Reask Monastic Site

Reask Stone and Walls, DIngle Peninsula, IrelandThe Reask Monastic Site (a.k.a. Láthair Mhainistreach an Riaisc) was an important early monastery located on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland. Reask was probably founded in the 6th century; although shards of some Roman vessels used for transporting wine around the 6th century were discovered at the site, little is known of the site’s history. Even the name does not reveal much. Reask is a translation for “An Riasc” or “the marsh.”

Diagram of occupied Reask Monastic SIte, DIngle Peninsula, IrelandThe site is enclosed by a roughly circular wall with its interior divided by a curving wall. Several large, circular clocháns (stone, often beehive-shaped buildings used as monks’ homes) once stood within the site, but none of the buildings remain intact.

Diagram of Reask Monastic SIte, DIngle Peninsula, IrelandThis diagram of the site as it stands today shows how in two cases the clocháns were arranged in pairs.

An oratory, or small church, is shown at the bottom of the diagram. An earlier cemetery of forty-two graves arranged in two rows was found beside and under the oratory. The area around the oratory was used as a children’s burial ground after the monastery was abandoned.

Reask Stone, DIngle Peninsula, IrelandThe Reask Stone is one of at least ten cross-inscribed slabs found at the site. The Reask Stone is decorated with spiral designs and carved with the letters “DNE,” which stand for Domine (Latin for O Lord).

Reask Monastic Site, DIngle Peninsula, Ireland

The Reask Stone can be seen here standing just before the separating wall. Just beyond the separating wall, near the site wall, is the oratory.

Reask Monastic Site Walls, DIngle Peninsula, IrelandI took this photo of the northern portion of the site wall, which curves towards one of the two paired clocháns, while standing inside the other paired clocháns.

Reask Monastic Site Wall Stones, DIngle Peninsula, IrelandThe walls and all the buildings were built without any mortar. This is a photo of the back of the round clochán, which is situated west of the oratory, with the site wall behind.

Reask Monastic Site Stones, DIngle Peninsula, IrelandThis is the square clochán. I don’t know why some large stones were incorporated into the walls or why stones protruded from the square clochán’s wall. Whatever their original purpose, they currently provide nice visual interest.

Reask Monastic Site Clochan, DIngle Peninsula, IrelandSmerwick Harbour can be seen in the distance beyond this pair of clocháns located on the northern end of the site.

As peaceful, beautiful, and historic as this site is, we expected it to be as busy as other local sites had been. However, we were entirely alone during our whole visit. Perhaps because the site can be a challenge to find?

To find the site, take the R559 east from Ballyferriter and after about 1 km (just after passing the left turn for Ballinrannig), take the next right turn. (A site sign on the R559 does exist, but it is easy to miss). Follow the road until just after the road takes a sharp left. The site is immediately on your right. Parking is available in a small turnout next to the site.

Most information for this post was from the informational sign at the site provided by Duchas The Heritage Service. The site is a National Monument held in the care of the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gealtacht and Islands, for the State.


About satnavandcider

An American expat living in England, exploring the United Kingdom and Europe through five senses and a camera lens.
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4 Responses to Reask Monastic Site

  1. Wow- we didn’t know about this when we were driving around Ireland. So interesting! I’m sorry we missed it! Wonderful pictures as always. 🙂

  2. akevangel says:

    This is a great monastic site to visit, I discovered it by accident, The road sign pointing to it from the road, however, was very uninviting ( it was old , dirty, small)as if the locals wanted people to miss it! When we took a chance and went up to it, between some houses we were amazed at how beautiful it was and how much great work had been done on it to restore it to its former glory! It was a very mystical and spiritual experience. We were blessed indeed. Also well don one the post. Peace and grace.

    • Thanks for your comment. I agree with all you wrote. The sign was old, small, dirty, and easy to miss. We were lucky that we spotted it because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss the site. We were very fortunate to be the only people there until the very end of our visit. The site was beautiful and mystical. I’m glad you were able to experience it, too.

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