The Priest House – Glendalough

The Priest House Glendalough (1)

Another rather interesting structure which sits within the graveyard of the Monastic City to the south-west of the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul is the Priest House. It is a small rectangular structure, built in the Romanesque style of approx 4.5 x 2.4 meters which probably dates back to the 12th century, around 1170AD. . There is a Romanesque arched recess in the exterior of the E wall now closed by a thin wall with a small window opening.  A shelf or seat forms the bottom of the recess. The door in the outh wall features a fragmentary tympanum with three figures. Inside there are a number of interesting grave slabs and the remains and the remains of another Romanesque style arch, with some rather unique stone carving.

The Priest House Glendalough (2)

The Priest House Glendalough (4)

The Priest House Glendalough (3)

Aside from the lower parts of the wall the remainder is said to have been completely reconstructed at some point in time, based on a sketch  of the original building from 1779 by Gabriel Beranger. It seems that this Beranger character was quite the ruin-hunter in his day, as I have found numerous drawings and paintings by him that portray many of the sites that I now visit. Most notably the remains of the Castle at Ballymount in Dublin. In some instances I have found his work quite interesting as it shows the difference between then and now. Who knows what these many heritage sites will look like in another 250 years. Perhaps there will be another ruin-hunter looking at some of my images and comparing them to whatever may remain in the future? I only hope that they may survive better than in previous centuries.

The Priest House Glendalough (5)

The Priest House Glendalough (7)

The Priest House Glendalough (8)

The original purpose of this building in currently unknown. Some say that it was built on the site of St. Kevin’s grave, or that it may have been used as a small chapel to house relics of the saint. It got its name ‘The Priest House’, after the 18th-19th century practise of local parish priests being buried there. Some say that two priests from the 18th century were renowned for their mystical healing powers. This made the Priest House an important site of pilgrimage for many. Apparently pilgrims would take clay from the graves here and rub it on their sores and wounds whilst saying prayers in the belief that they would be cured. I’m not sure how well this might have worked and despite my sore feet on the day decided to refrain from trying out this medieval practise. Another local folk tradition, claims that the clay from the floor of a building held a cure for toothache. The clay was used to rub onto the afflicted jaw in order to gain relief. an interesting carving of a much earlier date on the lintel of the doorway.

The Priest House Glendalough (6)

The Priest House Glendalough (9)

The Priest House Glendalough (15)

The Priest House Glendalough (14)

The Priest House Glendalough (13)

The Priest House Glendalough (12)

The Priest House Glendalough (11)

The Priest House Glendalough (10) 

For these and more of my images, why not visit my Website or join me on Facebook or Twitter.

About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Diary of a Ruinhunter, Photography, Religious Sites and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to The Priest House – Glendalough

  1. Ali Isaac says:

    Gosh some of these images hardly look real, they have a decidedly ethereal magical feel about them… did you notice that?

    I love that you are recording them for future generations. All the old stories are fading away, but at least the stones have survived, and even when they crumble, your images will still be here. That must be a good feeling.


  2. viapina says:

    Glendalough, such a magic place! and so peaceful, P x


  3. colonialist says:

    That area seems to be a veritable treasure trove of old structures.


  4. Very intriguing pictures! It is important that you are taking these pictures and recording the ruins in time! Love them!


  5. again more wonderful images! love these and the history you provide.


  6. YorkshireRascal says:

    A really interesting historical trip amongst these ruins 🙂


  7. potatoeheadz says:

    Yes, it’s beautiful there – nature pure – remember that place very well with my super 8 film camera as a kid in the 80ies there clipping and snipping around those graves and the tower – so many worry stones 🙂


  8. Pingback: St. Kevin’s Cross – Glendalough | EdMooneyPhotography

  9. Pingback: Monastic City- Glendalough | EdMooneyPhotography

  10. Pingback: Oratory of St Declan,  Ardmore | Ed Mooney Photography

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