Sunday, August 18, 2013

Road Trip: Kilmacduagh, Co. Galway

I haven't posted about any road trips in a while. Mainly because I haven't been doing as much traveling this year, (between school and a few car breakdowns!). When I'm traveling, I like to have breaks at nice spots, usually heritage sites.

 My favourite stopping off points on the way up up towards Galway are Adare and Gort. Adare has a nice little park to stretch the legs, especially nice if you have been stuck in a tail-back and want a break. Coole Park, just outside of Gort, is a wonderful park, with masses of history, from the remains of Lady Gregory's house, to the famous autograph tree, (which I've blogged about before).

 Recently I visited Kilmacduagh, a monastic site I haven't visited since I was a child. Its a very old monastic site, dating back to the 7th centuary . Its not one of the most publicised sites, but that doesn't mean it is any less beautiful! Just a few miles outside Gort, so if you are heading Galway direction,, its not too far off the beaten track. Just on the edge of the Burren, it is well worth a trip. Last Christmas,while on a trip to Galway visiting my sister, we went for a walk to St.Colmans Oratory and Cave ("Leaba Mhic Duagh), where he lived until establishing Kilmacduagh. So, I thought it would be nice to visit his monastery this time round.

The monastery contains a round tower, the highest surviving in Ireland, over 30m tall!. But what I remember about it most as a child, was the way it leans, over half a meter from the vertical. If you stand underneath and look up on the side it leads, you feel like its going to fall down on top of you. To kids, it looks like a rocket, so they'll be interested to. A giant medieval rocket that was turned to stone by a wicked wizard.. Or some such story. Its almost twice as old as Piza, it is our only officially listed 'leaning' building. (see wikipedia)

There are other builds here too, "a cruciform cathedral is the result of a 14-15th century rebuilding of a much earlier cathedral. The south wall has a Romanesque lancet, a Gothic arch leading to the south transept, a small lancet window and a low Gothic entrance door. The 16th century wall tomb is of Sir Dermot O'Shaughnessy of Gort."

It was a wealthy monastery, so naturally ransacked several times, but it has never achieved the fame other monastic sites have. Maybe because it never produced a famous book or artifact, such as the Book of Kells. But its lovely to be able to visit a site, that hasn't been destroyed by gaudy tourist 'interpretive centers', information stands, and is still free in. St. Colman did have a girth and crozier. The girth is lost, but the crozier is now in Dublin, in the National Museum of Ireland.

I'll edit in a picture, when I come across a decent one. It doesnt seem to be well documented, like the monestary itself, its not as glam as its flashier, more well known contemporaries.

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