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Seir Kieran Church
 

County

Offaly

Coordinates

N 53° 04' 15.4"   W 007° 47' 34.3"

Nearest town

Birr

Grid Ref.

N 13936 02243

Map No.

54

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

98

Date of visit

Monday 1 June 2009

GPS Accuracy (m)

4
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The west end of the ruined Augustinian priory. The walls have crumbled down.


An early monastery was founded here by St. Ciarán the Elder in the 5th century. Ciarán studied in Rome and when he returned to Ireland he wanted to settle as a hermit at Saighir (Seir), but soon disciples joined him. It is said that St. Patrick told Ciarán to found a monastery at the place of a well.
Seir Kieran was the seat of the bishops of Ossory until it was moved to Aghaboe in 1052.
Nothing remains of the original monastery. What we see today are the ruins of an Augustinian priory. In front of it there is a ruined gun turret that was built when the ruins of the church were fortified.
Near the ruins of the church is the base of a high cross. The cross base was unearthed in the late 1930's and placed where it is now. It dates from the ninth century and carries decorations from the Old Testament. On the east face the scene of the Fall of Adam and Eve is very faintly visible. On the north face there's a scene of men carrying spears. The high cross has never been found, but judging by the size of the base it should have been of huge dimensions.
According to a local lore the rain water that collects in the socket of the base has healing powers for people with warts.
Among the ruins, just outside the northwest side of the boundary wall of the religious settlement, is the poor stump of a round tower.
At this site a Church of Ireland church was built in 1844.


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