Thursday, October 21, 2010

Michael Meade: Building Contractor extraordinaire, 1814-1886


Interred in the prestigious O'Connell circle at Glasnevin, building contractor Michael Meade was the founder of one of the most famous building firms in Dublin. Meade was known as a builder of note because his company was renowned for their good workmanship and the quality of the materials they used. Active from the late 1840s until the 1880s, Michael Meade built his business into a large and successful concern. He established sawing, planing and moulding mills in substantial premises on Great Brunswick Street, Dublin.

Among his many architectural triumphs was the building of St. Patrick's Church, Monkstown, an undertaking which took just over two years, a quick build even by modern standards. He also built the main house of what is now St. Michael's College. It was Michael Meade who called the house on the corner of Merrion and Ailesbury Road, St. Michael’s, long before it was a college. Modelled on Queen Victoria's residence, 'Osborne' on the Isle of Wight, it remains a fine example of Meade's work. Michael Meade also served as a JP (Justice of the Peace) for Dublin from around 1874. A statue of Archangel Michael dominates the tombstone of the Meade Family Vault. Michael Meade died 24 May 1886; his wife Bridget followed him to the grave two months later, 28 July 1886.




*Click on photos to view larger version.
All photographs ©Copyright J.Geraghty-Gorman 2010.
Reference: Thoms Directory, Dublin, 1862.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Classic Motifs: The Victorian fascination with the ancient world

In cemeteries which were established during the Victorian period, it is not uncommon to find tombs and tombstones which reflect the Victorian fascination with art and literature from the ancient world of Greece and Rome. Eschewing symbols commonly associated with the church, such as angels and crucifixes, some Victorians chose to be interred in tombs dominated by female figures of the classic period. In their flowing garb and sandals these figures are sometimes featured with urns, a symbol associated with the cremation and burial of ancient Romans. Wreaths also appear with some of these figures, sometimes wreaths of laurel leaves, a symbol of victory over death, and sometimes full circle wreaths of flowers, a symbol of eternity.

Featuring a full circle wreath symbolic of eternity
Note that the urn is topped with oak leaves, a symbol of strength
This stone features both an urn and an artist's pallet, as well as the broken tools of an artist/sculptor: a mallet, a shield bearing an unfinished image, a broken work bench.
This stone features an urn and a full circle wreath.
*Click on photographs to view larger version.
All Photographs Copyright © J. Geraghty-Gorman 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: At death's door: Doorways on Crypt Row in the Necropolis, Ireland

Crypt doorways below ground level in O'Connell's circle, Glasnevin (notice the tombstone at ground level for #41)

More crypt doorways in O'Connell's circle below ground with tombstones above

Crypt doorways along the Low Walk, Mount Jerome Cemetery (again tombstones above)

Crypt doorways below ground level with  tombstones above, Mount Jerome Cemetery

Sealed crypt entrance, along the Low Walk, Mount Jerome Cemetery


The tombstone above and the doorway below for the Arthur Creagh Taylor Family Crypt, Mount Jerome Cemetery

A 'hand' door handle, The Low Walk, Mount Jerome

All Photographs ©Copyright J. Geraghty-Gorman 2010

A simple stone belies a notorious history: The Magdalen Female Penitent Asylum, Glasnevin Cemetery



On a boulevard separated by a roadway from surrounding graves lies a memorial erected to the memory of those woman and girls once held at the Magdalen Penitent Asylum of Lower Mecklenburgh Street, Dublin. Some have claimed the stone stands over a mass grave; however, the Catholic order of the Sisters of Charity, who were once charged with the responsibility of operating some of the Catholic Magdalen Asylums in Ireland, vehemently deny this assertion, saying it is only a memorial.

The Magdalen Female Penitent Asylums have a notorious history. In the mid 19th century these institutions were founded all over Europe principally for the detention of prostitutes undergoing reform. In Ireland separate asylums were operated by both the Church of Ireland and the Catholic church. In these women-only 'homes' inmates were 'strongly discouraged' from leaving, in fact many of them were forcibly confined, and were sometimes detained for life. They were forced to work without pay in the laundries which adjoined the residences, thus the asylums are often referred to as the 'Magdalen Laundries'.

Upon entering the asylum a woman's hair was completely shorn or cropped very short, and she was forced to wear drab, shapeless clothing. If she had any children they were taken away from her. Subjected to brutal discipline, these women were absolutely forbidden to discuss their lives prior to entering the asylum. Their daily regimen included enforced silence and extensive prayer.

The asylum referred to on this grave marker was situated on Lower Mecklenburgh street in the heart of the red light district in Dublin, the district known as "The Monto". The area was dominated by tenements and most of the residents lived in grinding poverty. Many of the young women who turned to prostitution were country girls who had come to Dublin to work as domestic servants in the homes of the wealthy. Suffering sexual abuse by the master of a house or his sons, if they became pregnant they were quickly expelled from the home. Unable to return to their family homes, they often ended up working as prostitutes simply to survive and provide for their children.

Over time the population of prostitutes in Dublin decreased and the Magdalen Asylums became the place of incarceration for other "fallen" women such as unwed mothers, unmanageable girls, and those who were "simple minded". Perhaps the most shocking detail of their history is that women were still being admitted to these institutions in the 1980s. The last of the asylums was closed in 1996.

*Click on photos to view larger version.
References: Finnegan, Frances. Do Penance or Perish: A Study of Magdalene Asylums in Ireland Piltown, Co. Kilkenny: Congrave Press, 2001.
Kearns, Kevin. Dublin Tenement Life Ireland: Gill & MacMillan Ltd, 1994.
All Materials and Photographs ©Copyright J. Geraghty-Gorman 2010 and may not be duplicated in any way without the prior written permission of the author.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Purr-fect Footing: 'Leontine' details in Mount Jerome





Although the inscription with the name and dates of the person interred within this grave is no longer legible, the lionlike details of the monument make it a memorable one.

*Click on photographs to view larger version.
All photographs ©Copyright J. Geraghty-Gorman
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