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!!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.