Sunken monastery at Lankill near Aughagower
Towards the left side of the standing stone at Lankill, near Aughagower, lies an area where a monastery once stood. Now, all that can be seen are overgrown trees and shrubs. However, should those plants be removed, the remains of a monastery could still be seen in the ground. Based on the remains, it is estimated that the building is 90 feet in length and 30 feet in width (Michigan State University, 2009).
The remains suggest that the monastery might originate from a pre-patrician Christian community. There, amid the ruins are the remains of a lime kiln, possibly indicating that it might have been a friary also. Importantly, the field in which the monastery is located, with the aforementioned standing stone at Lankill, is called Gort na Manach, or ‘field of the Monks’ (Michigan State University, 2009).
One folk narrative source (Duchas, n.d.) reports that “When Saint Patrick was going from Aughagower to the Reek he said mass in Gort na Manach.”
Mulveen (1999) makes the following observations, “In Lankill, on the route of the tochar, there are many monuments which are traditionally associated with Saint Patrick’s mission. Under the engaging dominance of Croagh Patrick, a field known as Gort na Manach (field of the monks) provides many of these associations. In this small area you will find Saint Brendan’s well, a church or monastery in ruins, a carved standing stone and a circular enclosure with a killeen and a penal altar surmounted by a cross-inscribed slab. The entire area arouses archaeological interest, but particularly captivating is the mysterious Lankill standing stone which has been examined on a number of occasions.”
Duchas. (n.d.) Gort na Manach. Available at: https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/5215809/5214066 Accessed 10/11/2023.
Keville, J. (1982). Aughagower. Cathair na Mart: Journal of the Westport Historical Society, Vol. 2 no. 1. (print).
Michigan State University, Study Abroad Programme. (2009). Sunken Monastery. Internal Report: Folder 3, Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail—Clogher Environmental Group Ltd. Unpublished.
Mulveen, J. (1999). Tóchar Phádraic: Mayo’s Penitential and Sculptured Highway. Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, Vol. 51 (1999), pp. 167-181. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/25535705?read-now=1&seq=10#page_scan_tab_contents . Accessed 10/11/2023.
Tochar Phadraig. A Pilgrim’s Progress. Style 86. P 59-60.