Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Long Cantwell search.

Long-time readers of this blog know I'm on a multi-year hunt to discover certain landmarks that bear the name Cantwell. A couple of years ago, for instance, I made a pit stop during my vacation in Alaska and took a selfie at the post office in Cantwell, Alaska.

I'm on vacation this week in Ireland, from whence the name Cantwell originates. My ancestors were Normans who settled first in Brittany, then in England (arriving with William the Conqueror) and Wales, and, at last, in Ireland (arriving with Strongbow). There the surname was settled, more or less, and there the family thrived, owning quite a bit of property in counties Kilkenny and Tipperary from the late 12th century on.

Among the Cantwells who lived and died in the area was Thomas de Cantwell, a former Crusader who died of old age in about 1320. He was entombed in the church at Kilfane, not far south of Kilkenny city. A new church was built across the road and the old one has been left to crumble -- and in the process, Sir Thomas's effigy was buried for quite a number of years. It's a remarkable work, as these things go. It's finely carved, and nearly eight feet tall -- hence its nickname: Cantwell Fada, or Long Cantwell. In 1935, some 600 years after his death, his effigy was rediscovered, raised to an upright position, and bolted to a wall inside the ruin.

This is my first trip to Ireland, so while I had seen photos, both in hard copy and online, of the Long Man, I'd never seen him in person. So seeking him out has been on my bucket list for quite a number of years.

Late last week, as I was checking out the Irish National Museum for Archaeology in Dublin, I stumbled across a reproduction of the Long Cantwell.

As cool as it was to see a familiar face in the museum, I knew my task wouldn't be complete until I found himself, as the Irish say. My friend Mike, who lives nearby, agreed to drive me around until we could find him. He and another friend of ours had mounted an unsuccessful search for the ruin of the Kilfane church a year or two ago.

Today, luck or the Long Man were with us. Accompanied by a chorus of cawing from the murder of crows nesting in the nearby woods, we found the old church, and Sir Thomas.

So there you have it -- photographic proof of the success of my search. Now I can get back to more important working on the next book.

(Many thanks to Mike for playing tour guide, as well as for saving me from having to take another selfie.)

These moments of Cantwell-related blogginess have been brought to you, as a public srervice, by Lynne Cantwell.


Unknown said...

That's excellent Lynne. My family are from Kilkenny.

Lynne Cantwell said...

Very cool! I liked Kilkenny a lot. Maybe someday I'll get to go back, once we have a cure for the virus.

Hal Cantwell said...

One of my most moving and meaningful memories is spending time in the church, going up into the Keep and Sitting with the Fada. Will go back one of these years. Thanks for the trip back in time.

Lynne Cantwell said...

You're welcome, Hal!