The Dollardstown Statue

This stone carving was found recently in Dollardstown on the lands of the Connell family. John Connell was operating a digger, demolishing a wall in the farmyard of Dollardstown House. He discovered the statue, placed carefully face down, about 40cm below ground level among the foundations. It depicts Our Lady with a crown on her head holding the Infant Jesus on her right knee.

Archaeologists believe that the statue was carved around the year 1500AD. This period was one of deep devotion to Our Lady. Most statues of the time show Mary holding the Child Jesus. Earlier statues have Our Lady standing with a crown on her head. Later ones have the enthroned Madonna i.e. Mary is seated. Further evidence of the Marian devotion of the time is to be found in the many poems and homilies in honour of Our Lady from that period.

Our statue is a beautiful artistic piece. It is rare. A recent survey found that only 63 statues of Our Lady and Child from the period before 1600 have survived. Ours is one more!
Doubtless many such statues were destroyed during the penal times when religious images were forbidden by law. A Royal Commission of 1639 decreed that all statues of Our Lady be destroyed.

How did our statue survive? Perhaps some devout Catholic, in order to save it, placed it carefully in the foundations of the wall in Dollardstown. It might never be seen again but it would be safe from desecration. We are glad it was found. May it remind us to keep alive in our time a firm devotion to Our Lady and her Child