The ‘Thomas Ronayne’ Chalice of 1637
We previously cast a ‘spotlight’ on the townland of D’Loughtane elsewhere on this site, and as detailed there the D’Loughtane Estate was the long-time seat of the Ronayne Family, reputedly from at least the year 1450 up to 1854 when the last of the D’Loughtane Ronaynes moved to Youghal, although their cousins remained in seat at nearby Ardsallagh House until 1963. The full history of this Ronayne family has been written about extensively and can be traced via some of the references below.
The present D’Loughtane House was built for a reputed £3500 in 1840 by the Ronayne family. The Ronaynes, who were devout Catholics, were forced to leave their house and land during the religious persecution of Catholic landowners in the late 16th and early 17th century. The family remained in the area and eventually came back into leased possession of the D’Loughtane land after John Ronayne married Catherine Bluett in 1603.
During those penal days, when mass was often celebrated in secret on flat ‘mass’ rocks in the countryside, D’Loughtane House was always considered a refuge for “outlawed” Catholic priests. The Ronayne family remained Catholic despite the extreme difficulties placed upon them and other Catholic landowners during that period.
One of the outstanding Ronayne family legacies from that terrible period in history was a gold chalice, inscribed “Thomas Ronayne 1637” which was commissioned by Thomas Ronayne and was kept hidden in the house where it remained for around 200 years up until 1854. As can be seen in the photo aside, this was a very ornate piece of altar plate. The chalice was later described as follows:
A deep bowl with everted rim and engraved calyx of six sepals, alternately plain and decorated with floral ornament. Hexagonal stem and compressed globular knop with chased vertical lobes, alternately plain and decorated with engraved floral ornament. The foot a hexagonal pyramidoid with incurved angle and base lines, resting on a shallow moulded vertical member and a narrow plain flat member. A Crucifixion is engraved on one of the facets of the foot, which are otherwise plain except for the inscription running around the lower parts…Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries, Vol 9, No. 3, Sep 1939
After 1854 the Ronayne Chalice came into the possession of the nearby Ardsallagh Ronaynes and remained there until 1963 following the death of the last member of that family, Miss Gwendolyn Ronayne, when the Ronayne Chalice was donated to Dean Christopher Sheehan of Youghal. The chalice was reconsecrated and is still used in the celebration of Mass in St Mary’s Parish Church Youghal.
A final chapter in the legacy of this chalice was written in December 2007 when the Ronayne Chalice was returned across the River Blackwater and used once again for a D’Loughtane marriage as part of the nuptial ceremony of Adrian Sellars and Edel Smiddy at St. Cronin’s Church, Clashmore which brought great joy to the Smiddy family, the current owners of D’Loughtane.
BibliographyRonaynes of Cork and Waterford; Journal of the Cork Historical & Archaeological Society, 1916-17; Frederick W. Knight, Thomas Ronayne (Detroit, MI)
Some Irish Altar Plate; Vol. 9, No. 3 (Sep 30, 1939), The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries in Ireland
Houses of Kinsalebeg (www.kinsalebeg.com)
Cora Smiddy, D’Loughtane (Various Estate & Chalice History)
Michael Hackett (Youghal Ronayne History)
Cora Smiddy (Ronayne Chalice, D’Loughtane House)