Temple Brecan

AKA The Seven Churches

As with most visitors to the Aran islands, we arrived at this site by mini tourbus directly after an exhilarating tour of Dun Angeus, and felt a little under pressure to keep to the tour time schedule. This wonderful site contains a lot of delightful artifacts that are not immediately visible which will require a return trip to photograph them well. From our experience we learned that the best way to explore the island would be to spend a few days and, if the weather permits, either bike or walk to the sites so that you can explore them in your own time. Although commonly called The Seven Churches, there exists only the ruins of two churches, Teampall Bhreacáin and Teampall an Phoill, along with simple buildings for the monks. Little is known about St. Brecan, but folklore tells us that he reached the Aran Islands during the 5th Century and destroyed a pagan idol to convert the pagan Sanctuary to a Christian monastery. Temple Brecan which is the largest building of the complex consists of a nave and chancel of equal breadth, and it was expanded over many years.

Brecan's Bed (or Grave), is a small rectangular stone arrangement west of the church. At the west end is the shaft of a richly-carved cross. The east face is covered with interlacings; and the west face has interlacing towards the base of the shaft, with figure sculpture of Our Lord above it. In the complex there are many fragments of other high crosses, (possibly up to three crosses) and slabs, some dating back to the 12 century. Teampull an Phoill, meaning "the Church of the hollow”, is of rectangular shape and was built in the 15th/16th century. The site offers wonderful expansive views across galway bay towards the twelvepins. In the east corner of the site ia a grave known as the Grave of the Seven Romans. We are looking forward to a return visit.

High Cross and Leacht

Situated: Inishmore, Aran Islands. From Kilronan travel north for 5 kilometres to Kilmurvey after a further 2 kilometres turn right, sign-posted. "Na Seacht Teampaill ( The Seven Churches )" The monastic site is immediately visible on your right.

Discovery Map 51: L 8105 1207. Last visit May 2009.

Longitude: 9° 46' 40" W

Latitude: 53° 8' 45" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

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