An introduction to one of the oldest and most important historical sites in the Glens of Antrim by leading local archaeologist, Dr Colm Donnelly QUB.
Malachy Mc Sparran writes in ‘Survey of LAYDE GRAVEYARD’ pub. Glens of Antrim Historical Society….
“The Church is thought to have been founded by the sept McFall and dedicated to their patron, St. Kieran. It was often referred to as a Franciscan monastery. Indeed, for many years, a notice at the entrance referred to ‘Layde Franciscan Church’. This, however, was not correct, for in fact, Layde was a parish Church. Proof of this is in the entry of the ‘Taxation of Pope Nicholas IV 1288’, where it is described as ‘Ecclesia de Leyde’ – The Church of Layde. If Layde had been a Friary it would not have been taxed. Layde is described in the Ulster Visitation Book of 1622 as ‘Ecclesia de Laide-Ruynous’, i.e ‘otherwise in ruins’ and it must have been rebuilt around 1696 because a stone in the east wall is inscribed with this date. It remained a site of Protestant worship in the Glens until about 1800.
Layde Graveyard is the burying place of a large number of the McDonnell clan, principally the Senior branch- the descendants of Colla McDonnell. Among those commemorated are Sir Alastair Mc Collkittagh and Dr James Mc Donnell- the founder of the Belfast Medical School”.
Dr. Colm Donnelly is the Director of the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork and a Senior Research Fellow at Queens University Belfast. He is an experienced historical field archaeologist, who specialises in Medieval and 17th-century buildings and has directed excavations at a range of sites including at Sir Arthur Chichester’s fort on Castle Hill, Dungannon,(2007) and at Castlecaulfield, County Tyrone (2011).
Colm is a founding member of the Irish Post-Medieval Archaeology Group (IPMAG), a member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Historical Archaeology and an External Examiner in Archaeology at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland. He currently leads a transatlantic excavation programme between the University of Massachusetts USA and QUB.