The Kelly Mausoleum is a simple but striking structure that stands in a graveyard near Ballygar, in County Galway. It dates from the early 19th century and is one of a few such mausoleums in North Galway. It was built by Denis Henry Kelly, a local landlord and descendant of the O’Kelly clan, as a funerary monument for himself and his family.
The mausoleum has a well-wrought limestone doorway that bears an Irish inscription with the details of Kelly’s family pedigree and the crest of the O’Kelly clan, which features an Enfield, a mythical beast with the head of a fox, the chest of a greyhound, the body of a lion, and the hind legs and tail of a wolf.
The mausoleum is not the only remarkable feature of Kelly’s burial site. He also constructed an elaborate replica of a round tower, a type of early Christian Irish monument, in the same graveyard. The round tower is about 15 meters high and has four windows facing the cardinal directions. It also has a conical roof made of stone slabs. The round tower serves as a large eye-catcher or folly on the landscape, as well as a symbol of Kelly’s heritage and pride.
The Kelly Mausoleum and the round tower are both examples of how local landlords in 19th century Ireland expressed their identity and status through architecture and landscape design. They also reflect the influence of Romanticism and antiquarianism on the Irish gentry, who sought to revive and celebrate their ancient history and culture. The Kelly Mausoleum and the round tower are worth visiting for anyone interested in the history and heritage of North Galway.
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