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.