Mar 15, 2013 by

Devenish Island, in Lough Erne, County Fermanagh, Northern Island, contains one of the finest monastic sites in Northern Ireland. The small island is accessible only by boat, a safety feature which may have induced the monks to build there. A round tower thought to date from the 12th century is situated on the island, as are the walls of the Oratory of Saint Molaise who established the monastery in the 6th century, on a pilgrim route to Croagh Patrick in County Mayo. It became a center of scholarship and although raided by Vikings in 837 and burned in 1157, it later flourished as the site of the parish church and St Mary’s Augustinian Priory. The round tower is some 30 metres (100 ft) tall and can be climbed using internal ladders. It features a sculptured Romanesque cornice of heads and ornament under the conical stone roof. Nearby is a cross carved with spiral patterns and human heads. There are also several cross-slabs, one with an interlace design and a medieval carved cross. Near the round tower, the foundations of another tower were found, which the present tower probably superseded. Many of the old graves are those of former priests and monks of the Cassidy, Tully and Casey clans.

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