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|Approach to the site from the jetty|
Welcome to this, the concluding part of the Chapple family’s 2013 summer adventures in Fermanagh. One weekend in August we were pondering what to do and where to go. My lovely and very patient wife remarked that I have a tendency, when caring for our children on my own, to take them to Fermanagh for days out. I suggested that, if she felt left out, I’d happily take the lot of us to Fermanagh … but that I was thinking of completing our trio of island adventures. She enquired as to the island I had in mind and when I said ‘Devenish’ she was sold! Early one Saturday morning we packed up the car and headed west. As documented in a recent post [here] we made a brief stop in the village of Clogher to see the High Crosses in the Church of Ireland graveyard, but the journey was otherwise uneventful.
Chapples Minor explore 'The Canon's House'
|Exterior of 13th century window in An Teampull Mór|
|Interior of 13th century window in An Teampull Mór|
|Interior of An Teampull Mór|
|Bullaun (grinding) stone said to have been used by St Molaise to cross the sea|
|Medieval coffin, once part of 'Molaise's Bed'.|
Lying in it is reputed to cure sickness.
|'Molaise's Bed' in operation by Chapples Minor|
|'Molaise's House' 12th century Romanesque oratory with projecting antae|
|View of the Round Tower from inside 'Molaise's House'|
|Foundation of the other Round Tower, possibly collapsed or abandoned before the 12th century|
|A young Chapple at play on Devenish|
For anyone going to the Devenish with young children, the NIEA have produced an activity booklet for Key Stage 2 pupils (ages 7-11). It’s available for free download: here.
Only a small portion of the island is open for tourists to tramp about on. However, a little time spent looking at the aerial photographs of the island will reveal a host of interesting potential earthwork … though I have no doubt that enough time looking will induce madness. Have a look for yourself: here.
The most famous and important treasure associated with the site is the 8th to 9th-century portable chasse that, in the 11th century, was converted into a book-shrine. It is known as the Soiscéal Molaise is on display at the National Museum of Ireland [Website | Facebook | Twitter] in Dublin - also well worth a visit! Illustrations of the shrine, along with research notes by Françoise Henry, and correspondence from Joseph Raftery are available: here.
While on the island I overheard three incredible statements:
1) At St Mary’s Priory: ‘This place must have looked amazing when King Billy visited here in 1690!’
I’m no expert on the life of King William of Orange, nor on the Williamite War in Ireland, but as far as I can see Billy never came as far as Fermanagh, nor did he take a scenic day trip to Devenish. Although, I can’t find a definite date for the closure of the monastery, it appears to have gone by 1609, quite some time before Billy came to Ireland in the 1690s.
2) In the Round Tower: ‘I can’t believe they’ve not installed a lift in this thing’
I’m not even going to say a word …
3) In the Round Tower: ‘I was reading on the internet that some idiot thinks that the monks got into these towers by pole vaulting in’
I think I may be the idiot to whom they’re referring!
|15th century doorway with replica head-finial.|
Probably depicting Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven
|Unique 15th century High Cross,with the Round Tower in the background|
|Unusual cross-slab at St. Mary's Priory,|
probably of medieval date
|18th century gravestone of David Greanger (d. 1778)|
Anon. 1856 ‘The round towers of Ulster’ Ulster Journal of Archaeology 4, 1st Series, 173-191.
Geoghegan, A. G. 1863 ‘Proceedings and Papers’ Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 7.2, 304-306.
Griffith, A. E. 1979 ‘Appendix II: Lithography of quernstones from Devenish’ Ulster Journal of Archaeology 42, 3rd Series, 50.
Hamlin, A. 1976 ‘Some further documentary evidence for the round tower at Devenish, County Fermanagh’, Ulster Journal of Archaeology 39, 3rd Series, 73-74.
Hamlin, A. 1988 ‘Why dig at a site in State Care?: Devenish, Co. Fermanagh’, in Hamlin, A. & Lynn, C. Pieces of the past: archaeological excavations by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland 1970 -1986. Belfast, 52-54.
Hamlin, A. & Stalley, R. 2002 ‘A newly discovered Romanesque church on Devenish, County Fermanagh’ Ulster Journal of Archaeology 61, 3rd Series, 83-97.
Hickey, H. 1976, 1985 Images of stone: figure sculpture of the Lough Erne Basin. Enniskillen.
O'Keeffe, C. M. 1856 ‘Antiquarian notes and queries: round towers’ Ulster Journal of Archaeology 4, 1st Series, 271-272.
"Orientalis" 1857 ‘Antiquarian notes and queries: Exclusion of women’, Ulster Journal of Archaeology 5, 1st Series, 155.
Pearson, G. W. 1979 ‘Appendix I: Radiocarbon dating of the destruction layer (10)’ Ulster Journal of Archaeology 42, 3rd Series, 49-50.
Ralegh Radford, C. A. 1970 ‘Devenish’ Ulster Journal of Archaeology 33, 3rd Series, 55-62.
Wakeman, W. F. 1874 ‘The Antiquities of Devenish’ Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 13.1, 59-94.
Wakeman, W. F. 1889 ‘On an ancient sculptured cross, and monumental slab, Devenish Island, Lough Erne, County Fermanagh’ Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 19.4, 295-299.
Waterman, D. M. 1973-1974 ‘A second round tower at Devenish, Co. Fermanagh’ Ulster Journal of Archaeology 36 & 37, 3rd Series, 100-102.
Waterman, D. M. 1979 ‘St Mary's Priory, Devenish: Excavation of the east range, 1972-4’ Ulster Journal of Archaeology 42, 3rd Series, 34-50.
Wilson, R. A. 1979 ‘Appendix III: Report on analysis of metal sample from pit 30’ Ulster Journal of Archaeology 42, 3rd Series, 50.
< Part I | Part II | Additional Photographs
|Get the boat from Trory Point (red square) to the Devenish jetty (red dot).|
Probable crannogs are shown in red circles