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Aghadoe Church, Co. Kerry
Location: On Aghadoe Heights two miles NNW of Killarney, commanding a superb panorama
of lakes and mountains. Aghadoe Heights Hotel (2004) has been built almost directly across the street,
however, which ruins some of the ambience of the site.
Take the bypass around the north edge of Killarney town on N22, at the roundabout continue
past the N72 exit and continue north on N22. Within about 1/3 of a km, take the left
towards Aghadoe Crossroads and then the first left. This will bring you uphill to a
commanding view overlooking Killarney.
Ross Castle can be seen in the distance to
the SE. Aghadoe Church
and round tower will be on the left in the old cemetery.
Features: Aghadoe has a Romanesque west doorway, with the innermost order plain, and the two outer ones bearing
Romanesque decoration. This door is probably a remnant from the church built by Amhlaoibh O' Donahue in 1158. It was
rebuilt in the 18th or 19th century, but not reconstructed very satisfactorily, as the pieces are short on cohesiveness.
It appears to have been far more elaborately carved originally. The east window, with a head and a flower at the
intersection, was inserted in the 13th century. The eastern part of the church was added at about the same period.
A part of the eastern portion may have served as living quarters at some stage.
On top of the south wall is an ancient Ogham stone bearing the inscription BRRUANANN, a simple name possibly used as a grave
marker. Where it came from originally is unknown. Also on the south wall is what appears to be a carved capital and
an unusual crucifixion scene from the 1700s. Outside the doorway of the church ruin is a nice bullaun with a centrally
Comments: This is a very nice church with a good example of a Romanesque doorway. The 13th and 17th century
carvings are interesting. The broken ogham stone adds a bit more historial charm to the place. But probably the
best reason for seeking out this site is the stunning view of Killarney, the lake and the mountains, something the
Aghadoe Heights Hotel across the street has taken great advantage of.
History: An old monastery was founded here by St. Finian the Leper in the 7th century. It is referred to
as existing in 992, and a stone church here is mentioned in 1044. The western part of the existing church is the
oldest. It was finished in 1158 by Auliff Mor na Cuimsionach, a member of the O'Donoghue family, who was buried
here in 1166. The church was dedicated to the Holy Trinity and St. Mary.
Other Items of Interest: Aghadoe Round Tower
Across the road from Aghadoe Heights Hotel, is a large green park with benches and a spectacular view of
the Lakes. Between the park and the cemetery is a small round tower called Parkavonear Castle. Not much is known about
the castle except that it was probably built in the 13th century. All that is left are the ground and first levels
which are accessed by a stairway within the wall. There were probably 3 or 4 levels and a rampart, but today all
that remains are the circular walls to the second level.
Locals refer to this castle as "The Bishops Chair" and "The Pulpit", possibly for the shape of its outline.