Marie McSweeney tells the story of the Costello Memorial Chapel in Carrick-On-Shannon, the world’s second smallest chapel
Tucked in between two much larger buildings in the centre of Carrick-on-Shannon is the unique Costello Memorial Chapel, which has the distinction of being the second smallest chapel in the world. Measure it and you will find that it is around sixteen feet long by twelve foot wide and occupies an area of one hundred and ninety two square feet. Translate that into metres and you get 3.6576 metres by 4.8768 metres!
The chapel was open when I wandered around the area with my family during our holiday by beautiful and intriguing Lough Key. It immediately caught my attention because of the dedication – it was erected by one Edward Costello to mark the loss of his wife Mary Josephine who died in 1877 at the age of only forty six. As a ‘Mary Josephine’ myself (that’s what is recorded on my birth certificate) I felt a genuine affinity with the story and determined to find out more.
Edward had first been a wealthy farmer at Dromore, a few miles away, but during the early 1880’s he set up a business in the town, and it was here that he made a deep impression on the locals as a kind and charitable man. In time he acquired the site of the old Wesleyan Memorial Chapel in the town, which incidentally was built on the site of a former court house. In itself this place had a harrowing history as it is recorded that nineteen men were hanged there during 1798. The Costellos were regarded as a couple who were extremely devoted to each other and immediately upon the sad death of his wife Edward selected a portion of the site for a memorial chapel to honour her. It took some time to plan and to build the chapel but, in the meantime, her body was embalmed and looked after by the local order of Marist nuns.