Aghowle Medieval Church and Cross

04 Aghowle_Church_From_Entrance_Wiki.jpg
04 Aghowle church.jpg
IMG_7124.jpg
Cross_in_Aghowle.jpg
IMG_7155.jpg
IMG_7142.jpg
IMG_7880.jpg
IMG_7881.jpg
IMG_7879.jpg
IMG_7155.jpg

Title

Aghowle Medieval Church and Cross

Creator

ActiveMe

GPS Location

52.767868, -6.620022

Short Interpretive Text

Aghowle Church is the site of one of Ireland’s earliest monasteries, thought to have been founded by St. Finian in the 6th century. The present church is an impressive structure built with cut granite stone in the 12th century and would most likely have replaced an earlier wooden building. The west doorway of the church is beautifully constructed and is one of the finest examples of Gaelic-Romanesque architecture in Ireland. The graveyard has many features of note including a solid undecorated high cross, a granite font or trough, two cross bases and a number of cross slabs. Access is down a lane, 400m from the public road

Map Text:
Aghowle Church is the site of one of Ireland’s earliest
monasteries, founded by St. Finian in the 6th century.
The present church is an impressive structure built with
cut granite stone in the 12th century. The west doorway
of the church is beautifully constructed and is one of the
fi nest examples of Gaelic-Romanesque architecture in
Ireland. Access is down a lane, 400m from the public road

Interpretive Text

The name Aghowle means ‘field of the apple trees’. The site is situated 8km from Shillelagh, 400m down a country lane. St. Finian from Clonard in County Westmeath is said to have founded a monastery here in the 6th century.
The present day Aghowle church dates from the mid 12th century and is thought to have replaced an earlier wooden church. The church is a long rectangular building with very high gables. The north, east and west walls survive but the south is missing. The pair of windows in the east gable has Romanesque style hood mouldings supported by pillars with projecting corbels, two of which have carved animal heads. There is a third similar window in the north wall. The west gable doorway is flat- headed but has moulding on the outside and a round arch inside, and also holes which held the bars to lock the door. The exceptional moulding technique and fine chiselling at the west doorway is a rare example of Gaelic-Romanesque architecture in Ireland. The church was used as the Church of Ireland Church until 1716-17 when the church of St. Michael's was built.
A 2.8 metre high imperforate (unpierced) ringed cross standing in a pyramidal base known as St Finden's Cross is located northeast of the church. There are sunken panels in the shaft and underneath the arms. The Cross probably dates to the early ages of the Irish church as it has no sculpture or inscriptions. Legend suggests that if you can encircle the cross with your arms and the hands link, you will come into good fortune. Located on the eastern side of the cross is a large granite baptismal font which is believed to be pre-Norman. Local tradition claimed that water from the font could cure headaches and skin aliments.
In the field to the southeast is a large bullaun stone. Local folklore often attaches religious or magical significance to bullaun stones, such as the belief that the rainwater collecting in a stone's hollow has healing properties. Ritual use of some bullaun stones continued well into the Christian period and many are found in association with early churches.
Moylisha Wedge Tomb is located 3 km south of Aghowle Church. Wedge tombs were constructed during the Late Neolithic –Early Bronze Age period (about 2500 to 2000BC) and were used for collective burials. There is some evidence that Moylisha was re-used for burials in the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1600-100 BC). At Moylisha, the Tomb is a prehistoric burial chamber consisting of a sub rectangular cairn that incorporates a long gallery which is situated within a small walled enclosure. The old name of the tomb-Labbanasighe is from Irish leaba na saidhe, meaning ‘Bed of the Bitch’ (i.e. female dog). It has also been translated as ‘Bed of the Fairies’.

Cycle Parking

Yes

Parking Available

Yes

Category of Interest

Archaeological, Cultural, Architectural, Historical,

County

Wicklow

Nearest Town

Baltinglass

Geolocation

Social Bookmarking

Comments

Citation

ActiveMe, “Aghowle Medieval Church and Cross,” Lakeside Heritage Trail, Blessington Lake, accessed December 6, 2019, https://wicklowheritage.omeka.net/items/show/37.