St Mary's Church

AKA Our Lady's Church

Situated 140 metres southwest of the round tower at Glendalough is the 10th century nave and chancel church known as St Mary's. The nave was superbly constructed around the 10th century and the chancel was added at a later date. This early church has a wonderful western doorway with inclining granite jambs. The huge granite lintel has an unusual saltire cross carved on the underside. It is difficult to get a good image of the x-shaped cross without good lighting. The church belonged to local nuns and was probably built outside the main enclosure. The chancel has an east window with hood moulding. On the outside of the window are two very weather worn carved heads. Built into the altar is a large single bullaun stone, see Glendalough bullauns.

Inclined doorway

East window

Cross Slabs

Standing against the south chancel wall are two large cross slabs. The taller slab is the less worn of the two, but to be honest they are not in the best shape preservation wise. There are also a small number of very worn grave markers dotted around the front of the church. We were both delighted to have visited this gorgeous early church. There is a sense of serenity and history to this building and the fact it attracts so few visitors while being so close to the main site probably adds to the mystery. A magical place, one of Glendaloughs least known treasures. We cannot wait to call back.

From the east

Situated: From the entrance to the monastic site, take the road west toward the upper lake. About 200 metre up here is a small road to a house on the right and a stile into the field on your left. Go over the stile and walk down to the small grove. The church is hidden in the trees.

Discovery Map 56: T 121 968. Last visit April 2017.

Longitude: 6° 19' 46" W

Latitude:  53° 0' 38" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey and Deb Snelson.

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