An encounter at Skryne

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I haverecently begun to focus my Ruin hunting in the Meath area, just for a change. One of my first ports of call was to the medieval church ruin which sits atop Skryne Hill. Skryne or Skreen as it is sometimes known as comes from the Gaelic Scrín Cholm Cille, meaning “Colm Cille’s shrine. The hill is approx 500ft above sea level and commands a stunning view of the surrounding countryside which includes the Hill of Tara, the former seat of the High Kings of Ireland. The current structure is an Augustinian Monastery dated around 1341, which is said to have been dedicated to a St. Lawrence and was built by a descendant of Hugh De Lacy of Skryne Castle. One interesting fact about Skryne, at the foot of the hill is a pub and stables that feature in the Guinness white Christmas television advertisement.

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Broken Grave Slabs

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Stone Carving at Enterance

After the Norman invasion of Ireland, Henry II King of England came to Ireland in October 1171 in order to establish his control of the new kingdom of Ireland which the Normans were hell-bent on conquering. Before he left in April 1172, he made extensive grants of land to three powerful men. Ulster was granted to John de Courcey, Leinster to Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, better known as Strongbow, and Meath to Hugh de Lacy. Dublin and the few coastal towns that remained were kept under direct control of the King. Sometime around 1170AD Hugh de Lacy, Lord of Meath granted Skryne to another Norman knight Adam de Feypo, whose descendants used the customary title Baron Skryne?The Barony of Skryne was granted to the knight, Adam de Feipo, whom in turn subdivided it and presented twenty of his followers with grants of land.

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Ancient Font

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The church has long been associated with St. Colmcille (also known as St. Columba), founder of the monastery at Kells. A monastic settlement existed here for many centuries prior to the arrival of the Normans, and was known as Acail. Colmcille came to visit the monastery in 560AD. Approx 300 years later the name was changed to Scrín Cholm Cille. In 875 the relics and shrine of Colmcille were brought there from Iona for safe-keeping. The monastery was plundered several times during the late 10th to 12th century, during one invasion the shrine was taken, but it was later recovered in 1027.  The church which sits inside a walled graveyard is in good condition but has no roof with a good portion of its walls missing.

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The dominant feature of this site is the 100ft tower to the west of the church. The gates to the site are locked but you can still gain access via a stone stile. The first item that you will encounter is a rather large rock directly in front of the church; there is a faint carving in the west side of the stone. Behind this you can see two broken grave slabs which also have faint inscriptions, but are almost to weathered to make out. As you move on to the church ruin you are faced with the remains of two partial walls with the tower at the end. There are a number of impressive medieval pointed arches within the walls. Above the doorway in the north wall there is a carving of a male allegedly said to be a rendition of St. Colmcille/Columba. . Inside the tower, which is said to have been built during the 15th century, you will find an undecorated baptismal font and an unknown engraved stone. Unfortunately access into the tower is blocked by an iron gate.

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Now a quick mention as to the strange encounter I had here during my visit. On the north side of the tower there is a low lying window which has been barred in. I was attempting to take a couple of shots of the inside of the tower, with my camera lense resting in between the bars. When all of a sudden, my camera strap, was sharply pulled inside the window. My natural reaction was too pull the camera back, unleashing a torrent of expletives in the process. I knew that there was nobody inside the tower, because if a seasoned Ruinhunter was unable to gain entry then I am quite sure nobody else could. Then I taught maybe the wind had been the cause, but as I had been standing so close to the wall this was also ruled out. So whatever grabbed my camera strap I can’t explain? Spooky or What?

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Not to be disturbed by such an encounter I proceeded on up along the North wall, there is a narrow window, when I looked through I could see brickwork which was strange because I did not notice a window here from the inside. So I went back to investigate more. It just goes to show that a good look around does not always show up everything to be seen. On the inside part of the wall there was the remains of a hidden stairway which rose inside the wall. The stair leads you up to the top of the remaining wall which affords a slightly better view.

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To the North-east of the church stands a rather intriguing short armed medieval cross bearing a rather crude crucifixion scene, the cross stands at about 1.5 metres high and almost 50cms wide, the cross is so weathered it is impossible to make out any detail on the carving. The church is surrounded by graves, dating from the 1500s to the present day. Skryne is a magnificent site to visit and with the Hill of Tara a short distance away, you could easily make a day of it, provided the weather is favourable. You will notice that I slipped a colour shot into this post, I just couldn’t resist. Although I love how these places look in mono, I also love to see them in living colour, so I guess I am still torn between the two. So let me know what you think? Mono or Colour? Perhaps it may help me make a decision?

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Hidden Stairs

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Short Armed Cross

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
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57 Responses to An encounter at Skryne

  1. hspheritage says:

    Beautiful photos 🙂


  2. Anny says:

    Good grief, I’d have run a mile if that had happened to me! Although your shots are so atmospheric, a good spooky mystery fits very well. Glad it hasn’t put you off. I rather like the B&W shots, they let the imagination do a bit more work – the colour are more ‘guide book’ – not a bad thing, just different.


    • HA, not me, Im either very brave or stupid. 🙂 Normally I get a vibe about a place, I call this my spidey sense. But what happened was completely unexpected. That will teach me to go putting my lense in strange places, lol. 🙂


  3. Jewels says:

    Thank you for sharing another interesting post, Ed Oh, that is spooky how your camera strap was pulled like that! I wonder what it was…
    I personally really like the mono look to your photographs as it adds to the old/ancient mood of the ruins you are photographing, but I can see why you are torn between the two as the color photo at the beginning is very pretty also. 🙂


  4. The color photo at top is stunning, but I also love the b&w for these old stone ruins. Monochromatic seems to lend more detail and mystery. I really enjoy the history behind the photos, too! Thank you! As for your encounter… I’m thinking “they” were OK with your taking pictures outside, but placing your lens inside was apparently a no-no. 😉


  5. you prove my point: black and white is the backbone of photography


  6. mcddanielle says:

    Gorgeous! Ruin-hunting! What a life! Thank you for sharing!


  7. Cheers Ed, I guess the stables and Inn are in the next set? MM 😉


  8. Another great tour! Thanks for the post.


  9. Forest So Green says:

    I am glad that you are documenting the ruins, history is so important, Annie


  10. Beautiful photos – and very spooky encounter. I think I would have done more than swear – I think I would have been running for dear life! Thanks for sharing!


  11. tcb92blog says:

    Some amazing photography, always been fascinated with ruins and so on. Keep up good work!


  12. kiwiskan says:

    Thanks heaps for this fascinating post. Coincidentally I am just reading ‘Chasing the Wild Goose’ which is the story of St Columba and the Iona community and finding it intriguing.


  13. blosslyn says:

    Well I have had things happen inside churches and ruins, so I amazed they let you have the strap back 🙂 Although I really love the b&w photos, I am a colour fan myself, but everyone is different and it would be really boring if we were all the same 🙂 Lovely post wether it be b&w or colour.


  14. Grannymar says:

    Another place to add to my ‘must see’ list. Great photos and background information. I like the monochrome, they seem to suit the historical.


  15. artveronica says:

    Your photographs are are so beautiful. The fact that they are helping preserve history is priceless.
    You have a true gift.


  16. I say both, mono and/or color.. depending on the effect you’re trying to achieve, or what your gut is telling you. Either way, love these shots!


  17. Jo Woolf says:

    What a fascinating place, and so photogenic! I think the atmospheric shots are better in B&W but I also like to see the place in colour to get an idea of the stonework, the surrounding countryside etc – so I prefer a blend of the two. That is a very interesting encounter that you had! It would be interesting to know if anyone else had experienced anything there.


  18. LB says:

    Oh My!! Who or what pulled your camera strap!!!
    Your photos, as always are excellent, but the 7th one of the post (the two arches) is stunning!


  19. I love the black and white. The photo of the short-armed cross, with the grass behind it, so thick and matted, is my favorite.

    Have you seen THE GRUDGE? Stay away from towers that pull you inside them, BWAH HA HA! Probably a lovelorn 14th century lass was hoping you would keep her company.


    • Hey, thanks for stopping by. I really like that cross too. Its probably the oldest piece on the site. Would be from a very early christian time.
      Don’t think that my encounter was quite as dramatic as The Grudge, I usually get a feeling about places with bad energies. So whatever it was I was not able to pick up on it. If it was a lonely lass, she certainly went the wrong way about getting by attention, 🙂
      I don’t take two kindly to people who mess with my stuff, so hopefully whatever it was shall think twice about it in future 🙂


  20. joanfrankham says:

    I love the black and white, some of them are very spooky, especially after reading of your encounter!


  21. okay–this piece is very fascinating. Love the subject matter–excellently done post. Thanks for telling me about it…..


  22. philandre says:

    Some stunning b and w images – an excellent post with excellent supporting text. Glad you still like “In search of unusual destinations”. Happy Autumn! Phil.


  23. Wonderful photos, I think B&W is so much more effective for images like these. I think I may have to plan a visit when I’m in Ireland in November.


  24. Evelyn says:

    I’m like you Ed- I like the B & W s because it shows texture and gradations so well. I also always want to see stone buildings and castles, of course, in color because you get to see the actual color of the castle. This is especially helpful in England where the castles were made out of so many different types of stone. (I’m reading about Cotswold stone right now. Fascinating!) Your experience of paramornal phenomena here is interesting. Do you suppose that maybe you ticked off a poltergeist ? ; ) The photos, again as always, are fantastic !
    The Castle Lady


    • Thank you so much, you got some beautiful Castles in england which I want to explore, I seriously doubt that I encountered a poltergeist at Skryne. Im normally quite sensitive to things like that so it was a brief shock to the system. Whatever it was, it went away as quickly as it arrived, 🙂 I dont care if its living or dead, you just dont mess with a persons camera, thats just crossing the line a bit too far 🙂


  25. Love the spooky encounter with the camera strap. And a hidden staircase. Those two things would get me there.


  26. Always exciting to visit some different stuff, even if just by experiencing it on a blog. Thanx for sharing the photos, Ed. Have a wonderful day.


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  29. jazzfeathers says:

    Love these photos. This is truly a stunning place.
    And what happened to you is spooky indeed…

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Oh great shots, interesting commentary and glad you survived the spooky encounter!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Reg Plunkett says:

    Jaysis Ed, brilliant stuff. Mono definitely adds to the intrigue of the forgotten story & eeriness of the strap yanked. I’m in Newbridge the last 10 years or so. Hit me up for a chat sometime. It’d be great to catch up but even better to discuss our mutual fascination with our hidden & forgotten (mostly purposely) hidden his story.


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