Cill Ghobnait (11th Century Church)

Cill Ghobnait (St. Gobnait’s church) is sometimes referred to as “An Teampall Beag” (The Small Temple). It was probably built in the 11th century, although the site was in use since the 6th century.

St. Gobnait lived in the 6th century, and legend has it that she fled to Inis Oírr from  from County Clare to escape a from a family feud. Later, the appearance of an angel directed her to go back to the mainland and head south. She eventually settled in Baile Bhúirne (Ballyvourney) Co. Cork which is still a pilgrimage site. You can find a good description of Gobnait and her relationship with Baile Bhúirne at https://pilgrimagemedievalireland.com/2013/02/18/pilgrimage-to-st-gobnait-at-ballyvourney-co-cork/

While in Inis Oírr, Gobnait lived in a corbelled roofed clochán (hermit’s beehive cell), the remains of which are located next to the church. These corbel  roofed dry stone huts were often used as homes by early Christian monks. The clochán pre-dates the existing church, which is believed to have been built upon the site of another.

There are two bullán (bullaun) stones on the site. Bullaun stones contain hollows in them which had religious significance. http://www.irishmegaliths.org.uk/crosspillars2.htm

Other interesting features are the 3 raised stone slabs (to the right of the church in the photo below). There are differing opinions as to their purpose, some say they are graves, altars or even penitence stones. The site has never been properly excavated, so the mystery remains!

 

A photo of Cill Ghobnait with the castle in the background

 

 

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