Inis Cealtra - St. Brigid's Church




N 52° 54' 52.86"   W 008° 26' 58.38"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

R 69764 94966

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 in 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.

St. Brigid's Church is also known as the Baptism Church and was built in the 12th century. It has a three order west doorway with part of the west wall around it. The rest of the building is much lower and there's trace of an east window. St. Colean, an 8th century saint associated with the Inis Cealtra, is said to have written a book on the life of St. Brigid, hence the name of the church.
A stone rectangular enclosure built in the 13th century surrounds the church. It has a rounded arch in the south side, from here was accessed. When this latter church was built, St. Brigid's fell in disuse and it was used for burials.
In the middle of the 19th century it is reported that it was used as a pigsty.
The church is aligned to the east (85°).

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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