Ancient Ireland [4] : Ardmore

Ardmore, Co. Waterford has a significant number of ancient relics and the popular Cliff Walk links the ancient well of St Declan with the old monastic settlement – the cathedral and round tower.

walk map

Ardmore Cliff Walk
Start Location : Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore
Distance: 4km
Time: 2 ½ hours approx

CH hotel

The Ardmore Cliff Walk begins at the new Cliff House Hotel. The walk takes you around Ardmore Head and Ram Head passing the shipwreck known as the Sampson Wreck.

Wreck of sampson

The wreck of The Sampson, now part of the cliffscape, provides nesting for seabirds and shelter for fish.

On your walk you will pass St Declan’s Well, the old Coastguard Station, The Castle, the lookout post, used for observation during World War II, and Father O’Donnell’s Well.

At St D's Well

St Declan’s Well at the start of the walk

Castle and lookout

Gothic style Watchtower (Castle) and 1940 Look-Out Post

FO'D's well

Father O’Donnell’s Well

Eventually the path follows a series of bends away from the sea and arrives, via a gate, at the end of a lane. Follow this road up to a T-junction and continue straight on until you reach the 12th-century Round Tower, which rises to a height of just over 29m, and the ruins of and the ruins of a Cathedral and oratory dating from the 13th and 8th centuries respectively.

St D's Cathedral

High relief carvings built into the west end of St Declan’s cathedral

“The most extensive series of 12th century architectural sculpture remaining in Ireland.” [Ancient Ireland, by Jacqueline O’Brien and Peter Harbison.]

One of the outer walls of the Cathedral features some stone carvings retrieved from an earlier 9th-century building. The carvings include a very early image of a harp, images of Adam and Eve in the garden and a representation of “Solomon’s judgement”.

The Cathedral also contains two Ogham stones, which rest in small alcoves. Some elements of the original structure can still be seen within the building.

Here is what I found out about Ogham Stones, which I am sure I have seen elsewhere :

“Ogham is the earliest form of writing in Ireland, it dates to around 4th century A.D. and was in use for around 500 years. The Ogham alphabet is made up of a series of strokes along or across a line. Ogham is sometimes referred to as the “Celtic Tree Alphabet” as a number of the letters are linked to old Irish names for certain trees. The alphabet was carved on standing stones to commemorate someone, using the edge of the stone as the centre line. They normally read from the left hand side bottom up, across the top and if need be down the other side.”

Ardmore Ogham

Ardmore Ogham [source]

Once back in Ardmore I returned to the Cliff House Hotel via Rocky Road and popped into St Paul’s Church of Ireland graveyard to pay my respects to a favourite author : Molly Keane.

MK grave

“The peace of God which passeth all understanding”

Tea at CHH

Well-deserved tea at The Cliff House Hotel


2 comments on “Ancient Ireland [4] : Ardmore

  1. Interesting. Author Nora Roberts set one of her trilogy series in Ardmore, but I didn’t realize that there was a real Ardmore! Thanks for posting the pictures!

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