Introduction

It is widely recognised that historic burial grounds are a very important part of the cultural heritage of Irish society. Their conservation and care must be based on sound research. Tea Lane in Celbridge is a graveyard of immense heritage value, providing a rich source of information on local families. It is a link to their memory, their lives and their stories. It is a site of archaeological and architectural interest. In 2014 Tea Lane Graveyard Committee commissioned a conservation management plan. This plan assessed the threats to the integrity of the site and provided a restoration programme.

 

Historical Context

The graveyard stands on an ancient path that linked Dublin Bay to Galway Bay, known as the Slí Mhór, one of Ireland‘s ancient five roads. The site was an early medieval monastery dedicated to St Mochua, the first abbot of Clondalkin. The curving street-pattern around the churchyard in Celbridge follows the line of the enclosure of this early ecclesiastical settlement. St Mochua established a church at Tea Lane. His pilgrim path along the Slí Mhór can be traced from Rathcoffey through Ladychapel and Tea Lane Graveyard to the Round Tower in Clondalkin.

After the Reformation Castletown belonged, by the early seventeenth century, to the Dongans so members of the family were buried in Tea Lane. Sir William Dongan, 1st Earl of Limerick, and his son Colonel Walter `Lord Dongan`, fought at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, in which Walter was killed. It was written that Lord Dongan’s corpse was carried from the battlefield to the family mansion at Castletown, and then interred in the parish church in Celbridge, at Tea Lane.

Colonel Thomas Dongan of Castletown, a younger son of Sir William Dongan, was, in the 1680s, Governor General of New York. In 1995 a plaque in honour of Thomas Dongan was unveiled at Tea Lane Graveyard by the then American Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy-Smith.

In 1707, Castletown estate, including the graveyard, was sold to William `Speaker` Conolly, buried at Tea Lane in 1729. Conolly, the son of an innkeeper, was born in Donegal in 1662. He became a barrister, a powerful politician and the wealthiest commoner in Ireland. He never took a title and remained ‘Mr Conolly’ to the end. Conolly died aged sixty seven. His wife Katherine lived on in Castletown for another twenty- three years until her death at the age of ninety. Katherine was buried at Tea Lane in 1752.

Conolly Monument and Mausoleum

This image shows the Conolly monument inside the mausoleum at Tea Lane graveyard. Two beautiful, life-sized, marble figures of William Conoly and his wife Katherine were the main feature of the monument. They are now in safe keeping at Castletown House. The monument and mausoleum were commissioned by Katherine in memory of her husband.

Henry Grattan the younger M.P. who campaigned for Catholic emancipation and the restoration of the Irish Parliament was buried at Tea Lane in 1859.

This image shows the memorial chapel restored by the Maunsell family who lived at nearby Oakley Park from 1813 until 1924. The Maunsells were bankers and politicians who had moved from Limerick to Celbridge. Oakley park is now in the care of the Order of St John of God. The Order purchased the graveyard in 1952 and Kildare County Council aquired it by compulsory purchase order in 1984.

Tea Lane Graveyard Committee is dedicated to the preservation of the rich store of heritage contained in this ancient site.

Any donation you can offer towards this conservation project will be greatly appreciated.

We thank you for donations already received.