Anatrim Church, Laois, Ireland

The church at Anatrim in County Laois is situated on the site of a monastery founded by St. Mochaemhog (Latin: Pulcherius) during the second half of the 6th century AD. It is said that when St Mochaemhog commenced the construction a local man told him, ‘Do not labour in vain here, because this place will not be yours’, the man then attempted to expel Mochaemhog from the site but as he did the saint asked him ‘By what name are you called, O man?’, the man replied that is name is ‘Bronach’, Mochaemhog replied, ‘You have an appropriate name, for you shall be sad here and thereafter. Now you and your generation, by the will of God, will be expelled hence by the chief of this district, but I shall be in this place until a man of God, by name Coemhan, will come to me.’ I should explain that Brónach is the Irish for sadness to those not familiar with the language! St Coemhan did subsequently arrive and it is to him that this site is mostly connected, the local St Kavan’s well is a testament to this. Coemhan was a member of a very renowned religious family, his brother was St Kevin, who established Glendalough, he also was brother or stepbrother to five other saints such as St Mo-Cheumhin, Abbot of Terryglass and St Enanus of Glenealy. The monastic order that Coemhan established remained at Anatrim until the early 12th century when it is believed they died out or moved on. In the 13th century William Fitzjohn, the Bishop of Ossory, appropriated the site for Duiske Abbey who held possession of it until 1540. The monks of Duiske build a new chapel on the grounds of the monastery in 1510. In 1700 a Protestant church was built over the earlier 16th century chapel and all that remains of the earlier structure is its sacristy now on the current structures north side. This sacristy was converted into a mausoleum in the 18th century. There is also evidence that the original church would have had a second floor but this was removed in the Protestant structure. This church however would only last for just over 100 years and was described in the 1830s in Samuel Lewis‘ ‘Topographical Dictionary of Ireland’ as being in a state of disrepair and was eventually condemned in 1837.

GPS: 52.97977, -7.56123

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