St. Kevin’s Kitchen – Glendalough

St. Kevins Church (1)

Directly adjacent St. Kierans Church we find the 12th century church of St. Kevin. It is quite remarkable in the fact that it is the only building within the Monastic City to survive with its roof intact. This church which is also known as Kevin’s Kitchen due to the rather unusual miniature Round Tower attached which acted as a belfry, and is said to resemble a kitchen chimney, however no food is believed to have ever been cooked here. The belfry tower with its conical cap and four small windows rises up from the west end of the churches stone roof and resembles its much larger neighbouring Round Tower. The tower is three stories high. The church was originally a small rectangular single-celled church consisting of a nave, with the entrance door in the west end and a small round-headed window in the east gable.  Later on a chancel and sacristy were added to the east. Only the foundations of the chancel can be seen, but the sacristy still remains. The upper part of the gable window can be seen just above what was the chancel arch.

St. Kevins Church (2)

St. Kevins Church (3)

Entrance to the Nave

The fact that this is the only surviving structure with a roof intact must be that it was made of stone. Whilst many structures from the period would have been constructed using timber roofs  The steep roof was constructed using corbelled stones, similar to the one at St. Doolagh’s. Now I did not get to have a good look inside the building as it is secured with iron gates which are kept padlocked. One of the tourists approached a member of staff from the visitor center whom had just finished a tour and was told that access was restricted. So I guess unless you are willing to fork out the admission price then they wont let you have a peek inside. Apart from the Round Tower this is the only other building which you cannot enter. I did not see anyone get to climb up either the Belfry or Round Towers, which would have been the only parts that I would have been interested in seeing, so I  was not too bothered about it.

St. Kevins Church (4)

St. Kevins Church (5)

The Church roof is said to be supported by a barrel-vaulted ceiling similar to those at Oughavel in Laois and Oughterard in Kildare. It is also believed to have had a wooden upper floor with access through an opening in the west end of the vault. The doorway in the west was lintelled with inclined door jambs. There was a window in the south wall, but this is said to have been removed in around 1843. You can actually see where the gap left was bricked in. Access to the Sacristy on the north-east corner is also restricted with another iron gate and padlock. It has a simple lintelled entrance in the south wall with a small round-headed window in the east wall. As a result of this church retaining its roof a large number of artefacts were housed within its walls, perhaps this is the reason for the elevated level of security on this building alone as opposed to the other structures.

St. Kevins Church (6)

St. Kevins Church (7)

Enterance to the Sacristy

Most of these artefacts have now been transferred to the visitor center, so unless the remainder are still in situ, the padlocked gates are there to force anyone interested in seeing the inside to pay for a tour guide. As many of you will know, I always try to avoid these tours, not because I don’t want to fork out my hard-earned cash, but because I find them to be of little benefit. It would be an extremely rare occasion that I would find out important information from a tour guide that I do not already know or can find out in my research. So the only reason I might return to Glendalough and pay in to the visitors center will be to have a look at the artifacts that they have tucked away. Hopefully I will have some of my little Ruinhunters with me so I can show them around the rest of the site and follow-up on one or two sites that I think I have missed. I will let you know how that goes, in due course.

St. Kevins Church (8)


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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, Medieval, Photography, Religious Sites and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to St. Kevin’s Kitchen – Glendalough

  1. lizbert1 says:

    Gorgeous little church! Great shots!!


  2. Rajiv says:

    Cor! A place called Kitchen, with no food! Good post!


  3. Ali Isaac says:

    I agree with you about the tours… I like to discover a place under my own steam. The only place where I am happy to join a tour is at Newgrange and Knowth. This is because they are trying to control and preserve these wonderful ancient sites. We are so fortunate to have access to the interior of Newgrange at all… unlike Stonehenge in Uk where you have to stck to the path and not go near the stones or risk getting shot by armed guards lol! Ok… I made that last bit up, but you arent allowed to stray from the path or go near the stones let alone touch them. The Newgrange experience is unique and I dont mind joining a tour to share in it.

    Oh, and I meant to say, nice worķ Ed!!!


    • Yes Newgrange is an exception and I cant say anything bad about their tours as I am still waiting to get picked for the solstice lottery. What gets my goat is they wont let me shoot inside the chamber 😦
      I actually prefer Knowth & Dowth to Newgrange even though Dowth was badly damaged and has a concrete roof now 🙂


      • Ali Isaac says:

        I loved Knowth! But not been to Dowth yet… can you access the interior? It winds me up that you cant go inside Knowth. It sounds spectaculour! I think theyre trying to hide something from us… like maybe a still functioning portal into the Otherworld lol! Fancy breaking in one night??? (Only joking…. seriously, it was just a joke lol)


        • If I get caught I’m blaming you for it? Only joking, Its not open to the public, but you can see into the two chambers. I’m sure their is some helpful soul out there with a key that would like to help us. I just have to hunt them down first 🙂 If a portal is found can I go through first? you can the write a book about it lol 🙂


          • Ali Isaac says:

            I’ll make sure you go first… mortals who find their way into the otherworld sometimes get lost there and don’t come back, at least not for a very long time…remember Oisin? So I will very graciously allow you to do the gentlemanly thing and check it out first, haha! I promise to write a book commemorating your mortal life…


  4. How large is the church? I’m trying to get an idea of how many people would fit into the building’s footprint. Interesting to have an intact stone roof – did they have bracing to hold it together until it was finished? Thanks for the tour!


    • I reckon it would hold about 30-40 people. Not sure how they held the roof in place until it was finished, but they did a great job. I have seen a number of similar church roofs which contained a barrel vaulted ceiling, which seems to be the key to it all. I even managed to get up on top of one, very sturdy. I must look into how they were made? Will keep you posted 🙂


  5. Reblogged this on The Writers' Workshop Blog and commented:
    This is a fabulous example of a 12th century church courtesy of Ed Mooney and the setting is just perfect. One of my favourite photos from Ed.


  6. Really unusual little chapel! And I never knew there’d been a St Kevin! I shall send this to my brother-in-law, Kevin, as I’m sure it will fascinate him 🙂


  7. You aroused my curiosity with these photos as the family history I’ve been doing centres around Glendalough, Kildareand other places.


    • Wow, thats cool, my Mum is big into geneology. All I know about it it the family name O’Maonaigh desends from the first Milsean King of Ireland Érimón and my mothers clan The O’ Conaing/ Gunning’s, who belonged to the Dalcassian (DalgCais) clan, descend from a brother of Brian Boru, Ard Ri or High King of Ireland. Its really interesting stuff.

      Best of luck with your research, hope you enjoy the rest of my Glendalough posts?



  8. Smashing shots! Thanks!


  9. Beautiful Ed. I remember it well!!


  10. Pingback: Trinity Church – Glendalough | EdMooneyPhotography

  11. Pingback: Monastic City- Glendalough | EdMooneyPhotography

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