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Kilskyre Church
 

County

Meath

Coordinates

N 53° 41' 28.5"   W 006° 59' 50.0"

Nearest town

Kells

Grid Ref.

N 66294 71729

Map No.

42

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

103

Date of visit

Wednesday 25 May 2011

GPS Accuracy (m)

7
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The remains of the church and the small graveyard around.


When we drove to this place we thought it was just a worthless pile of rocks on a mound.
Anyway we gave it a chance and it turned out to be one of the best surprises of this year.
From the R154 we walked southwest for less than 100 metres, passing by a small fenced yard where half a dozen of hens were happy to see us and ran up and down along the fence to gather our attention.
On a small mound there are the remains of a large monastery founded here by St. Scire in 550, so the place was called Cill Scire. Scire was a daughter of Eugene who was a great grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages, King of Ireland. She is remembered in the chronicles for her acts of penance and fasting. Her name is recorded among those abbesses who met St. Colmcille at Eardia, a town in Sligo, in 580. She died towards the end of the 6th Century. According to a geophysical survey this place would have very similar to Nendrum monastery. It had a round tower as well, even though the tower isn't visible anymore.
The place was of major interest in those times and it was plundered several times. The most important attacks were the ones by the Danes in 950 and by Diarmaid Mac Murchada in 1170.
Inside the enclosure, among the dozens of old burials, we have found the remains a small church and the remains of what should have been a castle or a towerhouse. At first this visit seemed worthless, but what proved us wrong was the sight of a beautiful tomb among the ruined walls of the church.
According to the inscription on the lid, rather than a tomb this should be a monument erected in 1686 to Hugh O'Reilly, archbishop of Armagh until 1653 when he died. He was buried on Trinity Island on Lough Oughter.
The side panel carries the carving of three human figures, while the end panel has the carving of an angel and a crossbones with a skull.
In the wall of the church above the monument are mounted two square slabs with two different coats of arms, probably of the O'Reilly families.
A white goat stayed with us for the whole length of the visit.


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