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Baile an Fheirtéaraigh/ Ballyferriter

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Dún Urlann Font and Door . ©Isabel Bennett - West Kerry Museum Dún Urlann, Interior of Church . ©Isabel Bennett - West Kerry Museum Dún Urlann, Water Font. ©Isabel Bennett - West Kerry Museum

Dún Urlann Medieval Parish Church/ Séipéal Méanaoiseach Dún Urlann By Isabel Bennett

 

by Isabel Bennett, with thanks to the West Kerry Live

Deineadh tochailt ar an séipéal agus an reilig i nDún Urlann, sna Gorta Dubha in aice le Baile an Fheirtéaraigh, sa bhliain 1991. Is dócha gur sa tríú haois déag a lonnaíodh fócas an pharóiste ar an láthair seo, agus gur leis an gcúigiú haois déag a bhaineann an fothrach atá inniu ann, séipéal a thóg na Feirtéaraigh, taoisigh go raibh tailte leathana acu sa dúthaigh ón tríú haois déag ar aghaidh. Tá an reilg fós in úsaid do mhuintir Paróiste an Fheirtéaraigh inniu.

From the end of the 12th century, the diocesan and parochial system on which the church in medieval and post-medieval Ireland was organised began to fully take shape.  Nineteen parishes were established in Corca Dhuibhne, with the diocesan capital then being situated at Ardfert.  Today there are standing remains of churches at 12 of those sites and, apart from the magnificent 12th-century Romanesque church at Cill Maoilchéadair, they are all simple rectangular gabled buildings, with no apparent division between nave and chancel, and with little ornamentation.  They range in date from the 12th to the 16th centuries. 

The church associated with the medieval parish of Dún Urlann (part of the modern parish of Baile an Fheirtéaraigh), is in na Gorta Dubha, and an extension to the medieval graveyard is still used today as the burial ground for people of the parish.  Although probably established as the parish centre during the 13th century, the standing remains may date to the 15th century, having been built by the Ferriter family who held extensive lands in this area from the end of the 13th century onwards.  Historical records indicate that the church was still being kept in repair into the 17th century, but was in ruin by the mid-18th century.

Excavations took place at this site in 1991, under the direction of Mícheál Ó Coileáin, with the aim of exposing the remains of the church, which had become obscured.  The work was carried out under the auspices of Oidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne, and with support from the Ireland Funds.  To visit the church, just walk through the modern graveyard, and you will find it down towards the back.  Take note of the doorway, and also the font on the right as you enter.  None of these features, or even the walls themselves, were visible prior to the excavation.

Further information about this and other monuments in the area, and a lot more besides, can be found in Músaem Chorca Dhuibhne, Baile an Fheirtéaraigh (13km/8 miles west of Dingle) www.westkerrymuseum.com.  Beidh fáilte romhat!  Tel: 066-9156333 or info@westkerrymuseum.com. You can also find us on Facebook! 

 

 

 

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