St Declan's Cathedral

One of the earliest ecclesiastical sites in Ireland was founded in Ardmore by Saint Declan, a pre-Patrician Saint in the 5th century. At the site are the later remains of an ecclesiastical enclosure. Inside the enclosure are Saint Declans Oratory, the 'Cathedral' shown above, a 12th century round tower, two ogham stones and several cross slabs. The Cathedral, which consists of a nave and chancel, was built by Moelettrim O Duibh Rathra sometime during the 12th century in a number of phases. It is suggested that the church incorporates parts of an earlier church in the lower parts of the building.

The main feature of this Cathedral is the arcading on the west face. This arcading consists a row of thirteen panels of which nine still contain Romanesque figure sculpture (see image below), under these panels are two lunettes also containing figure sculpture. Some of the iconography of the panels are easily indentified. The lunette on the north side of the west face featurs Adam and Eve. The southern lunette features the adoration of the magi with the Judgement of Solomon above it. The building includes many phases of ecclesiastial architecture from almost cyclopean, through to Hiberno-Romanesque and Transitional. Another feature of the church is the transitional pointed chancel arch. Scattered around the interior of the church are a number of cross slabs, see bottom image.

Pointed chancel arch

From the south

The arcading with romanesque carvings and the two lunettes

Interior north wall

From the south

Adoration of the magi bottom, Judgement of Soloman above.

Ogham Stones

Located in the chancel of the cathedral are two of the three ogham stones that were originally found at this site. The ogham stone now standing in a small niche of the chancel, pictured below left, was found built into the east wall of the oratory, and has two inscriptions that read:


Pictured below right is the second ogham stone found lying beside a grave, the inscription reads: AMADU.

Situated: Quite easy to find this one - from the centre of Ardmore head south uphill to the round tower that dominates the skyline.

Discovery Map 82: X 1882 7743. Last visit July 2020.

Longitude:  7° 43' 34" W

Latitude: 51° 56' 56" N

Google Map.

Photos: Jim Dempsey and Deb Snelson.

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