Inis Cealtra - The Confessional Church




N 52° 54' 56.64"   W 008° 26' 51.84"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

R 69887 85082

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Monday 22 June 2015

GPS Accuracy (m)

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Approaching Inis Cealtra.

Inis Cealtra, or Holy Island, is an island on Lough Derg. On this island there are many and different interesting remains from an ancient monastic settlement founded by St. Colum, though it's mainly associated with St. Caimin who was abbot on this island. The monastery was attacked at least two times by Vikings.
There are the ruins of six churches, a round tower, a holy well, five bullaun stones, many beautiful grave markers and slabs, remains of high crosses, a cillín and other things.
In 17th century the island had already been abandoned and the monuments were in ruins. Some of the churches were used as cattle sheds or pigsties.
Nonetheless the island has been a site for pilgrimage for over 1,000 years and it still is. Pilgrims do elaborated rounds among its monuments and other spots used as stations.
Many legends and lores that go back to the 10th century are related to this island.
The island is uninhabited and can be reached by boat only.

This small rectangular building is known as The Confessional. At the bottom of this small building is a structure made with stone slabs set on their edges that might resemble a kist. Around it are four leaning jambstones which create a narrow passage to access the kist. This box-like structure could have contained holy relics. The small building had a steep roof and a lintelled doorway in the east wall. Outside the doorway there are two interesting items. One is a stone slab laid flat on the ground, with a slot that could have carried an upright slab. A celtic cross adorned the surface of this recumbent stone, but the moss and the time have almost cancelled it. To the east of this stone is a cross base.
Excavations conducted by the archaeologist Liam de Paor revealed that this building underwent several reconstructions and the first structures were made of timber. The present building dates from the early 18th century.
It measures 3 metres in length and 2.5 metres in width. It's aligned to the east (90°).

The visit to Inis Cealtra wasn't in our plans, but we were in the area early in the morning, the weather was great, we seized the day.

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