CillBharrog Church & Cemetery

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery Panorama

I came across this little ruined church on the way out to Howth recently. It is situated on a raised piece of land right on the coast road with some great views of the surrounding area. In early Christian times the sea would have come much closer to the site as there was no road. There has been a Church on this site since the early 6th Century. This is typical early Christian site, consisting of a Church, a burial ground and a holy well. There was a well to the north of the Church, which was believed  to be a cure eye ailments, sadly there is no longer any trace of the well to be found. The first Church or cell was probably quite primitive, with a straw or timber roof.

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (21)

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery 2

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery 1

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (22)

Kilbarrack owes its name to St Bearach, also spelled “Bearach”. According to tradition a holy person named Bearach (Barrog) came here with some followers and it is from him that the area got its name – CillBharrog, the Church of Barrog (Bearach).  The monk who later became a Saint, established a church on this very site. St. Bearach spent some time there in his early days, and it has been claimed that  he performed many miracles.  Bearach was a native of Termonbarry in Roscommon. He was a disciple of St Kevin, and he died in 595 AD. The church has been referred to  in some records as the Chapel of Mone. It was also known as a mariner’s Church, where sailors came to offer thanks for a voyage and to bury their dead. Long ago, ships entering Dublin Bay paid monies to the city authorities towards the upkeep of the chapel. The monks and sailors would have been the earliest burials. There are no stones marking these burial sites – if there ever were they have long since disappeared.

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (20)

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (19)

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (18)

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (17)

During excavations hereby an AnCO team  in 1985, the archaeologist and historian Leo Swan dated the present structure from the 12th – 13th century with signs of much older foundations. The ruins consist of a nave and chancel with a side aisle to the south. A  large railed fence has been placed where the Western gable stood. I almost suffered a shock when I noticed that the rusted padlock (another nemesis of the ruinhunter) was open. But to my disappointment the gate in the railings was well and truly seized thus preventing me from having a closer look at the inside of the chapel. The Church was built of rough local stone, with some Howth stone in the window arches. Mortar was also used and you can still see some seashells in the mix. There are visible signs of repair having been carried out over the centuries. Many windows had been  blocked up and so has the chancel arch. During the AnCO excavations a 16th century slate was found. Recently the Church has been cleaned,  preserved and the grounds appear to be maintained regularly, hopefully it will last a few more centuries.

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (16)

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (15)

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (14)

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (13)

From the late 12th century Kilbarrack was owned by the Cistercian monks of St. Mary’s Abbey in Dublin. As was common practise over the centuries, wealthy landowners would donate land to the Church for the benefit of their souls after they died. This is one of the ways that the church amassed their large land holding and wealth in Ireland. After the dissolution of the monasteries in Britain and Ireland the chapel at Kilbarrack chapel was no longer mentioned. As a result practising Church goers were forced to find alternative locations at which to hear Mass and the Church fell into disuse.  At some stage the parish land was added to the lands belonging to the St. Lawrence family at Howth Castle.

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (8)

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (7)

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (6)

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (5)

As you can see there is some stunning stonework in the graveyard. The cemetery, which still accepts burials in existing graves, includes the grave of the “Sham Squire.” An interesting tale about a man called  Francis Higgins. He was buried here in 1802. Well known as a forger and chancer,  whom eventually married a wealthy lady and bought the newspaper known as ‘The Freeman’s Journal’. He was said to have betrayed the Lord Edward Fitzgerald to the authorities in 1798. He had a very elaborate gravestone but because of his notoriety it was regularly attacked and defaced and eventually it disappeared completely.

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (1)

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (4)

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (3)

CillBharrog Church & Cemetery (2)

 The majority of headstones which are still readable date  mainly from the 18th and 19th and 20th century. Some interesting facts about people buried here. The Sweetman family whom were local landowners and brewers have family members interned here. Another famous man buried here was Eoin Mac Neill who  was a founder of the Gaelic League and second Governor-General of the Irish Free State. There are memorials to IRA men executed in Mountjoy during 1920-21

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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, Landscape, Medieval, Photography, Places of Interest, Religious Sites, Ruins, Sacred Well and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to CillBharrog Church & Cemetery

  1. msroosipuu says:

    I love your photography and the stories behind it ! 😉


  2. Majka says:

    again amazing pictures, Ed 🙂 thanks a lot for sharing


  3. Ali Isaac says:

    Fabulous photography, as always!


  4. Mikels Skele says:

    I can hear the wind howl!


  5. Black and white suits these images perfectly – great shots 🙂


  6. Grannymar says:

    Another treasure I regularly pass on my way to Howth, when down in Dublin. Thank you for sharing the background and wonderful atmospheric photos.


  7. Great photos as ever – that dark, shadowy tree really adds to the atmosphere…


  8. Jewels says:

    Especially liked this one Ed! The cloudy-skied backdrop on many of these shots really added to the overall effect and mood. Stunning! And interesting, as always. Thank you! 🙂


  9. Very good photos with interesting history too. Thanks for sharing


  10. These pictures are hauntingly beautiful! I have never been to Ireland or England, and I am planning a trip either next summer or the following. So many places to visit and only one trip…will be hard to choose!


  11. Looks like you had a lot of fun here. They’re drop dead gorgeous images. Yes, pun intended, sorry couldn’t help myself. 🙂


  12. Rajiv says:

    Beeyootiful photography. I especially love the tonal range, and the way you control it


  13. Anny says:

    Now I know where the Dr Who team got the ides for the weeping angels! Very scary…


  14. GoldyGal says:

    Wow.U’ve got some stunning photography here ! Really beautiful 🙂 Thanks for stopping by my blog and give me the chance to discover yours !


  15. SO beautiful! I wish I had time to see this on my upcoming trip to Ireland, but I’m only there 3 days and my schedule is completely packed. It’s enough that I see it vicariously through your photos. 🙂


  16. Erin O'Leary says:

    Beautiful images! I love black and white so much!


  17. LB says:

    I thought of you and your photography as I traveled on the bike this past week. I went through some historic towns along my 1850 mile ride … the oldest hailed back to the 1600s. We’re so young over here in the US … even on the East Coast


  18. monnnnsta says:

    Wowwww I wish I had stumbled upon some of this before I went to Ireland. I would have known to see all of these places. Beautiful photos!


  19. angiebuyong says:

    Love the photography & stories that accompanied each one, great blog!


  20. shellahudaya says:

    Beautiful shots! 🙂


  21. Beautiful work, Edward. This sort of venue is what could very well make one tremble “at the manifold signs of immemorial years” a la HPL. Black and white is a good choice here. Have you also considered narrowing the depth of field to emphasize certain structural elements or statuary? Thanks so much for sharing with us. 🙂


    • Thank you for the kind words, I have been doing so much B&W recently,it really suits these places, hopefully im doing them justice. I never really thought about using DOF outside doing portrait shots. I must give it a go, watch this space, 🙂


  22. Pingback: For this intrepid Irish “ruin hunter,” a picture says… | The Displaced Nation

  23. Thanks for liking my post at on the Etruscans. Keep up your good work here. Fascinating photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Pingback: Capturing History Challenge Week 18 | Ed Mooney Photography

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