Archive for 'Early Christian'

The Mound of Down, and Down Cathedral

The Mound of Down, and Down Cathedral

Downpatrick, Co. Down
The Mound of Down, wildly overgrown with bushes and trees, is but a short walk down the hill from Down Cathedral. The Mound dates from the Iron Age; the Cathedral was first constructed in the 12th century.

Skellig Michael

Skellig Michael

Co. Kerry
“The scene is one so solemn and so sad that none should enter here but the pilgrim and the penitent.” (Lord Dunraven, 1875)
“The thing does not belong to any world that you and I have lived and worked in: it is part of our dream world.” (George Bernard Shaw, 1910)

Gallarus Oratory

Gallarus Oratory

Dingle, Co. Kerry
You can still feel the community pack
This place: it’s like going into a turfstack,
A core of old dark walled up with stone
A yard thick…
Seamus Heaney
“In Gallarus Oratory,” 1969

Tullaghan Hill Holy Well

Tullaghan Hill Holy Well

Coolaney, Co. Sligo
Although it is two miles from the sea, and atop a mountain, the well was in 1188 called one of the wonders of Ireland, as it was said to have low tides and high tides, as if it were connected to the ocean.

Killinagh Church and Cursing Stones

Killinagh Church and Cursing Stones

Blacklion, Co. Cavan
The ruins of the church at Killinagh, with its adjacent holy well and ruined prehistoric tomb, have long appeared to be a place with deep pre-Christian associations. This is nowhere more evident than at the large boulder known as St. Brigid’s Cursing Stone.

The Rock of Doon

The Rock of Doon

Termon, Co. Donegal
The Rock of Doon is a craggy eminence with a storied past and a glorious panoramic view. On its flat summit there was reputed to be an inauguration ceremony in which the tribal leader was joined symbolically with the powers of nature during a brutal pagan rite.

Tigh Mhóire

Tigh Mhóire

Dún Chaoin (Dunquin), Co. Kerry
Tigh Mhóire contains what may be a prehistoric tomb, a fragment of an early cross-slab, and the grave of a Spanish noblemen lost in the Spanish Armada. In legend it was the home of Mór, the divine hag of winter.

Labbamolaga

Labbamolaga

Knockanevin, Co. Cork
Just below the hill from the crumbling stone oratory are four standing stones, the remains of a stone circle. The oratory’s entrance, unique in Ireland, is composed of three similar pillars. Can these have been removed long ago from the stone circle?

The Gate of the Cow; Kilmalkedar Keelers Stone

The Gate of the Cow; Kilmalkedar Keelers Stone

Ballyferriter, Co. Kerry
Near the town of Ballyferriter are two stone monuments vividly bringing into the landscape the stories of an enchanted cow whose milk was ever flowing. The Glas Gaibhnenn gave milk freely to all, until she was tricked by an evil woman.

Kildare Round Tower and St. Brigid’s Fire Temple

Kildare Round Tower and St. Brigid’s Fire Temple

Kildare, Co. Kildare
In a churchyard that has seen its great cathedral rise from ruin many times in its 1500 year history sit two stone structures which can be seen as the yin and yang of Irish architecture: a pagan fire temple and an early-Christian round tower.

The Seven Wonders of Fore

The Seven Wonders of Fore

Fore, Co. Westmeath
St. Féichín’s presence continues to influence the community of Fore, where both pilgrims and locals are able to blend native folk beliefs into the practice of their faith.

St. Patrick’s Chair and Well

St. Patrick’s Chair and Well

Cullamore, Co. Tyrone
Altadaven Glen, the light-dappled dreamscape location of St. Patrick’s Chair and Well, seems like a small patch of fern-filled rain forest magically dropped into Co. Tyrone.

Inishmurray Monastic Site

Inishmurray Monastic Site

Inishmurray, Co. Sligo
Today a visitor on a day trip from Mullaghmore might be tempted to idealize life on this small island. But the story of Inishmurray is a tale of two communities, each now deserted, each in its own era confronting great challenges.

The Gleann Cholm Cille Turas

The Gleann Cholm Cille Turas

Gleann Cholm Cille, Co. Donegal
The Turas is a religious procession that visits 15 different stations in the hills and valleys of this stunningly beautiful spot at the western edge of Co. Donegal. Some of the stations may have been associated with pre-Christian practices.

Ballyvourney Monastic Site

Ballyvourney Monastic Site

Ballyvourney, Co. Cork
St. Gobnait’s monastic site contains two holy wells and the reputed grave of this sixth-century holy woman within a ruined prehistoric tomb. It also features a striking sheela-na-gig figure, said by some to be an image of the saint, and by others to be a remnant of a pagan goddess religion.

The City and the Paps of Anu

The City and the Paps of Anu

Rathmore, Co. Kerry
"When you stand in the middle of the Cathair you get great feeling of satisfaction that you’re standing here on one of the most ancient places on earth.There is no place in Western Europe more ancient, functioning the same length of time, as Cromlech Cathair Crobh Dearg. " (Dan Cronin)


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