Rathaspeck Church, Wexford, Ireland

Rathaspeck Church is situated about 5 kilometres from Wexford town on a raised piece of land that is believed to have been a Rath, hence the name. It is a classic Board of First Fruits funded Church of Ireland church built in 1824. A 14th century catholic church predated the CofI structure but this was already described as ‘ruinous’ in the Down Survey of the 1650s. The graveyard is the final resting place of United Irishman Cornelius Grogan. Grogan had served as the High Sherriff of Wexford in 1779 and in 1783 was elected to serve as a politician for the Irish Parliament constituency of Enniscorthy. When the 1798 rebellion broke out in County Wexford Grogan joined the republican movement of the United Irishmen and became an army commander. When the rebellion failed Grogan was brought to court and though he tried to state he had been forced to take up his position in the United Irishmen the British didn’t believe him and he was executed on Wednesday 28th of June 1798. He was hanged and beheaded on Wexford bridge like several other rebel leaders and his body was thrown into the River Slaney. Later supporters of Grogan recovered his body from the waters and interred him at Rathaspeck.

The church itself closed in 1971 but between 1984 and 2009 was home to the Wexford Model Railway Club but due to the deteriorating condition of the church this agreement came to an end in 2009. The graveyard and church are sometimes referred to as Redmonstown but unsure where this name came from originally. I found a couple of references to the church and graveyard in the 1930s Dúchas Schools Collection many of these mention a Catholic bishop who was executed at Rathaspeck. “There is a place near here called Rathaspeck. It got its name because a Bishop was executed there. In the troubled times this Bishop was hunted from his palace to this cross. He is buried there and it is said that he is seen standing by the edge of the cemetery which is situated there praying after 12. o. clock at night. It is also said that if any catholic enters the confiscated church there, doors will slam and seats turn over. That church is now in the hands of the Protestants.” (Collector Peggy Maguire, Infmant John Mac Bride of Piercetown, Wexford)

GPS: 52.30124, -6.49789

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.