Tullaherin Monastic Site, Kilkenny, Ireland


The approach road to Tullaherin really sets the scene for a beautiful and peaceful visit to this site. I thought I had gone somewhat off-track but when I drove around a sharp corner I was delighted to see the mammoth 9th century round tower, which appears to be leaning slightly to the south, shadowing the remains of the church and ecclesiastical site below. It is believed Tullaherin may have been founded by St Ciaran in the 5th or 6th century. Two of the oldest archaeological monuments at the site are the Ogham Stones, one of which I found hard to spot, the other sits at the base of the round tower, and though being quite weather-worn still has a certain charm.

The round tower was built in the 9th century and it measures an impressive 22.5 metres in height, at one point it its history it was a local custom to have a contest where men would throw their walking sticks over the top of the roofless tower, during recent renovations several walking sticks were found at the top of the tower giving more credence to this custom.

The church at Tullaherin is split into two sections. The nave – where the congregation sat – was built in the 10th century, the chancel – where the altar sits – was rebuilt during the 1400s.

One of the most haunting aspects of Tullaherin is that it is home to a Cillín. A Cillín is an unmarked mass grave for children who died before being baptised, thus were unable to be buried within the walls of the monastic site. Sadly Ireland is dotted with Cillíns and unmarked burial grounds, and the effort to acknowledge these sites has only recently begun to gather apace.

GPS: 52.57898, -7.12961


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