34 of 365 pix – Rathronan Protestant Church ruin, Clonmel


Rathronan Protestant Church

I’ve passed this church a million times (I could be exaggerating slightly) over the last few years.  It’s an eyecatching sight perched at the top of a hill over a public house called ‘The Halfway House’ on the Clonmel to Fethard road.

At first glance it appears that the entrance is through a gate in a field lower down. An easier route is to take the left turn just before it, if coming from Clonmel. Then look out for the narrow road on the right that looks like it probably leads to someone’s back yard. I drove up that narrow road today, but I’d advise against it.  It’s very muddy at the top, and I had only just enough room to turn my car. (I know the picture makes it look like I had loads of room, but look at that muddy, rocky ground!!)

Rathronan Church Driveway

Rathronan Church Driveway

Rathronan Church Driveway

The gates at the entrance were locked when I arrived (I should have phoned ahead), but there’s a neat little stile to the side of them – more like a small set of steps than a stile.

Rathronan Church Entrance

Rathronan Protestant Church

The church was designed by Clonmel born architect, William Tinsley, who was appointed as diocesan architect for the Church of Ireland in the 1840s.  The church is in a sorry state inside. The entrance porch has more holes in it than a game of Battleship, and it was spooky.  The icy wind howled through all the gaps and doorways, and through the opening up above where the bell would have been housed.

Rathronan Protestant Church

Rathronan Church

What was once the nave is now roofless.  Trees have rooted and taken a firm hold on the place, pushing upwards and outwards.  Wooden beams, ivy and litter cover the ground. At the furthest end of the church is a fabulous gothic arched window.  I hacked relentlessly, for several hours, through the dense undergrowth, while very possibly exaggerating again, to get the photo below.

Rathronan Church Gothic Window

 The only problem with this was that I had to make my way back to where I’d come from again. Ok, it wasn’t that far, but some of those branches were lethal.  A few had been broken, and they protruded from the ground like sharp daggers just waiting for me to trip and fall on them.

Rathronan Protestant Church

Rathronan Protestant Church

Rathronan Protestant Church Graveyard

The graveyard is very overgrown and the earth is uneven.  A lot of the headstones are very neglected with ivy growing up around them, and others lie hidden in the long grass.

Rathronan Graveyard - Leitenant General John Millet Hamerton

The tomb in the photo above is the resting place of General John Millett Hamerton who served in the Napoleonic wars and lived at Orchardstown.

Rathronan Graveyard

Rathronan Graveyard

Rathronan Graveyard

Rathronan Graveyard

Rathronan Church and Graveyard

Final pic – view of Slievenamon from the grounds of Rathronan Church. At that stage I was so cold I may as well have been standing on the top of the mountain in the snow.


11 thoughts on “34 of 365 pix – Rathronan Protestant Church ruin, Clonmel

  1. i live next door to this old church and graveyard and along with some neighbours we are currently tidying up the grounds and headstones as best we can, i would invite you back in the next few months for another photo shoot and hopefully it will look better.

  2. Hi Paul, it’s fantastic to hear that you guys are working on improving the graveyard – it’s a fabulous place (even if it was a little spooky the last time I visited). Thanks so much for the invitation. I’d love to take some more photos and even help out if I can. I’m just back from a week’s holidays so I’ll contact you by email next week. 🙂

  3. Hi Susan,
    I visited this church on a recent visit to Ireland. Paul’s group are doing a great but very difficult job. Best of luck and thanks to them.
    I wonder if anyone has transcribed the inscription on the tower? I would love to know what it reads. Also did William Tinsley design it, design and build it, or did his father build it. The church has several features in common with the church in Ardfinnan. The original building seems to have had a slate hung facade which was covered over with a rendered finish at a later date. Any information about it would be appreciated.
    Best regards,

  4. Hi Susan,
    Many thanks for your excellent piece and shots of this church which I visited recently. And many thanks to Paul and his friends who are doing such a difficult and splendid job.
    I am following up some research on William Tinsley in Cincinatti Ohio and in Tipperary which i hope will lead to some closer contact based on Tinsley’s work and life.
    Anything you might know about this church i would appreciate. Also the one in Ardfinnan (CoI) which on close inspection seems to be of the same type of construction. Stone walls with a rendered finish covered with nail hung slates. It seems likely that the slates were covered over at a later date with a further rendered finish perhaps as the nails rusted away and the slates began to fall off. Also what does the stone on the tower read?
    Best regards,

  5. My family leaved very close near by at Millhouse, Rathronan. Indeed I lived there until the house was sold to Anne Fitzpatrick RIP during the late seventies.
    Growing up my mates and I would gain access to the church through the window on the left hand side of the door. The church was still in use then and the hymn books were always neatly placed throughout the seats.
    There is a crypt under the church however the entrance is now blocked.
    I revisited the Church during 2012.
    Lovely spot.
    Liam Gavin

  6. I am trying to find out if Tom Perkins who lived in the old forge near the pub is still aruond, he is the brother of my wifes godmother ( Molly Perkins ) and the last time we saw him was at Mollys funeral in 2009. We send Christmas cards etc to him but he has not responded for the last couple of years, would you have any news for us.regardsDavid Ide

  7. My great-great Grandfather, John Francis Morton, was Curate of this church around 1868. We have some photos of the church that were taken around that time. Do you know if there are any church/cemetery records still in existence? It’s possible that my great-great Grandmother might be buried there.

    Cathy Scattergood
    Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

  8. Paul,
    I want to thank you for cleaning up the church grounds. I will be in Ireland in September and would love to see this place as I love going around and looking for all the ruins. I was there two years ago and stopped at a ruin in Buttevant and another in Mitchelstown. I was so disappointed in all the garbage around the old ruins. I have relatives in Fermoy who I stay with and take day trips to places I want to see. I love this country. People do not come to see the new, they come to see the old. I was devastated to see in Mitchelstown the new cemetery is so well kept up, yet right next to it is a ruin with graves and it is overgrown and garbage everywhere. I do not understand it. Every town that has a ruin or sight should have a committee to go in and clean it up. I even went around and collected some garbage and put it in my car. These places are something you will never get back if lost. So, thank you. I look forward to finding this place and enjoying it.

  9. My research so far for what it is worth.
    The Plaque reads.
    This Steeple and Spire were erected at the expence
    of Gen Sir William Meadows KB
    anno Domini 1797
    As an O—ment to the Church and Country
    and as Testimony of his Friendship
    for the Family of Hamerton
    (Bottom Left)
    Thos Rylance
    (Bottom Right)
    R Morrison

    Richard Morrison and William Vitruvius Marrison were the architects, Thomas Rylance was a builder living in Clonmel at 6 William St Clonmel
    The — are letters I have not yet deciphered.

  10. I saw some lovely shots of this on Facebook tonight. Are there any restrictions to visiting? I love old ruins and would love to visit when I’m in Ireland next month.

  11. Hi Beth, there were no restrictions on visiting at the time I was there. That was quite a while ago now. I can’t see why there would be restrictions now though. Enjoy your visit.

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