IT’S NOT JUST ANOTHER NORTH KILDARE MAUSOLEUM

by mariocorrigan on February 15, 2012

" IT’S NOT JUST ANOTHER NORTH KILDARE MAUSOLEUM "

by

DECLAN O’CONNOR

The family-friendly mausoleums in North Kildare … Wolfe (Oughterard), More O’Farrell (Cadamstown), Colley (Carbury), Browne (Mainham)  differ from the ‘single-tenant’  Eoghan O’Growney (Eugene Growney) mausoleum  in the staff cemetery of St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth. This mausoleum was built between 1903 and 1905 under the supervision of the architect William Alphonsus Scott, and  reputedly modelled on the design of the primitive early Christian St. Kevin’s Church in Glendalough.
The approximate outer dimensions are 10.5 feet (3.2 metres) wide, 14.5 feet  (4.4 metres) long and 12.5 feet (3.8 metres) in height.
The door is surmounted by four lines of inscription, the upper two lines being in Celtic Gaelic script, and the lower two lines in Latin and Roman script.
The Gaelic script translates as "Pray for Eoghan O’Growney who renewed the spirit of the Irish. Born 1866 Died 1899."
The glass panels in the door and on the two sides were originally transparent, but are now opaque.
As a teenager, Eoghan O’Growney, born near Athboy, County Meath, developed his interest in the Irish language. Following service as a curate in two parishes in County Westmeath he was appointed Professor of Irish Language, Literature and Antiquities at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, in 1891.
Co-founder of the Gaelic League in 1893, he was a writer, teacher and propagandist. He achieved popular fame as the author of "Simple lessons in Irish, giving the pronunciation of each word," published initially in the ‘Weekly Freeman,’ and later in a  convenient and  popular pocket-size book form.
In 1890 Ireland’s great political project, Home Rule, lay shattered. Parnell was dead, his popular support, and his formidable political party, bitterly divided.
The grim 1890’s were arguably the most dynamic age of civic, intellectual and cultural engagement in modern Irish history, in the opinion of the writer Fintan O’Toole, who points out that  the decade saw the consolidation of the GAA, and the births of the Gaelic League, the Irish literary theatre, the Irish Trades Union Congress, the United Irish League, Inghiníne na hÉireann, the Irish Co-operative Agricultural movement, and the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association.
 In September,1903, the Gaelic League in the U.S.A. funded the repatriation of the remains of Eoghan O’Growney from California to Ireland. The extended funeral from  San Francisco to Maynooth,via the port of Queenstown (now Cobh, in County Cork) and Dublin, developed into a massive nationalist demonstration.
Again, pressure and funds from the U.S.A. forced the idea and construction of the mausoleum, which, with its transparent windows, was intended to be a regular nationalist ‘ pit-stop,’ where the  enammeled steel casket could be viewed from the outside.
 In 1915, Pádraig Pearse selected Eoghan O’Growney as a nationalist secular saint in his graveside eulogy at the funeral of O’Donovan Rossa…" And all that splendour and pride and strength was compatible with a humility and a simplicity of devotion to Ireland, to all that was olden and beautiful and Gaelic in Ireland, the holiness and simplicity of patriotism of a Michael O’Clery or of an Eoghan O’Growney."
James Joyce took a less gushing  view, regarding the Gaelic League as a repressive clerical institution, and satirically nominating  "Soggorth O’Growney" as a mock hero of the nation in Chapter 12 (" Cyclops ") of "Ulysses."


An interesting article on the O’Growney Mausoleum at Maynooth by Declan O’Connor

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