St Declan's Church
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Tours led by an archaeologist explore ruins in and around town.
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Lonely Planet review
In a striking position on a hill above town, the ruins of St Declan's Church stand on the site of St Declan's original monastery alongside an impressive cone-roofed, 29m-high, 12th-century round tower , one of the best examples of these structures in Ireland.
On the outer western gable wall of the 13th-century church, weathered 9th- century carvings set in unusual arched panels show the Archangel Michael weighing souls, the adoration of the Magi, Adam and Eve, and a clear depiction of the judgement of Solomon. Inside the church are two Ogham stones featuring the earliest form of writing in Ireland, one with the longest such inscription in the country. Local lore claims St Declan was buried in the 8th-century Oratory (Beannachán), which was re-roofed and modernised in 1716. Inside is an empty pit beneath a missing flagstone, the result of centuries of relic collection. The site was leased to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1591 after the dissolution of the monasteries. In 1642 the building was occupied by Royalist troops, 117 of whom were hanged here.