Saturday, 22 June 2019

A multi-lingual memorial plaque
in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale

The memorial plaque to Mary Anne Richardson on the north wall of Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, is in three languages (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

On the north wall of Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick, there is tri-lingual monument to a young mother of two who died at the age of 27.

This plaque, in Greek, Latin and English, reads:

ΙΧΘΥΣ

Sacred to the memory of
Mary Anne,
the beloved wife of
Clement Richardson CLK,
a beautiful daughter,
an affectionate sister,
a loving wife,
a devoted mother.
She died IX January 1865 aged XXVII years
leaving four children, two of these
with her were soon at rest,
two must ever feel their irreparable loss.
Her remains are buried in
Mount Jerome Cemetery Co Dublin

Vale Desideratissima! Illic Demum
conquiescam tecum
tecum in Christo consurcam

Γενηθητω Το Θελημα Σου

The word at the top of the monument, ΙΧΘΥΣ (Ichthys) is a Greek acronym or acrostic for Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ (Iēsous Christos, Theou Yios, Sōtēr), and translates as ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour.’

The three-line valedictory in Latin near the end translates roughly as: ‘Farewell. I shall miss so much! May you rest in peace with Christ.’

The final line in Greek, Γενηθητω το θελημα σου (genithito to thelima sou), is a quotation from the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Thy will be done.’

But who was Mary Anne Richardson, and who was her husband, Clement Richardson CLK? Why is the monument in this church? And what happened to Clement and their children after Mary Anne died?

The Revd Clement William Henry Richardson was born in Dublin on 12 August 1830, one of the eleven children of William Richardson of Poolbeg Street, a solicitor and Proctor of the High Court of Admiralty. William Richardson’s father, the Revd Galbraith Richardson (1713-1780) was the rector of Errigle Keerogue, Co Tyrone, in the Diocese of Armagh.

Clement Richardson was baptised in Saint Mark’s Church on 12 December 1880, by the curate, the Revd Alexander Franklin. He entered Trinity College Dublin in 1848 and later graduated BA, proceeding MA in 1859. In the same year he received his MA, he married Mary Ann Barcroft, daughter of D Molloy, solicitor, in Monkstown Parish Church.

Clement was ordained deacon on 3 July 1859 and priest on 3 June 1860 by William FitzGerald, Bishop of Cork. But he was ordained for the Diocese of Limerick, and from 1859 to 1864 he was the Curate of Kilscannell, between Rathkeale and Newcastle West.

Between 1859 and 1864, Mary Anne and Clement were the parents of four children, including two sons who were born in Dublin on 7 August 1861 and 29 December 1864. Mary Anne died eleven days after the birth of h seer fourth child.

Clement resigned as curate of Kilscannell around the time of Mary Anne’s death, and I have been unable to find what he did for the next four or five years. But on 6 August 1868, he married again. His second wife, Louisa Maria Bonham Maunsell was born on 8 September 1842, the second daughter of the Revd Horatio Maunsell (1798-1882), the Rector of Drumbo, Co Down, and they were married in her father’s church.

But Louisa and Clement may have known each other before Mary Anne’s death, and may have first met when he was the curate in Kilscannell. Louisa came from a large family of eleven children. Her father, the Revd Horatio Maunsell, was the eleventh and youngest son of Daniel Maunsell, barrister, of Ballywilliam, near Rathkeale, Co Limerick, a grandson of Richard Maunsell, MP for Limerick City (1740-1761) and Mayor of Limerick in 1761. In the mid-19th century the Ballywilliam estate was in the parishes of Kilscannell and Rathkeale, and totalled 4,231 acres.

After this second marriage, Clement returned to ministry in 1869 as the chaplain to Hercules Edward Rowley (1848-1919), 4th Lord Langford, on his estate at Summerhill in Co Meath. But Clement and Louisa left Ireland in 1873, and moved first to the United States, and then to Canada, and seem to have spent the rest of their lives there.

In the US, he was briefly Assistant Minister at Christ Church in Norfolk, Virginia (1873-1874) and then Rector of Greenville, Tennessee (1874-1876). He then moved to Canada, and was the rector of two parishes in the Diocese of Montreal: Chambly, Quebec (1876-1880) and Shefford, Quebec (1880-1883).

In 1883, he became a missionary in St Eleanor, Prince Edward Island, with the Anglican mission agency, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG), now USPG (the United Society Partners in the Gospel).

He stayed at St Eleanor in Prince Edward Island until 1887, and for at least the next two decades he worked in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia as a missionary priest.

The last record I have of him is his appointment in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1906, when he was 76. I have no record of Clement Richardson’s ministry and mission work. Nor do I know whether Clement and Louisa were the parents of any more children, or of what happened to his first two children, who were expected to ‘ever feel their irreparable loss.’

Did they ever think of Kilscannell or Rathkeale, or return to this parish in West Limerick?

I may never know, but the monument provides an interesting reminder of the links between this parish and SPG and USPG. I am taking part in the annual conference of USPG in High Leigh, Hertfordshire, next week.

The ruins of Kilscannell parish church, between Rathkeale and Newcastle West, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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