St. Maelruain's Church




N 53° 17' 20.82"   W 006° 21' 53.58"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

O 09018 27780

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Thursday 1 June 2017

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The ancient tower of St. Maelruain's church, with the new church nearby, as seen from the churchyard gate.

An early monastery was founded here in the second half of 8th century by St. Maelruain and it became a centre for the monastic community of the Ceilí Dé. Maelruain was his monastic name, and the second part of it reveals that he was a monk from the St. Ruadan's monastery in Lorrha. He became a leading figure in the community of the Ceilí Dé and upon the foundation of the monastery he had the seat of abbot and bishop. He set up the rules for the monastic lifestyle of this community in Tallaght, though other communities of the same faith didn't follow them.
St. Maelruain died in 792.

For the following twelve centuries the site mantained his religious importance and a number of churches were built here.
One of them was stripped off by Captain Alland of the Cromwellian Army during the invasion in 1651. He used the timber and the pews from the church for building his own house, and paved his kitchen with the paving stones of the entrance of the church.

Another church was built up against the medieval tower which had the function of a belfry. The crenellated tower is all that remains form that ancient construction and it was part of the fortification of The Pale. It still has a bell on the top of it.
The current church is from the 1829 and uses much of the material of the earlier church.

The crenellated tower measures 6.30 metres of width and 5 metres of length, is four storeys high with an inner spiral staircase. The first floor is accessed via an external 12 steps staircase on the south-southwest (200°) side.
About 20 metres east-southeast (110°) from the tower is a granite basin, which measures about 1.50 metres by 1.60 metres, used as a font or trough. It is known as the Maelruain's Losset. The Irish word losat is the name for a wooden trough used in ancient times for kneading bread.
It is said that Captain Alland used this font as a feeder for his horse.

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