Lemonaghan Monastic Site
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Heritage Office, Offaly County Council, Offaly, Republic of Ireland
Ms Amanda Pedlow
Lemonaghan monastic site was founded by Manchan in the 7th Century. There is an information board on site showing church, holy well, togher and oratory and directions to Boher church to see the shrine.
In 645, Diarmait, King of Ireland, granted this site to the monks of Clonmacnoise after they prayed, successfully, for his victory in battle. Not long afterwards, St Monaghan, a respected scholar, left Clonmacnoise. Journeying here, he founded a monastery at Tuaim-nEirc, an island of dry land surrounded by bogs. Monaghan perished in the yellow plague of 664. Since then, this area has been known as Leamonaghan: 'the grey lands of Monaghan'.
As the decades passed, the monastery grew in importance. Peat works have uncovered a network of wooden roads, or toghers, that were used by pilgrims and other travellers who crossed the bog to reach this site. The isolated monastery experienced a golden age during the twelfth century. These years saw the building of the church with its beautiful Romanesque doorway, as well as the creation of St Monaghan's Shrine.
The war torn thirteenth century took its toll on the church. However, its fortunes revived in the fifteenth century, when it was patronised by the Mac Coghlans, a ruling Gaelic family. For the next 200 years, the church became embroiled in the politics of this family and was sometimes a target of its enemies. During the rebellion of 1641, the church was damaged. By 1682, the church was no longer used as a place of worship. However the holy well and tree continue to be a site of pilgrimage and prayer. The feast day of St Monaghan is celebrated on 24th January each year and St Monaghan's Shrine is still venerated at the Catholic church in Boher.
Open all year and admission is free.