A Monument To ‘Gaiety and Innocence’.
The cenotaph in the grounds of the former Browne Estate at Raheens, Castlebar, stands approximately 25 metres high (80 feet). Dodwell Browne had the magnificent monument built in 1809 to commemorate the death of his wife Maria, the second daughter of Sir Neal O’Donnell of Newport.
According to local lore, Marie became seriously ill, and her doctor referred her for treatment to a Dublin hospital. As she was starting the journey to the capita, from her home in Raheens, an extraordinary thing happened; the horses drawing her carriage shied at a bend in the avenue and refused to pass. The carriage driver whipped them repeatedly and eventually succeeded in forcing them to continue. Sadly, the journey proved to be of no avail, and shortly after arriving in Dublin, Maria died. It is said that Dodwell, presumably thinking that the incident with the horses was an omen, had the monument built beside the spot where the event occurred.
Stone tablets on the cenotaph are inscribed in three languages. One in French is placed under a profile of Maria O’Donel-Brown carved in bas-relief and reads,
et a’ lamour
par son cher epoux
and to love
from her dear husband
Another in old Irish is not easily legible and is loosely translated -
‘This is to your memory my friend. Oh my loyal beloved, gone forever, your presence forever missing from me (lost to me)’.
A third tablet bears the short but very poignant inscription in English -
‘To Gaiety and Innocence’.
This monument is on private property. Please respect the landowner’s right to privacy.
The cenotaph commerating Maria O'Donnell-Browne
The inscribed stone in Irish.
Mayo Historical & Archaeological Society