Located inside the E wall of Skreen church (ME032-047003-). Isaac Butler, writing c. 1749, describes the Marward graveslab (dims 2.23m x 0.91m; T 0.15m) as within the church (1892, 22), and it is now against the surviving E wall of the chancel. It was commissioned by William Nugent and his wife, Janet Marward, to commemorate her father, Walter, who died c. 1564, and her grandmother, Maud Cusack, nee Darcy. Maud’s first husband was James Marward and she was the mother of Walter, but later became the wife of Sir Thomas Cusack, whose monument is at Trevet church (ME038-017----), c. 5km to the SE. During his lifetime Sir Thomas acquired a large estate from the dissolution of the Lismullen nunnery (ME032-024----) c. 2km to the WNW of Skreen. The stone was sculpted by John Cusack, the fourth son of Sir Thomas and Dame Maud, in 1611. It is described in great detail by Hickey (1973) as:
The Marward Stone is a feestone slab measuring 2.2m by 0.92m. Across the top are carved the letters D O M (Deo optimo mea) in the ribbon-like lettering of the period. On the left hand side, looking at the stone, a large achievement of arms shows a shield surmounted by the helmet of an esquire. Above, with flapping wings and serpent’s tail stands a cockatrice – the Nugent crest. From the wreath beneath his feet depends an elaborate mantling, curling above and around the shield and ending in two heavy tassels; beneath the shield a scroll carried the motto.
The charge shows the arms of William Nugent (ermine two bars gules) and those of his wife Janet Marward (vert a fesse argent between three cinquefoils the same) quartered dexter chief and middle chief point. The marshalling is incomplete and from the uncut appearance of the stone I would suppose that the carving of the quarterings on the shield was never finished.
William was the younger son of Richard the 8th Baron Delvin and a brother of Christopher the 9th Baron. He was a notable man in his day, a courtier, a Gaelic poet of merit, the leader of a rebellion and a servitor the Pope. His wife was the only daughter and heiress of Walter Marward the last Baron of Skryne who died c. 1564.
The arms of Walter Marward are carved at the bottom right hand side of the stone impaled with those of his first wife Margaret Plunkett (sable a bend argent in the sinister pint a tower triple towered of the last) above them are the arms of Walter’s father James Marward, and mother Maud Darcy (azure semée of cross crosslets and there cinquefoils argent). The large shield thus commemorates Janet, the heiress to Skryne, and her husband, which two persons the inscription tells us, erected the monument. The two smaller shields commemorate Janet’s father and his first wife, and Janet’s grandmother who, the inscription tells us, are buried here. John Cusack is the sixth person mentioned on the stone and he names himself as the sculptor of it.
The inscription is in Latin but is so weathered now as to be undecipherable except for the initial capital H and one or two odd letters. I give, on the pen and ink drawing, the transcription from Thomas Westropp’s paper (1894, 294). This was made by Mr. Joseph Moore and Rev. O. Brighton about 1894. An earlier one made by Butler (1892, 22) is very similar.
The following is my translation: ‘This monument, William Nugent, the younger son of Richard Baron of Delvin, and Janet Marward, heiress and only daughter, set up as an ornament for the church to Walter Marward, Baron of Skryne and his first wife Margaret Plunket and to Matilda Darcy; in truth we are buried here.
I, John Cusack, the brother germane of Walter by the same mother, carved with mine own hand for the everlasting memorial the year of Our Lord 1611.’
In the furthest right-hand corner under the device of Saint Bernadine (a sun inscribed I.H.S.) is carved in high relief the figure of a monk standing at ta table or an altar, his left hand on his breast, his right hand resting on some object. He wears a cowled habit girdled by a chord which hangs to his feet in front. He is almost certainly a Franciscan. Five winged cherubs complete the devices on the stone.
From I. Butler (1893, 183): Of this place Isaac Butler gives the following: ‘Near the altar of the church, which is almost in ruins, there is a large grave, and the following inscription on the floor of the church:
D O M HOC MONUMENTUM GUALTERO MAR / WARDE, BARON DE SCRIN. MARGARETAE / PLUNKET PRIMAE SUAE CONJUOI AC / MATILDAE DARCEY MATRI GENER / GULIELMUS . NUGENTIUS RICHARDI / BARONIS A DELVEN MINOR NATU / FILIUS ET JENETA MARWARD HEAERES / ET UNICA NATE POSUERUNT ECCLESIA / ORNAMENTO HIC VERO SEPULITS / MEMORIAE PERPETUAE. JOHANNES CUSACK EJUSDEM GUALTERI EX MATRE / GERMANUS FRATER SCULPSIT MANU / PROPRIA. ANNO DOMINI 1611.
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of upload: 27 January, 2015Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.