Castlekeeran Monastic Site, Meath, Ireland

Very little remains of the structure of this 8th century monastic settlement  but with three high crosses, an Ogham stone and a early cross slab grave on the wall of the one remaining part of the church it was worth paying a visit to. This burial ground is situated in a field and seems to be on a private farmer’s land so I recommend parking nearby before scurrying in! The monastery that was founded here was named ‘Diseart Chiaráin’, the Hermitage of Ciarán, who was a monk at nearby Kells but is not to be confused with the saint of the same name who founded Clonmacnois. The monastery was plundered by Vikings in 949 and by Dermot McMurrough in 1170, before passing through the hands of the Knights Hospitallers and in the 16th century the Plunketts.

The three high crosses that remain on the site are impressive in size but sadly undecorated. An Ogham stone was uncovered when a grave was being dug and was erected beside the remaining church wall, it bears the inscription COVAGNI MAQI MUCOLI LUGINI, ad early cross slab grave marker is also erected on the church wall. Apparently, though I did not know this during my visit, a fourth high cross lies in a river nearby, the story being that it was dumped in the river when St Ciarán caught St Columba stealing it it bring it to his nearby monastery in Kells! When visiting this site be mindful of the fact that being so overgrown its hard to know what sort of surface you are placing your feet on half the time, there are one or two large openings and collapsed graves under the long grass which would make for a nasty fall.

GPS: 53.74084, -6.95411

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