Rathmichael Church




N 53° 13' 58.32"   W 006° 08' 45.48"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

O 23775 21880

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Monday 15 June 2015

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The church in ruins is set in an idyllic context of mature trees.

I had dreamed of coming here for many years, we also drove by it some years ago, but we never had the chance to see it.
I have to admit that reaching this place isn't one of the easiest things. Especially whan you have out-of-date maps...
The church and its graveyard are at the end of of a 500 metres long dirt track that gave us the impression of stepping into a horror movie, but once we opened the rusty gate and entered the graveyard this impression vanished and we were rewarded by the wonderful sight of these ruins in an enchanted wood.
The first church founded at this site is associated with St. Comgall of Bangor.
The present ruins are of a stone church built in medieval times. It includes remains of an earlier church. The building was once surrounded by a stone enclosure, but only a section of this survives today on the north side of the church. The chancel has a small splayed window facing east (95°). The nave is wider than the chancel and has a south window.
Right outside the south wall of the nave there's the sad and low stump of a round tower which now stands at a height of just 1.83 metres.
The most interesting thing at this site is the presence of a good number of grave slabs, known with the name of Rathdown slabs, a kind of slabs unique to this area of Ireland, the Barony of Rathdown.
They were carved by Christian Vikings who settled in this area, and the main characteristics are carvings of concentric circles, one or more cupmarks and herringbone patterns.
There are 9 Rathdown slabs set vertically into the outer side of south wall of the ruinous church. One more slab of this kind lays sideways under the east window in the chancel.
Another wonderful Rathdown slab can be seen at the Heritage Centre of Goat Castle, next to St. Begnet's Church.

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