St. Mary's, New Ross, County Wexford

From The Illustrated Dublin Journal, Volume 1, Number 27, March 8, 1862

St. Mary's Abbey, New Ross, Wexford

FEW places in Ireland abound more in monastic ruins than New Ross, a beautiful town situated on the united streams of the Nore and Barrow, with their tributary waters, which, as it were, after inviting many fertile counties to pour their rich produce into their natural market, or emporium, meet like faithful guides, who had before parted to direct others to the gaol, and whose united testimony now affords confidence to the traveller.

The town rises an ascent on the eastern bank of the Barrow, whose waters here can float a ship of a thousand tons. A beautiful wooden bridge connects the town with the village of Rosbercon, in the county Kilkenny. There is scarcely a spot in the town where the antiquarian will not find various monuments of monastic ruins. There were several abbeys within the walls of the town, but they all shared the same fate, which the rude hand of the invaders, or the still ruder hand of time, have thought fit to bestow on many others in the country. One was situated at the northern, or St. John's gate, another at the southern, or Priory gate; the Abbey of St. Saviour's in Friars'-lane, and St. Mary's Abbey, which commands a view of the surrounding country, and overlooks the town from the eastern side, of which the above is an illustration. This building was so perfect as to admit of divine service being performed in it so late as the year 1811 or 1812, when the western aisle was injudiciously taken down to make room for the present church, which, compared to its ancient predecessor, is but a rude heap of stone and mortar. There is a cemetery under the pile, which extends, should we believe popular tradition, under the greater part of the town. However, certain it is, that archways have been discovered stretching in the direction of the Abbey, and persons are somewhat deterred visiting the cemetery, from the story of a soldier who once entered the "Black-hole," as the entrance is called, provided with a lantern and accompanied by a dog. The dog returned, but his ill-fated master affords a lesson to the incautious antiquarian. Another story, equally believed, is told of some persons who attempted to take down the cross from the chancel wing, but whose brains were dashed out for their impious temerity.