Duleek Abbey, Co. Meath

Duleek Abby

Spring has finally arrived to Ireland, and as part of so has the sunshine and the chance to visit some further sites. My friend S. arrived this week she will spend the next month touring around Ireland. After picking her up at the airport and giving her a day to get over the ‘jet lag’ we struck out in the 19C day and decided to see some sites. Among them were several I had been to previously – New Grange; KNowth; Old Mellifont Abbey; Hill of Slane; ; and Trim Castle & Area. One thing that I did do differently was on the way, we stopped in at Duleek Abbey Ruins.

Duleek Abby

Duleek or Damhliag in Irish, translates to stone house or church- is a small town in County Meath, Ireland. The town began as an early Christian monastic settlement. St. Patrick established a bishopric here about 450 A.D. St. Cianan in 489 A.D., where a Pre-Norman Church was built on the site of St Mary’s Abbey. Today the ruins of the second incarnation (St. Cianan’s Church) Abbey are visible in Duleek today.

Duleek Abbey

Duleek Abbey

This monastic settlement was raided by Vikings in 830 and again in 1149. The body of Brian Boru lay in state here in 1014 on it’s way to Armagh after the Battle of Clontarf. In 1180 Hugh de Lacy, the Anglo-Norman Lord granted the church and lands to the Augustinians. What remains of the Abbey today is the 13th century southern arcade with a 14th century southern aisle (below). In the east gable of the aisle is a 16th century window (above). The plaque says “this window was made by Sirr Johne BelleWe Knight and Dame ?”

Duleek Abbey

Duleek Abbey

To the west is a 15th century bell-tower which was formerly joined to an earlier round tower. The round tower is no longer standing but the scar where it was joined onto the square tower is clearly visible on the side (below behind the tree). There are some faces carved into the bell tower as well. (close up below)

Duleek Abbey

Duleek Abbey

In the center of the former church, there’s a carved slab tomb which has carvings from the 1600’s which you can see below in the 4 photos.

Duleek Abbey

Duleek Abbey

Duleek Abbey

Duleek Abbey

There are two Celtic high crosses in the churchyard that date from the 10th Century. Within the church are some early cross-slabs, a Romanesque pilaster-capital, and the base and head of the South Cross (first picture below).

Duleek Abbey

To the north of the abbey is a small but complete High Cross. This Cross is only about the height of a person, and is quite weathered and difficult to see what the carvings are. Front:

Duleek Abbey

Close up of Gryphon?

Duleek Abbey

Reverse:

Duleek Abbey

With S for size measurement:

Duleek Abbey

There is also an effigial tomb slab of James Cusack, Bishop of Meath 1679-1688 (above), as you can see below.

Duleek Abbey

There are several other gravestones in the area, and a “modern” church that has now been converted to a restaurant for the town on the property (first picture). As a side note, there’s also a quaint little thatched cottage in Duleek within walking distance to the Abbey ruins (we parked in front of it) that I had to get a photo of – because it’s just been re-thatched and looked so pretty in the sunlight.

Duleek Abby

The full flickr set is here.

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Athenry Castle

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Located in county Galway, Ireland, Athenry (or Town of the Ford of the King) is a relatively small town. The main attractions are the castle which was built before 1240 (the Medieval curtain walls are among the most complete and best preserved in Ireland ), and the Dominican Priory ruins which date back to 1240’s as well.

Clarin River / Athenry water supply

The castle originally guarded the ford (or crossing point) over the Clareen (Clarin) river nearby. It was first built out of wood, and later stages allowed for a stone castle (started in 1235 by the Norman Baron Meiler De Bermingham), parts of which still exist today. Amazingly, there was only one entrance into the castle from the town when it was originally built.
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The castle itself was destroyed in the 1300’s, expanded to include 5 gates around the larger town, and then destroyed again 1570’s and one more time in the 1650’s. Today it’s been restored and belongs to the Office of Public Works, in Ireland, and is known for the stunning curtain walls that still surround the central keep and town.

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The keep itself went through 3 phases of building –

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and when the Office of Public works (OPW) took it over it was a ruin.

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Today, it’s been restored and you can see the difference that has been made – to both the outside and the inside.

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Below you can see some of the ancient window decorations, and one of the window seats they surround…

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And of course, there’s the open “loo” in the castle guardrobe, where you not only did your “business” but also aired out your clothes if you were the lord / lady of the manor.
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From here, it’s only a short walk down the road – to the next attraction – the Dominican Friory Ruins.
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