The 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.”
The 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.
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.
The 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).
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.
This 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.
Smerwick 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.