Monday, 13 April 2015

Castlemacadam Church Co Wicklow

                                               Above Image: The entrance gate

                                                    Above Image: Entrance door

                                      Above Image: A view upwards to the belfry

                                               Above Image: East facing gable

                               Above & Below Images: Some stone decoration within

                                               Above Image: North facing gable

                                              Above Image: Overlooking the vale

Ever since first seeing a photograph of this ruin online I’ve wanted to make a visit so recently an opportunity arose to do so. It sits dramatically on an elevated ridge above the picturesque vale of Avoca. The very solid looking Church was built in 1819 for the Church of Ireland community and was consecrated in 1821. Some portions of a 14th century castle were apparently integrated in to the structure. The Church surprisingly had a short term of use being superseded by the need for a larger church in 1870. It subsequently fell into ruin and for a while was covered heavily in ivy. Today this has been cleared and it still stands proud silently observing the tranquillity of the valley.
The Churchyard has an adjacent laneway which brings you up to the main gate. This is the best place to park if driving. This main gate however is padlocked which at first was a disappointment to me but however a smaller gate remains open at the foot of the laneway which you would pass on the way up. Once you enter the small gate you are greeted by what is the best view of the ruins. A set of stone steps climb up towards the ridge and the ruins dominate the skyline. This particular view is what prompted my keenness to visit the site.
The ground within the graveyard is uneven underfoot disguised by thick grass but it is far from being overgrown. There seems to be an abundance of table grave slabs which outweigh the remaining grave markers. All of the walls of the Church are still upstanding but it is roofless and exposed to the elements. There’s an open entrance in the South facing wall of the belfry tower which allows access to the interior which is L-shaped. Just upon entering and looking up you can see the roof of the tower is also missing, the light streaming inwards. The nave and chancel are partially overgrown but the fine window carving and some nice stone decoration on the East facing wall below the tower are pleasing to the eye. What is really distinct about these ruins I found is the complete stillness of the place. It is so quiet here that even the passing cars on the road below seem to slip by silently.
There are quite a few ruins of former Church of Ireland Churches scattered about the country mostly ruins of early 19th century structures but this is one of the most interesting and being so close to the pleasant village of Avoca it is well worth a visit. A few kilometres north of Avoca you can also take in The Motte Stone ( See earlier post here) a huge boulder deposited by a receding glacier around 15000 years ago.  

To find the ruin of Castlemacadam Church head south on the M11/N11 Dublin to Wexford road and after Wicklow watch out for "The Tap" Pub on your right. A short distance later there is a turn onto the R754 beside another pub called "Lil Doyles" Take this right turn which leads to the village of Redcross. On the main street you will see a right hand turn pointing towards Avoca. Take this turn and drive approx. 7KM until you enter the village of Avoca. Cross the bridge over the river at the end of the village at Fitzgerald’s pub. Once over the bridge turn left onto the R752 for Woodenbridge and drive for approx. 800m passing the new Church on your right and just around the following bend you will spot the ruin on your right. Turn into the laneway beside the ruin and drive up and park on the grass alongside the main gate. Then simply walk back down the lane to reach the small access gate in the surrounding wall.


                                                  Above Image: New handrail.

                                                  Above Image: Broken tombs

We paid a second visit to this wonderful ruin and things are much the same except for the addition now of a wooden handrail up the steps to the church. While this good for safety I think it actually detracts from the view taken on the original photos. And to Clock Master who enquired in the comments as of the latest burial date, it appears to be James Duggan December 24th 1944. A slight change too on the directions. When you have passed junction 17 of the M11 heading South the motorway splits from the old N11 so you need to exit after road marker N11 S 41. This will bring you back on the old road to access Redcross. Lil Doyle's pub where you turn has ceased business but the name is still on the pub. this may change if the site is sold. All other directions remain the same.


  1. Hi there! What an amazing blog! I hope to get married at Clonwilliam House, just down the road from Castlemacadam Church. Do you have any idea if it is possible to take wedding photos- or even host the ceremony- at the ruins? Is it a preserved site of any kind? Is there anyone to contact about this? Thanks so much!!

    1. Hi Nora Thanks for your kind comments. I don't think that this is a preserved site as such and I can't see that taking wedding photos there would be a problem. A ceremony however might draw attention. Coupled with that the main gates are locked with only access through a small gate in the lane way. I would advise contacting Holy Trinity Church of Ireland on 0402 - 35127. They might be able to advise further. Best wishes for your wedding!

  2. A bit of a random question, but did you by any chance note what the latest burial was going by the gravestones?

    1. No unfortunately I was remiss there. I intend a revisit here so I will take notes then.

  3. OK, thank you. Have fun on your next visit.

    1. Hi Clock Master as mentioned above the latest burial appears to that of James Duggan 24th December 1944.

  4. Thank you for the info Castlehunter. That is interesting, as the church looks like it has been derelict for longer unless the roof was taken off and the building stripped for salvage. Thanks again.