St. Laserian's Cathedral, Old
Leighlin – Vigors Family
Posted by Jean Rice
Surnames: Vigors, O'Brien, Nicholas,
Bernard, Bredin, Wilson, Brandon, Stopford, St George, Frith, Fishbourne,
Stubbs, Aylward, Raffles, Doyne, Rocomb, Donatus
The beautiful Cathedral of Saint
Laserian lies in the small village of Old Leighlin, Co. Carlow, Ireland.
The village, now peaceful and tranquil, was plundered repeatedly and later
totally destroyed by fire in 1060. Each time a benefactor came forward to
aid in rebuilding and redevelopment. In 1399, when Richard Rocomb was
Bishop, there were 86 burgesses or city councillors in the town.
The present Cathedral in Old
Leighlin was begun by Bishop Donatus of Leighlin and completed by the end
of the 13th century. One of the oldest items in the Cathedral is an 11th
century font. A grand wind organ was installed under the tower in 1800 and
moved to its present location in an alcove. A fine timber ceiling in the
Chancel was installed in 1890.
Old Leighlin. Co
The elegant entrance gateway to the
Cathedral of St. Laserian was built in the early 18th century. One of the
lights in the east window by Catherine O'Brien is of St. Laserian and
dedicated to the memory of one of the Vigors family whose history is
interwoven with the cathedral. The east window behind the altar features
panels of Irish saints and there is a wonderful feeling of warmth with the
honey-coloured oak pews and the wooden ceiling of 1899.
Old Leighlin. Co Carlow.
Plaques and memorials include:
Under lies the body of Mrs.
Christian Nicolas, late wife
To yet Honourable Colonel James Nicholas who departed this
life ye 2nd day of Feb. anno dom 1706/7 in the 31 year of her age.
The date may have been written in that manner because of
the year in which Pope Gregory XIII decreed that January 1st and not March
25th was New Year's Day, although it remains a matter for speculation.
Another reads (by my interpretation):
This Cathedral was repaired and
beautified, A.D. 1843,
Honb. R. B. Bernard, Dean, Rev. James Bredin, A. M.
Precentor, Rev. James Wilson, D.D. Chancellor, Rev. Wm. Brandon, A. B.
Treasurer, Hon. H. S. Stopford, Archdeacon.
Rev. Arthur St. George, Rev. John
Frith, Rev. Rob. Fishbourne, Rev. J. M. Stubbs, Prebendaries.
Rev. James Bredin, Economist
The Vigors family of Burgess in
Leighlinbridge is identified strongly with this church with 32 memorials
including a floor monument dated 1718 to Urban Vigors, High Sheriff, Co.
Carlow. Succeeding generations lived on the large family estate nearby and
a number held high offices of state, church or pursued military careers.
Nicholas Aylward Vigors who died in
1840 had a lifelong interest in science. With Sir Stamford Raffles he
founded the Zoological Society of London. Colonel Philip Doyne Vigors, JP,
served in the 11th Devonshire and 19th Princess of Wales Regiments, was VP
of the Royal Historical & Archaeological Association, IR, and established
the "Association for the Preservation of the Memorials of the Dead in
Ireland" to record many faded tombstones in cemeteries; subsequent
published Annual Reports today are sought after by family researchers.
A timber lectern in the Cathedral in
the form of a eagle was presented in memory of Thomas Vigors (1800-1881)
and wife Sophie (d. age 38, Nov. 5, 1865) by sons Charles, Thomas, Urban
and Cliffe. Charles served in the Ceylon Civil Service, Cliffe was awarded
an OBE for service in the Royal Irish Regiment, Urban was Advocate Gen. of
W. Australia. Thomas succeeded his father as rector of Powerstown Parish
Did you know that at one time there was
a Window Tax based upon the number of windows in a building; this did not
apply to churches.
Beautiful photos of the interior
of the Cathedral and much more information on the history behind the
Cathedral can be found in "Ireland of the Welcomes," a fine periodical
found where international magazines are sold, Vol. 49, No. 2 (Mar-April
2000), or requested via the Dublin-published magazine.