• Tully Church near Cabinteely, south county Dublin

    The ruins of Tully church in the townland of Laughanstown (not to be confused with nearby Loughlinstown) near Cabinteely have always intrigued me. It still retains a lot of its former rural setting, though suburbia is getting closer and closer. From the site there are wonderful views eastwards over to Killiney and the Irish Sea, and westwards to the Dublin Mountains of Two Rock and Three Rock. The remains represent one of the most interesting early church sites in county Dublin. At the site are the remains of a stone church and two stone crosses, while three Rathdown slabs from the site are presently in storage.

    The ancient name of Tully Church was tulach na n-Epscop, ‘the hill of the bishops’, and was in the ancient kingdom of Uí Briuin Chualann. According to the early 9th century Martyrology of Oengus;

    “Eight bishops came to Brigit out of Húi Briuin Cualann, i.e. from Telach na n-epscop to Loch Lemnachta beside Kildare .. Brigit asked her cook, Bláthnait, whether she had food for the bishops. Dixit illa non. Brigit was ashamed: so the angel told her to milk the cows again. The cows were milked and they filled the tubs”.

    This area had been ruled by the Dál Messin Corb during the 5th and 6th centuries. Tully’s association with St Brigid makes this site an exception to the trend elsewhere in south Dublin where many of the churches are associated with St Kevin and other saints that were linked to the Dál Messin Corb. It has been suggested that Tully was founded in the 8th century when Uí Briuin Chualann came under the influence of the Uí Dúnlainge, who were linked to Kildare.

    The church at Tully consists of a nave and chancel building and represents two different phases of construction. The earlier church, now almost entirely gone except for the former east gable, probably dates from the late 11th century. Around 1200 a chancel was added and today represents the most substantial part of the ruins. Overlooking the lane that approaches the site is a ringed granite cross, probably from the 10th century. In a nearby field is another granite cross, which probably dates to the 12th century. It features a carving of a bishop holding a crozier, perhaps Lórcan Ua Tuathail, elected archbishop of Dublin in 1161.

    For more information on this site you can read my Heritage Guide (No. 61) accompanying the summer edition of Archaeology Ireland.

    1 Comment

    • 1. Jun 30 2013 12:55PM by Reg McCabe

      Hi Chris

      For a while now our group has been promoting heritage walks linking the Rathdown early Christian sites. Our 'big' walk links St Begnets with Killinin Leinin via Vico Rd and thence heads over Killiney Hill (via Druids Chair) through Kilbogget to Laughaunstown and then Tully. The trail proceeds over the M50 using the pedestrian bridge and then links across to Pucks Castle and Rathmichael via Heronford Lane. The final stretch uses the Dublin Mountain way via Shankill Castle to Brady's pub. From there the Dart provides the link back to Dalkey. All in all a very satisfying day out. Our other popular walk links Ballyman with Killegar and in this regard I would like to express serious concern with regard to the condition of the surviving East gable wall at Ballyman. The structure is rapidly disappearing beneath a heavy cloak of invasive creeper. I spoke to Leeson the landowner about the possibility of having some restoration work done but he didn't seem interested. He has also now blocked the trail from Ballyman Rd with barbed wire. I suspect the family are also responsible for desecration of the burial ground which in recent decades was ploughed up and the headstones dumped in the river.

      I wondered if NMS would have any authority to intervene here before it's too late?

      Regards

      Reg

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