Bay View House
Your Holiday Home at Camp
on the Dingle Peninsula
Knockglass More, Camp, Co. Kerry, Ireland
(Yes, that's the Atlantic Ocean and a lovely beach!)
Near Irish Vacation House enjoy awesome, ancient sights!
a beautiful, special place
Several monastic settlements on the Dingle Peninsula have become home to people seeking more of
heaven on earth (Reask, Kilmalkedar, Gallarus. Currauly, Kilfountain, atop Mt. Brandon, and more).
This early Christian church in Gallarus, still in superb condition, gives testament to that longing for the divine.
The date of construction is hotly contested: probably 6th to 9th century,
but others contend that it was built as late as the 12th century
because if it’s excellent and developed construction.
The oratory’s name (Séipéilín Ghallarais in Irish) may be translated literally as the Place of Foreigners,
which Ireland has been throughout its history home to Celts, Vikings, British, Spanish pilgrims -
and today folk from around the world!
Foreigners are welcomed, and many come to identify with the rich mix of Irish!
Some elements of the construction are especially noteworthy.
The stones forming this “upturned boat” shaped oratory are laid with great care
in a corbelling pattern so that each stone is lower on the outside of the building, causing rain to run off.
After its many centuries the oratory is still dry, except in times of wind-driven rain.
Corbelling can be found in many ancient stone structures like the clochans all around the Dingle.
This form was adopted from Neolitic construction
like the interior of the breath-taking New Grange Passage Tomb!
Anyone who doubts the wisdom and skill of the ancients should take a good look at the expertise that allowed them to create a water-tight structure that still stands hundreds to thousands of years after its construction!
The east window of this oratory is unusual,
having a rounded top made of two carved stones (not a genuine arch).
The opening splays wider on the inside to distribute light from the East throughout the room.
As you go inside the oratory, imagine coming from your nearby clochan (igloo-shaped stone hut)
early in the morning while it was still dark
to gather with your community to pray to God.
Imagine yourself in prayer inside the oratory as the sun rises
and gradually shines more and more brightly in this tiny window to illumine this dark, holy shelter.
A broken stone immediately above this window on the inside may have formed a “hood”.
Three other corbelled stones coming out from this eastern wall
may have supported a pendant lamp and book satchels.
(The above is the satchel of the Book of Armagh).
Books in these times were all hand copied, mostly illuminated, and hung in leather bags or satchels,
not stored on shelves.
Have a little fun considering a local legend.
If a person climbs out of the oratory via the window, their soul was supposed to be cleansed.
Maybe we better find an alternate form of cleansing?
Shine your flashlight around the inside and notice the carefully finished walls and neat corners.
Then turn to the opposite, western wall with its doorway of perfectly cut and joined stones.
Above the lintel look for the two projecting stones which may have supported a door frame
or a hanging door cover.
Picture yourself back here to pray and sing near the close of your day,
with the setting sun streaming in through the doorway.
Imagine hearing the readings and singing together in this gloriously vaulted space,
the sound of the music whirling around you!
Then as you step out through that doorway, the awesome beauty of panorama glows in the setting sun.
Outside you will find a bed of stones with a lovely standing slab, a common element in early church sites. Inscribed with a cross surrounded by a circle,
the slab reminds us of the earthly presence of Christ the encircling love of God.
Look around and imagine the settlements that surrounded this special sanctuary through the ages.
Let its enduring solidity and strong foundation give you comfort.
Finally, take some time to savor, "In Gallarus Oratory" (1969) written by Pulitzer winning poet Seamus Heaney.
“You can still feel the community pack
this place: it’s like going into a turfsack.
A core of old dark walled up with stone
A yard thick. When you’re in it alone
You might have dropped, a reduced creature,
To the heart of the globe.
No worshiper would leap up to God off this floor.
Founded there like heroes in a barrow
They sought themselves in the eye of their King
Under the black weight of their own breathing.
And how he smiled at them as out they came,
The sea as censer, and the grass a flame.
You may visit this oratory from the visitor’s center at its west, when you will pay an admission and view a film,
or park in limited space and visit for free on the road to the south of the oratory.
Gallarus Oratory is only one of 1,500 Historic and Archaeological Sites within a short drive from your
Irish Vacation House
a fully-equipped self-catering Vacation House
available to be your home way from home for a week or a month
located on the Dingle Peninsula in Southwest Ireland, beside Ireland's longest beaches
and ideally located between the thriving city of Tralee and the bustling town of Dingle!
Directions from Irish Vacation House to Gallarus Oratory.
Go down Knockglass More to N 86 and go left 35 km into the center of Dingle.
At traffic circle take first exit onto 559 and stay on it for 7.8 km.
(You will have to turn right to stay on 559 in 270 m.
Go 1.5 km to traffic circle and take first exit still on 559
Continue 4.8 km on 559.
Turn left for 77 m.
then right on 559 1.2 km.
Take a slight right, still on 559)
Gallarus Oratory will be on your right.
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