St. Doolagh’s Church

St. Doolagh (1)

On the way home from work I took a slight detour up past Balgriffin cemetery where I came across this interesting church. At first glance I thought that it was a medieval castle as the first thing I noticed was its Battlement tower. So after finding somewhere to park I took a closer look. The church of St. Doolagh dates back to the 12th century. It was named after a the hermit whom is believed to have lived here around 600AD. Like many hermits Doolagh  would have lived a solitary life with little or no contact with the outside world. He would have spent his days here praying with just basic food in order to survive. It is believed that he would have lived in a small cell either attached to or beside the church. Nothing remains of the original church prior to the 12th century, but it would seem that a monastic settlement started up in the area as was the case with most of these hermitic sites in Ireland. Glendalough would be a perfect example of this.

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Although the site dates back to the 7th century the present church was built in the 12th century. It is one of a handful of stone roofed churches which have withstood the test of time in Ireland. On my visit the church was not open and the main gate was locked. However I was able to access the grounds from the main road and steps led me into the graveyard  and church. From research it would seem that Doolagh’s doesn’t just have just one room used for service like most other churches. It has several rooms on different floors, connected by stone steps. The stone roof is said to be a double roof, the outer roof covering the building and the inner roof dividing the lower from the upper floors. There is also has a leper’s window where people who had infectious diseases such as leprosy would be given communion through the bars.

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The original part of the building is 48 feet by 18 feet, with a double roof of rough stone set with cement. The original walls are said to be three feet thick. The battlement on the square tower was added in the 15th Century. An extension was added to the church in 1864 but it appears to have blended in well to the older structure. In the 19th century there was some dispute over the existence of St Doulagh some thinking that he was in fact the 10th century Viking god, Olave. However it has since been proven  that he did exist.  It was also thought that the actual church may have been built by Vikings but again it was proved due to the methods of construction that the Irish built it; the features of the church were not those of Viking structures.

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Although closed on the day I arrived it is said to be open to the public for tours etc during the summer months. If I get a chance I may make a return visit to check out the interior of the building.

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Diary of a Ruinhunter, Historical, Medieval, Photography, Places of Interest, Ruins and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to St. Doolagh’s Church

  1. Majka says:

    and now something for me 🙂


  2. bdh63 says:

    Very atmospheric with the black and white. Beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing!


  3. kalabalu says:

    Closed doors and grilled one to see nor be seen..except from a distance with a zooming lense..few pictures of the old structure that has connection with those asleep..maybe inside their graves..they feel the urge to walk up the steps and go to different levels to recite hymns and pray..what would they pray for now ? Bodies have turned into dust..who will come to visit them from far. tourist or photographers beyond the time has turned the living to dead..and yet..they are able to attract the living indeed…to pass few moments staring at the silence that makes death creep.


  4. Amanda Wood says:

    Even though I am not remotely religious, I love churches and graveyards, especially those as old as this one. Thanks for sharing.


  5. Kasia says:

    Ed you have discovered my favourite church! It’s surely a hidden gem, isn’t it? 🙂 I have never written about it though but i have plenty of pics – lived in Malahide for four years. It also looks amazing at night – worth an evening trip.
    It is usually opened on Sundays for a mass. If you want to i can also send you an email address to a local priest to see if you can arrange a visit. It was opened last year for Heritage Week so i assume it might be open again this year. check out this website


    • Sure is, I noticed the spotlights in place when I was there. It must look gorgeous at night. i will try to get over when the evenings get darker.
      You wont catch me going to Mass, but I will definatly check out an open day, thanks, 🙂


  6. Pingback: Ramblings from the Chapterhouse | St. Doolagh’s Church

  7. ceruleanstarshine says:

    You are so lucky to be living near such beautiful, inspiring scenery every day. Thanks so much for continuing to post them! It keeps me motivated to work harder and save more to come back in a few years with my daughter. 🙂


  8. Pingback: St. Doolagh’s Cross | EdMooneyPhotography

  9. Wow! Amazing photography! I really enjoyed learning about this beautiful church & seeing it through your lens.


  10. LB says:

    It amazes me how many historical churches and castles that you happen upon. As always, I enjoyed the photos


  11. Bob says:

    I have nominated you for the “Shine On” award. Details in regard to this prestigious award can be found on my blog under the Awards tab.

    “The fun of it all!”


  12. elmediat says:

    Excellent photo-essay sequence using beautiful dramatic compositions. I have passed the link on to family & friends. 🙂


  13. Kavita Joshi says:

    wonderful pics…love these B&W pics


  14. Love the church and castle photos. It does rather look like a castle. I’m in the United States, and we have nothing so old, of course. I always wondered how they kept these buildings warm. Or did they just wear a lot of clothes?


    • LOL, Thank you, Medieval Castle walls were very thick, sometimes more than 3 or 4 ft. this would protect against the cold but it was the damp that they had a problem with, so many rooms would have had some description of a fire. Also the weather was different back then. Hope that this answers your question?


  15. Also, I love black-and-white, and this was a very good subject for it.


  16. Dave says:

    What a beautiful old church, Ed! Thanks for visiting Gwichyaa Zhee.


  17. Pingback: St. Kevin’s Kitchen – Glendalough | EdMooneyPhotography

  18. Pingback: St. Doolagh’s Cross | Ed Mooney Photography

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