Kilmore Church, Tipperary, Ireland

Kilmore Church is a late 18th century Church of Ireland edifice situated near the historical village of Silvermines in North Tipperary. The church is built from roughly coursed sandstone and is in a good state of repair, with round-arched windows in its north and south walls. The graveyard is dotted with many interesting tombs, burials and a fine vault dating from 1796 to the north east of the church. The earliest visible grave dates to 1731 and burials continued up to the 20th century. The Dúchas Schools Collection recounts one story relating to a miracle performed at Kilmore, “it happened that a certain widows only son died and when he was being brought to the graveyard, the widow saw the two priests she ran to them and went on her knees and begged them to bring her son to life. St Senan took the body into a room in the monastery and prayed over it and behold the man came to life.” (Collector Mary Curtin, informant Patrick Curtin, Garryard East, Co. Tipperary). I do find this story quite indicative when one considers the history of Kilmore and the local Saint associated with the area is St Odran.

St Odran was said to have founded a monastery nearby at Latteragh and then another at Kilmore around 520AD. St Odran, also known as St Oran/Otteran is one of the earliest Irish saints and was one of the twelve monks who accompanied St Columba into exile on Iona, an Island off the west coast of Scotland. There are many legends associated with St Odran, one being that when he died Saint Columba saw devils and angels fighting over his soul before he ascended to heaven. A second tale is far more intriguing and perhaps is the reason St Odran has been referred to as the Patron Saint of Atheists. The legend states that during Saint Columba’s attempts to built a church at Iona, he heard a voice saying the walls of the chapel would not stand until a living man was buried below the foundations. The monks tried in vain each day to built its walls before returning the following morning to find them collapsed. Saint Odran put himself forward for the task and was buried alive beneath the chapel. One day Saint Columba and the rest of the monks were standing at his grave when Odran lifted his head out of the ground and said, “There is no Hell as you suppose, nor Heaven that people talk about”, St Columba quickly reinterred St Odran. Another Hebridean version of the tale said that after Odran’s death Columba wished to see his friend one last time and opened the pit under the chapel, when Odran saw daylight, he tried to climb out of his grave forcing Columba to have the pit covered to save the soul of Odran. This certainly makes Odran one of the more unusual Irish Saints and his connection to the Silvermines area of Tipperary will surely live on into the future.

GPS: 52.810411, -8.230562

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