St Mella's Cell

Oratory

Linked to the monastic site at Lemanaghan by a togher or walkway, made from sandstone laid on brushwood and gravel over the bog, is the tiny ruined oratory called St Mella's Cell (known locally as Kell or Kyle). We had the opportunity to visit this gem on a beautiful evening and knew instantly it was the highlight of our day. While tradition believes that St Manchan built a house for his mother, St Mella, on this land and that he met with his mother daily at a flagstone along the togher, recent reports suggests that the existing structure is of 10th /11th century origin.

The enclosure is exceptional in its rectangular form and delineated by an earthen bank faced with large limestone slabs. Most enclosures are circular so the shape may signify that the single cell oratory may have served a very particular function. Measuring 5.3 metres by 3.1 metres internally, the walls are 0.8 metres thick and constructed from large blocks of mortared masonry randomly coursed. The door is square headed and inclined. The lintel and one jamb stone passes through the thickness of the wall. The east gable has fallen leaving no indication that there ever was a window. Recent restoration has removed the vines that once entangled this delightful oratory.

We would strongly recommend a visit to this small oratory, the walk down the togher greatly added to the wonderful feeling we both experienced at this magical grove.

Situated: From Lemanaghan Church take the togher down passed the holy well and walk for about 150 metres . On your left is a gate , go through the gate and walk across the field to the trees.

Discovery Map 48: N 177 267. Last visit March 2011.

Longitude:7° 44' 3" W

Latitude: 53° 17' 27" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey and Deb Snelson.

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