The Monastic Settlement at Laraghbryan is said to have been founded by Saint Senan in the 6th century on lands owned by the O'Byrnes, the ancient kings of Leinster. Later, when it became a parish, Laraghbryan included the area now known as Maynooth. Today, the tide has turned, and Laraghbryan has become the final resting place for the people of Maynooth Parish.
Located on the Kilcock Road about 1 Km from the town, the old part of the cemetery has the derelict ruins of the Monastic Church of Laraghbryan with an older square keep forming a tower, semidetached at the western end. Local legend says that a tunnel linked Maynooth Castle with this tower, within which there is a stone spiral staircase.
Well worth seeing, if you are interested you should do so without delay, as every winter takes its toll on the fragile building, and much of it is being converted into heaps of stone. A plaque on the wall states that the Church dates from 1400/1500 and that it was restored 2002 – 2004.
As long ago as 1895, Healy's history of Maynooth College shows Laragh Bryan in a neglected and perilous state.
When Saint Mary's Church of Ireland in Maynooth was restored in 1770 by the first Duke of Leinster, the beautiful wooden East Window was removed from Laraghbryan and installed in Saint Mary's. This certainly enhanced Saint Mary's, but did little to protect Laraghbryan, and accelerated the demise of the Church which is now in a perilous state, with walls listing, and arches and doorways crumbling.
Beautiful wooden East Window was removed from Laraghbryan Church
and installed in Saint Mary's Church of Ireland, Maynooth in 1770
Ancient yew trees representing everlasting life give shade to interesting headstones which date back to the 17th century, with several table tombs and box tombs.
In the early days of Saint Patrick's College prior to the opening of the College Cemetery in 1817, Professors were buried in Laraghbryan. There is a plaque on the inside of the western wall of the Church dedicated to Rev Maurice Aherne. He was the first professor of Dogma in the College, appointed on 27 June 1795 and died in 1801.
Three other members of the staff are reputed to be buried in Laraghbryan, but I have not been able to identify their graves:
From the College, turn left at the traffic lights, and left again at the Parish Church.
This is the Kilcock Road.
About 1 Km from the town, Laraghbryan Cemetery is on the right, and clearly signposted.
Free access and parking.
Click for more information.