Oughaval Church

Oughaval 1

Moving on to the second site I recently visited with my newly  recruited  Ruinhunters, was the site of Oughaval church near Stradbally in Laois. It is a picturesque old ruin which can only be appreciated fully by exploring. From the road you could easily mistake this for one off the many church ruins that you would find scattered about the countryside. But on closer examination Oughaval is a massive structure which lies on a slightly raised mound within a walled graveyard. This is actually the site of a monastery founded in the 6th century by St. Colman, whom was also known as St Colman mac Ua Laoighse, or St Colman of Oughaval. Colman is said to have been a disciple of St. Fintan from nearby Clonenagh and St Columba of Iona. After spending time at Clonenagh and Iona, he founded his own  monastery here at Oughaval, sadly none of this monastery remains today. The monastery ceased to function long before the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII.

Oughaval 2

The Mortuary Vault

The Mortuary Vault

Crosby Family Vault

Crosby Family Vault

Oughaval 4

Oughaval 3

My little Ruinhunters l-r Ava 4, Ryan 7, Dylan 2,

Access to the ruin is through a gap in the wall of the cemetery, which I must say is kept in pristine condition. There are quite a number of interesting grave markers scattered around the site. The book of Oughaval or the ‘Lebor na Nuachongbála’ was kept here for many years. Interestingly enough this went on to become the famous ‘Book of Leinster’.The oldest remaining part of this building today is the ruined Nave which dates back to the 12th century. There has  been a number of different rebuilds over the years mainly carried out by the Crosby family whom owned vast lands in the area and still do to some extent. One of the most interesting additions was the chancel in the 18th century,  with a raised floor, under which there lies  a vaulted mortuary chamber.

Oughaval 6

Oughaval 11

Oughaval 10

Oughaval 9

Oughaval 8

Oughaval 7

This can be viewed  as you make  your way around the outside of the building, but  is protected by an iron gate. Ryan, my eldest had an interesting observation on the chamber, ‘Daddy, thats were the Vampire’s live’, Now how the hell did he come up with that? Have you ever tried convincing a seven year old that something doesn’t exist. But thats a story for another day. The chancel has a huge barrel vaulted ceiling, it is in fact quite similar to the one at Oughterard but is significantly much larger. Unfortunately it appears to be cracked and may be in danger of collapse if not repaired. There is a stunning triple window in the east gable which was added in the latter part of the 19th century. The small chamber within the nave is actually the Crosby family vault.

Oughaval 12

Oughaval 17

Oughaval 16

Oughaval 15

Oughaval 14

Oughaval 13

 The sheer size of the chancel which incorporates wall walks on the north and south walls along with the crennellations give the church a somewhat appearance of a castle. Even though alot of my ruin posts are about religious sites, I actually much prefer to write about castles and Neolithic monuments. But I must say that I was very impressed by Oughaval, it is unusual in its architecture and simply quite stunning. That said the kids were uncommonly well behaved for the duration of our visit and couldn’t stop talking about it on the drive home. So if you happen to be in the area of Stradbally or just passing by, I would strongly recommend stopping by to explore this fantastic church.

Oughaval 18

Oughavel 23

Oughaval 22

Oughaval 21

Oughaval 20

Oughaval 19

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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 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to Oughaval Church

  1. Sue Karski says:

    I want to thank you for your posts. I enjoy watching your travels. Some day I hope to visit and you have provided a host of places I want to see and lots of history making each more interesting. Thank you


  2. hauntingly beautiful photos….


  3. What a strange looking place – like you say, it looks very forbidding and castle-like, which is not what you expect from a church…


  4. kalabalu says:

    All the gloomy scenes and the impact was changed, with the children’s picture. It was as if, mood was melancholy and became a joyful glee..with stories popping up and mystery that could be thought..children bring smiles..no matter where they are or what they do 🙂
    Nice post 🙂


  5. thom bradley says:

    Very impressive. I liked the color that the little ones provided to the darkness.


  6. Not until I had viewed all of the shots did I finally realize just how big this structure was. Thanks!


  7. Jo Woolf says:

    What an amazing place, and I am fascinated that the mortuary and vault are still intact. You got some great photos! I love the one of the nave particularly. Your ruin hunters sound as if they are getting keen! 🙂


  8. suej says:

    Fabulous lookin place, great shots and interesting post… 🙂


  9. B&W makes these ruins even more dramatic; the clouds help,too. I can’t help but wonder what went on here so many centuries ago, what life was like, who was there… wished there was a real time machine to check it out.


  10. Wow. You have outdone yourself with the mono. Incredible images.


  11. LensTHERAPY says:

    Always love your pics!!!!


  12. Anny says:

    Very imposing looking place – just the sort I adore – thanks.


  13. Rajiv says:

    I know that I keep saying this, but I love your black and white photography. It’s been years since I photographed in film. Maybe, I shall buy some when I go to Europe
    I started in B&W photography, and this is still my preferred medium


    • Thanks Rajiv, as long as people keep liking them, Im gonna keep shooting. I have never actually shot in film. I would love to learn the whole process. Perhaps its all to easy with digital. If ya dont like a shot, delete it, were with film, unless you got money to burn you got to make every shot count, 🙂


  14. misfit120 says:

    Good thing you take those pics during the daytime…..vaults are kinda creepy


    • Cool yes, Creepy ya must be kidding right! Its a pop culture misconception. You got a better chance of getting hurt at the library than a graveyard. Remember eeveryone there is dead. 🙂 But I seriously considering trying some night shoots to see what difference I can get.


  15. Whoa. Those were some amazing B&W pictures!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog!


  16. Great photos! I especially loved the one with the children!


  17. I like all You work but I love the picture with Your Ruinhunters 🙂 Olga


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  23. Love the Ruinhunters! All, but Ryan look a little shy at this stage!

    Liked by 1 person

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