Sunday, 4 February 2018

Old Cannistown Church Co Meath

                                            Above Image: Entrance gate

                                             Above Image: Entrance door

                                              Above Image: Ancient arch

                              Above & Below Images: Decorative carvings on arch

                                      Above Image; Bullaun & other remnants

                                          Above Image: Remains of a font

                         Above Image: West gable as seen through the East gable

                                              Above Image: East gable

The site on which this Church was constructed is believed to be that of a monastery founded in the 6th century by St Finian of Clonard. The ruins we see today are the remains of a Church built by the Norman family De Angelu or the Nangles. They had been granted the land by Hugh De Lacy who was then Lord of Meath. It became the local parish church of St. Brigid in the 13th century and a lot of rebuilding was done over the next two centuries before it finally became a victim of the reformation. It is listed as being in ruins in 1612.
What we can see today are the remains of the chancel and nave. Within are the remains of a very fine arch  with decorative carvings on either side. Really well worth having a look at.  Both gables are quite tall and the West gable has the remains of a bell cote. It is a very lengthy  building and probably was quite important in its time. On the visit I came across a number of interesting remnants including a small bullaun stone in the nave and also a font. The grounds are well maintained and is a very peaceful site.
To find the ruins take the N3 heading North and exit at junction 8. The circular slip road leads you onto the Navan South road. Continue on this road until you reach a roundabout just past an overhead footbridge. Turn right off this roundabout onto the R147 and take the second turn right just past the Old Bridge Inn. Drive for approx. 1.2KM until you pass Keating’s Oil on your right. Just past Keating’s there is a turn right with a sign pointing to Bective GFC.  Turn down this road and after approx. 300m you will see the Church grounds gate on your left. You can park on the footpath here.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Old Sleaty Church Co Laois

                                               Above Image: Roadside Gate

                                                Above Image: Enclosure entry

                                              Above Image: Southern Entrance

                                                    Above Image: Stone font

                                                Above Image: St Fiacc's cross

                                     Above 2 Images: Second early Christian cross

Tucked away in the backwaters of South county Laois, this small but nonetheless interesting Church ruin was constructed in medieval times on the foundation of a once important early Christian site associated with St. Fiacc, the Bishop of Leinster. It measures approx. 14m x 9m with the East gable seeming to be of later construction
The ruins are enclosed by a boundary wall which is set back from the road in a field. Access is easy by way of a roadway gate and a stile in the boundary wall. 
While the ruins themselves are nothing extraordinary there are some interesting things to see here. Within the wall by the Southern door is a large font looking not unlike a large bullaun stone. Outside the West wall is a tall rather worn looking cross. This is actually St Fiacc’s cross and is a remnant of the older foundation here and is believed to be over 1400 years old. Its plainness belays its antiquity but it is still nonetheless striking. It stands at nearly 3M high. A second smaller cross  standing at approx. 1.5m in height is located in the area adjacent to the Southern wall. It too has suffered the sands of time and is also a remnant of the earlier site.
It still amazes me when I come across these genuine antiquities that lie hidden in out of the way places and this particular place is worth seeking out.
To find the ruins take the M7 heading South and exit at Junction 3. At the top of the ramp turn right on the roundabout and cross over the motorway. On the next roundabout take the exit for the N78 for Athy. After you enter Athy take a left turn at the town square for the R417 to Carlow and drive for approx. 9.5km until you reach Maganey. At the crossroads here take a turn right and cross over the stone bridge on the river. Following the bridge take the next left turn and drive down this country road for approx. 5km.Keep an eye out on the left for the field gate and the ruins just beyond. they are easy to miss. For parking there is just enough room opposite on a grass verge.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Jumping Church Co Louth

                                    Above Image: The entrance gate & stile

                                           Above Image: The West gable

                                   Above Image: Remains of South doorway

                                Above Image & 2 Below Images: Ancient stones

                                Above Image: The jumping wall. you can see its
                                                     foundations to the left.

There are many strange myths and legends scattered across this country and one of the most mystifying lies in the backwaters of Co Louth near Ardee.
On a narrow country lane a walled enclosure surrounds the graveyard and the ruins of the 14th century church of Kilmedock, dedicated to St. Diomoc an early disciple of St Patrick.. The ruins are of a long building bigger than most of theparish  church ruins one would normally come across and has been ruinous for several hundred years but this particular church also contains a genuine mystery.
Access to the graveyard is by way of a roadside gate and the first thing to meet your eye is the remains of the West gable. This gable is the subject of the mystery here because it apparently moved by itself three feet to the East of its foundations without falling. The story behind this phenomenon is that this unnatural movement occurred during a severe storm in 1715 but it is hard to imagine a wall of great weight such as this shifting from its foundations without crumbling apart. A stormy wind would more than likely have caused the collapse of the wall rather than magically push it off its foundations. The local legend is that the wall "jumped" supernaturally following the burial of a local mason who had previously abandoned his faith but was still buried within the church beside the West gable. Apparently overnight it jumped to exclude him from the consecrated ground within and this is what the locals found the next morning. A tall story maybe but still  we are left without a logical explanation for this event. Both the storm and the burial did take place but this event remains a tantalising mystery to this day.
The location even with this supernatural baggage is still a very tranquil spot and the grounds are well kept. There are many ancient stones here and within the church a chart depicting the layout of the ruin and the names of many of those interned are listed and mapped out. Most of the gravestones are illegible so this is a great source for those maybe trying to locate the resting place of a relative.
The grounds also contain a couple of interesting 13th century carved stones. 
I stood there for quite a while trying to imagine how this jumping wall came to be and I left none the wiser. But it is a site well worth visiting and I'm really glad I saw it for myself. For families you can regale your kids of ghostly moving walls. They'll love it!
To find Kilmedock ruins take the N2 heading North towards Ardee. About 6.2KM North of Collon you will pass the Hunterstown Inn on your Right. About 300m further on you will reach a crossroads with a right hand turn onto the L5256. Turn right here and continue for approx 600m where you will reach a fork in the road. Keep to the left road and continue on (ignore the pillared lane way on the right, keep to the left hand road) Approx. 550m further you will see the graveyard entrance on your right. There is room to park at the gate.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Fourknocks Co Meath

                              Above Image: Road signs opposite the entrance

                                            Above Image: Entrance stile

                         Above Image: Don't forget the key or you'll have to go back!

                                         Above image: Approach lane way

                                                  Above Image: The Tomb

                                      Above Image: Steps leading to the crest

                        Above & Below Images: The entrance from the outside and
                                                            viewed from the inside

                           Above & Below Images: The rear recess & lintel stone

                                 Above Image: Domed roof with light apertures

This is a great place to visit. Considering it is only 10 miles from the great tomb of Newgrange which attracts thousands and thousands of visitors each year this remarkable tomb doesn't get the same amount of patronage but in this case this is a good thing. Chances are when you visit you'll be the only one there.
Fourknocks named after the townland "Fuair Cnocs" meaning Cold Hills is a passage tomb which was probably constructed approx. 5000 years ago. It is surrounded by two other passage tombs which are overgrown and inaccessible. Although smaller in size on its exterior to Newgrange, it strangely has a chamber twice the size of its more famous cousin,
What you need to do before you arrive at the site is to obtain a key from the White family who live about 1 mile away on the Kilmoon road. Without this you cannot access the interior.I will give you details at the end of the post.
The site is accessible via a roadside stile which I should mention is not wheelchair friendly. You need to climb over some steps as there is no gateway. A short lane way leads you directly to the tomb. Unlocking the steel door at the entrance is a great thrill and stepping into the darkness with only a shaft of daylight behind you is amazing. The doorway initially is quite low with a couple of steel supports that you should avoid by stooping. Once into the main chamber you can stand tall again. Like all underground chambers and caves there is a steady temperature inside of around 10 degrees Celsius/50 degrees Fahrenheit and it takes a couple of minutes for your eyes to adjust to the littleness of light inside. This site was excavated in 1950-1952 and afterwards a concrete domed roof was put in place as the original roof which would have been constructed of wood had long since disappeared. Within the dome several small apertures were created to allow light to filter through from the outside.Even so I recommend bringing a good torch with you anyway.
Within the main chamber there are three recesses with many ancient flat stones standing between them Each of these recesses were burial chambers. Even in the faint light you can see that visitors have left scores of small trinkets such as coins and coloured pebbles in the same way that people do with rag trees around certain holy wells. The long horizontal lintel stones above the recesses are all carved with diamond shaped or spiral patterns. The tomb itself is supposedly aligned with the winter solstice sunrise as in Newgrange but it's orientation aims it more towards North where it would not capture a sun or moonrise. So we would have to wonder what thought went into its design.
When you have finished exploring the inside take a few steps up onto the crest of the mound for some excellent views. 
Fourknocks is a really interesting historical site and should be visited if you get a chance. I will certainly be returning. When we paid a visit we had the place to ourselves to explore but the keyholder mentioned that earlier that day a bus arrived with 15 people. That would have been a bit less atmospheric an experience.
Okay lets get to the directions. Its a bit off the beaten track so this is the route I chose.
Head North on the N2 from the M2/N2  roundabout towards Slane. After approx 2.5KM you will pass a Topaz Fuel station on your right. Once past the Topaz take the third right hand turn onto the R152 signposted for Drogheda. Drive up this road (you will pass a TOP fuel station on your right) and you will reach two right hand turns close together. take the second right signposted for Garristown. Drive for approx 2.6KM and you will reach a kind of T-junction with a smaller road, keep to the left and continue for approx. 4KM until you see Donnelly's pub on your right. 200m further is a gateway sign on your left for Clogherstown United. Take the next left turn after this.and 450m along this narrow road you will see a white bungalow with a red shed to the right of it. The name White is placed in the stone wall at the roadside. Here you obtain the key. You will be required to leave a €20 deposit which is refundable once the key is returned by 6PM.
Now to find Fourknocks tomb just continue along the road you are on passing through a junction with a stop sign you will then reach a fork in the road with a cottage in the centre. keep to the right lane and you will find the entrance stile to the tomb approx 130m further on your left. There is room to park opposite the stile. Don't forget to lock up when you leave and return the key. Enjoy!