St Saviour's Priory

The day I chose to visit St Saviours turned out to be a beautiful one. Katie, my daughter, and I decided to go on a picnic to Glendalough and I suggested we visit here as the main site would be crowded on such a gorgeous day. What a great decision it turned out to be. Most of the time we spent here we were on our own. The Augustinian Priory was founded during the abbacy of Lawrence O'Toole, who became archbishop of Dublin in 1162. Since he became Abbot in 1153 it is very easy to date the Priory. The Romanesque style also dates this medieval building to this period.

The romanesque chancel arch, shown in the image below left, collapsed in the late nineteenth century and was rebuilt by the OPW using stones situated on site. The arch has three orders, but it may have been badly reconstructed using some materials from other collapsed archways. The east window of the chancel, which has two round headed lights, was also badly rebuilt. Almost all of the decorated surround is in the wrong order. It is such a shame as the details in the individual stones are quite stunning, these include a serpent, a lion, a gorgeous floral design and a very interesting carving of two birds with a head between their beaks. The birds might be peacocks as they were used in romanesque art as a symbol of immortality or to represent the resurrection as it was thought their flesh was incorruptible. This panel also has three bosses that may represent the holy trinity.

Romanesque Archway

From the South West

There are many other beautifully carved romanesque sculptural details to look out for if you do visit St Saviour's. The Plinth and Capitals of the chancel arch are highly ornamented. At present there is work being carried out at St Saviours to repair the damage that was done during the reconstruction in the 19th century, the stonework was disfigured by calcite from the mortar used in the rebuild.

chencel window carvings

Plinth, chancel arch


Two Birds

Romanesque Capitals

Situated: From The main car-park take the path south of the visitors centre. Walk across the bridge and turn left. About 700 metres down this track you will see St Saviours in a field on your left.

Discovery Map 56: T 133 965. Last Visited August 2010.

Longitude: 6° 18' 44.56" W

Latitude: 53° 00' 28.53" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey

View from the track to St Saviours

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