St Declan's Monastery

Top choice in County Waterford

The ruins of Ireland's oldest Christian settlement occupy a striking setting on a hill above Ardmore, strewn with gravestones both ancient and new. The most prominent landmark is the 30m-high round tower, one of the best examples in Ireland. But the most remarkable is the roofless shell of Ardmore Cathedral, in particular the Romanesque arcading on the west gable, decorated with worn but still wonderful 12th-century stone carvings of biblical scenes – very unusual in Ireland.

Inside the cathedral are two Ogham stones featuring the earliest form of writing in Ireland, one with the longest such inscription in the country, and a number of medieval grave slabs. The oldest building on the site is the 8th-century Oratory of St Declan, which was restored in 1716; the saint is said to be buried beneath a hollow in its southeast corner.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby County Waterford attractions

1. St Declan's Church & Well


On the eastern side of Ardmore village by the cliff walk are the ruins of St Declan's Church and St Declan's Well, a sacred spring believed to cure…

2. Ballyquin Beach

1.89 MILES

If you're looking for a bit of beautiful seclusion, you'll find it on Ballyquin Beach, home to tidal rock pools and a wide arc of white sand. It's 5km…

3. Clock Gate Tower

5.16 MILES

The curious Clock Gate straddles the middle of Youghal's main street. Built in 1777, it served as a town gate, clock tower and jail; several prisoners…

4. Tynte's Castle

5.32 MILES

A 15th-century tower houses Tynte’s Castle, which originally had a defensive riverfront position. When the Blackwater River silted up and changed course…

5. Waterford County Museum

10.7 MILES

This small, well-presented museum covers maritime heritage (with relics from shipwrecks), Famine history, local personalities and various other titbits,…

6. Old Market House Arts Centre

10.75 MILES

Housed in a whitewashed, black-trimmed stone building dating from the 17th century, these light, airy galleries showcase contemporary art by local artists.

7. Dungarvan Castle

10.79 MILES

Ongoing renovation is helping to restore this stone fortress to its former Norman glory. The oldest part of the castle, once inhabited by King John's…

8. Dungarvan Brewing Company

10.94 MILES

Dungarvan's craft brewery turns out the lipsmackingly hoppy Helvick gold blonde ale, the sweeter, fruitier Copper Coast red ale, and the Waterford…