Costello Memorial Chapel - Atlas Obscura

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Costello Memorial Chapel

Carrick-On-Shannon, Ireland

The smallest chapel in Europe is a moving testament to the love between a husband and wife. 

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Say the words “final resting place,” and what comes to mind? A cemetery where a quiet green space is dotted with graves and headstones? Even if you imagined something grander, like an ornate mausoleum, you probably wouldn’t think of a small chapel on a village street.

But that is precisely what Edward Costello determined he would build as the final resting place for his beloved wife, Mary Josephine, when she died in 1877 at the age of 46. The Costello Memorial Chapel still stands on Main Street in Carrick-on-Shannon, sandwiched between a bar and a camera shop in the busy Irish market town.

At the time, the building was not flanked as it is now by modern shops, but even so, it must have been a curious sight: a 12-foot wide by 16-feet deep chapel, the smallest chapel in Europe, and reportedly the second-smallest in the world.

The building was completed and dedicated in 1879, and the metal coffin containing Mary Josephine’s remains was placed in a recess under the floor and sealed under a thick sheet of specially made glass. Mass was celebrated in the chapel every Friday from then on until Edward himself died in 1891. He was similarly interred in a separate recess, under glass, where he could rest near his beloved Josephine.

Edward Costello was known as a kind and generous man of business who was very well-liked. His funeral was said to have been the largest ever held in Carrick-on-Shannon.

The town’s affection for him and his wife seems to have continued well beyond their deaths, as the chapel has continued to be cared for. Major conservation work was done in 2009-10, and a steady stream of visitors comes annually to see this unique act of devotion created by a loving husband for his deceased wife.

Know Before You Go

Open hours are not listed on the website, but the chapel is routinely open during daylight hours.

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October 4, 2023

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