resembles a castle tower
This Monstrous sized ruin lies a little South East of the village of Stradbally. It is so unlike many of the church ruins that we normally find scattered around the countryside. Looking rather taller in height to its peers it measures approx. 77 feet in length by 32 feet in width.
Built on the site of a sixth century monastery founded by St Colman mac Ua Laoighse of which there is nothing remaining today, it is something of a mish-mash construction-wise. The earliest section is the nave of which only fragments remain now. The other remains of this section date to the 1500’s with some restoration work done and the addition of a chancel completed in the middle of the eighteenth century. The Cosby’s, a well renowned local family were involved in most of this later work and indeed there is a family mausoleum here. The book of Oughaval later renamed the Book of Leinster was held here for many centuries until it was transferred to Trinity College Dublin.
We visited on a crisp but sunny day in February and found access by way of a V-shaped gap to the left of a small iron gate in the enclosure wall. As the ruins are placed on elevated ground a set of stone steps lead up into them. Within, a small mortuary chapel can be seen and a large triple window in the East gable. The huge vaulted ceiling of the chancel designed for strength seems to be at odds with the climate as a large fissure is forming in the middle along its entire length and seriously looks as if one day soon it will split. While visiting there were constant drops of water kissing the ground beneath it. The atmosphere within this great vaulted chancel has a desolate feel about it and although quite a marvellous structure it just made me feel as if I was inside the belly of a huge whale.
The tall tower section at the North West corner viewed on approach would lead one to believe it to be a Castle tower house but this is actually a section of the church (possibly bell tower) of which the interior is exposed due to the collapse of its Southern wall.
All in all an impressive ruin then and well worth a trip to see especially as it is so near the amazing Rock of Dunamase (see earlier post here ).To find the ruin head West on the M7 toward limerick and take the junction 16 exit signposted for the R445 Carlow. At the top of the exit ramp take the second exit on the roundabout signposted for the L7830 Ballycarroll and drive along this narrow road until you reach a slanted T-junction with the N80. Turn left onto the N80. Drive straight through the village of Stradbally and continue on the N80 and you will spot the ruins on your right just outside the village. There is a right hand turn just at the graveyard enclosure wall onto a road called Kylebeg. Turn right onto this road and you can park opposite the enclosure wall.