Carlow History

Adelaide Memorial Church, Myshall, Co. Carlow

Adelaide Memorial Church, Myshall, Co. Carlow

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

Introduction

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the Church of Ireland engaged itself in erecting new parish churches that were almost uniform in their architectural form. These churches of simple lines were mostly financed by the Board of First Fruits, the official body responsible for building churches for the Church of Ireland.

In contrast to these simple churches, the parish church at Myshall, Co. Carlow is a riot of ornate style, pinnacles and colour.[1] The beauty of the Adelaide Memorial Church of Christ the Redeemer is as breath-taking as it is unexpected. And the tragic love story behind its construction is as compelling as its craftsmanship.

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The legend of the Adelaide Memorial Church at Myshall, Co. Carlow was that it was raised by John Duguid of Dover, England, in memory of his wife Adelaide and his daughter Constance who were killed in a riding accident while visiting friends in Myshall area.[2]

After the burial of his wife and daughter at Myshall John Duguid erected a memorial statue of ‘Innocence’ carved by Thomas Farrell from Sicilian marble over the grave. But the harsh Irish weather caused the marble to deteriorate rapidly. This prompted John Duguid to build the Adelaide church as a protective structure around the sculpture.

The church is described as an architectural gem and is a miniature of Salisbury Cathedral in England. It is constructed in limestone over a granite base. The limestone came from Stradbally, in Co Laois, and was transported by steam engine to Myshall, 15 tons at a time. The finest of materials were used and no part of the building was left unadorned. Delicate carving can be found everywhere and especially on the Bath stone which lines the interior.[3]

Inside the church are ten rows of carved-oak pews flanking the single aisle leading up the step, into the choir stalls. Polished Peterhead granite, quarried close to the Duguid ancestral home in Aberdeen, was used for the columns of the archway into the chancel, where the eye is drawn to the colourful mosaic behind the altar. Mother-of-pearl and gold leaf are used in this depiction of the Last Supper, in the style of Leonardo da Vinci

The interior has some fine stained glass including some by Evie Hone.[4] At the consecration the local bishop described the church as “one of the finest and most finished specimens of ecclesiastical art in Ireland”.[5]

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The church was consecrated in September 1913 and continues, under the official name of The Church of Christ the Redeemer, to provide a beautiful place of worship for the local Church of Ireland community.[6]

Within the church was built a mausoleum where John, Adelaide and Constance Duguid are buried. Sculptured panels on the mausoleum show the English rose and Scottish thistle (Mr. Duguid was of Scotch descent, his wife was English).[7] Much of the information about the construction and opening of Adelaide Memorial Church comes from a book written by Canon Pettipiece’s wife Kate for the occasion of the church’s consecration in 1913.

Constance Duguid

The story of the Church began in 1887 with an accident involving Constance Duguid. Constance was the daughter of John and Adelaide Duguid. Constance Duguid first came to Myshall on holiday to visit her sister, Madeline who married to a cleric and was living in the local rectory. While there she met Inglis Cornwall-Brady of Myshall Lodge. The couple began to see each other more often as they both enjoyed the fun of horse riding and their own company. The relationship blossom and they got engaged to be married.

But it was while out fox hunting that plans for the wedding came to a crashing end. It was in the field adjacent to the Adelaide Church that then 25-year-old Constance Duguid was seriously injured when she fell from a horse. A cross in the field marks the beginning of a chain of events that led, many years later, to the consecration of the new Church of Ireland place of worship in Myshall.

One, possibly fanciful version of the incident, was that a jealous former girlfriend of her fiancé spooked Duguid’s horse. The marriage of Constance’s intended to another woman within months of the accident seems to support some foul play. Constance Duguid lived for some time after the accident and knowing that she would not recover, Constance wished to be buried at Myshall.

Inglis Cornwall-Brady

The intended husband of Constance Duguid was Inglis Cornwall-Brady of Myshall Lodge. Myshall Lodge was built by Robert Cornwall on land acquired in the late eighteenth century. Robert Cornwall came from Co. Tyrone and was a nephew of Sam Faulkner of Dublin. As a barrister he was able to pick up some properties that were in trouble on the cheap such as that of Richard Whaley in Carlow. Robert Cornwall was very active in 1798 suppressing the Rebellion in County Carlow.

Major John Cornwall inherited Myshall Lodge and in 1810 married Jane Brady, daughter of Henry Brady of Limerick. They had no children and Myshall was inherited by Jane’s cousin, John Beauchamp Brady who added the name of Cornwall to his own. John Beauchamp Cornwall-Brady was High Sheriff of Carlow in 1853 and had three sons and one daughter by his wife Jane Harriet George. The eldest of these sons was John Cornwall-Brady, father of Inglis Cornwall-Brady, the intended husband of Constance Duguid.[8]

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If the tragic accident of 1887 played on the mind of Inglis Cornwall-Brady he didn’t show it in public. Instead on 14th February 1888 (St. Valentine’s Day) he married Mary Louisa Watson of Ballydarton. They had one daughter called Mona. Inglis Cornwall-Brady died in 1896 aged 37 years. Three years later, in 1899, his widow married Hon. Ralph Bowyer Norton.[9]

Inglis Brady left two sisters; Florence (died 1898) and Georgiana who married (1882) Edmond Hartstonge-Weld of Rahinbawn, Co. Carlow and inherited Myshall Lodge. Georgiana and Edmond left the house in 1915 and it was burnt by the I.R.A. in 1922.[10]

Adelaide Duguid

The mother of Constance Duguid was Adelaide Duguid, an English woman. It is Adelaide’s name that was given to the new Myshall church. In the 1891 census Adelaide Duguid was living in Dover, Kent. She was born in about 1842 in Sussex.[11] Adelaide Duguid never forgot her daughter’s grave at Myshall and when she died on 30th March 1903 she was buried beside her at Myshall.[12] It was after this double loss that John Duguid decided to build a new church at Myshall as a memorial to his wife and daughter.

John Duguid

The English census of 1911 records that John Duguid was 83 years old and was born in 1828 in Argentina. The occupation of John Duguid was given a private means.[13] These private means was a wine importer.[14] By all accounts John Duguid was a well-travelled, formidable man, standing more than six feet tall. He was the son of a Scottish father and English mother, and was raised in the manner of Spanish nobility.

In his early life John Duguid lived many adventures included riding coast to coast across bandit-country Mexico. Into adulthood he decided to settled down and in time he took over his father’s successful wine business, based himself in Dover and made it a success.

Earlier in 1889 John Duguid appeared among the Register of Electors in the parish of St. John the Apostle in the Borough of Dover in Kent.[15] In 1891 John Duguid was also on the same Register of Electors.[16]

After the death of his wife John Duguid further put to grief. When she was laid to rest at Myshall John Duguid struck up a close friendship with the then rector, Canon Pettipiece.

An offer by Duguid to fund the reroofing of Pettipiece’s church, as well as the need to erect a protective case around the weather-beaten statue of Innocence, developed into a far more ambitious plan for a new church on the site, incorporating his loved ones’ tombs.

“For him it was to stand as an exemplary mark of permanence, when everything in life can be swept away,” said today’s rector in Myshall, the Rev. Lester Scott.

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John Duguid died, aged 87, just months before the church was consecrated, on September 29th, 1913, so he was there only in spirit to hear the opening service. John Duguid did get to see the church and, in fact, there is a photograph in existence of him outside the church. John’s ashes were buried in Adelaide Memorial Church, alongside his wife and daughter. On consecration day the Duguid family was represented by his nephew Basil Duguid and his wife.[17]

Architect of the Adelaide Church

The Adelaide Memorial Church stands in beautifully maintained grounds and was designed by George Coppinger Ashlin, one of the foremost architects in the country in the early twentieth century.[18]

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George Coppinger Ashlin was born about 1837 at Carrigrenane House, Little Island in Co. Cork. He was the third son of John Mason Ashlin (who died when George was an infant) and Dorinda Coppinger of Midleton. George Coppinger Ashlin was educated in Liege (Belguim), at Oscott College and at the Royal Academy in London. Between 1856 and 1860 he studied architecture under Edward Welby Pugin, son of Augustus Welby Pugin.[19]

George Coppinger Ashlin returned to Ireland and worked on various commissions with Edward Welby Pugin. These included SS Peter and Paul’s, Cork, (1859), Convent of Mercy, Clonakilty, County Cork (1867), Convent and Orphanage, William Street North, Dublin (1867) and the SS. Augustine and John, Thomas Street, Dublin (1860).

In 1867 George Coppinger Ashlin married Mary Ashlin (aged 66) who was born about 1845 in England. Mary Ashlin was formerly Mary Pugin, Edward’s sister. They had one child. In 1911 George Ashlin was lived on Killiney Hill Road.[20]

Among the works of George Coppinger Ashlin, apart from the Adelaide Memorial Church, included about fifty other churches, Clery’s Department Store in Dublin, St. Colman’s Cathedral in Cobh and SS. Peter and Paul’s Church in Cork. On 10th December 1921 George Coppinger Ashlin died at his residence.[21]

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Conclusion

“It cost £50,000 to build the church, which is literally, millions in today’s money. At the time, it would have bought up most of Carlow,” explained Rev. Lester Scott. In conclusion to the story of the Adelaide Memorial Church we leave with the words of Rev. Scott when he said “The church is a memorial to love and that love comes from God, so really this church is a testament to God’s love.”[22]

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[1] Anon, An Introduction to the Architectural Heritage of County Carlow (Government of Ireland, 2002), p. 36

[2] http://trails.carlowtourism.com/adelaide-memorial-church.html accessed on 16 September 2015

[3] Jimmy O’Toole, The Carlow Gentry: What will the neighbours say! (Carlow, 1993), p. 36

[4] http://archiseek.com/2013/adelaide-memorial-church-myshall-co-carlow-built-1903/ accessed on 18 September 2015

[5] http://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/memorial-to-a-parent-s-love-1.1526667 accessed on 16 September 2015

[6] http://trails.carlowtourism.com/adelaide-memorial-church.html accessed on 16 September 2015

[7] http://trails.carlowtourism.com/adelaide-memorial-church.html accessed on 16 September 2015

[8] Jimmy O’Toole, The Carlow Gentry: What will the neighbours say!, p. 40

[9][9] Jimmy O’Toole, The Carlow Gentry: What will the neighbours say!, p. 38

[10] Jimmy O’Toole, The Carlow Gentry: What will the neighbours say!, p. 38

[11] http://search.ancestry.co.uk for Adelaide Duguid in English census 1891 accessed on 16 September 2015

[12] Jimmy O’Toole, The Carlow Gentry: What will the neighbours say!, p. 35

[13] http://www.ukcensusonline.com for John Duguid in English census 1911 accessed on 16 September 2015

[14] Jimmy O’Toole, The Carlow Gentry: What will the neighbours say!, p. 34

[15] https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QJ8K-D5H3 accessed on 16 September 2015

[16] https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QJ8K-64JX accessed on 16 September 2015

[17] Jimmy O’Toole, The Carlow Gentry: What will the neighbours say!, p. 36

[18] http://trails.carlowtourism.com/adelaide-memorial-church.html accessed on 16 September 2015

[19] Tim Cadogan & Jeremiah Falvey, A Biographical Dictionary of Cork (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2006), p. 8

[20] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1911/Dublin/Killiney/Killiney_Hill_Road__Part_of/97866/ accessed on 18 September 2015

[21] Tim Cadogan & Jeremiah Falvey, A Biographical Dictionary of Cork, p. 8

[22] http://www.carlow-nationalist.ie/2013/09/30/church-love-built/ accessed on 16 September 2015

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6 thoughts on “Adelaide Memorial Church, Myshall, Co. Carlow

  1. tompike says:

    I´m quite surprised reading this “fresh” article of Mr. J. Duguide and his outstanding church. Looking for a flight to Dublin I fell on this article. There are information about him I did not even know. Yes, for a certain time he lived in Dover, Dover beach , at a hotel at waterloo cresent, to day named Best Western. Also I have a photo of the Hotel of those days 1910?.
    I´m planning to visit the church perhaps this year again. I noticed there was no picture of Mr. Duguide in the church those times. I have an old framede portrait photo of him and would like to leave it in the church if possible. So every body will know, how he looked like and what he did for a great job. Which millionäre would errect a church now adays for his daughter?!
    Regards
    “tompike”

    • Thank you Tompike for your comment. I am sure the church would be delighted to have a photo of Mr. Duguide. I can’t seem to find a contact number of the web for the vicar of Myshall but I am sure people in the village may know.
      Yours sincerely,
      Niall

      • tompike says:

        Yes, Myshall is a very small village; vicar seems to have a lot to take care off. There is also a webside on facebook. When I go to Irland I will contact those people of AMC on facebook. Take care. Than you.

  2. Jimmy Cornwall-Brady says:

    I love to learn about this church and the little town. Well I am a Cornwall-Brady I’d love to go to see the place but I live in America. The church is beautiful and it must look amazing in real life. There’s some much I could learn about my family by looking just my name up. Thanks for this amazing article, it taught me a lot

    • Thomas says:

      Visit facebook of the church; anniversary 2010. There you find a lot of pics of the interior of church. Hope they are still online.
      The last time I was there, about 20 years ago, I met the vicar of AMC, C.C. Ruddock and his wife. Now living in Australia with family. He was a real Irish good character with a lot of life experieance. I believe, he was in his early times on a submarine. After that experince he turned in to be a vicar.
      That village was realy typical irish outstandig, small, clean, quiet, nothing doing, few cow´s, goats and car around, that all. Today? I will see.

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