The medieval church at Kilmolash is a spectacular mix of different architectural features, showing openly its transitions through the ages. It is uncertain when the first religious settlement began at Kilmolash but the foundation of the church is attributed to St Molaise who existed in the early 6th century. Kilmolash means Church of Molaise in Irish and is known as Cill Molaise. We know a religious site existed as early as the 10th century as Cormac Mac Cuilleanain, King of Deise, is recorded as abbot of ‘cell-Mo-Laise’ in 920AD. The proximity of Kilmolash to two prominent early trackways would also indicate its antiquity. The Track of St Patrick’s Cow (Rian Bó Phadraig) and the Road of the Saint’s (Bóthar na Naoimh), also known as St Declan’s Road, both pass near Kilmolash. I have mentioned that the site has a mixture of architectural features, the earliest of these are an Ogham Stone and two cross slabs incorporated into the body of the church.
While the proximity of Kilmolash to the River Blackwater brought many benefits it also brought access for Viking raids from the end of the 8th century onwards. It is believed and the Annals suggest that churches at Lismore, Clashmore, Molana and Kilmolash were all raided in 869AD (or 820AD depending on sources) by a viking named Amlaff, in retaliation Foentera, chieftain of Fermoy, burned Amlaff’s camp.
Although the church it incorporated earlier elements, such as the Oghan stone, most of the church dates from the 12th to the 14th century. One of my favourite features of the church is a small piece of Romanesque sculpture over the lintelled doorway on the north wall. It is a carving of a rosette stone broken off from a larger piece, a similar rosette is found at Coole Abbey, this ornate carving dates from the early 12th century.
It is uncertain when the church fell into ruin but its equally uncertain how much longer it may survive considering the boggy an uneven surface on which it stands. However it has lasted this long and is a striking landmark to come across when out searching for other sites, sometimes these places find you!
GPS: 52.10428, -7.80936