Sheepstown Church, Kilkenny, Ireland

This small 13th century church stands elegantly in the middle of a field, about 90 metres from the main road, near Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny. For a church dating from around 1200 it is in surprisingly good condition. The main doorway is on the west side, it is an original Romanesque feature and though not as ornate as others that dot the church ruins of Ireland it still has its charm. Another doorway on the south side of the church was adapted a couple of centuries after the church was erected. The church measures 14 metres in length and 6 metres in width. The burial ground and church are surrounded by a wall and a padlocked gate to keep out the cows that graze beside it. The church was dedicated to St Muicín and is unusual in the sense that it must have been one of the first ‘parish’ churches. In the 12th and 13th centuries the Catholic Church in Ireland was organised on a monastic basis and few churches stood independent of religious settlements, Sheepstown is an exception to this. The reorganisation of the Catholic Church in the 15th and 16th centuries saw more of churches being build on a diocesan basis rather than the aforementioned monastic basis.

GPS: 52.48475, -7.24387

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