Medieval Ireland: Inishmurray Monastic Site

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

“Saved by its ocean walls from ordinary marauders in former times, and from the wanton tourist of today… Inismurray has retained a larger number of examples of primitive Irish Art than perhaps any other early Christian settlement in Ireland.” ––William Wakeman, A Survey of the Antiquarian Remains on the Island of Inismurray, 1893

The first people to settle on what would be known as Inishmurray may have arrived as early as 2,000 BCE. An ornamented votive food vessel, found in 1938 in a Bronze Age cist, casts a light on their funerary practices. Early antiquarians suggested that some of the decorated stones found in the ecclesiastical enclosure were examples of prehistoric rock art.

The early medieval monastic remains are certainly amongst the best preserved ecclesiastic sites in Ireland. The monastic site was founded by St Molaise in the 6th century. The main concentration of monuments are within the walls of…

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