Ardmore Cathedral

Ardmore Cathedral (1)

To wrap up my recent trip to Ardmore in Waterford, we take a look at the last remaining site within the monastic enclosure, the Cathedral. Ardmore was historically the site of an early church founded by St. Declan in the fifth century. Although with the exception of the death of his successor St. Ultan there is little known recorded history of the site after 555 A.D. The annals state that the Cathedral was constructed sometime between 1170 and 1210 A.D. by the then bishop of Ardmore Moel-ettrim Ó Duibhe-rathra. Built in up to three phases the Cathedral consists of a nave and chancel with some of the lower foundations and walls belonging to the earlier church built by Declan over 500 years previously.

Ardmore Cathedral (2) Ardmore Cathedral (5) Ardmore Cathedral (4) Ardmore Cathedral (3)

Along with the Round Tower the Cathedral is the newest addition to the monastic settlement, as they were both only recently added in the 12th century. The Oratory of St. Declan, were the saint is rumoured to have been laid to rest dates from 8th century. The last and possible oldest point of interest are the two Ogham Stones, which can be found in the niched arch of the choir.  Now putting a date to these ancient stones is not an easy task, but it would not be a far stretch of the imagination to say that they most likely pre date the arrival of Declan to the Ardmore area. It was not uncommon for the early Christians to build their churches and monasteries on important sites, so considering Declan’s family links to the Déisi Muman this is a strong possibility.

Ardmore Cathedral (6) Ardmore Cathedral (9) Ardmore Cathedral (8) Ardmore Cathedral (7)

The chancel arch might have well been flanked by wall niches as was common practise at the time, along with the four round headed windows in the nave and two tomb recesses and arcading were added in the later part of the 12th century. This was then followed by an extension of the west end of the nave with the chancel arch being rebuilt to a pointed arch design. The north and south walls both had doorways inserted and the arcading on the outside of the west wall was re done. The sculptures on the west wall are believed to have been re-set during the 17th century. The arcading on the W wall consists of a row of thirteen panels on a chamfered string course.  Nine of these panels have carvings of religious depictions, although it is most likely that all the panels would have had carvings. These depictions in the panels has been interpreted, as possibly the Majestas, The Last Judgement and a number of bishops.

Ardmore Cathedral (10) Ardmore Cathedral (13) Ardmore Cathedral (12) Ardmore Cathedral (11)

Underneath these panels there where three larger lunettes although only two now survive. The northern one contains three sculpted panels, one of which depicts Adam and Eve. Whilst the one on the south contains seven panels combined into two scenes; the Judgement of Solomon over the Adoration of the Magi. Within the nave there are several medieval grave slabs and a cross inscribed stone. The original cap stone from the Round Tower was also said to have been placed here for safe keeping, but I could not find any trace of it.

Ardmore Cathedral (14) Ardmore Cathedral (17) Ardmore Cathedral (16) Ardmore Cathedral (15)

An octagonal font with a circular basin and stiff-leaf decoration that was originally supported on four pillars, was moved from here in the early part of the 19th century, but I did not have the time to go and look for it on this occasion. It is said to have been moved to a nearby Church of Ireland church, so I guess that this will be another addition to my ever increasing bucket list, for the next time I am in the area. According to a crudely incised date stone three buttresses were added to the cathedral in 1630.  By, 1642 after the siege which I spoke about previously the chancel of the cathedral continued in use as a Protestant church until 1838, when the present Church of Ireland church was built.

Ardmore Cathedral (18) Ardmore Cathedral (21) Ardmore Cathedral (20) Ardmore Cathedral (19) Ardmore Cathedral (22)

Despite the low clouds and heavy rain during my visit, Ardmore is perched up high on a hill which overlooks the sea. The scenery here is said to be beautiful, but sadly I missed out on a chance to witness this. No doubt I will be back again as during my research I came across a few nearby points of interest which will need to be explored.

Ardmore Cathedral (23) Ardmore Cathedral (27) Ardmore Cathedral (26) Ardmore Cathedral (25) Ardmore Cathedral (24)

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

40 Responses to Ardmore Cathedral

  1. belshade says:

    Great set of pictures – convey the mood so well. Des.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. APRIL ROSE says:

    very nice place and great photography.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some great pictures in there Ed. I’m amazed that these building still stand almost as though stuck in time without a roof. Quite remarkable to see a cross inside still sitting there as though waiting for a holy person to come along and do his thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. beetleypete says:

    You overcame the weather to get a real feel of the place, Ed. It must have seemed a marvel, to the inhabitants of the area in the 12th century.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jfwknifton says:

    I love the b/w photographs…very atmospheric. It looks a really great place. In western Cornwall we saw Ogham stones two or three times in parish churches and we were told they were fourth or fifth century, There is certainly an old stone castle at Chun which is supposed to have been built by Irish/Celtic mercenaries at this same period

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The clouds add to the inage. Top marks for great history.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is really amazing. I have to go see it sometime!

    2,305,461 stars out of 5!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great images. The building is just amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ali Isaac says:

    Wow! What a gem! Still so rich with carvings after so long, and just left to fall into rack and ruin… what a waste. Must have been stunning in its day. And did you capture these images on your phone, or is your camera fixed? Either way, you have done a fantastic job, as always! Great post, Ed!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. chattykerry says:

    Beautiful shots. I used to live in Ardmory Avenue – is there a Gaelic root?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. noelleg44 says:

    Your photos convey the incredible antiquity of the site. I am amazed that so much has survived, despite it being open to the elements. Wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. fascinating stuff as always so well researched!! and I love the image inside the church with the archway- Ardmore Cathedral #12. It’s fantastic and very evocative!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. majakamien says:

    i like grain on that photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Jewels says:

    Really enjoyed this one Ed, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. My kind of cathedral! Very nice, Ed. 🙂 My favorite’s got to be the shot taken through the arch. Something about those Gothic shapes that inspires me endlessly…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. socialbridge says:

    Ed, great post about Ardmore. It’s one of those places that is hauntingly beautiful and wondrous no matter when you visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. All this stone just blows me away. I live in a youngling country!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I really enjoyed this post Ed and your photography captures the stillness and history of the place so well. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. jazzfeathers says:

    Love love love these photos. I don’t know whether it was the weather, but I love the atmosphere too 🙂


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