It does not take you very long while walking around the Irish Landscape to cross paths with an old abandoned church or two. These old churches are mainly connected to the remains of long evacuated family estates and would have been originally erected as community churches for both the occupants of the estate house and the larger community.
I have to be honest I avoid any area of conflict (Political and religious!) in life as much as I possible can, I feel society spends too much time as it is looking back on times of trouble, war and death and wonder sometimes if this is not the very reason why we end up with future conflicts?
For me Life is too short to spend any-time waving flags on behalf of past conflicts – NO ONE WINS IN WAR!
When I come across these old churches however I just have to stop and spend sometime because the names on these grave stones were real people and many of them would have lived full lives and been great family members, loved and been loved, real people!
By Thomas Hardy
I heard a small sad sound,
And stood awhile among the tombs around:
“Wherefore, old friends,” said I, “are you distrest,
Now, screened from life’s unrest?”
—”O not at being here;
But that our future second death is near;
When, with the living, memory of us numbs,
And blank oblivion comes!
“These, our sped ancestry,
Lie here embraced by deeper death than we;
Nor shape nor thought of theirs can you descry
With keenest backward eye.
“They count as quite forgot;
They are as men who have existed not;
Theirs is a loss past loss of fitful breath;
It is the second death.
“We here, as yet, each day
Are blest with dear recall; as yet, can say
We hold in some soul loved continuance
Of shape and voice and glance.
“But what has been will be —
First memory, then oblivion’s swallowing sea;
Like men foregone, shall we merge into those
Whose story no one knows.
“For which of us could hope
To show in life that world-awakening scope
Granted the few whose memory none lets die,
But all men magnify?
“We were but Fortune’s sport;
Things true, things lovely, things of good report
We neither shunned nor sought … We see our bourne,
And seeing it we mourn.”
Ireland’s old churches