After traipsing through church ruins, muddy paths and centuries-old graveyards, as well as the history lessons, I decided that I wanted to explore more of the same. So, Sunday I loaded up and headed towards Ardmore.
The big decision is the best way to get there. The most direct route is through the Knockmealdown Mountains. There are about three primarary routes through the mountains: the ‘Vee’ (which we drove twice last summer), the route that I took to Lismore, or the more easterly route. So … East is was. The only problem is that I ended up on a less-than-local road. I never ended up on dirt, but there was a period of time I was seriously wondering what I was thinking. I was thankful that the one vehicle that I met was a tractor. I pulled as far to the side as possible; he moved up and over (wider tires … Amen!) and then I snuck around him.
I was looking for another local road … An unmarked one, at that, to take to a regional road. I actually found it and then was rewarded with a wider-than-normal regional road!
I had considered going to Dungarvan first, but decided on the way to bypass it and head across the bay. I ended up in a fishing village called Helvic. I had read a little about it, but I didn’t stick with me until I drove into the village … All of the signs are in Irish Gaelic! It drove home that I need to learn so Gaelic, not only to speak the basics, but to be able to read it.
From Halvic, I was back on the road to Ardmore. A other village located on the cost, it is positioned between Waterford and Cork. Ardmore is known for its origins. It is said that St Declan landed here and brought Christianity to Ireland; a few years ahead of St Patrick.
Once I located the church site (built on St Declan’s original monastery grounds) and found a place to park, it was up the hill. The first thing that I saw were the reliefs on the church wall of the ruins. There were three sets; the first two are shaped in a half circle and your eyes are drawn to them. After you digest the scenes, you then notice a series of squares telling a story. Upon research, the left relief is the Fall of Adam & Eve and the second relief is of Solomon’s Judgement & The Adoration of the Magi. The series of thirteen panels, nine can still be seen are of different figures. The church was built in the 13th century.
From there, it is off to explore the ‘high tower, located on the grounds. Standing over 90 ft tall, it dominates the horizon. They estimate that it was built in the 12th century.
Exploring the inside of the church, I was drawn to the Ogham stones. There are two of them; one has very clear markings. Ogham stones, about 300 have been found in Ireland, was the earliest form of Irish writing. Megalithic.com has a translation for the pillar-stones.
Also on the grounds, is St Declan’s Oratory. It is believed that the date may date to the 8th century and reputed to be the burial place of St Declan.
Here’s are some pictures of the day….
Location via Google Maps: