Seir Kieran

Research at Seir Kieran, Co. Offaly

http://www.laurelkallenbach.com/lkblog/my-hunt-for-irish-sheela-na-gigs/

Sheela Na Gig (after Kallenbach, 2016)

In the townland of Churchland, in the village of Clareen, Co. Offaly, is the site of Sier Kieran. The site comprises a complex of features (SMR Numbers OF039-00300— to OF039-003003-), including a deserted medieval settlement site, multiple building phases associated with the churches including buildings and graveyards, later re-use of the buildings, and the location of features now removed for curation or display in the National Museum of Ireland.

Prof. Bodhi Michael Rogers of Ithaca University is leading the current research at this site, undertaking 3D Scan digital conservation of the standing remains.

About Seir Kieran

The site represents multiple periods of use:

  • The Early Irish Church monastic enclosure, attributed to St Kieran / St. Ciaran (C5th AD/CE). The base of a Round Tower survives from this period. The graveyard includes the base of a C9th stone cross base. Reputedly the burial place of the kings of the ancient Gaelic kingdom of Ossory.  A Sheela na Gig from the site is now in the National Museum of Ireland
  • Subject to Viking raids in C9/10th AD/CE
  • An early Norman period fortification, a Motte, including a raised mound and bailey, encloses the earlier monastic site
  • An Augustinian Priory, est C12th AD/CE. Dissolved 1552 AD/CE. The associated church walls form the northern boundary of the graveyard,
  • Fortification including a gun battery, sometime between the C16th Dissolution, and C19th AD/CE,
  • The current Church of Ireland (Anglican), est. in 1844 AD/CE, replaced the medieval church, which was mostly still extant until that time.
  • Pattern on 5th March (Saints feast day) to Kieran’s well and Kierans Bush (rag tree)

Future plans include archaeological investigations using remote sensing to assess the potential of the site.

Thanks to the Breda McWalter and the Office of Public Works, and to Christy Coughlan for facilitating access to the site. Thanks also to Amanda Pedlow and the Offaly County Council Heritage Office, for supporting the project.

References

Freitag, Barbara. 2005. SHEELA-NA-GIGS: Unravelling an Enigma. Routledge. London [Web Published].

National Monuments Service: Monument of the Month Archive November 2012. [Web Published]. Accessed 18/09/17.

Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society. 2007.  Ordnance Survey Letters for Offaly in 1838. [Web Published]. Accessed 18/09/17.

Photo Credit: Laurel Kallenbach 2016. My Hunt for Irish Sheela-na-Gigs. [Web Published]. Accessed 18/09/17.

Sites & Monuments Record No.
Classification
OF039-003—-
Settlement deserted – medieval
OF039-003001-
Ecclesiastical enclosure
OF039-003002-
Cross – High cross
OF039-003003-
Round tower
OF039-003004-
Religious house – Augustinian canons
OF039-003005-
Church
OF039-003006-
Building
OF039-003007-
Graveyard
OF039-003008-
Building
OF039-003009-
Castle – motte
OF039-003010-
Cross – High cross
OF039-003011-
Sheela-na-gig
OF039-003012-
Cross – High cross
OF039-003013-
Cross-slab
OF039-003014-
Cross-slab
OF039-003015-
Cross-slab
OF039-003017-
Cross-slab
OF039-003018-
Cross-slab
OF039-003019-
Cross-slab
OF039-003020-
Architectural feature
OF039-003021-
Architectural fragment
OF039-003022-
Font
OF039-003023-
Tomb – table tomb
OF039-003026-
Souterrain
OF039-003027-
Headstone
OF039-003028-
Headstone