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Oughaval Church
 

County

Laois

Coordinates

N 53° 00' 32.1"   W 007° 08' 01.0"

Nearest town

Stradbally

Grid Ref.

S 58206 95672

Map No.

55

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

129

Date of visit

Monday 10 June 2013

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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The church is slightly elevated above the surrounding graveyard. A flight of steps gives access to the building.


It's a quite unusually shaped church. It's compact and taller than other churches. It measures about 24 metres in length and 10 metres in width. The roof above the east (72°) section is still present and if seen from the east the building might resemble one of the de Birmingham castles that can be seen in county Galway.
This church was erected in the area of an earlier monastery founded by St. Colman mac Ua Laoighse, also known as St. Colman of Oughaval. He was a disciple of St. Columba of Iona, Scotland, and of St. Fintan, abbot of Clonenagh. The exact location of this early monastery is unknown.
Oughaval was also the place where the famous Book of Leinster, written between 1151 and 1201, was kept for two or three centuries.
The church was built in two phases. The first section built was the nave dating to the 12th century, but now it's a complete ruin. Only the northwest corner wall and the south wall survive. Against the south wall of the nave is a small mortuary chapel.
In the 18th century the chancel was added. The floor of the chancel is at a higher level than the floor of the nave to accomodate a crypt underneath for the Cosby family of Stradbally Hall. The chancel has a barrel vaulted ceiling, with a round-headed east window flanked by two rectangular and smaller windows, and three arcades in the south and the north walls where small semi-circular windows open.
On the outer side of the south wall there's a plaque commemorating Thomas Douglas, preceptor for the Cosby family for 52 years. He died on October 6th, 1734, at the age of 104 years.
The church stands on a low mound with a surrounding graveyard.
We parked the car park outside the enclosing wall of the graveyard to the southwest of the church, but the graveyard has an access from the northeast (40°) as well and this is much more striking, with a pathway lined by two elegant rows of cypresses.


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