Monument Type: Church

Oratory: Situated at the E side of the enclosure is the well-known 'boat-shaped' oratory, the only perfect example of its type to survive in Ireland. The building measures 6.86m x 5.74m externally. It rests on a stone plinth, c. 0.21m wide, which forms a continuous course along the N, E and S walls but rises to a slightly higher level on the W gable, where it is interrupted by the doorway.

The walls are built of sandstone rubble; the external facing stones and neatly angled quoins, bedded at a slight tilt, are bevelled to give a weathered surface to the exterior. A slight sag is visible on the exterior in the centre of the N and S walls. Internally the walls are dressed to a fairly flat finish up to a height of c. 1.7m; above this the stonework has been wrought to achieve the remarkably smooth line of the corbelled vault. As the fabric of the wall is nowhere exposed in its entirety, it is not clear whether the lime mortar visible in the interior was used merely as an 'internal pointing' to the stonework (Leask 1955, 23), or was more extensively utilized as 'a structural medium' for the interior of the wall (Harbison 1970, 43). The pointed inner vault, now exhibiting a slight deflection in cross-section, is closed by flat flags 3.95m above floor level. Externally the ridge line is capped by triangular stones partly restored by the OPW. The inward curve of the gable walls is less marked at this site than at the nearby St. Brendan's oratory (KE042-020----). The oratory measures 4.65m x 3.15m internally and the walls are c. 1 to 1.2m in thickness. The E gable is pierced by a round-headed window, 1m high internally, with splayed ingoings and inclining jambs. The deeply-plunging sill debouches on the exterior face .4m above the inner sill. The external ope is .37m in height and has a round head carved from 2 stones, one of which continues through to the inner face. A broken stone in the wall face immediately above the window may once have formed a hood. The round head on the interior, skilfully wrought from 3 stones, was accommodated to the slightly narrower width of the embrasure by a shallow offset dying into the soffit c. midway through the ope. Three corbels projecting from the internal face of the E gable, above the level of the window, may have supported a pendant lamp or book. The lintelled doorway in the W gable, c. 1.7m high, inclines in elevation from a basal width of .72m to .58m under the head. The ingoings and scontions are formed of neatly-wrought and perfectly-jointed stones and the threshold is flagged. Above the through lintel on the inner face are 2 projecting stones, each with a squared perforation, .11m wide, continued as a groove on the wall face above. These undoubtedly served to secure the door frame and a carved stone now lying loosely on the leacht may have served as the heel stone of a wooden door post.

The small stone cross which presently surmounts the E gable has been placed there by the OPW; however the previous existence of a socket stone in this position indicates that the oratory had at least one gable ornament (Harbison 1970, 53-4). For a full discussion on a possible date for the erection of the oratory see Harbison 1970, 34-59..

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Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht