One of the pleasures of self driving on vacation is having the opportunity to stumble upon an unknown historical site purely by coincidence. That was the case on our first day out driving the Irish countryside in County Kilkenny, as we headed out to take in a couple of well known sites in the area.
As we meandered on R700 heading towards Thomastown and Jerpoint Abbey, the brown road marker for "Clodiagh Church - c1700" caught my eye. By the time I mentally processed that I wanted to stop, we were already around the curve and heading on to the next one. I asked if we could return and David was happy to oblige. Being early enough in our trip, he was very accommodating. I'm afraid to say, had it been later in the trip, perhaps that would not have been the case.
We turned around and parked in the upper parking lot and walked down to the little church that was tucked away below the hillside and behind some trees. It was very easy to miss it and we would have were it not for the sign on the road. History stories tell of British attack on Catholic churches throughout Ireland. This little gem was spared largely because of its hidden location. Today it remains one of the oldest active churches with Sunday mass still being held. A Google search provides wedding planners with information on having that special day held here.
The church was unlocked so we entered through the upper loft that took us into an area with around four or five rows of pews. Below was the larger church sanctuary. It was beautiful with stain glass windows shining in the morning sunlight.
Outside there was a bell tower, complete with a long rope to be used to ring the bell. Beyond the church there was a small stream running through the yard. I walked down to see what else there was to see. Beside a pretty cool stone bridge, I mostly saw mosquitoes who were definitely interested in me.
I wish I had more information on the history of this church. I was able to determine from photos posted on the internet that it is the St. Brendan's Catholic Church. Beyond that, its history is still a mystery to me.