The Grace Mausoleum in Arles cemetery is a distinctive feature, visible when passing through the village. Despite its small appearance, this is a unique and important structure for several reasons. Its design and appearance is a highly unusual features in an Irish cemetery. It is also extraordinary, that over the last three hundred years of its existence, it has survived fully intact and has been a subject of fascination, reproduced in a number of works of art. The family it commemorates survived many political upheavals. The family burial place has served a number of purposes in its long history. The first known portrayal of this building was when it formed part of the tumbledown penal church, onto which it was attached. This church, which is long gone and replaced by the beautiful parish church of Arles, formed the beginning of this building’s strange story. It first became a burial place in 1708 after the death of Oliver Grace of Shanganagh.

This lecture by Christopher Power describes in detail the fascinating story of this unique building, outlining its long history with an indebt description of its various changes through the centuries. It also describes the various people it commemorates. The talk will also feature fascinating visuals illustrating the distinct architectural features of the vault, both outside and of its interior.

The talk will also explore the individual artists who travelled the length and breadth of Ireland in 1794 to sketch and describe the beautiful and unique pieces of antiquity of many counties. Even as early as the 1790s the unique beauty and cultural significance of many iconic features were recognised. Carlow and Laois were well represented in the resulting work known as The Antiquities of Ireland, with images of Arles, Dunamaise, Saint Mullins and Carlow’s famous dolmens, to name but a few featured.

The lecture will describe the life of Francis Grosse the driving force behind this work and how he commissioned several artists to travel to (for the time), remote inaccessible areas in order to create these works of art. Many of these ruins and landscapes, despite the passage of time, are still recognisable today.

This CHAS talk will take place in the Talbot Hotel, Carlow on Weds 15 March @ 8pm. All are welcome and admission is free.

The talk will be videoed for future viewing and will be available on the CHAS YouTube channel:

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