A guide to the best and sometimes off the beaten track historical ruins around Ireland and how to get there.
Thursday, 28 February 2019
Balrothery Tower and Castle Co Dublin
actually a spiral staircase
to be a some sort of stocks.
Balrothery was basically founded when the Norman Robert de Rosel was granted the lands there and built the town. Balrothery translated means "Town of the Knights". The two towers that are extant here were thought to have been built circa 1500 but there is a print from 1890 by the artist J. S. Fleming which depicts both towers and dates them at 1343. Where the artist got this information is unsure. However the larger tower although partly ruinous is in very good shape and a church was added to it in the 19th century but is now out of use.The smaller tower is blocked up and overgrown with bushes and trees on private ground and is inaccessible.
When we first arrived we were impressed how imposing the tower looked sitting atop the hill and couldn't wait to get a closer view.
The churchyard is easily accessible and the tower really does dominate the site. What appeared to be a round tower on the North West corner I believe is not the case. It is in fact a turret with an internal spiral staircase and it tapers in size as it nears the top.
The tower is a three storey structure and has windows on all four walls on the top storey and a bell cote was added for church purposes on the East side.
There are a few oddities alongside the church wall such as a the top section of a font and what looks to be a set of stocks. What significance the stocks have here I have no idea.
Adjacent to the big tower a smaller tower lies hidden by trees and bushes on private land. We tried to get as close as we could up the laneway beside the churchyard but it is so overgrown in there. This tower although supposedly a four storey structure is not as tall as it's neighbour and is now blocked up. A pity.
To find the towers take the M1 heading north and exit at junction 5 for the R132. At the top of the ramp turn right on the roundabout and cross over the M1 Go straight through the roundabout on the other side and drive about 200m until you reach yet another roundabout. Follow the signs for the R132 to Balbriggan. Drive for approx 3.5KM until you enter Balrothery. You will spot the tower on the hill on your right. A little further on is a turn into the Balrothery Inn. You can park in the car park here and walk across to the tower.
P.S. I have updated the post on Kindlestown Castle Co Wicklow as we made another visit recently. You can find the post here. We also paid a second visit to Old Killadreenan Church. You can find the update here.
Thursday, 7 February 2019
Lemanaghan Church & Holy Well Co Offaly
This is probably one of the oldest ruins I've visited. This small parish church is dedicated to St. Manchan who founded a monastery here in 645AD. Nothing remains of the original monastery buildings but the church itself was constructed later between the 10th and 12th centuries.
The ruins are not particularly spectacular but there are a few interesting features to be seen here including a Romanesque window in the West wall and some grave slabs dating between the 8th and 10th centuries. An adjacent set of foundations are thought to be that of a priest's house dating back possibly to the 15th century.
People have visited this site for centuries mostly to visit the holy well which lies a short distance behind the graveyard. The well and a holy tree have brought many here to help with problems in their lives. It is said that if you circle the well three times and deposit a small token in the window of the church your prayers will be answered,
Probably the most interesting feature here for me is the remains of the ancient togher which is basically a stone lined pathway and you can walk along this to reach the well and further on the remains of a small oratory called St Mella's cell. St Mella was actually St Manchan's mother.
We spent a good while at these ruins taking in all the features and even found a couple of Bullaun stones, one at the well entrance and another at the road junction outside.
The ruins are little off the main roads but if in the area I would really recommend a visit.
To find the ruins and holy well take the junction 6 exit from the M6 for the R420 to Clara. Drive for approx 2.5KM until you have passed the Tubber GAA grounds on you right hand side. Take the next right hand turn onto the L2018 for Ballycumber. Follow this narrow road for approx 5KM until you reach a crossroads.Turn left here onto Station Road and then a short distance later turn right at the corner pub onto Strawberry Lane. About 1KM along there is a left hand turn onto the R436. Turn onto this road and drive for approx 4KM and you will see a sign for the L3002 for Pollagh. The ruins are on the corner of this junction on your left. Parking at the graveyard entrance is a bit tight so we left the car across the road on the R436.
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