Church of St Columba, Kildare, Ireland

The Church of St Columba is a 12th century church ruin at the far end of Confey Graveyard near Leixlip in Co. Kildare. The church is beautifully hidden behind a copse of trees which nicely separates it from the modern graveyard. Though the church would have been built as a single-celled structure circa 1100AD a hundred years later a chancel was added, the chancel was extended further during the 1500s. It is believed that an earlier church may have stood on this site as the area of Confey was a prominent settlement in pre-Norman times. Confey itself was the site of a great battle in 917AD when the Norse King Sigtrygg defeated the King of Leinster. The church was in use until the 1700s when due to lack of funding and parishioners it fell into ruin.

I found the brickwork in the walls of the church some of the more unusual I have come across, with seemingly no rhyme or reason to where the larger and smaller blocks are placed. However unusual the brickwork it serves its purpose and 800 years later it is still standing, but the lack of uniformity in its look gives the church an unusual presence. After my visit I found out that in part of the graveyard many local children were buried quickly in mass graves during the flu epidemic in 1918/19. The flu epidemic caused more deaths across Europe than the number of deaths during World War 1, in Ireland over 800,000 people were infected and 23,000 died. I have always found the flu epidemic of 1918 an interesting and somewhat overlooked part of Irish History, especially as it happened to a backdrop of civilian unrest and political violence was sweeping across the country. To put it in context the flu epidemic killed five times the number of people killed in political violence in Ireland between 1916-1923.

GPS: 53.37706, -6.48363

6 thoughts on “Church of St Columba, Kildare, Ireland

  1. Fantastic photos and history; I’ve never visited the site; the brickwork is captivating in that it has survived for so long a period; it appears to have been re-arranged in haste. Nonetheless, it is beautiful and functional. Thanks for sharing this,

  2. The way the stones are put in remind me of how they make dry stone walls. May e they fell and a local put them back together the same way.

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