Hello and welcome to this weekend’s virtual walk.
Today we are back in the “ kingdom “ of County Kerry to take a walk around the village of Ardfert.
Ardfert is about 10 miles north of Tralee and is one of the finest monastic settlements in the southern part of Ireland. So, lets park the car and get out for a look around.
The name Ardfert, comes from the Irish Ard Fhearta, meaning ‘the hill of miracles’, so you can see that religious activity is deeply rooted in this place.
The village is dominated by the ancient cathedral, lets head in there and have a look around.
The Cathedral is built on the site of an early Christian monastery , founded in the 6th Century by St Brandan. You will remember that we visited the St Brendan’s cross in Bantry during the summer. Brendan is said to have sailed across the Atlantic to discover America some 500 years before Columbus !
We enter through the restored transept that also serves as a visitor centre and immediately we can see an ogham stone that was originally found in a nearby field . The ancient ogham script inscribed on it are “ CT A N QLOG “ and frankly no one is sure what that means !! Nearby are some other cross slabs and carvings found during excavations and renovations.
Out the door and into the main body of the Cathedral, this dates from the 12th century. I think you will be in awe of the size and scale of the building which gives us an idea of the height that the building stood. In fact, the roof stood intact until 1641 during the Irish rebellion that year. Take a look at the carved niches and windows and outside there is a really impressive carved Romanesque doorway that was a later addition in the 13th century.
Nearby are two other churches called Temple Na Hoe , that dates from the 12th Century and Temple Na Griffin that was built in the 15th Century. I love the way the old and new graves are incorporated into the site and how this place is truly part of the community in the village of Ardfert.
But as they say, WAIT THERE’S MORE – let’s take a ten-minute walk out the road to the nearby Ardfert Friary . As it is a nice day we can enjoy the countryside and say hello to some cows as we see the friary and impressive tower in the distance .
Not to be outdone by the Cathedral, this friary was founded by the Franciscans in the middle of the 13th Century. Like so many of these buildings it was improved over the years and the impressive tower was added in the 15th Century and one hundred years later was used as a barracks for soldiers.
We go through the kissing gate and walk through the long grass, we can sense calm and tranquillity of the monastic life.
Let’s walk through the cloister walk that overlooks the cloister garth. Can you see that most of the roof is still perfectly intact and waterproof for over 600 years ! Take a look at the lancet windows, carved details and tomb niches all around the main church .
I’m told that the friars were evicted in 1584 and the friary was taken over as a barracks by Colonel John Zouche. He was engaged in extensive conflict against Gerald Fitzgerald, 15th earl of Desmond, eventually defeating him and sending the earl’s head to Dublin… After Zouche left the friary, it was occupied by the Protestant bishop of Ardfert, who may have been responsible for some late alterations .
However, it’s great to see such a lovely friary right out here in the countryside.
Let’s re trace our steps, saying goodbye to the happy cows and make our way back to where we parked the car at Ardfert Cathedral.
I hope that you enjoyed coming with me to this lovely place of calm and tranquillity and stay well until next time. If you have started your Christmas shopping why not head over to my website www.connemaramarble.com
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