St Mary's Church, Gowran

Map Reference: S633536 (2633, 1536)

The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Gowran was built about 1275. It is a fine rectangular structure the east end of which is roofed and still in use as the Protestant church. A large tower is centrally placed and was built in the 14th or 15th century. It is incorporated into the 19th century Protestant church which occupies the site of the chancel of the original church.

Within the church are some fine effigies. These include two 16th century Butler tombs, one with the effigies of two armoured knights and the other with the effigy of one knight. Both tombs are richly decorated with weepers although the effigies are damaged.

There is also the effigy of a lady (c1500) and of Ralph Julianus, a parish priest (d.1252). Near the site of the altar is a cross-inscribed Ogham stone. Two other effigy slabs, which for many years stood within the western ruin, have now been taken inside.

They are believed to be the effigies of the 1st Earl and Countess of Ormond, and date from the 14th century.

Beneath the tower is a large memorial modelled on the facade of a Greek temple. It is made mainly from limestone with some marble. However the inscription is illegible. The north wall of the nave of the original church survives to full height and is crenellated. The north aisle arcade of four arches is intact and there are traces of a possible south transept. In the north wall above the aisle arcade are traces of two quatrefoil windows now open and two similar blocked windows.

The church has many niches particularly in the south wall where there are four tomb niches and a piscina. There is a south aisle but the arcade is now gone. The east window of this aisle is a fine two-light structure with a decorated hood. The nave of the church has a good three-light west window.

A small arch, now blocked, leads under the tower which is buttressed. The top of the tower has good crenellations. The ruined section of the church has many carved masks. There are a number of box-tombs and some good coffin lids. In the west corner is a fine box-tomb the lid of which is carved with a shrouded corpse. It is the tomb of James Keally and his two wives, Ellen Nashe and Mary White. Some of the panels feature the instruments of the Passion and one of the end panels has a crucifixion. It is dated 1646.

For more photos of St Mary's Church, Gowran click HERE

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