Maudlin’s Cemetery, situated outside the town of Naas is mostly known for its two large pyramid shaped mausoleums and as a burial place for much of the local Church of Ireland aristocracy during the 18th and 19th centuries. Prior to writing this piece I had never been aware of the etymology of the word ‘maudlin’, always hearing it used as a term for being ‘long-faced’ or depressed. It does in fact derive from Mary Magdalene who is most often depicted in art as mourning for Jesus after his crucifixion. The area name Maudlin is used throughout Ireland and England and usually refers to areas outside of towns, also the name maudlin has been known to be associated with leper hospitals in medieval times. Though the cemetery dates from 1780 when John Bourke, 1st Earl of Mayo gifted the lands to the Church of Ireland there are earlier mentions of ‘the Maudlins’. At the time of the dissolution of the monasteries in 1540 it was noted that Great Connell Priory possessed seven acres near to the “Maudelein of Naas”. It is also recorded that by 1606 the lands at ‘Maudlings’ belonged to the chantry priests of St David’s Church in Naas.
The two pyramid mausoleums are indeed fantastic structures, the more western pyramid was built in honour of Anne de Burgh, wife of Walter Hussey Burgh, who sat in the Irish House of commons and was built in 1843, the second pyramid is unmarked but it is believed that it also belongs to a family named Montgomery.
Maudlin’s was also the victim of a grave robbing as recorded by TJ De Burgh in the Journal of the Co. Kildare Archaeological Society in 1895, de Burgh was informed by and old inhabitant of Naas that in the early 19th century one of the many bodies taken was the body of a former governor of Naas Gaol named Michael Moorhead. De Burgh wrote, “he (the old inhabitant of Naas) mentioned the name of several bodies that had been thus taken, amongst others, that of a Mr Moorhead, late governor of Naas Gaol….which was taken from Maudlins Cemetery, and he mentioned the gruesome fact of him having seen some of the poor old mans grey hair in the hedge over which the body was lifted. He pointed out the house in which the body-snatcher or sack-em-up as he called him, named Whelan, who was ultimately convicted. It was a regular trade and carts with wheels covered in leather were employed so as to deaden the sound”
Other famous burials include many of the Earls of Clonmel, the family name was Scott, they held lands in Clonmel but also in Bishopscourt in the village of Kill. They seem to have been a very colourful family with a love of parties and drink, the first earl named John (also know as Jack) was so fond of port that due to his ruddy complexion gained the nickname ‘Copper Face Jack’, the townhouse he lived in on Harcourt Street is now home to the infamous nightclub named after him! The grave of the Odlum family who were Quakers and would be well known in Ireland as a milling family and the originators of the Odlum’s porridge oats!
The Maudlins is a well maintained and interesting cemetery, well worth a quick stop off the N7.
GPS: 53.22717, -6.64672