Sunday 27 November 2011
Old Confey Church Co Kildare
Secluded in a small copse in the northeastern section of Old Confey Cemetery stands the ruin of the Church of St Columba which although believed to have been constructed circa 1200AD, may actually predate the Norman invasion.The area of Confey was the site of a great battle in 917AD where the Norse King Sigtrygg defeated the King of Leinster.
The Church would have been built as a single-celled structure but the Chancel was added about a hundred years later. The building was in use until the 1700's when due to a lack of funding and poor parishioner attendance, it eventually fell into ruin. In an adjacent field there are the very scant remains of the once heavily fortified Castle of Confey now reduced to a small part of a Tower covered in Ivy.
In 2000AD the Kildare County Council conducted some renovation work on the old Church and added some paving stones for access and an Iron gate. They cleared away the undergrowth and for a time it remained so, but now unfortunately, as illustrated, the undergrowth is beginning to venture forward again and take hold.
You can access the old Graveyard by a gate or by a stile although the stile will lead you past a very sad part of the Cemetery dedicated to The Holy Angels, the graves young children who have passed away over the years.
In the far northeastern corner is a wooded area and it is within this area that you will find the old ruins. This section of the graveyard contains the more ancient stones and is more secluded. It seems totally distant from the otherwise inhabited district in which it stands. Once you step away from the paving stones the undergrowth is thick and deceiving. The whole area is not too far from the Royal Canal and the Rye Water Valley and some of the land around the ruins is quite marshy with underground streams apt to appear out of nowhere. A strange tract of land it is indeed.
It is possible to walk entirely around the Church ruins although loose rocks underfoot and thick vegetation make it necessary for the visitor to tread carefully. There is one point at the northern side of the Church where a deep ditch segregates the Church from the fields leading to the remains of the Castle. Beyond the ditch, barbed wire, boggy land and streams await those wishing to reach these scant remains.
You can enter the Church ruins through a gate and see the fine arch work within.Unlike some ruins we have visited Confey seems very peaceful and undisturbed. I wonder how many people actually visit? The area was completely empty when we made our trip.
To find Confey Church ruins take the Junction 4 exit from the N4 for Lucan Village. Once through the Village cross the Bridge over the Liffey and drive straight ahead towards the Laraghcon residential Estate. Go straight through the first roundabout and to the right at the second roundabout. Drive for about half a mile until you cross the bridge over the Royal Canal. take the next left onto the R149.Drive for about a mile until you see the area for car parking outside Confey cemetery on your right hand side.