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Monaincha Priory Church
 

County

Tipperary

Coordinates

N 52° 56' 46.5"   W 007° 44' 53.5"

Nearest town

Roscrea

Grid Ref.

S 16978 88382

Map No.

60

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

106

Date of visit

Monday 1 June 2009

GPS Accuracy (m)

7
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The island in the bog seen from the northwest, approaching it from the cattle gate.


Set in an idyllic place, in the middle of nowhere, are the lovely ruins of an old church and a high cross.
Local people call this place "Tipperary's best kept secret". The name Monaincha derives from "Móin na hInse", the Irish for "the island in the bog".
A monastery was founded here in the 8th century by St. Elair. The place was a small island in a lake, the Lough Cré. The church that we see today was built in the 12th century, when the religious community adopted the Augustinian rules.
The church has a wonderful Romanesque doorway and a beautiful archway between the nave and the chancel. In the mid of the 13th century new windows were added to the east wall of the chancel and to the south wall of the nave.
The adjoining building on the north side of the church was added in the 15th century and served as a place for storing the sacred vessels and where the priests prepared for the mass. Today we can see the altar tomb of a priest in it.
The lake around the island was drained in the late 1790's, but the place still has the name of Holy Island, and it actually looks like an island in the bogland.
The high cross consists of three different parts, the head from the 12th century with the carving of a crucifixion, the shaft that is made with concrete because the original shaft is missing and the stone base from the 9th century with the carving of some horsemen.
According to an ancient legend, every woman or female animal that steps on the island would die immediately. Apparently some experiments had been carried out with some cats, dogs and other animals of female sex which had been brought to the island and which died instantly. More, the same legend has it that no man could ever die while on the island, thus making every man potentially immortal.
The monastery was a well known site of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages.
The place is at the end of a 500 metres long unpaved and very narrow lane between two lines of thorn hedges. At the end of this lane there's a padlocked gate with a rusty turnstile and not enough room to turn the car.


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