fame of Clonfert through many lands."
This brings us to the end of this part of the history of Saint Brendan's Cathedral in Clonfert. Part one on the cathedral itself can be found in the Clonfert page. The other two pages cover the life of Saint Brendan the Navigator, founder of this early Christian Monastic Settlement and possibly the first European to st foot in North America, and to the historic World Monuments Watch 2000 listing of the cathedral.
If anybody reading these pages ever gets the chance to come here and visit this most beautiful of ancient Irish churches with its doorway from over 8 centuries ago yet opening into the new millennium, please leave a donation towards the restoration work. Or if anyone is interested in donating towards the Foundation please contact Reverend Wayne Carney by email.

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the Rest of the Journey
For those who have just joined me on this page why not go to the beginning of our travels and see some of the places in The Start of Our Journey through the West of Ireland.
My Place Amongst the Stones gives the history of my company name, Moytura - a celtic heritage going back thousands of years.
We journey to my own parish of Lackagh - a small village just 12 miles from Galway with a mighty big history. Learn all about the Battle of Knockdoe - one of Irelan'd bloodiest of conflicts in the 16th century.
We then move on to take a quick jaunt around Galway City;  and to the heart of Connemara - with its wild and wonderful beauty.
Visit Ireland's finest early monastic heritage centre in Clonmacnoise, County Offaly.
From there we journey south into County Clare and see The Burren - a place that has lain undisturbed since the Ice-age and of immense botanical, ecological and archaeological importance.
Come with me on my 'Famine Journey' which starts in Westport, and moves to Sligo, my Dad's County and the departure port for many of the 'Coffin Ships'. This part of my journey ends in Grosse-Île on a tiny island east of Quebec City.
On this page you will learn some of the history of our Famine Refugees and find the final resting place of over 6,000 of my country folk who died within sight of their first freedom in over 300 years. This is where many of the Irish roots in North America started.
Our Journey moves on to other places on that visit to Canada where we see Quebec City and some of Ontario's lovely places and then to two of Canada's famous Catholic Shrines - Saint Anne de Beaupré and to Cap-de-la-Madeleine.
Finally, join me on my pilgrimage to a peaceful haven in a war-torn country in Medugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovinia. The other areas of my Web site can be found in the drop-down box below.
If you are interested in Irish history or anything to do with Ireland why not visit our new additions where you will find a large selection of genuine Irish goods as well as Irish reading, music & viewing material!:

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I have added links pages of other places related to the places we visit, links to leisure activities in Ireland i.e. golf, fishing, horse riding, sailing in Ireland, festivals, entertainment etc. and some of my friends' home pages.

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Contact Mary Mullins, Moytura Graphic Design, Cregmore, Claregalway, Co. Galway, Ireland. Ph: +353 91 798407
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