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Gallarus Oratory, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

 2013-47-November 29a Gallus Oratory

One of the most remarkable buildings I've ever been in was this small ancient church on Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula, said to be the best preserved early Christian church on the Emerald Isle.


The Gallarus Oratory was built between the seventh and eight century A.D and is exclusively made of layered angled stone — no mortar was used.  The process is known as dry-stone corbelling and is based on a building technique used in Ireland for thousands of years.  The angled stones allow water to run off and to keep the interior dry.  The technique results in thick heavy walls and a building shaped like an upside down boat; it’s obviously effective because over 1200 years later the church is still standing and still water-tight.  This style of oratory is unique to County Kerry.  The church has a single door facing the west, and a single window facing the east (rising sun) where the altar would have been.


Entrance to the Gallarus Oratory, Dingle Peninsula, IrelandInterior of the Gallarus Oratory, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

(Entrance (L) and interior (R) of Gallarus Oratory)


You can walk into the church, well worth your time to do so but duck your head — folks are definitely taller now.  Let your eyes adjust to the low light and imagine a group of monks worshiping in here.  The space is fairly small, maybe with room for a dozen or 16 men.  These monks had literally moved to the farthest corner of the known world, then Western Ireland, where they spent their lives in prayer, worship and work.  Most people don’t know that these Irish monks preserved writing and reading (in effect, learning).  They meticulously crafted books in this region that were works of art, like the Book of Kells (which you can still see in Dublin).  After the continent emerged from the Dark Ages, Irish monks were brought to the European continent by Charlemagne to reintroduce writing and reading.


A small slab with an emblazoned cross stands at the east end of a bed of stones adjacent to the oratory.  It’s purpose is not fully understood.  But a truly unique and interesting place to visit on the grand Dingle peninsula. 


2013-47-November 29e Gallus Oratory




Images (4)
  • Gallarus Oratory, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland: This unique landscape is set into the pastoral landscape
  • Entrance to the Gallarus Oratory, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
  • Interior of the Gallarus Oratory, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland: The roof is still watertight 1200 years after it was built
  • Marker adjoining the Gallarus Oratory, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland: A cross on its surface, but not certain of its significance

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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We thought the Slea Head on the Dingle Peninsula was one of our five most beautiful places on the planet. We stopped at the Slea Head Cafe for a latte, a brownie, and the VIEW. It is GORGEOUS. We just sat in the sun and gazed at the Great Blaskett Islands.

Buon viaggio,

The drive around the Dingle Peninsula is one of the most extraordinary I've ever done.  This was just the sampler post -- more to follow.  But it certainly is the most historic day trip I've ever been on.


Glad you liked it as much as I did rbciao!

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

Three more comments concerning Dingle:

1. Leaving the wharf/tourist area in Dingle and walking uphill into the central part of

    the town was very interesting in that we could interact with the locals and leave

    the hustle & bustle of the lower part of town. We stopped at a neat cafe for coffee

    called the Frog St. Cafe and we were the only non-locals in the place.

2. Between Dingle town and Slea Head is the Stone House Restaurant, which overlooks

    the bay and an ancient fort. The restaurant serves great crabmeat sandwiches on

    brown bread and the views from the outside tables are spectacular.

3. Driving past the Slea Head through the Conner Pass is the nice town of Tralee. We

    stayed at the Grand Hotel on Dennis St. and liked it so much we stayed another day

    to kick back and do not much of anything.



Buon viaggio,

Last edited by rbciao
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