I cant believe it, Christmas Eve starts tomorrow, and another year almost over. And what a year it has been, In my never ending attempt to find new and interesting places, this year I have explored and shot over 100 ruins and historical sites. So for what will probably be the last of the year, let me introduce you to the old monastic settlement that was Laraghbryan. It can be found just outside Maynooth in Co. Kildare and was one of three such early Christian settlements in the area. The other two, one of which I have already posted about this year were Taghadoe and Grangewilliam (Donaghmore).
Little if nothing remains of this early settlement. The current graveyard and Church with an attached tower are said to rest on this older site. The Monastic Settlement at Laraghbryan is believed to have been founded by a Saint Senan in the 6th century on lands owned by the O’Byrne’s. Laraghbryan is said to be an translation of “Laithreach Bruin” or “Sanctuary of the O’Byrne’s” The O’Byrne’s would have held the kingship of the Leinster region at this time and been patrons of the Christian church in Ireland. The church and tower both date back from Norman times, perhaps between 1400-1500AD. Now in a considerable ruinous state, all that remains is a nave and chancel with a crumbling tower. Whilst it is possible to enter the tower via a low lying doorway, I would advise against attempting to climb what remains of the winding steps as much of the stonework crumbles on touch. I have explored many such ruins over the last couple of years, but have never come across a structure so close to falling down. The cemetery itself appears to be regularly maintained and kept in good condition, but the old church and tower are desperately in need of some TLC or I can’t see it surviving for much longer.
In or around 1770AD, it is said that the first Duke of Leinster had the wooden east window removed from Laraghbryan and installed in the newly restored St. Mary’s church, were it can still be seen today. It was around this time that the demise of Laraghbryan began. Whilst I was exploring the ruin, an elderly gent whom had been tending to a grave approached me, after chatting for a few minutes he told me of a local legend which claims that a tunnel once linked the tower at Laraghbryan to the nearby Maynooth Castle. I just love when I get to meet locals whom take delight in sharing their knowledge of these historic places. Even though there was no longer any evidence of such a tunnel, stories like this bring out the Indiana Jones in me and make me want to explore even more. Always searching, for the next great adventure.
There is an interesting plaque on the wall of the church which dates the structure back to 1400-1500AD and claims restoration work was carried out between 2002-2004. Well im not sure what restoration work if any was carried out here, but needless to say it could most certainly do with some more. There are many ancient yew trees around the site which lend shade to the varied amount of interesting headstones along with some table top & box tombs.