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Ardmore - St. Declan's Oratory
 

County

Waterford

Coordinates

N 51° 56' 55.4"   W 007° 43' 32.3"

Nearest town

Ardmore

Grid Ref.

X 18915 77377

Map No.

82

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

43

Date of visit

Tuesday 18 June 2013

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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St. Declan's oratory.


Ardmore is small village, but holds one of the most beautiful treasures in all Ireland.
It is said that Ardmore is where the very first monastic settlement was built in Ireland. St. Declan arrived to Ireland from Wales several years before St. Patrick and founded a monastery here on the heights of Ardmore. The date of his arrival is debated, but it is commonly believed that it was between 350 and 400.
The St. Declan's Oratory, or An Beannachán, is the oldest building in the monastery still surviving and is one of the oldest buildings in Ireland. It is believed to be the burial place of St. Declan, so it's right to think that the building was built at the time of the death of Declan at the end of the 5th century or the beginning of the 6th century.
The building measures 5.50 metres by 4 metres. The east and west gables (75° and 155°) have steep slopes and have antae, projectings of the side walls past the gables.
The east gable has a small square window, an earlier doorway was in the west gable, but now it's walled up. A more recent lintelled doorway was built in the north wall. A crude cross is incised on one of the stones high on the left-hand side of this doorway. The upper sections of the four walls have been raised in recent times, and this can be told by the different masonry style from large stone blocks to smaller and irregularly shaped stones. Inside the small building, in the southwest corner of the floor, there's a rectangular pit that is said to be the place where the saint was originally buried. Centuries of relics collecting have removed all traces of the burial, and the digging of the holy earth from the grave have left a deeper pit than it once was.
There's no trace of the ancient and original roof, the oratory was re-roofed with slates in 1716 by Thomas Mills, bishop of Waterford.

The first time we came here was on June 6th, 2001. We were very lucky to see it in a wonderful light that time as well.


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