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Kerry, Ireland

Gallarus Oratory

This single room has survived the centuries with almost no deterioration. 

The Gallarus Oratory is a crude stone church believed to have been built between the 6th and 9th centuries, and is still in remarkably unchanged condition.

Constructed out of cut blocks of local sandstone, the 17-foot tall oratory is the best preserved early church of its kind in Ireland. The simple, single-room structure, consisting of a rounded triangular shape with a doorway on one end and a small window built into the other end, hides a surprisingly sophisticated construction such as its masterful use of a Neolithic building technique known as “corbelling.” The stones were also carefully laid at a slight angle, lower on the outside than the inside, to allow any water to run out of the interior.  

While the Gallarus Oratory is considered to have been a church or religious meeting site of some sort, its true purpose is still unknown although there are nearby Celtic burial sites which have led some researchers to believe that it had some funerary significance. Whatever the original purpose, local legend now says that if a person climbs through the small window at the back of the oratory their soul will be cleansed.    

Know Before You Go

Off R559 from Dingle

Coordinates: 52.172695° N, 10.349615° W