Inis Cealtra - Church of the Wounded Men Church




N 52° 54' 56.16"   W 008° 26' 49.86"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

R 69836 85069

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Monday 22 June 2015

GPS Accuracy (m)

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Approaching Inis Cealtra.

Inis Cealtra, or Holy Island, is an island in Lough Derg. On this island there are many and different interesting remains from an ancient monastic settlement founded by St. Colum, though it's mainly associated with St. Caimin who was abbot on this island. The monastery was attacked at least two times by Vikings.
There are the ruins of six churches, a round tower, a holy well, five bullaun stones, many beautiful grave markers and slabs, remains of high crosses, a cillín and other things.
In 17th century the island had already been abandoned and the monuments were in ruins. Some of the churches were used as cattle sheds or pigsties.
Nonetheless the island has been a site for pilgrimage for over 1,000 years and it still is. Pilgrims do elaborated rounds among its monuments and other spots used as stations.
Many legends and lores that go back to the 10th century are related to this island.
The island is uninhabited and can be reached by boat only.

This small, late Romanesque church was built between the end of the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th century. It was greatly restored in the 17th century. There's a graveyard, called the Saint's graveyard, next to this church and it might explain the name given to this building. Slain men usually died without being able to receive the last rites, so they were buried in the least favoured side of the graveyard, the north side, where this church has been built. Another theory is that it was named in honour of the O'Grady family who attempetd to restore some of the monuments on the island. Their motto was "Vulneratus non victus" that means "Wounded but not defeated".

The visit to Inis Cealtra wasn't in our plans, but we were in the area early in the morning, the weather was great, we seized the day.

UPDATE: June 20th, 2016 - Some new photos of this church. They are the last four images.

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