Originally a monastery built here in the 8th c, in the middle of a bog that was effectively an island. Replaced by the church you see here in the 1140 by Augustinian monks. The bog was drained much later and is now a cow-field. Once past the entrance there is a track leading across, but of course a cow's backside doesn't know this, so careful where you put your feet. A further stile takes you over a protective wall and onto the island proper. This is a very atmospheric place and was even considered as the 31st wonder of the world (in the 10th c!!!).
There is a High Cross by the main entrance, made up of parts from different centuries (7th and 12th). A magnificent Romanesque doorway leads inside to the nave and a seperate chancel. The community of monks left in 1485 and what is left is, apart from some badly done renovation work in the 1800's, exactly as it was then.
This is a little visited place so don't expect to see many visitors here although well sign-posted on the R445. Only 3 kms from Roscrea, but on a single track it needs some delicate manoeuvering to turn round at the end. Otherwise just walk the last 400 metres.
Go for a Hike
The Slieve Bloom Mountains are located in Counties Laois and Offaly and the mountains are within easy driving access of Roscrea. The villages of Camross, Kinnity, Cadamstown, Clonaslee and Rosenallis are all good bases to start from and you can enjoy as long as you want in the region. Whether you just want a short loop walk or a medium length eco-trail or a weekend-long attempt at the famous Slieve Bloom Way, you will be catered for in the SB Mountains. Scouting is very active in the area and you may well bump into some active scouts during your hike.
Don't forget, bring a picnic!
(If you rather public transport, use Bus Éireann route 71 to Birr and get going from there or Bus Éireann route 12 to Borris-in-Ossory or Mountrath- both good bases as well. However, I would recommend driving or cycling out due to the inadequate public transport in the area!)
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