William R. Wilde's Loch Coirib - Its Shores and Islands

Chapter 6: Inis Uí Chuinn to Inis A' Ghaill and Cunga Fheichín (Cong)

Ancient Churches of Cill Fraocháin

Chapter 6: Inis Uí Chuinn to Inis A' Ghaill and Cunga Fheichín (Cong)

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Returning to Cross, and in the grounds of Dumhach, we must visit one of the very oldest primitive Cyclopean churches in Ireland, and undoubtedly the most remarkable that occurs in our route--that of St. Fraochán, the square-headed western doorway of which is here shown. Its walls are now seven feet high on an average, and two feet thick; its length is eighteen feet inside, twelve feet at the west, and fourteen in breadth at the east end--a remarkable peculiarity. There are no remains of window apertures, as the east gable is no longer standing. The doorway here figured is five feet eight inches high, and two feet three inches wide at bottom, the jambs inclining to one foot eleven inches at top, where they are covered by a massive lintel, three feet ten inches long, which spans the entire wall. The inner faces of the jamb stones are smooth, as at Cill Fhursa.

That this building is a representative of the primitive Oratory and dwellinghouse of an early Irish saint, there can be no doubt.It was divided into an upper and lower apartment by a flat floor, some of the corbels of which yet remain; and the space between this and the roof was, no doubt, the saint's sleeping apartment. We find the same arrangement in St. Kevin's Kitchen, St. Columba's House at Kells, Molua's House, and other buildings of the same peculiar class.The only difference between Kilfraughan and the others just mentioned is, that it had a dividing floor of timber, and the others one of stone, resting upon a barrel arch. This charming little ruin, which stands in the middle of a very ancient burial ground, and is surrounded by antique hollies and thorns, is highly venerated by the people, among whom there is a tradition, that from it was brought the clay with which the Abbey of Cong was consecrated.

Killarsagh Window

Of St. Fraochán, if such a personage existed here, we know nothing; and our annals, calendars, martyrologies, and the saints' lives make no mention of him.The ancient name of this church, and one which is still living among the old people, is Cill árd-chraobh na Naomh--literally, "the church of the high branch of the saints." Below its east end is a spring well of never-failing purity and supply, which, in fine weather, when the turlochs are dry, affords water for the neighbouring mill, and pours its stream into the Cross river. To the north of this locality is Garra Cluana.

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