A guide to the best and sometimes off the beaten track historical ruins around Ireland and how to get there.
Friday, 24 May 2019
Old Nobber Church Co Meath
Very little remains now of the medieval parish church in Nobber Co Meath. The name Nobber is derived from the gaelic "An Obair" meaning "The Work". The church was built on a former non-extant monastic site and was dedicated to St John the Baptist. During the middle ages the parish of Nobber thrived but by the 17th century it had slipped into decline and the church was ruinous by 1641.
All that is left standing today but still looking dramatic is the West wall and belfry tower which was added to the church in the 15th century. With the innards now exposed it shows that the ground floor was vaulted within the tower. Originally it consisted of four storeys. A fragment of the North wall is also present..
On our visit we got talking to a local grounds warden who was very informative and pointed out the grave slabs present at the site. The most striking is that of the effigial tomb slab of Gerard Cruise and Margaret Plunkett which was once within the old church but has now been set upright in a monument in the car park. There are two other slabs to be found in the graveyard date to the late 17th century one of them belonging to a priest called Murtagh the other to one Edward Balfe. The graveyard contains many interesting ancient stones and high crosses and is well worth a walk around. The more modern building adjacent to the ruins is that of a Church of Ireland church built in 1771 is now closed for worship but has been transformed into the George Eogan Cultural & Heritage Centre.
To find the ruins take the M3 heading North and after junction 10 the motorway ends in a roundabout. Take the third exit on this roundabout then the first exit on the subsequent roundabout following the N52 for Dundalk. Drive straight through the next two roundabouts and on the third take a left turn still following the signs for the N52 to Dundalk.Continue on this road for approx 12KM through Carlanstown and Stahalmog until you reach a T-junction with the R162. Turn left here and drive for approx 4KM until you enter Nobber..Look for Keogan's Bar on you left and turn left up the laneway just before the bar. You will find the car park of the graveyard at the end.
Sunday, 12 May 2019
Castledermot Monastic Site Co Kildare
This is a very interesting site located on a back lane in the village of Castledermot.This was once a self contained monastic site originally founded in 812 A.D.and it still contains some ancient remnants.
The 10th century round tower now has a castellated top instead of its original conical one, It stands approx 65 feet high and unusual for a round tower has its doorway only slightly above ground level.
It stands adjacent to the more modern Church of St. James which itself incorporated some of the masonry from the original medieval church.
Within the grounds are two of the original high crosses dating from the 9th century one on the North side of the church, the other on the South side. To my eyes the Southern cross is the more decorative of the two and stands at approx 6 feet high.
We visited this site on a bright sunny day and it was a pleasure to stroll around the grounds. Access to the grounds is by way of a quite narrow stile and I found it a bit of a squeeze, The gates remain locked so it was really the only way in,
Apart from all of the above there are several other interesting and unusual things to see,
Just South of and adjacent to the Southern cross is a hogback grave stone, This is the only one of its type in the country and is said to resemble the shape of not only a hogs back but a Viking long hall,
Just North of the Southern cross is a gravestone with a hole in it. There is a larger one East of the Southern cross which is locally known as the "swearing stone" and it said bargains were struck by both parties shaking hands through the hole.
The graveyard appears to be littered with various unusual stones and an interesting font located near the fine Romanesque arch which was a doorway to the medieval church.
We spent quite a while here wandering around and were not disturbed by anyone. If you visit you are likely to have the place to yourself.
At the other end of the village are the ruins of the old Abbey (see earlier post here) which you could incorporate in your visit,
To find the monastic site and its ruins take the M9 motorway and exit at junction 3 and take the R747 heading East, Drive for approx 2KM until you reach a T-junction with the R448. Turn right onto the R448 and continue on this road for approx 11KM until you enter Castledermot. Look for Doyle's pub on your left and take the left hand side lane way just beside it. This is called Church Lane, You will find the site about halfway down on your left. There is room to park at the graveyard wall.
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