Plans to make historic Inis Cealtra island more accessible to the public


Inis Cealtra/Holy Island
Inis Cealtra/Holy Island

Plans are afoot to make the historic monastic site on Inis Cealtra (Holy Island), Lough Derg more accessible to the public. The Chief Executive of Waterways Ireland has said her organisation would be delighted to work in partnership with Clare County Council to develop improved access to Inis Cealtra/Holy Island. Dawn Livingstone was speaking following a visit to Inis Cealtra, during which she was briefed by the local authority on its plans to purchase the 50 acres island, regarded as one of the most important ecclesiastical sites in Ireland. Ms. Livingstone confirmed: ‘Waterways Ireland would be delighted to work in partnership with the Council to develop better access to Holy Island as part of a management plan for care of the important ecclesiastical monuments on the island.’

Gerard Dollard, Clare County Council, Dawn Livingstone, CEO, Waterways Ireland and Niall Moore, Waterways Ireland

Ms. Livingstone was accompanied on her visit to Inis Cealtra by Gerard Dollard, Director of Services, Clare County Council, who confirmed that the local authority is presently putting funding in place and signing contracts to acquire the land.

The ruins of St. Brigid's Church, Inis Cealtra (source)
The ruins of St. Brigid’s Church, Inis Cealtra (source)

Still used as a burial ground, the monastery on Inis Cealtra (Holy Island) dates back to the 7th century AD when it was founded by St. Caimin. It quickly grew into an important ecclesiastical centre and its wealth soon attracted the Vikings, who attacked the island in 836 AD and 922 AD. Despite these depredations the monastery continued to prosper, especially under patronage of Brian Boru, king of Munster, who installed his own brother, Marcán, as the island’s abbot in the late 10th century. Today Inis Cealtra contains extensive historic remains, including a 24-metre high round tower, an oratory and a number of early churches.

Holy island, Lough Derg
Gerard Madden, Holy Island Tours and Dawn Livingstone, CEO, Waterways Ireland photographed outside St. Caimin’s Church and Round Tower

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