Last week I visited with a friend in Ardmore – a little village in Co Waterford. We ate ice cream, watched the tide, and talked to strangers. I took a few pictures, added a few more from my previous visits, and made up this post.
On my very first visit to Ardmore a good few years ago I was puzzled watching the crowd that surrounded a boulder resting on the seabed after the tide went out.
It didn’t look different from the other rocks , so I didn’t investigate any further and headed up to the cliff walk trail. On the way back the boulder was already covered in water, so I let it go at that.
Only years after I learned that there was a story.
In the 5th century Declan of Ardmore, an early Irish saint of the Deisi Muman ( Vassals of Munster) and the founder of Ardmore Monastery travelled to Rome to be consecrated as Bishop. Declan received a gift from heaven while celebrating the Eucharist – a golden bell. A monk Runanus travelling with Declan from Wales to Ireland forgot to take the sacred bell and Declan was very upset. Yet, his prayers for the bell’s safety were answered and a boulder carrying his bell miraculously floated upon the waves all the way from Wales and finally stopped on the shore where Declan founded his church and a monastery – in the place called Aird Mhor – Great Height.
During the Declan Pattern, which is observed on the feast day of the saint (July 24), pilgrims crawl under the boulder (which is resting on two smaller stones) as a cure for arthritis.
St. Declan’s Way is a pilgrim route that begins in Ardmore and ends in Cashel in County Tipperary. It is 56 miles in length and crosses the Knockmealdown Mountains via a high 1,762 foot pass.
Great Height is a right name for the area. A beautiful cliff walk trail around Ram Head takes you high over the sea, and it begins from the ruins of St. Declan’s Church and Holy Well. The well served as a Baptistry to the early Christian missionaries, while the church served as St. Declan’s hermitage.
The Well has two entrances. There used to be three crosses on the top of it: the cross on the left representing the unrepentant thief, the central cross representing Christ and the cross on the right representing the repentant thief. The cross from the left side is gone: either stolen by some unrepentant thief, or it had broken off and rolled down to the sea.
The first cross is the one from the church, the second – the middle one from the well. They are dated back to the 5th century.
There are many other interesting things and places along the trail.
The Watchtower was built in 1800 as a part of the Napoleonic defenses built along the coast of Ireland.
A wreck of a crane ship – the Samson – that was blown ashore in 1978.
Fr. O’Donnell’s Well was built in 1928 and named after Fr O’Donnell who used to come there and read.
St. Declan founded a monastery in Ardmore prior to the arrival of St. Patrick in Ireland, (between 350 and 450 A.D.) The original monastery does not exist anymore, but the ruins of the cathedral that was built over the monastery site are well preserved and located on the hill overlooking the sea. It has features dating from as early as the 9th Century.
The remnants of St. Declans Oratory and an old cemetery are also located here. St. Declan’s Oratory is the oldest building in the graveyard near the Cathedral. It is believed that the grave of St. Declan is located within the building.
Some of the gravestones have been worn down and look like old teeth protruding from the ground.
The round tower at Ardmore was built in the 12th Century and raises at the height of 97 feet. The entrance doorway is about 13 feet from the ground, making the tower a safe place for the monks.
Some graves bear a more modern look.
Ardmore is not only a monastic place. This building is a lot of fun – it is not real, the same as the donkey.
The doors and the windows are painted on the wall.
There are many towns in the USA named Ardmore, but an American novelist Nora Roberts has made Ardmore, Co Waterford the location for her ” Gallaghers of Ardmore” trilogy: Jewels of the Sun, Tears of the Moon and Heart of the Sea.
Hope you like this tour around Ardmore.
Ardmore looks beautiful through your lens and story! The doors are so cute, the images looks like painting to me, how creative!
Thank you Indah! They have painted the whole wall with the doors, windows, curtains and even chicken 🙂 Very creative, and looks like real from a distance 🙂
Another wonderful blog! And the photos are so interesting – love it! Another place I would love to visit!
Thank you so much for your comment. I too love visiting ancient places.
Gorgeous. I’m taking notes for my next visit to Ireland. I love old churches and their history. Thanks so much!
Thank you for reading and commenting, Olga! You would love Ireland – we have many picturesque ruins here, and also many megalithic structures like the dolmens and standing stones. Some of them in my next post 🙂
thanks for the lovely tour. Interesting photos, too!
Thank you for taking the tour Cynthia!
I enjoyed so many of the historical and religious details shared here. I mostly love the arches, where they make a frame. I study these since my Great Grandpa was a stone mason who moved to New England from Sweden. My Grandpa was one who would help make the memories of his parents’ love story and his own with my Grandma, too.
I also liked that you did not know the legend or the miracle of the bell, then the crawling around to solve or cure arthritis, all of these details make this a beautiful story and lovely place to visit. Thanks so much for sharing your visit with a friend. My favorite ice cream is pralines and cream or butter pecan with caramel sauce. Smiles!
Thank you for your lovely comment! Have you ever been to Sweden? I wonder if your Great grandfather’s work could be found somewhere. There are miles of stone walls in Ireland.
The myth about the floating boulder doesn’t sound credible, but then, there is something unusual about the rock itself. It is perched on two smaller stones. Why didn’t it fell off during these centuries of stormy weather and the tides coming and going twice a day? This is very strange.
I love our ice cream cones – we call them .99 🙂
Have a happy day!
Wow! So beautiful.
Thank you for stopping by! 🙂
Great post, most informative!
Thank you Sue! Every little village has her story 🙂
Lovely photos! I love those painted doors, windows and chickens. I always enjoy your posts for the colorful bits of background and history!
Thank you Ann! Yes, these doors and windows are lovely, and from a distance you wouldn’t tell a difference 🙂
Just wonderful! So so beautiful and I loved the narrative about the area. Thank you for sharing this!
Thank you so much for commenting! 🙂
What a wonderful place to wonder through. I love these type of old, old buildings with all their stories. Thanks so much for sharing with us..
Thank you for stopping by! When I think how old they are, it is just breathtaking!
Fascinating story beautifully illustrated. I am enjoying the music again as I type this. Thank you.
Thank you so much for your kind comment! Glad to introduce this tiny but proud place. Love their sense of humor too 🙂
A great tour with phantastic Photos.
xxx Huge Hugs xxx
Thank you so much for your kind comment! These little villages are a gem to see.
Thank you so much for your kind comment!
Wonderful tour of the place from these beautiful pictures. I really like the pink wild flowers grow on the hill. They make the place looks magical.
Thank you! I too love the flowers. They grow on the edges of the cliffs.
Beautiful location and glorious photos!
Thank you Cindy! I love history, and here is plenty of it 🙂
It’s no wonder I love your blog, Inese! Gorgeous photos, a personal perspective, a fascinating story, and a bit of history… A truly wonderful installment. Huge hugs. 🙂
Thank you Teagan! You might guide your characters to Ireland some day 🙂 We have plenty of water for your submarine and plenty of mysterious places for your Green Fairy 🙂
Ha! Inese, sometimes a comment like that is all it takes to lodge an idea in my head. Since it is a magical story, there’s no telling where they’ll end up. Mega hugs!
That’s a beauty of magic! Hugs!
These images are very nice, I like the crosses and sculptures. The vista to the ocean is breathtaking. Quite clever for Nora Roberts for using this place for her novellas. Thanks for sharing Inese.
Excuse me, I meant novel, not novella, which is another genre.
Thank you Maria! The view from the graveyard is stunning indeed. It is a very high hill, you can see all the world 🙂
Great post, enjoyed the photos and narration. So informative. Such rich history you live among! A bit off topic, I grew up in Waterford Township, Oakland County. We say that backward here. Good to see you back!
Thank you John! Glad you like the post. So, you are from Waterford then… A Deise man 🙂 Waterford is Waterford, right? 🙂
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