Gallarus Oratory, Dingle


Joined June 2011

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Wall Art


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Gallarus Oratory and Stone on the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland.

Gallarus Oratory was built between the seventh and eight century and is the best preserved early Christian church in Ireland. It represents the apogee of dry-stone corbelling, using techniques first developed by Neolithic tomb-makers. The stones were layed at a slight angle, lower on the outside then the inside to allow water to run off.

According to local legend, if a person climbs out of the oratory via the window, their soul will be cleansed. This is, however, physically impossible, because the window is approximately 18cm in length and 12cm in width.

Gallarus Oratory – Simple and stunning in its own right, this superb dry stone oratory is in perfect condition, apart from a slight sagging in the roof. It has withstood the elements for nearly 1300 years. It is one of the most famous buildings in Ireland and is built of large cut stones neatly fitted together with walls angled from the base to a corbelled roof whose gable ends also lean inward in a curved batter. It is compared in appearance by many to that of an up-turned boat. The corbelled stones slope slightly down towards the outside to help the rain run off. The doorway at the west gable end is lintelled with sloping jambs.

On the inside over the lintel are two holed stones to support a wooden door. The east gable has a small round-headed window splayed on the inside. Although mortar was in use in the 8 th century, there is none used in this type of oratory. This style of oratory is peculiar to Kerry in the southwest.

A small cross-slab stands at the east end of a bed of stones beside the oratory. An equal armed cross within a circle occupies the upper part of its west face. A further inscription beneath the cross does not form any recognisable pattern.

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