Gallarus Oratory/Séipéilín Ghallarais


"Welcome to our blog, where we embark on a journey through the breathtaking landscapes and mesmerizing seascapes of West Kerry, Dingle. Join us as we explore the untamed beauty of this corner of Ireland, where rugged cliffs meet the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean, and verdant hills stretch as far as the eye can see.

In this blog, we'll take you on a tour of the stunning vistas and hidden gems that make West Kerry, Dingle, a photographer's paradise and a nature lover's dream. From the iconic Slea Head Drive to the serene shores of Inch Beach, we'll uncover the natural wonders and cultural treasures that define this enchanting region.

Prepare to be captivated by dramatic sunsets over the Blasket Islands, enchanted by the mystical allure of ancient ruins, and inspired by the rich tapestry of stories woven into the landscape by generations past. Whether you're a seasoned traveler seeking new adventures or an armchair explorer craving a virtual escape, our blog promises to transport you to the heart of West Kerry, Dingle, where every vista tells a story and every wave whispers a secret.

So grab a cup of tea, settle in, and let's embark on an unforgettable journey through the spellbinding beauty of Gallarus Oratory West of Dingle."

Nestled along the of the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, you'll stumble upon the marvel that is Gallarus Oratory. Picture this: a bunch of medieval builders, armed with nothing but stones and a generous dose of Irish humor, decided to create what would become one of the best-preserved early Christian churches in Ireland.

The interior space of Gallarus Oratory is approximately 4.8 meters (15 feet) by 3 meters (10 feet) in size, resembling a small cell-like chamber. Visitors can fully explore this space through the immersive virtual-reality environment provided above. Positioned on the east gable is a window cut-out, standing nearly a meter (3 feet) tall. This window, with its rounded head, offers a picturesque view of Smerwick Bay and has been instrumental in estimating the monument's age.

Opposite the window stands the entrance doorway, measuring 1.67 meters (5.5 feet) in height. Inside, near the doorway, two stones protrude over the lintel, each featuring a hole used for securing the door. Additionally, a small stone cross adorns the east gable, though it was added in modern times and placed into an ancient socket stone.

Near the oratory, towards the northeast, lies a leacht, or bed of stones, containing a 1.1-meter (3.5-foot) cross-slab. This slab, likely predating the oratory itself, bears a sculpted cross and a Latin inscription: "Colum Mac Dinet" (Colum, son of Dinet).

As previously discussed, dating stone buildings presents inherent challenges, particularly when construction styles remained largely unchanged over millennia. An anecdote shared by Harbison illustrates this point: a colleague returned to the Dingle Peninsula after a year, only to remark on a newly constructed clochán in the backyard. To his surprise, the host revealed that it had been built as a henhouse over the winter.

Even if Gallarus Oratory is a mere 800 years old rather than 1200, it has amassed a wealth of folklore. In 1838, Lady Chatterton recounted a local legend about stones atop the window arch, believed to have held a special bell for village alarms. Another tale suggests that climbing out of the Oratory's small window cleanses one's soul, while a 1758 letter mentions a tradition associating the cross-slab with the tomb of a giant.

Poet Seamus Heaney delves into the symbolism of Gallarus Oratory in his work, "Door into the Dark," published in 1969. Heaney explores the entranceway as a metaphorical passage to the past, feeling a deep connection with the monks who once prayed within its ancient walls.

Legend has it that these builders were so confident in their skills that they decided to skip the mortar altogether, opting for a game of "stack the stones" instead. Lo and behold, Gallarus Oratory was born, boasting a boat-shaped design that's more "seaworthy" than some actual boats!

Now, why "Gallarus," you ask? Well, some say it's because the locals couldn't believe that these "gall" foreigners managed to erect such a marvel on their turf. Others reckon it's because the builders were simply gallivanting around, showing off their stone-stacking prowess.

But jokes aside, Gallarus Oratory is a true testament to the ingenuity and spirit of the early Christian monks who once called this place home. Despite the centuries of wind, rain, and occasional sheep-related mishaps, this stone marvel still stands proud, welcoming visitors with open arms (figuratively speaking, of course).

So, if you find yourself wandering the wilds of the Dingle Peninsula, be sure to pay a visit to Gallarus Oratory. Who knows? You might just leave with a newfound appreciation for medieval construction and a few laughs along the way.