This Easter we were back in Ireland and took in a couple of days on the Dingle Peninsula (Corca Dhuibhne) in County Kerry. This beautiful area is rich in archaeological sites from prehistoric hut circles to promontory forts and early Christian sites, so the perfect setting for another busman’s holiday!
The isolation of the Dingle peninsula attracted early Christians who set up small communities on the mainland and many islands in the area. Reask Monastic settlement (An Riasc), which dates from the 5th or 6th Century AD is a superbly preserved example with pairs of Clochans (circular huts), an oratory (small church) and a decorated stone, enclosed within a wide stone wall. The backdrop of mountains and surprisingly lovely weather gave us the perfect opportunity to get the drone out!
Just up the road, Kilmalkeldar (Cill Mhaoilchédair) is another early site traditionally associated with Saint Brendan the Voyager who is known for his journey across the Atlantic Ocean in search of the Garden of Eden in the sixth century, as well as a local saint Maolcethair who died in 636. The church, which dates to the mid 12th Century, has a Romanesque doorway and an Ogham stone in the nave. In the graveyard there is an early stone cross, a sundial stone and another ogham stone with a hole at the top. Ogham is an early medieval alphabet used to write the early Irish language in a series of lines often carved into stones. Usually they are personal names of clerics or possibly pilgrims to the site.
Perhaps next year we’ll get a chance to get out to some of the islands….