Leinster Leader, August 31, 1968
Bolton Castle seen in Kildare historical context
The history of Bolton Castle, Moone, now a Cistercian monastery, was given last week by Rt. Rev. Mgr. Maurice Browne, P.P., V.F., Ballymore Eustace, when he was preaching the special sermon at the opening and blessing of a new church in the monastery.
Most Rev. Dr. McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin, performed the opening and blessing ceremony, a detailed report of which appeared in our last issue.
Bolton Castle, said Mgr. Browne, was built in the late 13th century, and was one of the Anglo-Irish fortresses that ringed the Pale for defence against the forays of the O’Tooles, the O’Rourkes and the O’Byrnes, who had been dispossessed of their homes and lands by the invaders.
In 1537, Bolton Castle served as one of the strong points for the suppression of the rebellion of Silken Thomas, the young Earl of Kildare, who later surrendered at Maynooth after being promised a free pardon only to find himself taken to London and executed at the Tower.
Referring to the Cistercians, Mgr. Browne said that at the end of the 15th century there were at least fifty-four Cistercian monasteries in Ireland. Many of them became prosperous and extended their territories by thousands of acres, but that was the undoing of the monasteries.
When the Reformation began, the monasteries were wiped out. They were ripe plums ready for the rapacious maw of King Henry VIII. Having refused to acknowledge the King’s supremacy in matters spiritual and temporal, the monasteries were confiscated, and the King’s men – the Butlers, the Blakes, the Radcliffes and the Brabazons – received the Cistercian lands as prizes for their loyalty. In the three centuries that followed the gaping ruins of Cistercian monasteries remained as a reminder of former glories.
Then in 1830, Waterford-born Father Vincent Ryan, coming back from France where monks of British extraction had been expelled obtained with other Irish monks expelled from France with him, a 600-acre tract of heather-covered ground on Knockmealdown Mountain, with the aid of ten thousand able-bodied men cleared the tract and established Mellery. Since then the Cistercians have flourished.
Bolton Castle, continued Mgr. Browne, was the fifth of the new Irish foundations, and it was fitting that the foundation stone came from the old Cistercian abbey at Baltinglass, a few miles away. The principal duty of the monks, said Mgr. Browne, was to offer service to the Divine Majesty.
Only a chosen few were called to the heroic life of the Cistercians. Most people would shrink and shudder at the horarium rise at 4 a.m., Matins Mass, while the rest of the world lay deep in slumber. Seven times a day the monks went to the oratory to praise God, and the rest of the day they spent at manual labour or special study. Cheerfulness was the keynote of their lives, and it was reflected in their countenances.
The celebrant of the first Mass in the new church was the monastery Prior, Very Rev. Ambrose Farrington, O.C.S.O. Present at the ceremony were his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Farrington, Ballymore Eustace.
Nationalist & Leinster Times, August 23, 1968
New Cistercian Church opens at Moone
Thursday was a memorable day for the Cistercian community at Bolton Abbey, Moone, Co. Kildare, when the Archbishop of Dublin, Most Rev. John C. McQuaid, D.D., blessed and opened the community’s new church in a short and simple ceremony.
Later, His Grace, who was assisted by Rev. Philip Coleman, O.C.S.O., and Rev. Raymond Pelli, O.C.S.O., both of Bolton Abbey, presided at the first Mass in the new church, celebrated by Very Rev. Ambrose Farrington, O.C.S.O., Prior, Bolton Abbey.
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Maurice Browne, P.P., V.F., Ballymore-Eustace, spoke during the ceremony. Sacred Music was sung by the community choir. The ceremonies were attended by Mrs. Brigid Farnan, widow of the late Dr. Robt. P. Farnan, who bequeathed the former Bolton Castle to the Cistercians, and her only son, Fr. Patrick Farnan, godson of President de Valera, who was represented by Comdt. R. MacIonnraic, A.D.C.
There was a large gathering of local people, relatives and friends of the community, priests and Church of Ireland clergy, as well as several public representatives.
The Church, dedicated to Our Lady – as are all churches in the Order – is of simple design, in accordance with the recent liturgical changes, and there are no statues nor stations of the cross in it.
Can hold 60
Built within 16 months by the monks, it accommodates between 50 and 60 people. The tabernacle and crucifix were designed by Brother Benedict Tully, O.S.B., Glenstal Abbey. The architectural advisor was Mr. Michael Hughes, A.R.I.B.A., Dublin.
The Abbey, formerly Bolton Castle, was the home of the Farnan family for more than three centuries. Before Dr. Farnan, a noted gynaecologist, died in 1962, he willed his estate to the Archbishop of Dublin, to be given to an Order devoted to penance and prayer.
The Archbishop offered the Castle to the Cistercians, who came to Moone three months after the death of Mr. Farnan, a lifelong friend of President de Valera, who frequently stayed in the 11th century castle – once a stronghold of the Fitzgerald clan.
Originally four massive towers overlooked the plains of Kildare, but Cromwellian forces destroyed three of them. The remaining tower was renovated by the Cistercians and is now used as living quarters.
Dr. Farnan, was a member of the Council of State and a former Professor of Midwifery and Gynaecology at U.C.D. He was also a personal friend of the late Most Rev. Dr. Mannix, former Archbishop of Melbourne, and was a prominent figure in Ireland’s fight for freedom. In fact, many of the I.R.A. Council meetings were held at the Castle.
The foundation stone of the new church was laid and blessed in May, 1967 by the Abbot of Mount St. Joseph’s, Roscrea, Rt. Rev. Dom Colmcille O’Toole, and in the same month President de Valera, who once called the Castle ‘his second home during the trouble times,’ laid the altar stone after attending the second Mass of his godson, Fr. Farnan, in the Abbey.
Fr. Farnan, who is related to the Prior, Fr. Farrington, was ordained in Clonliffe College in May, 1967 and is now Chaplain to St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin.
The foundation stone is from the ruins of Baltinglass Abbey, a former Cistercian house from 1148-1538, which was appropriated in the reign of Henry VIII.
In his sermon Msgr. Browne expressed the gratitude of the Cistercians to the Archbishop for assigning Bolton Castle to them, and paid a sincere tribute to the Farnan family for their exceptional generosity. He said no more appropriate day could be chosen for the blessing than the Feast of the Assumption.
Msgr. Browne outlined the history of the Castle, and of the Cistercian Order up to the time they came to Moone in 1962. He quoted from Most Rev. Dr. Healy’s (Archbishop of Tuam) history of Ireland’s Saints and Scholars that ‘next to the coming of St. Patrick, the advent of the Cistercians was the most important thing for Christian life in Ireland.’
Bolton Abbey is the only Cistercian abbey in the Dublin archdiocese.
At the ceremony were: Rt. Rev. Dom Colmcille O’Toole, O.C.S.O., Abbot of Roscrea; Rt. Rev. Dom Aengus Dunphy, O.C.S.O., Abbot of Bethlehem Abbey, Portglenone; Rt. Rev. Dom Camillus Claffey, O.C.S.O., Abbot Emeritus Roscrea; Rt. Rev. Augustine O’Sullivan, O.C.S.O., Abbot of Glenstal; Rt. Rev. Dom Gerard Kennedy, O.C.S.O., Abbot of New Mellifont.
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Charles Hurley, P.P.,V.G., Harrington St., Dublin,and a professor at St. Patrick’s College, Carlow from 1920-’24; V. Rev. E. Kinsella, P.P., Daingean; V. Rev. John Moynihan, P.P., Crookstown; V. Rev. Fr. Coyne, O.P., Acting Prior, St. Dominic’s, Athy.
Rev. W. McGonagle, O.M.I., Daingean; P. Dowling, C.C., Castledermot; J. Kett, Chaplain, St. Mary’s, Castledermot; M. Wall, C.C., Moone; V. Kelly, C.C., Rathfarnham (formerly C.C. in Moone), S. Smyth, C.C., Ballybrack (formerly of Moone), J. Murphy, C.C., Balbriggan. Canon C.L. Chevasse, former Rector at Baltinglass; Rev. R.J.H. Warburton, Rector, Castledermot; Rev. S.F. Gillmore, Rector, Portlaoise.
Also at the ceremony were Major V. de Valera, T.D.; Mr. Oliver J. Flanagan, T.D.; Mr. Terry Boylan, T.D., and Senator Patrick Malone.