Tuesday, 20 November 2018

A high cross in Athea
recalls kind landlords
during the Famine

The High Cross in Athea, Co Limerick, was erected in 1863 by the ‘sorrowing and grateful tenantry’ of the area in memory of the Goold family (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

On the way back from Ballybunion to Askeaton at the weekend, two of us stopped in Athea, Co Limerick, to see the Goold Monument on the Listowel road, dedicated to members of the Goold family who were benevolent landlords at the time of the Famine.

The Goold family, who were the landlords in the Athea area at the height of the Great Famine and refused to evict tenants who could not pay their rent. The cross is just off the road at the south side on the way in from Listowel.

The cross was erected in 1863 by the ‘sorrowing and grateful tenantry’ of the area. In particular, it recalls Thomas F Goold, the only son of Archdeacon Frederick Goold and his wife Caroline. Thomas Goold died in May 1861 at the age of 24, but the cross also commemorates other members of the family.

Frederick Goold was the son of Thomas Goold, a merchant from Cork City who bought the Athea estate for £15,000 in 1817 from Lord Courtenay, the landlord of much of the area around Newcastle West. Thomas Goold was Master of the Court of Chancery and also had a house in Merrion Square, Dublin. His wife Elizabeth was a daughter of the Revd Brinsley Nixon, Rector of Painstown, Co Meath.

One their daughters, Caroline, married Sir Ralph Gore Booth of Lissadell, Co Sligo, in 1829, and they were the grandparents of Constance Gore-Booth, known as Countess Markievicz. Thomas Goold was visiting his daughter home in Lissadell when he died on 16 July 1846.

His eldest son, Francis Goold, who was High Sheriff of Co Limerick, drowned accidentally in Sligo Bay on 31 August 1848, and the Athea estates were inherited by his youngest brother, Wyndham Goold, MP for Co Limerick (1850-1854). Wyndham Goold died unmarried on 27 November 1854, and the Athea estates were then passed to their once disinherited brother Frederick.

The Ven Frederick Falkiner Goold (1808-1877) was born in Co Limerick on 6 November 1808 and educated at Trinity College Dublin. He was disinherited by his father, Thomas Goold, in 1830 when he married Catherine Newcomen, whose illegitimate sister, Theresa, Countess of Eglinton and Winton.

He became Archdeacon of Raphoe in 1852, and was appointed Private Chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1858. Archdeacon Goold had built a new church in Athea that opened in 1859 and that was designed by the Limerick-born architect, William Fogerty (1833-1878), who later designed the Goold Cross in Athea.

Shortly before he died, Archdeacon Goold owned 10,966 acres in Co Limerick in the 1870s. The Goold estate was mainly in the parishes of Rathronan (10 townlands) and Ardagh, but the family also had extensive land holdings in other parts of Co Limerick.

Archdeacon Goold died at Bath on 29 January 1877. In 1873, his daughter and co-heiress, Frances Goold, had married the Revd Hamilton Stuart Verschoyle of Co Donegal; his father, Hamilton Verschoyle (1803-1870), had been Dean of Ferns and then Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh (1862-1870).

Frances and Hamilton Verschoyle were the parents of Hamilton Frederick Stuart Verschoyle, who changed his name to Goold-Verschoyle in 1900. In 1906 the representatives of the Ven FF Goold held about 400 acres of untenanted land at Athea Upper.

Apart from Caroline Gore-Booth, Archdeacon Good had two other sisters: Emily Mary, who married the Revd John Wynne, Rector of Lorum, Co Carlow; and Augusta Charlotte, who in 1836 married her cousin Edwin Richard Wyndham-Quin (1812-1871), 3rd Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl. This is the Lord Dunraven who built Adare courthouse and who is credited alongside George Petrie with ‘laying the foundations of a sound school of archaeology’ in Ireland.

He was involved with George Petrie, William Stokes, and other Irish archaeologists in the foundation of the Irish Archaeological Society in 1840, and of the Celtic Society in 1845.

As Viscount Adare, he was the Conservative MP for Glamorganshire (1837-1851). He succeeded his father as Earl of Dunraven in 1850, and converted to Roman Catholicism in 1855.

One of the four inscriptions on the plinth of the High Cross in Athea, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

The Goold Cross in Athea is dated 1863 and commemorates various members of the Goold family. It is about four metres high, made of tooled limestone mounted on a tooled limestone plinth above tooled limestone stepped plinth.

There are tooled panels with Celtic interlacing on the cross and the shaft, and with decorative bosses on the cross. There are tooled, stylised dog-tooth motifs on ring of cross, tooled shamrock motifs on the intersections of cross, and recessed inscribed panels on the plinth, with carved rope motifs on the corners and surrounds of the panels.

This dramatic monument on the outskirts of Athea was designed by the Limerick-born architect, William Fogerty (1833-1878). Using the Irish high cross, a strong symbol in Irish history, it makes an ideal subject for a monument with various forms of interlacing and rope motifs, adding not only artistic interest, but also demonstrating the skills of 19th-century stone masons.

The cross was inaugurated in January 1863, the contractor was Walshe of Foynes, and the sculptor was a man named Purcell.

The architect William Fogerty was born in Limerick, and practised in Limerick, London, New York and Dublin.

He was born in 1833 or 1834, the second son of John Fogerty of Limerick, and a younger brother of the architect Joseph Fogerty.

William was a student at Queen’s College, Cork, in 1850-1851, when he drew up a plan by CW Law for a new road to the college. He began practising as an architect in Limerick with his father in the 1850s, and was working from 97 George’s Street, Limerick, in 1861-1863.

His other works in Limerick include the Protestant Orphan Society Hall, the apse in the former Holy Trinity Church, Catherine Street, the Tait Memorial Clock in Baker Place, Adare Methodist Church, and Adare Courthouse.

He moved to Dublin in 1863 or 1864, and he was working from offices at 23 Harcourt Street, Dublin, when he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland (FRIAI) in 1863 and a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (FRIBA) in 1868.

After a tour of Italy with Thomas Henry Longfield, he moved in 1870 or 1871 to London, where his brother was already practising as an architect. There he practised from 8 Buckingham Street, The Strand.

From London, Fogerty emigrated to New York in 1872-1873, but he had returned to returning to Ireland by 1875, and he was President of the Association of Architects of Ireland in 1876-1877.

He announced in the Irish Builder on 1 March 1875 that he had resumed practice at 23 Harcourt Street. His works in Dublin include the Scots Presbyterian Church in Abbey Street.

He continued to practise from 23 Harcourt Street until his untimely death from smallpox at the age of 44 on 22 May 1878, having been ‘in excellent health up to the period of the fatal attack.’

He was buried in the graveyard at Saint Munchin’s Church, Limerick. He was survived by a young son, John Frederick Fogerty, who also became an architect.

The Goold-Verschoyle family lived at Dunkineely, Co Donegal, until the 1930s. The family silver had been placed in bank storage and remained there until a recent auction.

The family silver included a set of 10 George I pistol-handled knives and forks from the workshops of John Hamilton of Dublin in 1720, an early George III helmet-shaped and crested sauceboat with an attractive scroll handle. by William Homer of Dublin and dated ca 1770, an early George II coffee pot and a five-piece Victorian tea and coffee service by J Maloney of Dublin.

The Goold Cross in Athea was restored in 1979 by the descendants of the Goold family and the local youth club.

The High Cross in Athea, Co Limerick, is an illustration of the skills of 19th-century Irish stone masons (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

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