St Lua’s Oratory, Clare, Ireland

This small church is named after St Molua of Clonfertmulloe, Laois, a 6th century Irish Saint after who the town in which it is situated is named, Killaloe (Cill dá Lua, The Church of Lua). St Molua had built a small monastery on Friar’s Island which was about 1 kilometre downstream from Killaloe Bridge. The oratory that we see today was built in the 10th century but curiously is not standing in its original location. In 1929 due to work on the Shannon Hydro-Electric project the little island on which the oratory was situated would have been submerged under 4 metres of water. There were 3 options, the first was to repair and strengthen the oratory before submerging it. The second was to erect a 5.5 metre circular plinth in which the oratory could be held or the third option was to move it stone by stone from the island to its current location. The Bishop of Killaloe, Michael Fogarty, had obvious influence and said that due to the importance for the people of Killaloe it should be moved to a location where more than “the birds in the sky” could visit it! The small church has two parts, the west end is the nave and was built in the 10th century, the east end and chancel was built in the 12th century. Interestingly the 19th century Catholic Church that stands beside the structure was erected on what is believed to have been the actual site of the legendary Brian Ború’s banqueting hall.

GPS: 52.80702, -8.44444

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