St Mullin’s Monastic Site, Carlow, Ireland

St Mullins is a picturesque monastic site standing on the banks of the River Barrow, Co. Carlow. The Monastery here was first founded in the 7th century by Saint Moling, legend has it that Moling dug a mile long watercourse over 7 years with his own hands to power the mill that provided a lifeline to the Monastery. The original monastery was plundered by Vikings in 951AD and burned in 1138. The remains of an abbey that was built during the middle ages still stands and in its shadow a beautiful 9th century high cross. As one enters St Mullins the first building that you come across is a medieval bathhouse that now contains the graves of more prominent members of the community and those who died in the 1798 rebellion. Beside this stands a Protestant Church built in 1811, this now houses a heritage centre. Standing beside this is a 15th century church and the remains of the Abbey walls. A couple of domestic buildings such as ‘St James’ Cell’ surround the base of the old round tower that once stood overlooking the entire site, two more 15th and 16th century churches are in the corner of the graveyard.

One of the most interesting parts of St Mullins is the old penal altar. During penal times a watcher would have used the motte that stands beside the site as a vantage point when mass was being performed, an aperture above the altar was used to inform the priest that someone was approaching. The graveyard at St Mullins contains some very interesting graves, many linked to the 1798 rebellion and also some dating from 1691, these were the troops who fought alongside King James at the Battle of the Boyne. The MacMurrough Kavanaghs, former Kings of Leinster, together with other medieval Irish Kings are buried within the precincts of the monastery. A short distance from the main Monastic site is the well of Saint Moling, a tranquil little place well worth visiting. An old legend states that a cure for toothache is to take a pinch of earth from outside the churchyard, exchange this earth with some clay from F. Kavanagh’s grave, say a prayer and put the clay into your mouth before making the walk down the hill to wash it out with water from St. Moling’s Well. In 1349 Friar Clyn, a Kilkenny chronicler wrote that while the Black Death was causing numerous deaths in the area, thousands of people made a pilgrimage to the well to wade in its waters.

GPS: 52.48905, -6.92864

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