Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ballinskelligs Priory

At the west end of the beach, beyond the castle and across the marsh, are the remains of the old priory.

As with all of these old sites, there are layers upon layers. The original site dates to the 12th century. The monks who had spent 500 years living out on Skellig Michael (another story for a future post) finally gave up and decided to come back to the mainland (if Ireland can be considered the mainland). It turns out that it wasn't the horrible weather, the remote location, the endless breakfasts of puffin eggs, or the lack of overnight delivery that sent them scurrying back - it was Viking raiders.

The current church probably dates to the 15th century. And the church yard - really just a crowded cemetery - is filled with gravestones of all vintages, including some very recent ones. I can only assume that every time they dig a new grave they are recycling the previous resident. Which is actually a much more efficient use of cemetery space than our sprawling American ones. It's sort of like turning over the remains of last year's crop to plant the new one.

A coastal geologist would notice that this entire site, graveyard and all, would have long since been reclaimed by the sea had someone not built a large wall to delay judgement.

No comments: