Ireland Waterford

St Declan and Ardmore

In the 5th century, St Declan came across the village of Ardmore – it’s said he was guided there by a stone carried on the waves - and founded a monastery. Its ruins are Ireland’s oldest Christian settlement. Today, a number of sites remain of his monastic city.

There’s an 8th-century oratory beneath which it’s believed the saint is buried and a 12th-century 29m-high round tower, which served as a belfry and place of refuge. There’s also the 12th-century cathedral, with Romanesque arcading with figures depicting scenes from both Old and New Testaments – very unusual in Ireland. Inside the cathedral are two Ogham stones featuring the earliest form of writing in Ireland.

The 4km cliff walk that starts and ends in the village is well worth taking to visit St Declan’s Well, where pilgrims have paid tribute for hundreds of years every 24th July, the saint’s feast day.