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Gartan Monastic Settlement
 

County

Donegal

Coordinates

N 55° 00' 55.26"   W 007° 54' 32.22"

Nearest town

Letterkenny

Grid Ref.

C 05824 18646

Map No.

6

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

133

Date of visit

Saturday 1 June 2019

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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The small chapel at the monastic settlement. The northeast wall has a nice round headed window.


The monastic site at Gartan includes a holy well, the ruins of an early church and of a small chapel, and two early boundary crosses.
The monastic site is still a place of pilgrimage in the summertime between June 9th and August 15th, with 7 Stations or Turas.

Undoubtedly the nicest element at the site is the small church or chapel built in the 16th century by Manus O'Donnell. It is only 7.65 metres long and 5.30 metres wide externally, and it's aligned to the northeast (60°). There are two pointed arch doorways, one in the southwest wall, the other one in the southeast wall, where there's also a narrow round-headed window. The other window is in the northeast wall. Both windows are splayed on the inside. Against the wall under the northeast window is a small altar. Next to the altar and under the southeast window there's a grave slab. The northwest wall is blind. The small church is roofless, but in the 1622 Donegal Archaeological inventory it was described as being in repair and still having its thatched roof.
The chapel is Turas 1.

Next to this chapel, on the northwest side, there's the outline of another building, and a small cairn with half of a circular stone with a cupmark in the centre. This is Turas 2.

Within the graveyard halfway up the hill there is the outline of the 10th century abbey, but today the only element of importance on the spot is the O'Donnell family grave. This is Turas 4.

About 20 metres east of the small chapel is one of the two early boundary crosses. The boundary cross, as the name might suggest, would mark the boundary of the monastic site. It's a flat stone, crudely shaped as a cross and with only one arm still showing. The cross is 1.52 metres tall and 76 centimetres wide at the widest point. It faces to the monastery to the northwest (315°). This is Turas 5.

The other boundary cross is on the top of the hill overlooking the monastic site. Just like the other cross is a crudely shaped flat stone with only one arm surviving. It's 1.13 metres tall and 51 centimetres wide. This is Turas 3.

About 55 metres east from the small chapel, outside the monastery boundaries, is the holy well, included in a circular enclosure with an opening on the northwest side. The well itself is within the wall, on the north side of the enclosure. This is marked Turas 6 on the outside and Turas 7 on the inside.

The monastic site is fantastic and offers superb views, but the amount of ravenous midges is terrible!

The coordinates for the site have been taken at the southwest doorway of the small chapel.


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