The Burren - Kilfenora -
The City of the Crosses
The South Burren including the ancient religious site of Kilfenora with its
seven carved medieval crosses.
1988, 7pp, 27 b&w illustrations.
The town of Kilfenora lies at the south-west edge of the Burren. It has a
long history as an important early monastic settlement and later as a religious
centre from the 12-13th centuries. This is shown by the presence of five stone
crosses which stand within or near the now ruined cathedral.
It is a place to wander around slowly, looking at the beautiful stone carvings,
such as the group of monks on the capitals of the 12th century East window
in the cathedral, or wondering over the images on the 'Doorty' High Cross,
which records the change in status of Kilfenora from a monastery
to the centre of a diocese in 1152.
2001 saw the opening of a refurbished and enlarged visitor centre which has
excellent displays on the forming of the Burren, its natural history, the
lives of the people of the Burren from the first settlers, over 5,000 years
ago, to medieval times and the history and folklore of the 19th century.
Splendid examples of every type of antiquity can be found within a few miles
of the town. Cathair Chonail is a very large and nearly perfect ringfort,
close to the road from Kilfenora to Ballyvaughan. Closer to the town lies
the small hamlet of Noughaval, 'new habitation or dwelling' in Irish, with
its 12th century church. An outdoor altar made up of a simple
cross slotted into a horizontal stone slab can be seen in the churchyard and
a variety of ringforts and enclosures, wedge tombs and cairns can be explored
to the South of the church.
Finally, Lemeneagh Castle, about three miles east of Kilfenora, is a wonderfully
evocative site with a highly
romantic history. It is a five story 15th century tower house, later enlarged
to a four story mansion in the 17th century.
These are just a few of the places to see around Kilfenora; there are many
others to be found by the adventurous traveller.
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