Gallen Priory

Cross Slabs, Church and Bullaun

An Early Christian monastery was established here by St Canoc in 492 CE. An abbey was founded for Augustinian Canons Regular in c.1140 CE. This is the site of a medieval church, the abbey church and graveyard are in the field about 200 metres south of here. When the area around the medieval church was excavated around 200 cross slabs or fragments of slabs, dating from 8th/11th centuries, were discovered. A much smaller number was discovered near the abbey. Almost all of the fragments are now built into the walls at either end of the church foundations.

In the centre of the church stands the beautifully decorated, 2.5 metre high, cross pillar, pictured above. The cross pillar is decorated on one side only. It bears a beautiful interlaced cross in the upper half, with two confronted animals below , their tails are also interlaced. The bottom section also bears an animal surrounded by a fret pattern.

A possible altar slab

Cross slab

The cross slab Gallen Priory is noted for, pictured above left, bears a ringed cross with a swirl in the centre. There are three small heads carved on the upper terminals with a small figure on the lower terminal. A large copy of this slab can be see on the east wall of the Ferbane nursing home. Another cross inscribed stone, decorated on both sides, is bedded into the church wall, see image below left. Some of the other cross slabs are similar to those at Clonmacnoise.

Cross inscribed stone

West wall

Also present within the foundations of the church is a huge bullaun stone, it has a large single bullaun. The stone was moved to here from the abbey graveyard. I was unable to visit the site of the abbey on this occasion. I hope to return soon, when the light maybe a little kinder.

Situated: The medieval church is located on the grounds of Ferbane nursing home. From Ferbane head south on the N62. About 300 metres after the river take a left for the nursing home. A gate in the left hedge leads to the church.

Discovery Map 47: N 1174 2384. Last visit Sept 2019.

Longitude: 7° 49' 26" W

Latitude: 53° 15' 53" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

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