Dungiven Priory

Map Reference: C692083 (2692, 4083)

The Celtic monastery on the site was founded by St Naechtain in the 7th century. It was succeeded by a 12th century Priory of Augustinian Canons, associated with the O'Cahan family. The nave of the church probably dates from about 1140. The exterior east end still preserves slight extensions of the north and south walls beyond the gable ends. Blind arcading can still be seen in the eastern interior corners, which helps date the building to no later than the second quarter of the 12th century.

In the north wall of the nave is a pointed window and a pointed doorway which is rounded on the outside.

There is a very fine round-headed window in the south wall. It has very fine moulding on the outside.

The chancel dates from the 13th century and was originally stone-vaulted in two bays. In it is a tomb, traditionally that of Cooey-na-Gall O'Cahan who died in 1385, though the flamboyant tracery suggests a 15th century date. The figure is of a warrior in a quilted garment, with a row of six gallowglasses along the front of the tomb, all suggesting a western Scottish carver. There are two niches in the east wall and two lancet windows. In the south wall is a pointed window and a blocked doorway.

The other interesting aspect of the site is the conversion of its western end to a tower house, but by 1611 a grander house, with flagged scullery and renaissance garden, had been added to the south side of the tower, by Sir Edward Doddington. There was also a range of buildings farther south and a wall to the east, the whole forming an enclosed bawn. Our knowledge of the plantation buildings derives partly from the fine coloured drawings by Raven, made to illustrate the various buildings erected by the planters in Ulster, and forms an interesting example of archaeology and historical studies joining forces.

The graveyard is very overgrown and most of the stones appear to be 19th century. Near the north-east corner is a very fine rag-tree. Beneath it is a moss-covered bullaun-stone. Water within the bullaun serves as a wart-well.

For details of other Augustinian Friaries click on the links below

Clare Abbey, Co Clare Killone, Co Clare Ballybeg, Buttevant, Co Cork Bridgetown, Co Cork Clontuskert, Co Galway Dunmore, Co Galway Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry Callan, Co Kilkenny Kells, Co Kilkenny Adare, Co Limerick Rathkeale, Co Limerick Abbeyderg, Co Longford St Mary‘s, Drogheda, Co Louth Ballintubber, Co Mayo Cong, Co Mayo Errew, Co Mayo Ballyboggan, Co Meath Athassel, Co Tipperary St Mary‘s, Cahir, Co Tipperary Fethard, Co Tipperary

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