Gallarus Oratory




N 52° 10' 21.8"   W 010° 20' 57.9"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

Q 39324 04870

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Wednesday 26 June 2013

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The oratory is a small building with the unique shape of an upturned boat. The entrance faces west-northwest (280°).

The first time we came here on June 29th, 1994, the place was a real treat, with almost no trace of human intervention.
On that day we arrived and parked our car on the grass of a large field, a guy came out of a small garden shed who served as a ticket office and we paid for the access, then we walked on a narrow dirt path up to the ancient building. No people were there. What a dream!
This time we parked in an immense asphalt parking lot, with a large building that was the ticket office, gift shop and visitors' centre, then we walked on a wide paved walkway up to the ancient building where at least 60 people were swarming around. What a nightmare!
The oratory is a small church which has the unique shape of an upturned boat, with sloping and curving walls. Each stone in the masonry was perfectly cut to
follow the slant of the walls and all stones fit perfectly together. Some mortar was used to fill all the gaps of the inner walls. The church measures about 7 metres in length and 5.5 metres in width.
The structure has only two apertures, a rectangular and narrow lintelled doorway in the west (280°) wall and a small rounded window in the opposite wall. This window is splayed inside. As a result of this, the interior of the building is quite dark.
According to some theories the church might date to the 6th or 7th century. According to other studies it might have been built around the 12th century because the small window has medieval characteristics.
To the north of the church is a large bed of stones with a nicely decorated cross slab probably marking a burial.
No saint is associated with the church, and some interpretations of the name lead to the ancient Irish term "Gall Aras", "Residence for the Stranger".

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