Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Death of a young Limerick
mother recalled in mausoleum
at Saint Mary’s Cathedral

The Boyd Mausoleum at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

I was in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, for some time today, taking part in a number of cathedral meetings.

Wandering around the cathedral churchyard is an interesting lesson in church, social and local history, with many interesting graves and tombs. The famous Physician Dr Samuel Crumpe is buried in the graveyard near the Great West Door, and members of the family of the great 20th century scientist John Desmond Bernal are buried in a grave lose to the south porch.

The mausoleums and tombs of the Sexton, Barrington, Boyd and Vanderkiste families can be seen along the pathway leading into the south porch.

The Boyd Mausoleum was first erected to commemorate a young mother of six, Mary Boyd (1813-1842), who died at the age of 29.

Mary Boyd’s father, Henry Collis, was born in Askeaton and was High Sheriff of Limerick in 1800 and again in 1812-1817. Henry married Elizabeth Going in 1799 at Belleisle, Co Clare, and their daughter, Mary Going Collis, was baptised on 7 April 1813 in Saint John’s Church, Limerick.

At the age of 19, she married James Butler Boyd, son of Thomas Boyd and Mary Ann Boyd, on 25 June 1832 in Limerick.

They were the parents of six children and Mary died in 1842 at the age of 29. James Butler Boyd built the mausoleum in Saint Mary’s churchyard in her memory.

The Boyd crest and motto on the Boyd Mausoleum (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

The Boyd Mausoleum is an imposing, square-shaped limestone building, erected in 1842 on an elevated site in the cathedral grounds that gives it a prominent position in the churchyard. It faces the limestone steps leading up to the south port entrance of the cathedral.

The limestone flagged depressed pyramidal roof of the mausoleum is imposed on a limestone ashlar parapet. The mausoleum has limestone ashlar walls with a profiled frieze architrave, a blank frieze and cornice above, and a canted ledge for the water run-off.

The plaque on the Boyd Mausoleum commemorating Thomas Boyd (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

The limestone plaque on the frieze above the door reads: ‘Thomas Boyd Esqr. of Kilmarnock, 44 years resident in this city. Died the 15th day of June 1839, aged 82 years.’ Beside it is the raised, carved crest from the Boyd coat-of-arms, with the motto below: ‘Confido.’

An additional commemorative plaque on the west side reads:

‘This mausoleum was erected by James Butler Boyd, Esqr. of Claremont Villa in the City of Limerick. As a tribute of regard, to perpetuate the memory of the departed worth of Mary, his beloved and affectionate wife, who, in the prime of her life, after a few hours illness, fell asleep in Jesus! On the 24th day of April, 1842, in the 27th year of her age, leaving her afflicted husband inconsolable, at the demise of one of the most virtuous, and amiable of wives. And six young children, to deplore the loss of the best of parents. Having lived the life, she died the death of the righteous, and her end was peace. Daughter of Henry Collis Esqr. nine years High Sheriff of this city.’

The Tudor-style arch door at the Boyd Mausoleum (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

A Tudor-style arch door opening on the north side of the mausoleum has chamfered reveals and a label hood moulding extending below the arch. The heavy iron door has a central fillet and two slender Tudor-style arch panels. The east wall is built against a rubble stone retaining wall of the raised burial area.

The ‘afflicted’ and ‘inconsolable’ James Butler Boyd married again eight years later. His second wife, Ann Charlotte Arthur, also known as Anna Camilla Arthur, was a daughter of Joseph Arthur, whose family gave their name to Arthur’s Quay in Limerick.

James Boyd and Ann Arthur were married in Kilnasoolagh, Co Clare, on 30 April 1850, and were the parents of three daughters: Anna Camilla, Charlotte Arthur and Georgina Jemima. James Boyd died in Limerick in 1858, and his widow Ann died in London on 16 August 1907.

The lengthy tribute to Mary (Collis) Boyd on the Boyd Mausoleum at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

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