[St. Brandon's Mansion, Kilmalkedar]

Artist(s) : Henrietta Georgiana Marcia Chatterton (Draughtsman)

Ruined, roofless building, with one ogee-headed window and three others with round arches. Flat-lintelled doorway with relieving arch. A further doorway at first-floor level.
The building depicted here is now known as St. Brendan's House, and possessed three storeys. Kilmalkedar (Cill Maoilchéadair) is referred to in the text as Killmachedor. The Early Christian and Medieval ecclesiastical complex which the author describes lies at the foot of the western slopes of Reenconnell hill, overlooking Smerwick Harbour.
Archaeological Survey of Ireland, at http://webgis.archaeology.ie/NationalMonuments/FlexViewer/, record no. KE042-026009-.

Image Details

Genre Scientific or Technical illustration
Technique Woodcuts
Geographical Location
  • Kilmalkedar - Named locality
  • Kerry - County
  • Munster - Province
Keywords(s) Antiquities, Archaeological sites, Doors & Doorways, Mansions, Ruins, Windows
Colour Monochrome
Published / created 1839

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account Rambles in the South of Ireland
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy Vol. 1, p. 149
Source copy James Hardiman Library, National University of Ireland Galway Special Collections: 914.190481 CHA

Related text from travel account

Leaving this object of curiosity, and following the path in front of several wretched cabins which compose the melancholy village of Killmachedor [Kilmalkedar], we came to a building dignified by the name of the mansion of St. Brandon [Brendan], of which this sketch will give a correct idea—
[Image: St. Brandon's mansion]
[p. 150] It struck me, as I approached this building, that it possessed far more windows than any structure of similar size and situation that I had ever seen in Ireland; yet so rude was its style, that it afforded no little quibbles of architectural nicety, by which a judgment of the precise date could be formed. However, I came to the determination that St. Brandon had had about as much to do with this house, as the same very respected saint's great-grandfather; and thus, confident in the correctness of my own decision, I presumed to assert my disbelief of the account that associated the worthy saint with this unworthy edifice. Proud indeed, did I feel, when the renowned local antiquarian, Father Casey himself, declared that he was of precisely the same opinion.
It would be very stupid work to write, or if written, to read, a minute description of this building. The sketch of it will convey a sufficient notion. But it may be as well to observe that it is now divided into two rooms, opening to each other by a circular arched door, of which only one pillar, and one half of the arching stones, remain. The fellow pillar rests upon a heap of rubbish, near the site of its [p. 151] original importance; and the corresponding half arch, formed of one stone, is nowhere to be found.
To explain these appearances, we were told that a certain man of indolent habits, who had rather go a little way for a good thing, than a long way without certainty of anything at all, happened, at the time this mansion was falling into decay, to have his circumstances so changed as to render it necessary for him to build a new cabin in the neighbourhood. As he was one day going by chance, or for curiosity's sake, into this old house, he could not help wishing that his own cabin was as neatly and strongly built; and as he strolled leisurely about, taking his observations, and was passing into the inner-room, through the arch-way, he could not help casting an envious eye upon the two fine large stones that formed it. According to the old and true saying, "Idleness is the mother of mischief;" so as he had nothing particular to do at that moment, he quietly employed himself in pulling the old doorway to pieces, and after considerable toil, succeeded in displacing the great stone, which fell with a tremendous hubbub at his feet. Well,— or as the Irish story- [p. 152] tellers say, "Well, that was very well," it fell so mighty easy, and looked so mighty neat, he thought, for the sake of appearances he might put it up in his own new house, as he had pulled it down from this old one; so away he walked, with the half-arch over his shoulder, intending to commence his domestic appropriation of it the next day. The next day came, of course, and the builder of the cabin proceeded to introduce the old stone in a conspicuous part of his new house, forgetful that he was handling, with dishonesty, a holy stone belonging to St. Brandon. As the builder, however, was about to take it up up on the walls, and was in the act of stooping, his hands were seized with such an agonizing cramp, that he ran howling and bellowing about the village. It was the advice of the villagers, that the holy stone should be restored to the old house. But whether it was broken by the way, or whether the impious appropriator of it died of cramp, is not satisfac- [p. 153] torily ascertained. The stone is certainly nowhere to found, and it is probable that, among the many grave stones in the adjoining churchyard, one of them marks the cold bed of [p. 153] the man who would have appropriated part of St. Brandon's house to build up his own.
The next object of antiquarian interest in the neighbourhood, was the old church and burial ground; respecting the history of which, very little seems to be known, but, according to the usual custom, a great deal is conjectured. [Vol. 1, 149-153]
St. Brandon's Mansion, Kilmalkedar