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Posted by Murrisk on August 04, 2001 at 17:43:13:

Muirsín's beautiful photo of Ballintubber Abbey is on the front page. The abbey built in 1216 by King Cathál O'Conor for a branch of the Augustinians.

In October 1347 a Genoese ship coming from the Crimea docked in Messina, Sicily, with dead and dying men abord. The Black Death had arrived in Europe. By June and August 1348, the plague had spread throught Europe and into England. It abated during the winter of 1348/49 but resumed its spread the following spring to Scotland, Ireland, the Baltic and Iceland. The first cases were reported in Ireland in August 1348 - 653 years ago to the month. In Kilkenny, a Brother John Clyn of the Friars Minor, a monk left alone among dead men, possibly in Canice's, kept a record "...lest things which should be remembered perish with time and vanish from the memory of those who come after us.....I leave parchment to continue this work, if perchance any man survive and any of the race of Adam escape this pestilence and carry on the work which I have begun". The chronicles note that, as recorded by another hand, Brother John died of the pestilence but foiled oblivion. Ballintubber Abbey almost certainly experienced the plague. Firstly, monastic settlements such as Ballintubber (1216), Claremorris (1288) and Ballinrobe (1313) were amongst if not the largest population centres in the Mayo. Large towns as such did not exist. Secondly, for many the plague was an expression of the wrath of God and religous fervour in the form of pilgrimages etc was widespread.

In 1350 Francesco Traini painted a fresco on the walls of the Camposanto in Pisa entitled "The Triumph of Death". Included in the fresco is an older tale of "The Three Living and Three Dead" where three young nobles meet three decomposing corpses who tell them "What you are, we were. What we are, you will be". Most know this statement in a modified form as the epitaph of W.B. Yates.

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