Looking north towards the Wicklow mountains from the front door of our house in Ballingate where I grew up, the hill of Aghowle looms large. Despite many years looking across Co Wicklow I had never gone over. My Dad Joe told me about the ruins of a medieval church located there - so yesterday we finally went over in glorious sunshine to check it out.
We found the church easily enough, even though the broken signpost was hidden by weeds at the side of the road. An OPW sign at the site told us that while none of the original monastery remains, it was thought that St Finian from Westmeath had established a monastery there in the 6th century. The ruins you see below date from the mid 12th century - incredible that they are still standing tall (over 10 metres) over 900 years later.
There are a lot of very old graves dating from the late 1700s according to the headstones. This includes the headstone in beside the ruins where Owen Griffin has lain since 4th April, 1784. There are a handful of burials this century - a more peaceful place to rest cannot be found. There is a beautiful Celtic Cross - I'm surprised it has not been stolen. The most common surnames in the cemetery are Byrne, Doyle, and Keogh/Kehoe. Many headstones pay devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes - there is also some candles and small statues to Our Lady in an alcove that have recently been put there. Later we adjourned to the nearby Crab Lane pub - neither of us had been in it before. A cool beer on a hot day in Aghowle tasted excellent!
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