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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Mausolea Hibernica, with Added Vomitoria

‘In the deep discovery of the subterranean world a shallow part would satisfy some inquirers; who, if two or three yards were open about the surface, would not care to rake the bowels of Potosi, and regions toward the centre’, Sir Thomas Browne wrote. Not Maurice Craig, bowel-raker and graveyard cormorant of one of my favourite spotters’ guides, Mausolea Hibernica.

Simper over the ‘most elegant three-sided pyramid’ of Castlerickard, Meath, in which lies interred Sophia Jane Swift, née Swift, the beloved ‘Ianthe’ of Walter Savage Landor. Admire the ‘dwarfishly low’ ‘Gandonian clichés’ at Coolbanagher, Portarlington. Salute the ‘full-length recumbent effigy of the poetess [Mary Tighe, author of Psyche]’ at Inistioge, Kilkenny, a cat perched on her shoulder.

Here is the author on the Grace and Taaffe double mausoleum in Tulsk, Roscommon. Reader, avert your gaze from the hiccup of asyndeton in sentence four, and hold out for the poured-concrete vomitoria:

The two mausolea at Tulsk are picturesquely tucked in among the fragments of the Dominican friary. They are rather obviously in competition with one another: the larger and more northerly one, of the Grace family, dated 1868, and the other, of Taaffe, 1872. Grace seems to have won the contest, being fully above ground, while Taaffee is half-sunken. Where first visited, some twenty years ago, one could walk into both of them, among the coffins which were lying about, in perfect decency, on the floor. But in a recent visit the Grace mausoleum was empty, and the iron door of Taaffe’s either jammed or locked: just as well, perhaps, in view of the decline of piety in recent years. Just across the road is a particularly splendid example of a rural ball-alley, complete with grandstand and vomitoria, all in poured concrete.

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